The Karl Hendricks Trio

Some Girls Like Cigarettes

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Originally released as a 10" EP and then expanded for re-release on Merge with the contents of the "Baseball Cards"/"Smartypants" single from the same period of time, Some Girls Like Cigarettes is brash, loud, reflective, maybe a bit nerdy and not really minding -- all very early '90s, but also able to last on its own beyond it. From the distance point of a decade, it's not necessarily the secret foundation of Weezer or anything like that, but its briskness and crisp punch helps it clearly stand out from the derivative grunge slop a few too bands thought was the way forward after Nevermind hit. Karl Hendricks' voice and guitar playing both are fine and dandy, the former a slightly strangled wail (but not by much), and the latter is alternately a cut-to-the-quick sharp, sweetly calm chime, and an epic feedback pile-on. "Pittsburgh's Hottest Babes," unprepossessing title aside, is a great example of the final quality, aiming for the heights without getting all precious about it. The secret winner on the original release might well be the two part "It Could Be a Miracle," a consideration of frustration and feeling held back by yourself that is heightened by a steady, gentle indie rock lope centered as much around the bass and drums as the guitar. The second part is actually a blasting, brief instrumental coda, a nice blend of melancholy and full-on drive that's almost inspirational in spite of itself. It would make a great conclusion to a short film's soundtrack, somewhere. Great line, from "If This Song Was a Cigarette" -- "If this song was a movie star, would you pay more attention to me?" "Baseball Cards" and "Smartypants" are both fine additions to the final version, the former showing (like many of the other songs) a little hint of the Wedding Present's drama circa Seamonsters.

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