Colleen Green and I both lived in Boston, Massachusetts during the early part of this century. My Brain Hurts and Milo Goes to College were listened to. Alcohol was consumed outdoors. Colleen fronted a pop-punk band whose drummer suffered from what must have been a form of narcolepsy. Eventually, she left town for points west. Not long afterward, I heard she’d released a homemade tape called Milo Goes to Compton. She sent me a copy, and I was floored: Her Ramones-driven songwriting hadn’t lost a step, but in the process of going solo she’d whittled away most of the the genre trappings. What remained was sparse electric guitar, a tinny drum machine, and Green’s gorgeous voice, which sounded more confident than ever. The tape sounded like it had been made in haste; intimate in a way that pop-punk typically is not, and it came with a funny comic about smoking pot. She had retained the self-awareness and disdain for frills bestowed on all New England natives, but it had been tempered some by California’s dreamy slacker romanticism. It had turned into something new.
Upon arriving at a Brooklyn loft show in 2010, Green arrived armed with her tapes and CD-Rs of what would come to be her first Hardly Art release, 4 Loko 2 Kayla. Fast forward a couple of years and another perfect EP (2011’s CUJO), and Green is ready to release Sock it to Me, her debut LP for Hardly Art. What used to sound sparse out of necessity has been honed into an intentional, Young Marble Giants kind of austerity focused on giving her voice the room it demands. The constant presence of time-tested four-chord progressions and Green’s faithful drum machine keep Sock it to Me grounded in pure pop, but her breathy, emotive vocals have taken an enormous leap forward, evoking all-time heroes such as Rose Melberg and Tina Weymouth. “Time In the World,” especially, recalls the way Weymouth’s Tom Tom Club combined straightforward, relatable lyrics about the experience of really liking someone with earworm bass lines that end up being the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning.
Green has been known to perform a cover of The Descendents’ “Good Good Things” so slow and intense that it’s almost uncomfortable. Being so aloof and laid-back that it exposes the personal, honest sweetness in a song like that is Colleen’s M.O. in a nutshell. Colleen Green encapsulates the best parts of the Northeast and the West Coast. Colleen Green always wears sunglasses onstage. Colleen Green is long hair and getting high. I listened once. I will listen forever. Sock it to me.