Yesterday, Girls singer-songwriter Christopher Owens announced that he was leaving the band, apparently to make music on his own. "My reasons at this time are personal," he wrote on Twitter. "I need to do this in order to progress."
We can't say we know exactly what's going on here -- other than that it seems to mean that Girls, arguably the most famous young San Francisco indie rock band of the last few years -- are over. We're saddened by that. As we struggle to get our heads around the end of Girls, let's look back at some of the key moments from the band's roughly four-year career.
May 27, 2008: All Shook Down posts the video for "Morning Light." Music editor Jennifer Maerz says Girls keep popping up around the city.
July 1, 2008: Then-fledgling label True Panther Sounds releases the "Lust for Life"/"Morning Light" 7-inch.
July 2009: The "Hellhole Ratrace" single gets posted as a Best New Track on Pitchfork, despite being almost seven minutes long.
Summer 2009: Owens' personal history in the Children of God cult and with Stanley Marsh III comes out, and becomes a central subject of interviews for the next three years. Other frequent interview subjects: Owens' and White's drug use.
Sept. 14, 2009: Album receives a 9.1/Best New Music review from Pitchfork and heaps of praise elsewhere. The New York Times calls it "one of the year's most bracing pop releases, and one of the best." The band's upcoming hometown show at Bottom of the Hill promptly sells out.
Oct. 27, 2009: Girls release a very NSFW "hardcore" cut of the "Lust for Life" Video, featuring Seth Bogart of Hunx and His Punx and the band's S.F. friends.
Fall 2009 - Fall 2010: The band tours all over the world, drawing lots of attention, including from a French fashion magazine. The tour ends in October 2010 with a sparsely attended Friday night show at the Fillmore. Before it, Owens tells us that he hates to say he's in a band. "I like to think of myself as a songwriter," he says.
Nov. 22, 2010: Girls release the six-song Broken Dreams Club EP to acclaim. Owens says it mostly consists of older material he'd written.
Early 2011: Girls work at a mysterious basement recording studio in the Tenderloin to record the follow-up to Album.
August 8, 2011: The band releases the video for "Vomit," the first single off its second album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost. The six-minute clip features almost 90 seconds of porn-like footage of simply a cherry-red vintage Mustang; the rest of the video has Owens and J.R. White driving around S.F. at night in the car. The song "Vomit" features a panoramic, Pink Floyd-like chorus heavy on backup singers -- seemingly very grandiose for what had been a low-key band.
Sept. 13, 2011: The sprawling, ambitious Father, Son, Holy Ghost sees release in the U.S. Pitchfork gives it a 9.3 and a Best New Music. The record earns a 79 percent Metacritic score, with some critics complaining that it "overstretches" the band. In an interview with Pitchfork, Owens details his struggles with drug abuse and his efforts to get clean.
Sept. 13: 2011: Girls makes its debut television performance, playing "Honey Bunny." NBC producers reportedly decline to allow J.R. White to drape a rainbow flag over his bass amp.
Fall 2011: Girls launch a world tour in support of Father, Son, Holy Ghost, including two sold-out shows at S.F.'s Great American Music Hall on Oct. 8 and 9. The Oct. 9 show is incredible, flush with Owens and White's new, super-skilled band members and a trio of backup singers.
Dec. 2012: Father, Son, Holy Ghost makes numerous best-of-2012 critics' lists, with some naming it the best album of 2012. The album reaches No. 37 on the Billboard 200.
Feb. 27, 2012: Girls release a video for "My Ma," which explores Owens' troubled relationship with his mother.
Apr. 19, 2012: Girls perform "My Ma" on Conan; Owens goes on Twitter to complain about the HBO show Girls. "Do you think that TV show even thought twice before using our band's name for their show?" Owens writes. "I'll bet they were just like 'fuck it, fuck them.'" The band is mildly ridiculed for this.
July 2, 2012: Christopher Owens announces that he plans to leave Girls. The news is reported in music and general interest media outlets around the world.