Tag Archives: kris smith

review: ‘We’re Not Ovaryacting’ by The Menstrual Cramps

by kris smith

We’re Not Ovaryacting by The Menstrual Cramps (LP, Feb 2017)The debut album ‘We’re Not Ovaryacting’ from London-via-Bristol grrrl band The Menstrual Cramps is also their first release, although half the songs have seen previews on youtube and soundcloud. Ten snappy, catchy-as-fuck demos, and all over in twenty-odd minutes, the band present a fairly no-frills approach to recording and promotion, which might be logistic-economic or might simply reflect an unpretentious attitude to their art: write a song, record it, put it out there, move on. Given that the band has been active for less than ten months, we confidently expect a second album by the end of 2017.There certainly won’t be a shortage of material, because The Menstrual Cramps write songs about problems that show no signs of going away. Part of a new wave of riot grrrl-referencing groups (Peach ClubDream NailsFight Rosa Fight!) as well as like-minded bands raising political issues either angrily or sardonically (Petrol GirlsThe Baby Seals), the Menstruals play stripped-down lo-fi feminist punk on what sometimes sound like heavily-distorted acoustic guitars. Fronted by Emilia, backed by Cooper and Robyn, and currently seeking a female drummer, the band’s sound – despite what seems on this recording to be a digital drum-track – vaguely recalls the clatter of late 70s/early 80s DIY and anarcho-punk (early MekonsChumbawambaHagar the Womb) without really sounding like anyone of the kind – and if those references seem too anciently obscure for a group in their early 20s that may be so, but track 6 here, the excellently-titled entreaty ‘Cull The Tories’, manages to dig up an even earlier reference to “Maggie Thatcher the milk snatcher”, which actually dates back to 1971!

Elsewhere on the album ‘This Isn’t What You Expected’ tackles domestic politics; ‘Lying Cheatin’ Fucking Scumbag’ is a swearier-Tuts style synopsis of a bad date; ‘Make Girls Feel Good’ addresses body positivity; and ‘Frack Off’ is partly self-explanatory but deals with wider green topics too. There are no po-faced rants here, just a self-aware selection of broadsides complete with an illiberal amount of swearing and humour, particularly in the case of ‘Hashtag Sad Penis’ with its laugh-out-loud lyrics.

Other album highlights include ‘Mansplain’, which deals with internet trolls, and like The Wimmins Institute‘s similarly-titled ‘Mansplaining‘ and GUTTFULL’s ‘Keyboard Warrior‘ is a direct response to real life discourse – in this case the reaction to the Menstruals’ first video ‘My Bush Ain’t Ur Business‘ which saw it banned by Youtube. Better still is ‘Another Sesh’ which has the album’s best lyric and demonstrates once again the band’s charming gift for earworming melody and harmony present throughout this album, raising it above punk-by-numbers and ensuring that even the simplest of songs here have a memorable and irresistible singalong quality. Album closer is ‘JC Our Saviour’, a rare paean to Jeremy Corbyn’s ongoing stance against the politics of Austerity.

As with any grrrl band of note, from Slits to Bikini Kill to Tuts, we could speculate where the Menstrual Cramps get their exact style and influences from or we can instead accept the result as the natural sound of a new group of young, angry musicians playing together in a room, right here and now. In this way, punk regenerates itself. Menstrual Cramps have produced a supremely listenable and politically-engaged debut album – and our hunch is that they have barely even begun.

‘We’re Not Ovaryacting’ is out now on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. 

Witness The Menstrual Cramps playing live for the FIRST TIME on 8 March!

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LOUD WOMEN’s top 20 tracks of the year

by Kris Smith, LOUD WOMEN’s Music Editor

LOUD WOMEN YouTube playlist here

  1. Petrol Girls – Touch Me Again 
  2. The Tuts – Con Man  
  3. Slotface – Sponge State  
  4. Witching Waves – The Threat
  5. Crumbs – On Tiptoes 
  6. Actual Crimes – I Don’t Want To See  
  7. Fight Rosa Fight – This Scene, This Scene
  8. Colour Me Wednesday – In Your Shoes  
  9. Dream Nails – Bully Girl  
  10. Big Joanie – Crooked Room  
  11. Molar – Javier
  12. Charla Fantasma – Late For Work
  13. No Ditching – Emo  
  14. Dolls – Audrey  
  15. Muertos – Ballroom Spritzer  
  16. Good Throb – The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock  
  17. NOTS – Entertain me 
  18. LIINES – Disappear  
  19. Los Cripis – Restaurant  
  20. Prime Time – Fallen Out

music review: big joanie | crooked room

by kris smith

If this is an example of the material Big Joanie have been storing up in the relative musical silence since their last record, any future album of theirs will be a vital contribution to the DIY scene. The two original tracks and one cover here sound like literally no-one else around and are all the better for it.

The epitome of a band gradually finding its collective feet as it goes along, Big Joanie began by posting hesitant demos on their Bandcamp a few years ago, and you can follow their progress as their confidence grows with each release. Anyone can form a band – and everyone should – but not many form a band on the basis of a question, and then work the music out later. The question being “Why isn’t there/why hasn’t there been an all-female UK black punk band, and what might it sound like if there was?” Just as Basement FiveAlien Kultureand An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump may have been the firsts of their kind, so Big Joanie may be the first of theirs. On that basis alone the band would deserve support, even if the music was of no interest (which, luckily, it is), because, to spell the point out to anyone who doesn’t get why these things matter, when it comes to current and future musicians from culturally under-represented communities, as the old phrase goes: you can’t be what you can’t see.

‘Crooked Room’ is built around a disorienting, descending guitar arpeggio, accompanying piano and a lyric (“see it, can’t reach it, yeah”) that reiterates that very point, regarding, in the band’s words, “black women negotiating racist, sexist, classist, homophobic society while maintaining a sense of self”. The music recalls nothing so much as the sub-scene of avant-garde post punk that mushroomed during the cassette culture of the late 70s/early 80s, particularly some of the releases on the It’s War Boys label.

If I had to make a specific comparison, though, and as a big fan of both I’m chuffed to have the opportunity to do so, it would be Nina Simone meets Alternative TV. ‘Baby Rust’, meanwhile, sees bassist Kiera take the lead vocal for a sparse song that starts a bit like one of Gang of Four‘s slower tracks, complete with critical-theory lyric (“the superstructure is our only rupture”), before exploding in a Slits-esque climax. Last track ‘No Scrubs’ I’ll not say much about, not wanting to spoil the surprise for anyone who doesn’t know what to expect yet, but it ends the EP with a series of defiant ‘NO!’s, which surely has to be the point. An intriguing record, then, and without doubt one of the most important releases of the year so far.
Big Joanie – Crooked Room (Sistah Punk Records, May 2016)

music reviews: the coathangers | nosebleed weekend

by kris smith

A fifth album from The Coathangers and I’m not bored yet. I won’t do that journo thing of pretending I know everything about the band, or remember exactly what all their previous albums sounded like, but I’ve bought the last three, I saw them when they last came over and played, they’re basically a Good Thing and probably the best US band making this kind of noise right now. About five/six years ago there was a whole swathe of west-coast noise-pop groups who were, y’know, *ok*, but whose every song sounded more-or-less the same, so you risked burnout over the course of one album, let alone five.

As with Screaming Females (but without the gratuitous guitar shredding), that’s not a problem for The Coathangers. They share vocals, for a start, and they play a variety of moods. “Perfume” is perfect garage-pop sounding like a poppier Kleenex, while “Squeeki Tiki” is a bouncy DFA1979ish number and “Burn Me” could be a sped-up Delta 5. “Hiya” seems vaguely reminiscent of Ramones/Donnas without really sounding like either, “Make It Right” does the same for L7, and “Excuse Me?” is vaguely Cure-esque.

So we’re not reinventing the wheel here but, with tunes this agreeable, who cares? There’s not a bad track on “Nosebleed Weekend”, albeit the title song is slightly underwhelming and, as with Kitten Forever, these songs retain that riot grrrl simplicity and DIY edge without losing the plot or resorting to rocking out. Final track “Copycat” exemplifies the band’s endearing and enduring appeal; another change of pace with breathy Lana Del Rey vocals and intriguing lyrics: “Please don’t look at me, it makes my stomach ache”.

If none of the above appeals to you, well you could be reading the wrong zine! 5/5 and just get the album.

The Coathangers: Nosebleed Weekend
(Suicide Squeeze Records, Apr 2016)

20 recommended recents

by kris smith

Deux Furieuses
Tracks of Wire
LP (May 2016)

Fight Rosa Fight /
Little Fists
Split EP (Aug 2016)
Charla Fantasma
No Excuses, Baby!
EP (Aug 2016)

Actual Crimes
Ceramic Cat Traces
LP (Aug 2016)

Towel
Wipe Me Dry
EP (April 2016)

Peach Club
The Bitch Diaries
EP (April 2016)

As Ondas
Marés
LP (June 2016)

 

She Makes War
Direction of Travel
LP (April 2016)

Twistettes
Jilt the Jive
LP (April 2016)

 

Quaaludes
Are the Winners Always Losers?
EP (July 2016)

September Girls
Age of Indignation
LP (April 2016)

 

Bratakus
Gigantopithecus
EP (May 2016)

Prime Time
Going Places
EP (May 2016)

 

¡Ay Carmela!
Working Weeks
LP (July 2016)

White Lung
Paradise
LP (May 2016)
Nervous Twitch
Don’t Take My TV
LP (Feb 2016)

Neurotic Fiction
Demo
EP (Jan 2016)

Alimony Hustle
All Strikes No Gutters
EP (Mar 2016)

Skating Polly
The Big Fit
LP (Mar 2016)
Otoboke Beaver
Okoshiyasu!
LP (Mar 2016)

 

and look out for these …

The Tuts Update Your Brain LP (Sept)

Skinny Girl Diet Heavy Flow LP (Sept)

NOTS  Cosmetic LP  (Sept)

Las Kellies  Friends and Lovers LP (Oct)