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Old 10-02-2020, 12:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Bloody Marie: Portrait of the riot grrrl as a young battleaxe

I ****ing love riot grrrl punk. You’re probably aware of this. Therefore I thought I might as well start a journal about it. I’m bad at staying on topic though, so I will probably digress: from riot grrrl to general female-centred punk and lesbian culture and feminism and female Victorian novelists and did I mention how much I love Middlemarch?

Anyway, I’ll be writing about things I love, so this will basically be me fangirling and I realise what that’s like. I sound like an angsty teen. Especially on a topic like this, which can get pretty personal for me. Anyway, I’ll see how it goes; I’m starting this journal because corona is upon us and I need something to do, but I might continue it, who knows.

__________________

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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
You sound like Buffy after they dragged her back from Heaven.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWWP View Post
I want to open a school for MB's lost boys and teach them basic coping skills and build up their self esteem and strengthen their emotional intelligence and teach them about vegetables and institutionalized racism and sexism and then they'll all build a bronze statue of me in my honor and my bronzed titties will forever be groped by the grubby paws of you ****ing whiny pathetic white boys.

Last edited by Marie Monday; 10-02-2020 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 10-02-2020, 12:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Let’s begin at the beginning, with the holy grail of riot grrrl:



Bikini Kill - The first two records

*white noise*
Is that supposed to be doing that?
*more noise and feedback*
Ok, sorry, ok we're starting now
WE’RE BIKINI KILL
AND WE WANT REVOLUTION
GIRL STYLE NOW!
*cue riff*


Riot grrrl punk changed my life and this record was my introduction to it. Eventually I kind of neglected it in favour of Sleater-Kinney, and more recently the Frumpies. Still, when I look back and compare, this is the definitive riot grrrl album. Not only that; even though I consider Sleater-Kinney the better band overall, this album makes Bikini Kill the greatest riot grrrl band (I’ve tried Bikini Kill’s other albums, and they don’t come close. This one is less polished, and much more powerful).

Why this album in particular? It’s mainly because of Kathleen’s voice. She switches from screaming to wailing to shrieking to bellowing to schoolgirl singsong in a baffling way. And she has a beautiful, powerful voice. And obnoxious too of course, but hilariously so (just like some of the less subtle lyrics: ‘DOES IT SCARE YOU BOYS, THAT WE DON’T NEEED YOUUU ‘). Kathleen Hanna = Attitude. The way she performs is spectacular, throwing her entire body into her singing and bouncing and dancing all over the place. Even in between songs she keeps restlessly swaying and moving, like a caged animal. I recommend that anyone remotely interested in Bikini Kill have a look at some of their live footage.

So anyway, the record begins with this iconic and adorably over-earnest catchphrase, followed by two songs (which effectively are kind of one song) which start off the Kathleen hurricane with immense bravado. She just yells away, delivers the world ‘girl’ in the best way possible ('GURL!'), and switches to faux Cockney English at some point (ROIGHTS, ROIGHTS, YOU. DO. HAVE. RIGHTS!). Apart from this greatness, these songs feature random rhythm shifts and an amazing sudden fit of unhinged screaming like someone is being attacked by an axe murderer. Then we get Carnival, which is an absolute pogofest (when you ignore the subject matter), with its delicious bass and one of Kathleen’s most beautiful moments (‘and it ****ING KILLS me!’) and this is followed by the incredible Suck My Left One. Forget Rebel Girl, even though that’s also a masterpiece; this is Bikini Kill’s best song and Kathleen’s (or anyone’s, don’t @ me) greatest vocal tour-de-force. This is where her voice switches between underage girl and wrathful monster (and takes on a bunch of other identities in between) in some kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde take on what seems to be sexual abuse. With Feels Blind, yet another masterpiece, Bikini Kill manages to write a song that is actually beautiful. I don’t care if it makes me sound like a little bitch; this song speaks to and nurtures my soul. Then there’s Thurston Hearts the Who, which is just Kathleen reciting some criticism on the band by Thurston Moore in the most snotty voice imaginable, accompanied by the rest of the band chanting ‘THURSTON HEARTS THE WHO’ and adding some wordless screaming for good measure. It’s petty and childish and great. Of course their feud didn’t last because Kathleen appeared in the music video of Bull in the Heather, but afaik that was on Kim’s request. Anyway go **** yourself, Thurston.

The weakness of this album is that the first half is much better and more memorable than the second. If you love this kind of music that’s no issue, the comparative filler on the second half still kicks ass, but there’s not much worth mentioning here. There are two exceptions of course: Don’t Need You, with it’s 'don't need you to tell us we're good/don't need you to say we suck/don't need your protection/don't need your dick to ****', (also ‘Don’t need your atti-****in-tude boy’) and Rebel Girl. Mother****ing Rebel Girl. From the blunt drumbeat kickoff to the last second, this song has stomped its way into many budding rebel girl’s hearts and will continue to do so. It is a source of life. It has enough butch machismo to turn all the frogs gay at once. And that’s it. This is one huge lump of text actually; I got carried away. I’d marry this record if I could.



Choice tracks:
Spoiler for Double Dare Ya:

Spoiler for Liar:

Spoiler for Carnival:

Spoiler for Feels Blind:

Spoiler for Suck My Left One:

Spoiler for Thurston Hearts the Who:

Spoiler for Don't Need You:

Spoiler for Rebel Girl:
__________________

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
You sound like Buffy after they dragged her back from Heaven.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWWP View Post
I want to open a school for MB's lost boys and teach them basic coping skills and build up their self esteem and strengthen their emotional intelligence and teach them about vegetables and institutionalized racism and sexism and then they'll all build a bronze statue of me in my honor and my bronzed titties will forever be groped by the grubby paws of you ****ing whiny pathetic white boys.

Last edited by Marie Monday; 10-03-2020 at 07:17 AM.
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Old 10-03-2020, 07:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Emily’s Sassy Lime – Desperate, Scared, but Social

So there’s an all-Asian riot grrrl band called Emily’s Sassy Lime, and they make the most gloriously clumsy DIY punk. This album is a blast. They disregard the virtues of keeping time, and what is the bass guitar even doing? Who knows. It just sort of drones in the background. The first high point is Kid’s Stuff, which is a masterpiece. It even swings, possibly unintentionally so. Transistor No Way features the most hilariously offbeat singing ever, and then there’s a song called There’s a Snake in the Steakhouse with its all-over-the place melody which can’t decide which key it should be in (a daring feat of atonal experimentation in the grand tradition of contemporary classical music and free jazz). Their song titles are great in general; there’s also Hey You With The Crumby Face, Not In a Biblical Sense (another masterpiece, this one legit bops), G.U.S.T.O. – The G Does Not Stand For Geriatric (? it’s instrumental) and Save Your Drama for Your Mama which I’m going to adopt as a useful phrase. Incidentally, this is a 6 second song and most of it consists of counting off. The record closes with Superior Threat, an almost 6 minute track which features a dissonant organ and a sudden bright, playful electronic melody.

Fun facts:
- According to bandcamp the album was supposed to be called ‘Desperate, Scared, but So-Cal’ but the printer ****ed up.
- The bandmates didn’t live close to each other and sometimes wrote songs over the phone
- Their parents kept them from practicing because they thought they should study instead



Choice tracks:
Spoiler for Kid's Stuff:

Spoiler for Transistor No Way:

Spoiler for There's a Snake in the Steakhouse:

Spoiler for Save Your Drama For Your Mama:

Spoiler for Not In a Biblical Sense:

Spoiler for Superior Threat:
__________________

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
You sound like Buffy after they dragged her back from Heaven.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWWP View Post
I want to open a school for MB's lost boys and teach them basic coping skills and build up their self esteem and strengthen their emotional intelligence and teach them about vegetables and institutionalized racism and sexism and then they'll all build a bronze statue of me in my honor and my bronzed titties will forever be groped by the grubby paws of you ****ing whiny pathetic white boys.
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Old 10-12-2020, 12:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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So this is inevitably turning into me fangirling by myself in my niche corner, I expected as much. I'll see how long it takes before I start to feel too much like K Addict, but now I just want to talk about MB's greatest gift to me:



THE FRUMPIES - FRUMPIE ONE PIECE!!!

This record is a marvel. It pretends it’s an abrasive, messy piece of trash, but of course it's actually just a gloriously catchy bubblegum punk record seasoned with extra screaming, and sounding like it was recorded on a potato. At its best it sounds like feral cats partying in a dumpster. If Bikini Kill’s the First Two Records is the genre’s muscle-flexing, nut-kicking manifesto, this is it’s fun, chill, sloppy little sister who doesn’t care and just wants to go skateboarding. I won’t go through it song by song because it features 24 of them (and still manages to be under 45 minutes) so I’ll divide it into three uneven parts.

It immediately starts off great, with one of the grrrls shouting unintelligible things over a two-chord riff; the only lyrics I think I can make out are ‘I said I wanna **** you’. 10/10. This greatness is followed by the magnificent I Just Wanna Puke on the Stereo. The lyrics continue to be mostly unintelligible. The instruments come in one-by-one for maximum impact and combine into the most deliciously ugly, thick, lo-fi riff. That sound, combined with the hoarse, high-pitched wailing and screaming is what makes this album magical.

Things go on like this for a few songs, except that the riffs are sometimes just single notes instead of fuzzy chords (usually this is compensated for by louder screaming) until we get to the second true masterpiece, which is Weird Machine. It starts off with a guitar solo (!) and features the greatest screaming of the record. In a genius move, this is followed by the ear-stroking Intertube Tomorrow; it's like sliding into a bubble bath. The screaming becomes cat-like on She’s a Real Cutie Pie, which is like Flipper’s Sex Bomb, but gayer and (therefore) better. The next masterpiece, the temper tantrum Safety First, of which I can’t understand a word, is the sonic equivalent of my period cramps. Then we get a bunch of songs which are an alternation of lazy, mellow interludes (one of which is called Weary Ingenues and Snotty Brats, they're mostly a bit boring tbh) and the incredible bops that are Duvet Ta, Tommy Slich, and Planet What.

The last batch of songs is great too: the weird high-pitched guitar sound (is that even a guitar?) of **** Yr Frumpies, the especially catchy riff and lovely combined voices of Eunuch Nights (another ‘guitar solo’!), and the record’s final masterpiece, Wrong Way Round, which features the greatest moment of the entire album: all the grrrls screaming in unison followed by the ultimate sloppy riff. Riot grrrl has never been this fun before, or since.

Quote:
I confess
It’s a mess
Chicks are looking up my address


Choice tracks:

Spoiler for I Just Wanna Puke on the Stereo:

Spoiler for Weird Machine:

Spoiler for Intertube Tomorrow:

Spoiler for Safety First:

Spoiler for Duvet Ta:

Spoiler for **** Yr Frumpies:

Spoiler for Eunuch Nights:

Spoiler for Wrong Way Round:
__________________

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
You sound like Buffy after they dragged her back from Heaven.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWWP View Post
I want to open a school for MB's lost boys and teach them basic coping skills and build up their self esteem and strengthen their emotional intelligence and teach them about vegetables and institutionalized racism and sexism and then they'll all build a bronze statue of me in my honor and my bronzed titties will forever be groped by the grubby paws of you ****ing whiny pathetic white boys.

Last edited by Marie Monday; 10-12-2020 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 10-20-2020, 01:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Marie listens to Huggy Bear so you don’t have to

I’d never listened to Huggy Bear because their name is stupid, so I assumed they suck. However, I finally gave them a chance for the sake of this journal and it turns out that I was right all along: they do kind of suck indeed. Riot grrrl can be great, but you need either a vocal force of nature like Kathleen Hanna or Corin Tucker, or an endearingly sloppy mess that happens to be barrels of fun like the Frumpies or Emily’s Sassy Lime (or you need to be clever, like Bratmobile). Huggy Bear has none of these things, so what’s left is an uninspired mess. Somebody really should have told them that arbitrary noise and dissonance doesn’t make your music interesting. The noise lacks bite too, it’s like a Chihuahua: obnoxiously aggressive but unthreatening. The guy who sings is so bad even the charm of his slight speech impediment (he lisps) can't save him. The fact that he’s a guy is no excuse: the great Fred Schneider has proven that guys can pull off riot grrrl singing(*). At some point, on an album called Taking the Rough With the Smooch (yikes) this nerd decides that he should do a spoken word track. What the **** is his problem? Of course it's a pretentious trainwreck. The one exception to Huggy Bear's suckiness is High Street Jupiter Supercone (?), which gets thrashiness right and is actually danceable.

Fun facts:
- They once did a split LP with Bikini Kill: the first half is Huggy Bear’s, and the Bikini Kill half is actually the second of The First Two Records. The relief one feels when Bikini Kill’s White Boy finally kicks in is unspeakable.
- Ok so allegedly one of the band members once bit someone in the face, that’s actually pretty rad



choice track:
Spoiler for High Street Jupiter Supercone:

-------
(*)
Spoiler for evidence for this statement:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
You sound like Buffy after they dragged her back from Heaven.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWWP View Post
I want to open a school for MB's lost boys and teach them basic coping skills and build up their self esteem and strengthen their emotional intelligence and teach them about vegetables and institutionalized racism and sexism and then they'll all build a bronze statue of me in my honor and my bronzed titties will forever be groped by the grubby paws of you ****ing whiny pathetic white boys.
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Old 10-20-2020, 02:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
The noise lacks bite too
Idk... that might be a little harsh.

Sonically they were, at least conceptually, they were closer to Lydia Lunch, Sonic Youth, and Pussy Galore than Bikini Kill. The problem is by that time there were so many bands modeled around that sound it was ridiculous. Every town in America, and probably Europe too, that had a live music venue had at least a couple bands doing something along those lines. It’s really a marketing coup that they got on the riot grrrl train at all. That said, if you take the crowded field out of consideration they were pretty damn intense. I think they deserve the space they carved out for themselves.
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FLARLY WE RIDE
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Old 10-20-2020, 02:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hm. I recognise that their sound is closer to Sonic Youth and the others you mention, but to me (unlike those bands) they have nothing of value behind it. Just an arbitrary empty shell without a core. I might be missing something though. It's just a bit disappointing; a combination of riot grrrl + noise rock/no wave sounds awesome, and then it turns out to be this. At least we have Sleater-Kinney's blend of riot grrrl and Sonic Youth influence, although they don't have much in common with Lydia Luch or Pussy Galore.
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
You sound like Buffy after they dragged her back from Heaven.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWWP View Post
I want to open a school for MB's lost boys and teach them basic coping skills and build up their self esteem and strengthen their emotional intelligence and teach them about vegetables and institutionalized racism and sexism and then they'll all build a bronze statue of me in my honor and my bronzed titties will forever be groped by the grubby paws of you ****ing whiny pathetic white boys.
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Old 10-20-2020, 03:34 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Did someone say Sleater-Kinney? Great band with a terrific run of albums from Call The Doctor through The Woods (imo).

As for Bikini Kill - it's been so long since I've listened (thanks for posting the links, which I need to make my way through), but Kathleen Hanna is one of greatest frontpersons/performers of all time. She's fascinating. Have you seen The Punk Singer, Marie? (you probably have)
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Old 10-20-2020, 03:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You like Sleater-Kinney and Kathleen Hanna? omgomgomg
and yes, I've seen the Punk Singer of course!
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
You sound like Buffy after they dragged her back from Heaven.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWWP View Post
I want to open a school for MB's lost boys and teach them basic coping skills and build up their self esteem and strengthen their emotional intelligence and teach them about vegetables and institutionalized racism and sexism and then they'll all build a bronze statue of me in my honor and my bronzed titties will forever be groped by the grubby paws of you ****ing whiny pathetic white boys.
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Old 10-20-2020, 03:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes, I do!
GIRLS TO THE FRONT!!
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