The Vermont trio Happy Birthday has been one of 2010's bands to watch, by fusing lukewarm punk with raw, twee pop and the occasional '60s harmony. Its ramshackle brand of lo-fi pop is less straightforward than it sounds, however, thanks to towering power chords and scorching drums (see: "Zit"). Kyle Thomas, Ruth Garbus (sister of tUnE-yArDs' wonderwoman Merrill Garbus) and Chris Weisman began playing together in 2008, and Sub Pop snapped them up after the group had only played four gigs. On Happy Birthday's self-titled 2010 debut, Thomas' voice grates while Garbus' soothes; its sound lies in the nexus between labelmates No Age and chillwave poster girl Best Coast. "Girls FM" is the quintessential.
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