The Beautiful Girls are an Australian roots music musical collective formed in 2001, featuring the music of songwriter/producer Mat McHugh. They have released three extended plays, Morning Sun (2002), Goodtimes (2002) and The Weight of the World (2004); plus five studio albums, Learn Yourself (2003), We're Already Gone (2005), Ziggurats (2007), Spooks (2010), and Dancehall Days (2014). The latter four albums have all peaked into the top 20 on the ARIA Albums Chart. Spooks and "Dancehall Days" also debuted at No. 1 on the Australian Independent Chart and, No. 7&5 (respectively) on the American Billboard Reggae Albums Chart. Their single, "I Thought About You", reached No. 60 on the ARIA Singles Chart. Songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist, Mat McHugh, has also issued two solo albums, Seperatista! (2008) and Love Come Save Me (2012) as well as an EP, Go Don't Stop (2011).
By 2014 The Beautiful Girls had toured the world multiple times - including Japan, Canada, Brazil and the United States - and their total album sales reached 350,000.
In 2001 The Beautiful Girls formed in Sydney as a roots music group with Mitch Connelly on drums and percussion; Clay MacDonald on bass guitar, backing vocals, xylophone and recorder; and Mat McHugh on lead vocals and lead guitar. Previously McHugh had travelled to New York to pursue a music career, he returned to Sydney to record some demos where he founded the band. McHugh choose the name to counter the "macho posturing and the associated tough-guy band names. And a beautiful girl was just about the sweetest, most appropriate opposite I could think of". In March 2002 The Beautiful Girls issued their debut eight-track extended play, Morning Sun on a self-funded independent label, which was distributed by MGM Distribution. The track "Periscopes" received airplay on national radio station, Triple J. McHugh explained why they chose not to sign with any major label, "It's the way we've always been as a band and the way I've always wanted to do things. I like artists and musicians who I get the vibe of where they're coming from and an understanding of what kinda person they are. For me it's just a way of conversing back and forth with people". In November 2002, a second EP, Goodtimes, was issued with five tracks.
On 22 September 2003, the group released their debut studio album, Learn Yourself, which was co-produced by McHugh with Ian Pritchett. United States pop-rocker, Mason Jennings, provided lead vocals on a track, "Freedom (Part 2)", and former Soul Asylum drummer, Ian Mussington, provided percussion on two tracks.
In 2004 The Beautiful Girls toured Japan, Canada and the US. In January 2005, they released a four-track EP, Weight of the World, where the title track was a "rollicking, dance hall tune, featuring, wails of melodica and a tinge of hip hop, it has already been added to rotation on JJJ". On their Australian tour promoting the release they were joined by Brazilian, Felipe Kmiecik on harmonica. On 4 July that year, with Kimieck aboard on melodica, harmonica and keyboards the band recorded their second album, We're Already Gone, which peaked at No. 19 on the ARIA Albums Chart. It was produced by McHugh and Pritchett on The Beautiful Girls' own label, San Dumo Records, and distributed by MGM. The special edition of We're Already Gone includes a four-track DVD, 'Legged, with live video footage and film clips. The album features guest vocals by Julia Stone (of Angus & Julia Stone). In October 2006 the group issued a compilation album, Water.
By 2007 Connelly, Kmiecik and MacDonald had departed - Connelly subsequently worked on Angus & Julia Stone's albums and EPs, and Julia Stone's solo album. MacDonald also worked for Angus & Julia Stone and later formed a rock, punk group, Valley Floor. In 2009 Kmiecik, as Felipe Harp, issued a solo EP, Back on the Road. The Beautiful Girls continued with McHugh now on lead vocals, lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, melodica and percussion - he was joined by Pritchett on bass guitar, backing vocals, guitar, keyboards and percussion, and Bruce Braybrooke (ex-Frenzal Rhomb, The Fantastic Leslie) on drums, percussion and vocals. On 14 May 2007 the group issued their third album, Ziggurats, on Die!Boredom Records with McHugh and Pritchett co-producing. The album peaked at No. 21 on the Australian albums chart. It spawned the single, "I Thought About You", which peaked at No. 60 on the ARIA Singles Chart.The Sydney Morning Herald felt the group's "sound is punchier and more angular. Lyrically, McHugh has drifted away from the personal politics of relationships to a wider political outlook. The album, in particular the stand-out 'I Thought About You', are a convincing departure from the 'roots' scene".
At the APRA Music Awards of 2008, "I Thought About You" - written by McHugh - was nominated for 'Blues & Roots Work of the Year'. By 2008, The Beautiful Girls had toured Japan, Europe (including UK), Brazil, US and Canada. McHugh launched his solo career, however late in 2008 a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles hospitalised McHugh and delayed the release of his album, Seperatista!. By 2010 The Beautiful Girls had toured the world twelve times and their total album sales reached 285,000.
On 25 May 2010, The Beautiful Girls with the line-up of McHugh and Braybrooke joined by Paulie Bromley on bass guitar, issued their fourth album, Spooks. It peaked at No. 18 on the ARIA Albums Chart, and debuted at No. 1 on the Australian Independent Chart. In June that year it reached No. 7 on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart. In September, a US tour was interrupted when McHugh was diagnosed with a ruptured appendix. In April 2012 McHugh's second solo album, Love Come Save Me, was released on his website as a free download.
By late 2012, McHugh established a new band name, Mat. McHugh and the seperatista soundsystem, which first toured in January 2013.
Mat McHugh - vocal, guitar,
Paulie Bromley - bass guitar,
Bruce Braybrooke - drums,
Mitchell Connelly - drums, percussion,
Clay MacDonald - bass guitar, vocals, xylophone, recorder,
Felipe Kmiecik - harmonica, melodica, piano