With the release of their sophomore EP, Worst New Artist, RVA’s Clever Girl taps into a classic punk drive with a pop feel. Momentum does not waver through the five-song EP however, a dynamic rhythm section and thought out guitar thwarts any dullness.
Clever Girl is made up of Ryan Cacophony (bass/vocals), Chris Durgin (drums), Derek Shelton (vocals), and Blake Mirzayan (guitar/vocals), and the band has been cranking out tunes in Richmond since 2014.
A follow-up to their first EP Shelf Life from 2015, the band said Worst New Artist was a step ahead. Shelf Life came into fruition after a part with the band’s original guitar player. They immediately recruited Mirzayan, fresh out of college, “his final assignment”, Cacophony said.
The band, which had been sitting on a year’s worth of material, were ready to head to Massachusetts and record a debut LP when they were thrown the classic member change wrench. However, Mirzayan and the rest of the band quickly found common ground and got to work on Shelf Life.
“We all share the common interest of The Ramones, NOFX – the Epitaph Records, Fat Wreck Chords, sort of that era,” said Mirzayan. “It’s the kind of shit I grew up listening to.”
Again having a full band and the material for the record, the band headed to Massachusetts to record with GodCity records, but it wasn’t exactly as they imagined.
“We got up there and our expectations of what we were gonna be able to get done dropped,” said Durgin.
“Huge learning process,” said Cacophony. “Totally put us in a place where it’s like, next one we do, we’ll do like six or seven songs and knock ‘em out.”
Despite having 12 or 13 songs ready to go, the band was able to pump out the seven-song EP. But in any case, the long in the process album was a great debut and set the parts in motion for Clever Girl’s progress.
This time around, Clever Girl had over a year of building chemistry and navigating their sound.
“Not only had we been work shopping the songs and had come together more as people, but also just had time to practice them, go in and knock them out live in a weekend,” said Cacophony.
Worst New Artist was recorded live by Josh Scolaro at Scott’s Addition Sound and mixed at The Orchard, giving it the sound that the band had taken the time to nurture in their practice space. Clever Girl dropped the EP in early March.
“I think Worst New Artist, recording it and hearing how good all of those songs sounded storied the genesis of our locking in as a band,” said Mirzayan. “Now that we’ve found that momentum I think it will be way easier and way better next time.”
The undeniable chemistry of Clever Girl may also be in part due to the band’s alter ego, Good Cretins, a Ramones cover band of the same lineup, with Mirzayan taking the mic and Shelton on guitar. Nothing really builds a rapport in a band like letting loose on some mutually beloved classics.
“We play the songs like how they would play them in the 90s, like the live speed so it’s way faster,” said Cacophony.
Catch Clever Girl on May 18 at 25 Watt with Caffiends, Old Ghost and BrainBuster. Details here.
Words by Gregory Rosenberg