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8 Inch Betsy | The Mean Days

Years after the fact, the Chicago punks finally get their long-overdue due.

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I‘m sorry to say I missed out on this band 15 years ago when they were around. But I’d be even sorrier if the world had missed out on hearing this long-long album completely. So will you.

While Chicago trio 8 Inch Betsy called themselves a punk band — and that’s technically true — their scrappy, unvarnished anthems of their long-gestating sophomore album The Mean Days boast enough killer hooks, melodies and harmonies to boost them about five levels above your typical mohawk-sporting, slogan-shouting combo. Most of the credit for that apparently belongs to singer-guitarist Meghan Galbraith, whose powerful songwriting and passionate delivery undeniably marked her as a major talent with near-limitless potential. Sadly, she never got fulfil it — the band broke up nearly a decade ago, and Galbraith passed away earlier this year after a lengthy undisclosed illness.  She will be missed — not only by those who knew and loved her, but by everyone who hears this album and will be left wondering what might have been.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Chicago punk outfit 8 Inch Betsy played aggressive lyric-driven rock with an equal debt to riot grrl ideals, snotty ‘90s pop punk and the heart-on-your-sleeve honesty of artists like PJ Harvey & Nina Nastasia. Earlier this year, frontwoman and primary songwriter Meghan Galbraith passed away at the age of 35, leaving in her wake a legacy of love, camaraderie and a finished album that — until now — had gone unreleased to streaming platforms. While the band’s members — Galbraith (guitar, vox), Eli Burke (bass) & Melissa Thomas (drums) — identify as queer, The Mean Days doesn’t lend itself to overt LGBTQ themes, instead basking in the human condition: failed relationships, a longing for things lost, the chaos in how life can suddenly shift and push you in a completely new direction. All of 8 Inch Betsy’s songs were written by Galbraith, tearing pages from the secret book of her life and gluing them back together in a filigree of rock anthems. “Our songs are inspired by life experiences, relationships and everything that you can’t say out loud,” Galbraith once said. 8 Inch Betsy recorded their debut LP, This Time, Last Time, Every Time at Chicago’s Joyride Studios, creating a compelling record that takes listeners on a passionate journey through Galbraith’s brilliant mind. It’s a humble, angsty, honest, full-throttle album with tons of catchy hooks. 8 Inch Betsy wanted to replicate the experience with their follow-up, but the recording of The Mean Days was a drawn-out process that began in 2010 and went on for years. They recorded and re-recorded the songs, fitting in a few hours of sessions whenever they could. The Mean Days is the last studio album recorded by Galbraith. The tracks are peppered with her laughter, her burps and her beautiful voice, sometimes light, feminine and delicate, other times growling, brutal and hard as nails — sometimes both simultaneously as she sings her own harmonies. The feeling that this album is her final goodbye to the world is tempered by the fact that she was such a prolific musician — dozens of audio tapes she recorded on a beat-up four-track remain scattered amongst her lifetime of friends and lovers. In addition to this excellent new album, the secret b-sides and hidden tracks of Meghan Galbraith are still out there if one wants to find them.”