Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bad Attitude

Bad Attitude was a 'radical women's newspaper' published in the early 1990s from 121 Railton Road, Brixton (among other things, home to the famous Dead by Dawn speedcore nights). Some of the women involved it had previously been involved in the young women's zine Shocking Pink, including my late friend Katy Watson. Here from issue 7 (1995) is one of Katy's music columns.

Welcome to my second review column of punk/indie women's bands. I'm pleased to say that this time a much higher propor­tion of them are independent/DIY bands, rather than on major labels, which I think is something worth supporting. Once again, I've only mentioned things that I found reasonably enjoyable. Is this a good idea? I don't know. Maybe you'd like to tell me.

So first off it's time to get your leopard-print bikinis on and... Spend the Night with the Trashwomen! For this is the title of my most highly recommended LP of this issue. It's by the Trashwomen, as you might guess, and is entirely wonderful. The style is garage, as in Sixties-style surf songs, a little like the Cramps, only belting along at about twice the speed and very cheaply produced which makes it seem even more rough'n'ready'n'fab. There are quite a few instrumentals and their lyrics are mainly along the lines of love, sex and dates, except for the self-explanatory 'I'm Trash'. So not a night out with Sheila ]effreys (not that I've anything against her). Several songs are complete classics, to my ears. It came out last year and I don't even know what made me buy it. I can only think it was the hand of the Goddess. (On Estrus records) And now it seems they have a favourably­reviewed live LP out....

Also in garage area though slightly more punky is a 4-track EP Punk or Die by Pink Kross, who are three girls from Glasgow. 'Doll core', apparently. The first track 'Drag Star Racing Queen' is a real cracker. I loved it. Catchy, thrashing, tuneful, fast, with lyrics either winning or daft, depending how you're prepared to take them. The other three tracks aren't as wondrous, but who cares when the first one's so brilliant? (Bouvier)

36C (LP) by Fifth Column, a Canadian dyke band. The first song, 'All Women are Bitches', is a classic, one of the best things I've heard this year - a powerful and catchy piece of pop-punk. But after that I found the others a let-down. The tunes are good, the singer has a fine voice and the lyrics are feminist, but it's all much slower. On the other hand if you appreciate melodic guitar songs this is good stuff. Personally I wish I'd just bought the 7" of 'All Women .. '/Donna'. (K records)

Alien's Mom (3-track 7") by Tribe 8. A San Francisco dyke band, much thrashier than the above. The title track is an OK thrash-punk tune with likeable lyrics about a woman leaving her husband for another woman. As for the drippy B-side - some things are best kept to ones therapist. I like Tribe 8 a lot, but this isn't the best I've heard from them. (Outpunk)

Out punk Dance Party (compilation LP). A variety of mainly north American dyke and queer bands from hardcore punk to one rap number. It gets off to a great start as a house beat familiar to any gay club-goer is wiped off the turntables with a satisfying needle­screech, but the tracks themselves are vari­able. Includes a good 'un (though not new) from London's own Sister George and I found the CWA rap story pleasantly amusing, plus a couple of the boys' bands a pretty good. However, though this could have been the definitive queercore comp, only half of it is up to scratch. (Outpunk)

You're Dead (4-track 7") by lovable young­sters the Frantic Spiders. I think this is their first record (?) and in their letter they say "this is very old and not indicative of the rousing live experience that Frantic Spiders are famed for". This may be, but all the same it's not bad. It's punky pop at a good pace, quite clear-sounding and there's a funny metaillic sound to the guitar, like slide guitar wthout the slide, which is also good. 'Retard' is the most memorable song, but don't they know it's not nice to call people that? (Weirdness).

American Thighs by Veruca Salt (LP) The most mainstream-indie of this issue's reviews. It sounds very much like The Breeders, ie US alternative pop-rock, tuneful, female vocals, expensive production, loud bits... quiet bits ... To be honest this is a bit too slow and mild to be my cup of tea, but I can see it's not bad, the guitars have a reasonable grind and if you like that sort of indie e stuff, you could well like this. The single, Seether, taken from the LP, is fairly lively and rockin'. (Both on Hi-Rise/Minty Fresh).

Suck (4-track 7") by Witchknot : I sup­pose this is roughly in the vein of hardcore but it has the unusual addition of a fiddle. They're six women from Bradford and I'd describe it as being something like a cross between the Dog Faced Hermans (one of their favourite bands, it seems) and the Au Pairs. Political lyrics, a strong vocalist and a fairly dissonant sound. And can you beat 'Pianist Envy' for a song title? (£2 (payable to D Taylor) from Witchknot, PO Box 169, Bradford, W Yorks BD7 1YS.)

I also got hold of records by a couple more all-women bands (both from the US) though I don't know how recent they are. 7 Year Bitch are feminist punksters whose EP Anti­disestablisbmentarianism (the longest word in the English language - don't say you don't learn anything here) is pretty good fast polit­ical hardcore, though the lyrics are stronger than the tunes. 'Dead Men Don't Rape' is an obvious crowd-pleaser. (Rugger Bugger) I also found a split single called Can We Laugh Now? with Thatcher On Acid on the other side. Musically this is good, though paradoxi­cally the lyrics are a bit irritating. (Clawfist)

Also worth checking out are US dyke band Team Dresch. Basically this is a little too gentle for my taste, but more mellow types might like it. I got a 3-track 7"; 'Hand Grenade' and 'Endtime Relay' are good, melodic guitar pop with a nice catch to them, a little dreamy­sounding. The other song 'Molasses in January' seemed painfully slow to me, but on the whole I'd recommend it. (Kill Rock Stars)

At the other end of the scale are Delicate Vomit, an all-women punk band from Newcastle. In case you hadn't guessed from their having 'vomit' in the name they are towards the hardcore end of punk. I haven't got a record to review, but the one song I heard sounded interesting.


kersplebedeb said...

hey - i remember that newspaper!

Anonymous said...

Oh, to actually hear Delicate Vomit!

Anonymous said...

do some research. queer women, not dykes. those things are very different.

Transpontine said...

In terms of historical research, this post is as accurate as you can get, as it is a primary source. It is reprinted directly from a 1995 feminist newspaper, whose author chose to use the term 'dykes' rather than 'queer women' - the latter a term that was rarely used at that time (the whole 'queer' discourse was really only just beginning then). If you want to argue with the terms some women used to describe themselves in the mid-1990s you'll need to go back in a time machine and talk to them.

Anonymous said...

you don't need a time machine 'cause I was one of them! However, I've come to this conversation a bit after the fact.

Yes, the 'queer discourse' had just started then. But at that stage it appeared to be something of a marketing category rather than a political/sexual perspective. (I think we had a review of Cherry Smythe's Lesbians Talk Queer Notions) where this reservation is expressed.

Now, things have moved on. And perhaps some of those 'dykes' might say they're queer women. On one hand, it might be due to some of them, ahem, having relationships with members of the oppositive sex but not being 'straight':). Also, 'queer'has been politicised by groups like Queeruption and others.