L.A. band Upset are rather the incestuous bunch. Led by former Best Coast drummer Ali Koehler and featuring Patty Schemel (Hole), Jenn Prince (La Sera) and Katy Goodman (Vivian Girls), these four gals are essentially one big SuperGroup: Ali and Katy used to play together in Vivian Girls; Jenn and Katy are both in La Sera; Patty used to host slumber parties for everyone at Courtney Love’s house (okay, that last one I just made up). But regardless of the who/what/when/where/why that surrounds Upset’s formation, we should all just be glad that it happened.
She’s Gone, Upset’s recent debut on Don Giovanni Records, sees all of the band’s previous musical ties coming together quite nicely, and forming a neat little bow. Bedroom lo-fi meets garage pop-punk on these sunny tracks that detail everything from failed relationships and frenemies to hallway gossip, which can work one of two ways. At best, the teen dream aesthetic that drives the record is refreshing; at worst, it’s just a little too sweet (like our hordes of leftover Halloween candy). Luckily, She’s Gone contains more of the former than the latter.
Fittingly, Upset recall the early 90s alternative of bands like the aforementioned Hole, but with a twist of poppy west coast punk and a dash of 60s girl group charm. The ladies know what works for them, and don’t over-complicate things that should be simple. Lyrics and song titles are smart, yet completely straight-forward, like the fuzzy “She’s Gone” with its breezy, sing-a-long chorus. “You and I” is faster and grungier, with a powerful beat and shreddy, catchy riff. “Oxfords and Wingtips” offers pretty melody and crashing percussions, the perfect blend of both old sounds and new.
Through-and-through, She’s Gone delivers good times that don’t require a lot of analyzation; Upset don’t exactly re-invent the wheel on their debut record, but it’s a pretty fun spin, regardless.