Category Archives: record reviews

La Neve: interview on the launch of Maximum Wage – hot AF new music

La Neve – photo by Jen Dessinger

And now for something completely different!

La Neve is the drag/queer performance dance music project of Joey DeFrancesco, guitarist and co-lead songwriter in one of LOUD WOMEN’s favourite ever bands in the world ever, Downtown Boys. Smoking hot new single ‘Maximum Wage’ is out now and sonically it’s a very different beast to the crashing punk maelstrom of the ‘Boys – a driving digital disco beat with retro synth flourishes that have you reaching for the joystick. The pure punk delivery and themes of socialist insurrection are lovingly familiar though. Hell yeah, wage ceiling now!

The track is the first from La Neve’s debut album, which is coming out this summer. La Neve was good enough to chat to our Cassie Fox about it …

How did La Neve come about?

La Neve - photo by Jen Dessinger
La Neve – photo by Jen Dessinger

La Neve started a few years ago when I started doing drag shows with original music at Spark City, the old venue we used to run in Providence. I had done more conventional drag performance when I was younger, but getting back into it I wanted to do something different and sort of use it as one component in a larger dance music project. It’s an important identity for me to be able to express. I write and produce all the music myself, but sometimes live our saxophone player Joe DeGeorge will join me, and on some upcoming shows I’ll have live drumming from Karna of The Kominas. The goal is to make it more of a full band live, because that’s more fun than just playing with a computer. 

What in particular sparked this song? 

I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but you sometimes hear the statement, “Every billionaire is a policy failure.”  In Downtown Boys, we’ve written a few songs in the past that are just straight up policies, such as “100% Tax,” and I like the idea of a song that can be good aesthetically but also directly propagandize a specific agenda. Extreme wealth inequality – the concentration of such unbelievable amounts of capital in the top percent – has already so thoroughly destroyed our societies and our environment. We need serious, radical new systems to redistribute that wealth. These billionaires are not romantic renegades to be idolized; they are the super villains, true scum who aim to rule over everyone, and we need to take the threat seriously. “Maximum Wage” means cutting off anyone from having that much wealth and power. 

What kind of reaction have you had so far to the track?

Definitely lots of support from friends on getting new stuff out there, but otherwise hard to tell. This is still a relatively new project, and the music’s maybe hard to classify, so I’m trying to find who’s into it. I’ll be playing some shows over the next couple months, bringing what I think is a fun live show on the road, so I hope to convince more people what it’s all about. 

Looking forward to hearing the album – what can we expect?

The next record is a lot more dance oriented than my previous EP, and has higher quality songs and recordings, so I’m excited to present a truer vision of what this project is supposed to be about. I like to dance, and I like dance music and culture, and I like political art, and I like punk, and I hope in the end the record’s a successful blend of all those elements. 

La Neve is clearly different kind of sound to Downtown Boys, as you say with lyrical themes in the same direction. Has electronic music always been a passion for you, more so than punk/guitar music would you say? Or do you love both equally? 

I first came to music via guitar music, but for many years I’ve gotten more and more into electronic and dance music. I think you can hear that on the last Downtown Boys record as well, as the music I was writing started incorporating more synthesizers and dance grooves. Some people want to imagine punk as the only politicized music, but from the beginning techno, house, etc., all had strong political underpinnings, and came out of vibrant underground DIY cultures, largely amongst black musicians. I love all these musics and I hope I can integrate them in an effective way. 

Downtown Boys – 100% Inheritance Tax

I must also ask as a huge DBs fangirl … we featured the fab Gauche last week, and seeing the awesome La Neve sproinging into action this week – what does this mean for the DBs?? Say it ain’t the end …

The Gauche record is so great. It’s a funny coincidence we’re putting these out so close together. And our saxophone player Joe DeGeorge also just announced a new record from his band, Harry and the Potters. But then Downtown Boys is also leaving for tour in about a week. There’s a lot going on! The band has been slowing down a bit lately after going really hard for several years. We’re still playing, but in different geographies right now, so I really don’t know what’s next, but we never knew what was next at any point. 

What’s next for La Neve – album tour maybe? Outside the US? (London is so ready for La Neve btw, come play!)

Yes once the album’s out I’ll be going everywhere! La Neve is really the more highly realized version of myself, and it’s incredibly exciting to get to do the performance and exist as that person in new spaces. I want to keep building out the live show and I hope to be in London as soon as I possibly can.


Follow La Neve on Facebook | Bandcamp |Twitter | Instagram

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The Coathangers – live review

The Coathangers live at ‘The Latest Bar’, Brighton 24 April 2019. Review by Tony Rounce

It’s been a long time since the Coathangers came together in Atlanta, Georgia – 12 years, to be exact. In that time they have maintained unchanging membership – discounting the loss of keyboard player Candice Jones in 2013, at which point they became a trio.  And it’s as a trio that they have returned to wreak powerful musical havoc on the UK, for an overdue and very welcome series of shows all over the country.

If you don’t know the Coathangers’ music, it’s certainly time you got to know.  Should you be looking for comparisons (loath as I am to make them) I would say maybe the Runaways meet Kate Nash meets the Plasmatics, or thereabouts. The band is very much in its prime, and a tour-opening show at Brighton’s ‘The Latest Music Bar’ on a chilly late April evening demonstrated that, as loud women go, they are profoundly as loud as LOUD gets!

For an hour and a quarter, the Coathangers played not so much to an appreciative audience, as at it.  Song after song came in waves, a relentless attack unencumbered by superfluous sonic effects and unnecessarily lengthy solos.

This is your archetypal power trio, with the emphasis entirely on ‘power’.  Very tall drummer Stephanie Luke/Rusty Coathanger doesn’t so much play as punish her kit, almost stabbing its skins with her sticks at times. Luke’s snarling ‘Lemmy-with-laryngitis’ vocal style and her perpetually whirling and twirling blonde hair as she knocks seven shades of you-know-what out of her kit makes her presence at the back of the stage impossible to ignore. This visually compelling woman could play with her back to you, and you would still find it hard to focus your attention away from her. She’s flanked on either side by equally tall guitarist-singer Julia Kugel-Montoya/Crook Kid Coathanger, possessor of a choppy, compelling playing style and a voice that alternates between winsome teen queen and howling banshee, and quietly confident pocket rocket Meredith Franco/Minnie Coathanger on bass, who offsets the larger-than-life stage presence of her two pals.

Unfortunately someone else got to the set list before I did, so I can’t present you with detailed analysis of what was played and in what order – but, from memory and a quick skim through the CD prior to writing this, the 20-plus song set (with encores!) included just about and probably all of their recently released seventh album The Devil You Know plus a generous helping of their extensive back catalogue – all performed at beyond-maximum volume, and with unrelenting cheerful aggression. Between-song chatter was kept to a minimum in order to cram as much music in as possible.  Given that we don’t get to see the Coathangers every week, it was a social nicety worth sacrificing.

There was a point, roughly halfway through the set, when the trio played a blistering ‘F*** The NRA’ off the new album to a tumultuous response – and suddenly everything seemed to shift up a gear or two, and become even more exciting than it already was. As the set moved towards its conclusion the three women began a round of musical chairs with first Luke strapping on Kugel-Montoya’s guitar and taking over Blanco’s mic while K-M manned the drumkit and sang. She reclaimed her guitar and Bianco moved behind the drums for yet more outrageously loud fun and frolic.   The evening ended with a well-lubricated K-M (who had been keeping her voice oiled with a by-then-fairly empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s) audaciously asking if anyone had any marijuana they would like to share with her (I would like to think she found a volunteer…) and a rapid disappearance into the dressing room that nobody really was ready to see. They had worked hard for their money.  I doubt if anyone present felt short changed, especially when the undercard also included never less than brilliant local heroes, ARXX.

The Coathangers are touring the EU this month. By the time you read it they will likely as not be on the continent, which means you may well have missed them.  If you can’t catch this phenomenal band this time, do yourself a favour – go and buy/stream the new album and as much of their catalogue as you can find, and learn all the songs in readiness for their next tour.

You’ll be sorry if you don’t.

Find The Coathangers on Facebook | web

Bleached: Shitty Ballet – track of the day

Review by Caitlyn Lydon

LA punk sisters Bleached have triumphantly returned to the music scene with their first new single in two years.

For fans of the fuzzy surf-punk sound Bleached have honed so perfectly in older songs, this latest single may come as a shock, as the two spend most of the track pairing down their sound to just an acoustic guitar and Jennifer’s vocals. This, it turns out, is yet another thing Bleached can do extraordinarily well – with no distractions, full attention can be payed on the raw vulnerability of Jennifer’s lyrics, which remain as bracingly urgent and confessional as their previous louder tracks.

As the song creeps along to the final chorus however, a full band comes screeching in for a familiarly defiant finale – one that is completely satisfying and entirely worth the wait.

Watch the video (filmed in one take!) for Bleached’s Shitty Ballet here:

Find Bleached on Facebook | Web

Petrol Girls: Cut and Stitch – LP review

Review by Caitlin Webb

Hard-rocking four piece Petrol Girls are some of the feminist rock scene’s biggest rising acts. They’ve spent the last year bringing their fierce hardcore style and lyrics of cathartic rage to new listeners across the continent on a plethora of tour dates, and all of this has given them the “patchwork of different sounds, ideas and feelings” that inspire their upcoming album Cut and Stitch.

As the title suggests, the album expands on their previous EPs and LPs to give a more angular and experimental style that does indeed sound like a quirky patchwork, but their fiery spirit has stayed very much the same. This is encapsulated in the intro, where a trippy and distorted background drone accompanies frontwoman Ren Aldridge’s ponderings on the music industry and even more existential concepts of creativity as a whole. It’s a clear signpost into a more experimental leaning for the record, which the rest of the interludes reflect. However, it still gives listeners a nice reminder of Petrol Girls’ sharp songwriting abilities and activist instincts, which leads us seamlessly into leadoff single ‘The Sound’. Drummer Zock Astpai’s transition expertly builds tension before dropping into the relentless single, where punky powerhouse riffs soundtrack Aldridge’s frank revelation of feeling unheard as a minority. As one of the bands’ biggest selling points has always been emotional honesty and intensity, this fits them perfectly. But as always, there’s no way for energy like this to go unheard; it demands to be taken seriously with any listener’s full attention.

In contrast with some of the songs on their previous album, Talk Of Violence, which seemed to capture the anger and bargaining stages of the grief and trauma process, a lot of this record’s songs are built on the idea that “sometimes being vulnerable is just as radical as being angry”, as Aldridge told us. This vulnerability is as unashamed as their anger is, from the insecurity turned pride in refusing to conform and assimilate that we see on ‘Monstrous’ to the struggle men face to express their emotions under expectations of toxic masculinity that are explored in ‘Talk In Tongues’. Both tracks prove the group’s commitment to activism in their music, not just through anger but through nuance. Their lyrics show a real struggle that’s matched by their stormy and tense playing, as well as by the pained screaming vocals; there’s a real passion to their entire sound with which the band implore listeners to join them in solidarity.

‘Cut & Stitch’ will be released on May 24th via Hassle Records, and will be available on 12” vinyl and CD. There are limited indie-exclusive and official store-exclusive vinyl colourways, plus a screenprinted sleeve version of the LP and a Rough Trade Edition written by Ren, both exclusive to Bandcamp.

PETROL GIRLS ON TOUR:
MAY
02 – SBAM Fest, Wels AT
04 – Ladyfuzz Fest, Brighton UK
05 – Handmade Fest, Leicester UK
05 – 0161 Fest, Manchester UK
09 – The Great Escape Fest, Brighton UK
22 – Anti-Fest, Antwerp BE
23 – Anti-Fest, Amesfoort NL
27 – Rough Trade Instore, Nottingham
28 – Rough Trade Instore, Bristol
29 – Rough Trade Instore, London East
31 – New Cross Inn, London(w/ War on Women)
JUN
01 – Hell Hath No Fury Fest, Manchester
03 – Autonomour Space, Glasgow(w/ War on Women)
04 – Red Rum, Stafford (w/ War on Women)
05 – The Cavern, Exeter (w/ War on Women)
07 – Magasin 4, Brussels BE (w/ War on Women)
09 – Booze Cruise, Hamburg DE
10 – Bei Chez Heinz, Hannover DE(w/ War on Women)
11 – Underdogs, Prague CR(w/ War on Women)
12 – Schlachthof, Wiesbaden DE(w/ War on Women)
13 – AJZ Bahndamm, Wermelskirchen DE(w/ War on Women)
14 – Jugendhaus West, Stuttgart DE(w/ War on Women)
15 – Gibus Club, Paris FR (w/ War on Women)
16 – Le Farmer, Lyon FR (w/ War on Women)
18 – Dynamo Werk 21, Zurich CH(w/ War on Women)
19 – EKH, Vienna AT(w/ War on Women)
20 – Kapu, Linz AT(w/ War on Women)
21 – Glockenbachwerkstatt(w/ War on Women)
22 – Bollwerk 107, Moers(w/ War on Women)
28 – Trabendo – Paris, France (w/ La Dispute)
29 – Carlswerk Victoria – Cologne, Germany (w/ La Dispute)
30 – Gorilla – Manchester, United Kingdom (w/ La Dispute)
JUL
01 – Saint Luke’s – Glasgow, United Kingdom (w/ La Dispute)
02 – Electric Brixton – London, United Kingdom (w/ La Dispute)
05 – Astra – Berlin – Berlin, Germany (w/ La Dispute)
07 – Conne Island – Leipzig, Germany (w/ La Dispute)
08 – Schlachthof – Wiesbaden, Germany (w/ La Dispute)
09 – Legend Club – Milan, Italy (w/ La Dispute)
11 – 2000Trees Festival, Cheltenham UK
13 – Kliko Fest, Haarlem, NL

Follow Petrol Girls on: newsletter | facebook | twitter |instagram

Girl Germs podcast

Review by Caitlin Lydon

Legendary independent record label Kill Rock Stars have launched a podcast miniseries celebrating the 25th anniversary of Potty Mouth – the seminal album of Bratmobile. Separated into five bite-sized parts, Girl Germs charts the musical journey of Allison Wolfe, Erin Smith and Molly Neuman, who came together during the early days of Riot Grrrl – the underground feminist punk movement that defined much of the DIY music scene of the 90s.

For anyone already interested in the feminist punk scene of the 90s, mentions of the landscape where Bratmobile formed will already sound familiar, as references to Evergreen State College, the town of Olympia and the scene that surrounded Oregon at that time crop up continually to define the environment Bratmobile was born out of. From the first episode it becomes clear that there were no bystanders in the thriving punk scene of Olympia during this time, and to fit in you needed to be actively contributing and creating – whether it was setting up feminist art gallery like Reko Muse, creating zines to spread awareness of social issues and underground activists, or organising spoken word open mic nights. For Bratmobile, this meant starting a band and, as Molly Neuman explains, their band was pretty much as DIY as you could get – they learnt to play as they went along, decided to play their first gig with Bikini Kill as a dare, and recorded their debut album in 24 hours – which explains the unrestrained often primitive sounds that encapsulates much of Bratmobile’s music.

The story of Bratmobile in Girl Germs is punctuated by reflections not only from the band, but their peers and a generation of bands they inspired. Contemporaries such as Tae Won Yu of Kicking Giant reflects on the DIY elements of the band being a catalyst for a new way of making music, believing Bratmobile ‘changed what people thought was worth doing in punk rock’ by refusing to copy other bands to figure out the next steps to take, instead creating and honing a sound that seemed entirely unique to the current music scene.

Girl Germs tracks not only Bratmobile’s rise to fame, but the rise of Riot Grrrl in general – Corin Tucker of Heavens to Betsy speaks to this as she reminisces on her place in the scene, and the sometimes negative pressures that affected many women in the movement. Tucker explains that many Riot Grrrl bands were making music before bands like Nirvana broke, so the underground scene was something the media wasn’t often interested in – or worse still, something they trivialised entirely. Tucker reflects on her own efforts to distance herself from the Riot Grrrl scene, which often became a trap for women in punk music, to constantly only be asked what it’s like to be a woman in punk, not someone in a band making great music. And though the Riot Grrrl era is long gone, the idea of being a woman in a band as a novelty is still something that is perpetuated in much of the music industry today.

It’s important to remember the flaws and criticisms of the Riot Grrrl movement – by no means perfect, the scene was often rightly accused of not being diverse and inclusive enough, and fights within the scene itself about policing the right way to be a ‘Riot Grrrl’ is discussed in the podcast as being a major reason for Bratmobile’s initial break up on stage in 1994. This is worth noting, because the nostalgia that often surrounds these movements and scenes often does not reflect what the music scene actually needed, and still needs today – for all women to be part of the movement, for it to be any kind of movement at all.

From Riot Grrrl icons Bikini Kill announcing their first tour in over 20 years, to NME fronting an entire series of women in music nights using the ‘Girls To The Front’ tag line, the spirit of Riot Grrrl ethos captured so neatly in the Girl Germs podcast is clearly something that still has a huge relevancy in music industry today. Towards the end of the podcast, there is hope that the continuing legacy of Bratmobile will inspire more women and girls to pick up an instrument, claim their space, and whether they think they are ready or not, do it anyway.

Bis-ness as Usual

90s Perfect Popsters Make ‘Great Comeback Album’ (To No One’s Surprise)…

Review by Tony Rounce

Can it really be almost 25 years since Bis burst forth from Glasgow to brighten up the second half of the ‘90s with their boisterous and exciting take on Indie Pop?  Well yes, it can, and it is – and here are Bis’ two loud men and one equally loud woman, a quarter of a century on and multiple break ups and reformations later, with a spiky, sparkly new album that’s more than a match for the musical achievements of their youth.

The signs that “Slight Disconnects” was going to be top notch were there for all to witness at Bis’ superb London shows at the Lexington, towards the end of last year.  New tunes premiered that sounded every bit as good as past Bis classics ‘Action And Drama’ and ‘Sweet Shop Avengerz’, and that made the crowds want to dance just as much as their greatest hits did.

The new album reaffirms that Amanda ‘Manda Rin’ MacKinnon, John Clark (formerly John Disco) and Sci-Fi Steven (also a Clark) have not forsaken their past for the sake of any unnecessary musical progression, and that Bis are still as great at whipping up those short, sharp and shiny musical confections as they always were.

The pulsating adrenaline rush of the album’s powerful opener ‘Sound Of A Heartbreak’ is definitive vintage Bis – no more, no less. It’s followed by nine more superbly constructed pop confections of varying shapes, sizes and tempos – all with more hooks than a curtain rail, and most of them sounding like potential hit singles. The lyrics may be a little light on social gravitas when compared to a lot of what’s currently out there but, while purposeful and meaningful songs are always welcome round my way, we all have times when it feels good just to put on an album and throw yourself around the living room with reckless abandon.

I can’t think of a better current long player to do that to than this one.

With so many delights on offer it’s difficult to pick only a couple for those of you who like to taste and try before they buy, but personal favourites here include the aforementioned ‘Heartbreak’ the mostly-Manda led beater ‘Dracula, You Broke My Heart’ and an XTC-like ‘Combination Rock’ that said group’s own former front man Andy Partridge would have been delighted to have written. There may only be around 30 minutes of music here, but believe me when I say that not one of those minutes has been wasted.

Bis have grown up, but they have not grown old, and “Slight Disconnects” is as relevant a release as you will hear all year. Without wanting to really call it a comeback (particularly as individually they have never really been away) Bis’ return to the studio, and what has come out of it, can only be good for everyone who likes proper Pop.

Strictly the Bis-ness!


Find Bis on Bandcamp | Facebook

Pit Pony: Osaka/SMTH – single review

Review by Maryjo Mattea

First, it’s standalone fuzzy, overdriven guitar chords. Then an amped up, galloping drum roll. Then another guitar and a bass join the party. And THEN we get the delicious PJ Harvey meets Chrissy Hynde vocals and the “fuck you and the horse you road in on” lyrics they deliver.

The snark-filled garagey goodness of “Osaka” was exactly what I needed this morning when I logged in to my computer. It was the medicine my tortured soul needed to make it through what would otherwise be a generic ho-hum Thursday.

“Osaka” and its B-side, “SMTH” comprise the debut release of Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s five-piece garage rock ensemble, Pit Pony.

Pit Pony’s sound is everything I want my rock and roll to be: loud, aggressive, intense, and angsty, but still melodic. It’s reminiscent of things we’ve heard before – within the first 30 seconds I was hearing White Stripes, Cloud Nothings, and She Keeps Bees (three distinctly different bands) all at once. It’s all of these things and none of them at the same time. And just when I think I get where we’re going – BAM – it switches to a dark, heavy, half time groove.

More of this, please.

For those of you who are UK-based, follow their socials, go to a show, and let me live vicariously through you from across the pond.


Find Pit Pony on Twitter | Spotify | Facebook | Bandcamp