Ukulele Jazz

Ukulele-toting Rebecca Lowry swings out on her new All Young Girls Are Machine Guns album

Rebecca Lowry, the heart and voice at the center of All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, may have just inadvertently made herself seem like a gin-soaked inebriate on her band's new album, Here's Hopin' Tomorrow Never Comes.

But while her lyrics are dappled by happenings around cocktails and corner bars, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns' music flits by like a windblown feather on the sounds of doo-wop, 60s girl group pop, light jazz, swing and early soul.

The reality is Lowry is far from some Jazz Age drunk girl, as Lowry and bassist Travis Sing, formerly of the Black Squirrels, talk about the new album with the Reader over coffee, not Tom Collins, at Aromas Coffeehouse, 1033 Jones St.

Lowry is the main songwriter, though Sing contributed a song to the album. Lowry steps beyond her ukulele-led self-titled album, which the band released in 2011.

This time there's more pronounced jazz and country elements, as well as a few ballads tucked somewhere between the blues and 60s soul.

That was partially by design, Lowry says.

"I just wanted to write a soul song and that turned into three of them," she says.

Sing has turned into Lowry's right-hand man, as he added album recording and mixing duties to his role as bass player. The album is also released on Sing's Nectar & Venom imprint.

"He wore all of the hats," Lowry says.

He also recorded the band's self-titled album, but he says his skills have grown measurably since those first sessions.

"I'm still a dilettante. I'm just goofing around," Sing says.

Sing puts his own charming touches on the proceeedings, adding a forest fire message to the end of "Smokey", which is recorded with a transistor radio vibe.

"Imbibe" is a gentle, rolling song with warmly-recorded finger snaps and a bassline that Sing says was inspired by Peggy Lee's "Fever".

Lowry already has hopes for where that whiskey ode will end up.

"If anybody knows who chooses the music for Mad Men, have them contact us," she says.

Overall, Sing says he feels like he added more weight to the album, without missing that loose, swinging feel of last year's release.

"This album is a lot more fleshed out," Sing says.

Meanwhile, the band's line-up as grown and changed since the band's first album. While Scott Zimmerman plays some on the album, Jason Domonkos plays drums in the band now. Jessica Errett, Kristin Pikop and Molly Welsh add background vocals and Will Meinen plays guitar.

Meinen has become something of a secret weapon, adding his extensive jazz experience to the proceedings, Lowry says.

Lowry says she feels her songwriting as matured, aided by the fact that she's been writing songs now for the last three or so years. She's also become a regular at the Encyclopedia Show, a performance showcase that travels around Omaha. Each show features a different theme around which the participating artists create their work.

So songs like "Smokey" and "Pop Rocks" got their start from that event. Lowry says she liked having rules and boudaries to guide her work.

"Writing to a specific theme is a million times easier," she says.

Still Lowry says she had to reconcile the silly words of "Pop Rocks" with the catchy quasi-reggae groove of the song.

"Paper Dolls" revisits Lolita, the book that first gave the band its name. It's kind of Lowry's last song about books she's read, at least for now.

Other songs stem from personal experience with Lowry trying to figure out how to code the songs so the person she's writing about doesn't know they're the subject of a song.

Most of those songs fall into the love song spectrum. So if a listener thinks the song is about them, it might be. Or, then again, it might not.

"I have a crush on everybody though," Lowry says.

All Young Girls Are Machine Guns celebrate the release of Here's Hopin' Tomorrow Never Comes with Mynabirds' Laura Burhenn and Field Club at the Slowdown, 729 North 14th St. Friday, Sept. 28th. Tickets are $8 at the door.

posted at 01:38 pm
on Friday, September 28th, 2012


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