Music News

The Birthday Girl

Usually when musicians name their band after a song, said number is the best they've got at the time, or damned close: "Black Sabbath," co-written by Ozzy Osbourne, is a good example. Singer-songwriter John Nichols must feel likewise about "You Are the Birthday Girl," since he made it the title cut of his CD and employed virtually the same moniker as a nom de plume. But while the track in question is perfectly pleasant, it's less memorable than several of his other ditties.

Nichols is a devoted Anglophile whose work filters American influences through a British lens. Although "Charmaday," with lyrics by Charlie Hoge, features a Phil Spector beat, Nichols's ringing guitar tones and soaring vocal harmonies nod to drama, Manchester style. Elsewhere, "Tidal Wave of Shame" tunefully wallows in a sore subject -- and if "Rock You Into Submission" doesn't quite accomplish its stated purpose, the droning melody achieves a similar effect.

Overall, Birthday Girl and the Birthday Girl are better than "Birthday Girl." Try getting your head around that, Ozzy.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts