Skirts is the musical moniker of Dallas born songwriter Alex Montenegro. Alex grew up surrounded by music, whether that’s childhood memories of her father teaching her to, “place a needle on a record he was willing to sacrifice”, or spending her teenage years working in record shops and discovering the many indie-rock communities Texas had to offer. Back in 2018, Alex shared a four-track home-recorded EP, Almost Touching, and boldly decided to forge out on the road, supporting the likes of LVL UP, Snail Mail, and Spencer Radcliffe. Three years on Alex recently released the debut Skirts long-player, Great Big Wild Oak, in her own words a, “Frankenstein album”, combining re-working of early demos alongside newer material.
Recorded between several home studios across Dallas, Great Big Wild Oak is a record that serves as an expansive reimagining of the traditional sound of Texas, combining the intimacy of bedroom-folk with the twanging wonder of alt-country. The record’s scene is set by the opening track, Back Out, a meander of guitar chords accompanied by Alex’s rich, understated vocal, knowingly asking, “I’ve made my bed have you?” From there the record slips into recent single Always, a master-class in musical layering as a deceptively crisp drum beat is overlaid with layers of vocal, and moments of gentle crescendo, as electric guitars and pulsing bass take it into similar musical territory to Band Of Horses or My Morning Jacket. Musically, it’s a tricky album to pin down, take Easy a track that seems to question the human desire to be the centre of attention, and sets that musing to a backing that starts off shuffling like early-Iron & Wine, before woodwind and a choppy percussive rhythm take it off into somewhere entirely different. Perhaps my favourite moment comes just as the album begins to wind down, on the majestic True, it finds Alex hitting the road to rid herself of a past relationship gone bad, as Alex sings, “knew back when time called it that I’d never feel true again”. Musically, the track is unshowy in its gentle complexity, bringing Tenci or Katy Kirby to mind as the slide guitar comes to the fore, alongside percussive piano, that has a certain half-speed honky-tonk quality that’s remarkably effective. By the time the record comes to a close on Annie, a song that walks the line of cynicism and optimism with aplomb, I feel like I’ve been let into a secret. The record feels as if you’ve been given a guided tour of a family photo album, introduced to an array of people, told their stories through Alex’s own eyes, it feels beautifully intimate and yet delightfully universal, a Great Big Wild Oak, grown over generations, that is still a perfect spot to sit and think about the minute interactions that make a life well worth living.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Skirts?
My name is Alex Montenegro, from Dallas, TX. Skirts is a moniker that I’ve used for a while for my songs. Great Big Wild Oak had many collaborations from so many incredibly talented people including Vincent Bui, Victor Bui, and Joshua Luttrull. They helped me make the album good.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
First show as skirts was absolutely terrifying, I was opening for SALES in Dallas, TX. It was just me, with a bulky acoustic guitar, pocket piano, and a looping pedal. Very intimidating but fun! I covered Icehead by Alex G
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Music feels the best for me! I’ve also always wanted to paint/draw but I’ve never been any good. I am a big fan of film photography though and almost always have a camera with me.
FTR: What can people expect from the Skirts live show?
Last night at practice Vincent brought in his pedalsteel and started writing a new arrangement for the song “Sapling” and it immediately blew me away. I almost cried! So there is that and there are also some fun and more rockin’ bits too!
FTR: What’s next for Skirts?
If the world doesn’t turn upside down again, we have a few shows in store that I’m incredibly excited about. First being on 8/22 with Alexalone and Teethe and Rubber Gloves in Denton, TX!
They Listen To…
Skirts: I’m incredibly sorry, but I couldn’t just pick five!! A mix of inspos, songs i love, friends
Alex G – Come Back
The National – So Far Around The Bend
The Tallest Man On Earth – The Gardener
Tenci – No Wings
Tex Patrello – Sour Apple March
The Band – The Weight
Dead Sullivan – You Were There, Inside My Head
Steven Leftovers – In Some Time
Katy Kirby – Cool Dry Place
R.L. Kelly – Fake Out
Mulatu Astatke – Tezeta (Nostalgia)