Reviews

Places

Author: Noah Bonaparte Pais
02/01/2008 | Magnet | www.magnetmagazine.com/ | Feature
Georgie James: In Bloom

So what is Laura Burhenn's favorite thing about the debut by her fledgling pop band, Georgie James?

"That's it's done," laughs Burhenn, speaking with MAGNET two days after Places was issued by Saddle Creek.

You'll have to pardon the Washington, D.C., singer/songwriter. When a planned two-week recording session for your fist LP winds up taking the better part of two month, the finish line is a logical, however myopic, focus.

"We were like, 'We'll record in one week, and the next week we'll mix and master and be done with it," says Burhenn. "We were using vintage microphones, and whatever we recorded that first week, it wasn't working out. So we sat down, and I said, 'We have to start over.' We just looked at each other like, 'Oh shit.'"

The prolonged sessions took place at Silver Sonya in Arlington, Va., with studio co-owners Chad Clark (Beauty Pill) and TJ Liple (Aloha) at the helm. Recalling the process, Burhenn draws a direct line between the recording's early struggles and eventual success.

"It was a sad moment," she says. "But then we all got really passionate. Like, 'PK, we're going to take our time with everything,' Chad would get excited and stay up all night working on some mix idea. We'd come in the next morning, and he'd still be in the same clothes."

Along with multi-instrumentalist John Davis (former drummer for Dischord math-rock outfit Q And Not U), Burhenn generates Georgie James' creative energy. "[In 2005], Q And Not U had decided they were going to end things," says Burhenn. "The whole world didn't know it yet, but they had made the decision. We got together in my apartment, played some music and immediately though, 'This could be interesting."

"A lot of the songs for Georgie JamesóI'd say probably half the songs on the recordówere written before the last Q And Not U show," says Davis. "I wasn't even thinking about doing anything with them."

Places, which follows a self-released tour EP and a seven-inch single, proves a different breed than either musician's previous output. Brimming with bouncing melodies and harmonious power pop, the album cocks one ear toward '70s AM mellow gold ("Need Your Needs" while indulging in sweet, Aimee Mann-style swing ("Long Week"). The Wurlitzer-plyaed war lament "Cake Parade" was written by Burhenn for a high-school friend who was killed in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

"I didn't know what to do with it," explains Burhenn. "It was hard for me to sing it and not get really pissed off. So I played it for John, and he ran over to the drums: 'let's try it with a different rhythm.' He also wrote all the gorgeous harmonies in the chorus."

During their duets, it's often Burhenn who sings the bass line while Davis provides the high notes. There's a simple explanation. "John's falsettos is much, much better than mine," says Burhenn. "I like to joke about my man voice and John's cute little girly voice."
Places

Places

LP / CD / MP3