Philly alt-grunge outfit, UgLi, have wasted no time since releasing their debut album, FUCK, in June of 2021.
The group spent most of 2022 playing behind the album throughout the Northeast in addition to a tour that brought them to the Midwest and Southern United States.
In between all of the shows, UgLi made their way back to Gradwell Recording House to record a new EP titled girldick. and it does not disappoint. Once again working with engineer Dave Downham, UgLi built on the impressive sonic foundation of FUCK and have put together five tracks that showcase their instrumental growth and more serious lyrical themes.
That DIY musicians, inspired by other DIY musicians, inspire more DIY musicians makes this particular subculture different—and more important—than any other. Obviously, musicians inspire other musicians in every genre, but not all art is so accessible, encouraging fans to pick up instruments and play it before they really know how. And, more than that, not all art makes room for marginalized people the way DIY does.
Dylyn Durante started Philadelphia, PA’s UgLi in this same tradition. Putting on DIY punk shows with her friends inspired her to create and contribute to her scene in a new way. “It really gave me the desire and momentum to start creating my own music and start my own band,” she says. “It just seemed like a lot of fun and something that I wanted to experience for myself after having so many friends who already did. Basically, I just wanted to be able to play music in a collaborative way, and create sounds and songs of things I would want to listen to.” Durante used her DIY connections, tapping new friends and old, to round out UgLi’s lineup.
Dylyn Durante (she/her) – Guitar & Vocals
Andrew Iannarelli (he/him) – Guitar
Lucas Gisonti (he/him) – Bass & Keys
Teddy Paullin (he/him) – Drums
Calling UgLi’s music “ugly” is too easy. Sure, their songs are rough and ragged like the torn edges of construction paper. Sure, they are noisy, blown-out in all the right ways, with only Durante’s caterwaul piercing their melodic mass. Sure, genre labels like “indie” or “alternative” don’t do enough to capture what the band accomplished in their self-released 2021 debut FUCK, nor do more specific labels like “punk-rock” or “power-pop” seem accurate enough. For now, DIY will have to do.
UgLi’s follow-up girldick. shows a band more in-control of their chaos. The EP was written in the wake of FUCK’s unexpected momentum, which stirred up new thoughts and feelings in Durante and her bandmates. “Between lyrical content, song composure, as well as general attitude,” Durante says, “I feel that the EP has leapt beyond the threshold of an initial introduction, and plays around with more mature and serious themes while also honing in a lot more in the instrumental work. We spent a lot of time fixating and refining the tones and textures in the EP in a way I don’t think we really even knew how to when we recorded the album.”
It’s easy to hear the ‘90s influences on girldick.—from Hum to Veruca Salt, the Pixies to the Breeders—but each song rages against these influences in its own unique way. Opener “spiro.,” with its smoldering riffs and mid-bridge breakdown, draws as much influence from psychedelic doom metal as it does punk-rock. And the EP’s first single “crybabi.” employs the quiet-loud tactic that was so successful in the grunge era, but with an anthemic sing-along chorus that sounds more like Weezer than Nirvana. But the most powerful songs on girldick. use dynamics and control to translate Durante’s emotional experiences. On the EP’s closer “flatsoda.,” for example, the scorching chords and cumbersome beat convey a sorrow and weariness that listeners will carry with them long after the track ends.
UgLi’s latest is nothing if not loud, unapologetic, and unafraid. Though girldick. wears its influences on its ratty jean jacket, Durante and her band have created an explosive, dynamic DIY album that sounds like no other artist. But UgLi’s music is about more than making an expressive, emotional racket; it’s about seeing someone like you onstage, hearing them on a
slab of vinyl, and knowing that you could pick up a guitar and do the same.