It seems only fitting that our 007 release comes from Austin’s Agent Ribbons. The past few years have shaped the band’s identity in many ways…relocating to Austin from their home stomping grounds of Sacramento, gaining/losing a third member (violinist Naomi Cherie who performed on the band’s sophomore effort, Chateau Crone), juggling the touring life whilst making ends meet at home, even counting down the hours left on their infamous ban from the UK…
For many bands, these trying moments would conquer the creative process… Not for Agent Ribbons. It seems no matter what the world dishes out the music shall prevail. In a way the songs found on the Family Haircut cassette address the band’s growth both personal and professional showcasing a more sophisticated connection between Natalie Ribbons and Lauren Hess. They have returned to their roots as a duo, but the sound is fuller than ever with immaculate songwriting, thoughtful lyrics, and a higher rate of vocal collaboration as Lauren Hess takes a stronger hold on the microphone.
Opening track “Let Them Talk” instantly enters the vault of Agent Ribbons classic tunes as it comes in with a breezy care free ease. It is an empowering anthem of independence as Natalie Ribbons sings “Let them talk / Nobody can hurt us / If we know what we want”. Publications such as VICE or BUST have taken notice to title track “Family Haircut” – an eerie mantra recollecting arty post-punk virtuosos The Raincoats if they were tangled in the overgrown rosemary and thyme bushes of Gray Gardens. The theatrical element of Agent Ribbons which has won fans over at live shows can be noted in “Shoeshine Boy”, an a’capella doo wop romp.
The most rowdy and raw song on the cassette is “Fucked Up” – which sounds like the what daughter of Johnny Cash would put on the juke box as she danced upon the bar tops of an old dusty saloon. The slow and steady ballad of “Never Not Gonna Be Ready” is a solid song featuring Natalie Ribbons’ alluring lyrics and melodies at their best. “I Can’t Believe You’re Real” and “Jamaica and the Wishing Shrine” are dreamy jingles noting the beginnings of new friendships/love and remembering those who will be held close to our hearts for eternity.
“Back in the storied Sixties, you couldn’t get more dark/light dichotomous than the Velvet Underground vs. the Mamas & the Papas. Cigarette alto (with a pitch-perfect squeak) Natalie Ribbons could tackle Nico and Mama Cass, and drummer Lauren Hess definitely Moe Tuckers thump. Perhaps the perfect gray area would be the twisted entropy of the Kennedy-Bouvier kin of Grey Gardens, which Agent Ribbons coincidentally has a song about.” – Kate X Messer, The Austin Chronicle
“F*cked Up” filmed live at SXSW 2012: