The 2018 LOUD WOMEN album of the year is therefore shared by five artists; and if that wasn’t enough we’ve inaugurated a spanking new LOUD WOMEN People’s Vote Readers’ Choice Award chosen by LOUD WOMEN readers themselves (who are clearly better at making decisions!)
Without giving too much way at this stage let’s just say that it’s been a good year for block capitals: here goes!
With stellar gigs performed all over the London-based DIY scene that they call home and extensive radio play on shows like BBC Music Introducing, it’s been a big year for Big Joanie. The feminist punk trio have certainly ended 2018 with a bang thanks to the acclaim that’s already been given to their debut album Sistahs…By allowing their true feelings to be at the forefront of their songwriting, the band create tracks that truly empower the listener; not only to rebel but to check their own activism, to continue growing, and to do better. [Read full review here]
“An irrepressible sense of fun runs through Tits and Nails, in spite of everything its lyrics address. GUTTFULL has created a brilliant and uncompromising summation of the trials of being ‘other’ in 2018 and they’re ready to shout down their oppressors – with wit and with groove.” [Read more from this review]
They write songs which are both silly and serious, and they attack them (as well as each other) playfully. You can make a case for pretension in art, but there’s none with ILL; like so many of the best bands they seem like a gang you’d love to join, but ILL go one better and make you feel like you’d be welcome: friendly if not quite family-friendly (unless the family in question is more Addams than Partridge, perhaps). … A perfect storm of enigma, whimsy and controlled violence, and a genre-straddling state-of-the-nation address. With added bear growls. [Read more from this review]
‘Long-awaited’ might be a cliché, but in the case of LIINES‘ debut album, it’s a fitting description for a band that’s evolved steadily from fin-de-siecle Manc post-riot grrrl stalwarts Hooker: the tightest, heaviest rhythm section in DIY supports Zoe McVeigh’s emotional vocals and haiku-like songwriting, together conjuring an atmosphere of taut, claustrophobic menace like a UK postpunk time capsule. [Read more from this review]
A perfect ten tracks of no wave-disco electropop on a brilliant debut album from this Norwich duo. Described by The Guardian as “Thrillingly chilly, perfectly funky, no-wave straight out of early 80’s NYC…except that Sink Ya Teeth are a duo from Norwich. In a different era they’d have been all over TOTP” 4/5
The LOUD WOMEN People’s Vote Readers’ Choice Award:
The Menstrual Cramps is an anti-capitalist feminist band, therefore expect direct attacks on Tories, Neo-Nazis, big brands, business owners, famous idols who shouldn’t be idols anymore, and of course, “boyz-who-will-be-boyz”. The songs are so catchy that half of the album will get stuck in your head after giving one listen to the whole album. They produce music rapidly, though diligently. This rapidity actually shows itself in the guitars as fast riffs, playful strokes and abrupt small silences and it just sounds so good and steady. [Read more from this review]
The Top Twenty in full:
Big Joanie – Sistahs
The Breeders – All Nerve
Colour Me Wednesday – Counting Pennies in the Afterlife
Review by Temmuz (the drummer of Secondhand Underpants)
From the spoken-word style to howling and screaming that sound super authentic, the variety of vocals mark the genuineness of The Menstrual Cramps’ second album, Free Bleedin’. This might sound a bit over the top but I still want to say it: having my period while listening, feeling the blood coming out of my vagina, this album gave me the energy to not hate the frustration that menstruation causes and instead do something with it. So what do I do? Write a fuckin’ review.
The Menstrual Cramps is an anti-capitalist feminist band, therefore expect direct attack on Tories, Neo-Nazis, a lot of big brands, business owners, famous idols who should not be idols anymore, and of course, “boyz-who-will-be-boyz”.
The songs are so catchy that half of the album will get stuck in your head after giving one listen to the whole album, in that sense they remind me of Dream Nails: they definitely share a close kinship in terms of lyrical and musical style.
There are 14 songs in total and you can tell they can produce music rapidly, though diligently. This rapidity actually shows itself in the guitars as fast riffs, playful strokes and abrupt small silences and it just sounds so good and steady.
Three of my favorite tracks Neo Nazi (necessary hatred song for neo-nazis), Mutual Masturbation (sexy stuff) and Tory Scum (Theresa May gets her share from our cramps) are perfect examples of this kind of eager song-writing.
But like I said, the way they sing is so creative and interesting that the main allure of the album for me is still the vocals.
Apparently, The Menstrual Cramps wants revolution (just like a lot of other recent feminist punk bands) and manifests this want for instant change in fast-changing songs with very-well located impatient breaks for the bass to do its own thing.
In short, this album has a rapid creative punk energy that you cannot find elsewhere that easily, especially not in the merchandised pop bands.
As a last remark, check their enjoyable videos, they are having fun.”
Skating Polly and the Menstrual Cramps at the Sebright Arms, Shoreditch, 10/09/2018 – live review by Vicki Thompson
I arrive to find an almost empty room when I potter downstairs to the basement venue at the Sebright Arms – but I’m too early. I head upstairs to kill time, and find that I’m in a classic London public house – stained glass above its beautiful wooden bar, fairy lights and hanging ivy in the corners, a good beer selection on tap or by the bottle, plus a few nice whiskies if you’re partial, too! I meet a stranger at the bar who I make idle chit-chat with, and I ask her when the band starts, to which her reply was, “Oh, not until half 9“, meaning Skating Polly. I tell her the support act are really great and worth watching too, to which she replies, “Yeah, I really want to check them out!“, proceeding to order a plate of cheese fries that will almost certainly arrive during their set.
I dive back down the rabbit hole to find that the venue is now beginning to fill up. I move in close to the front to get a good view, and singer Emilia is already on stage, crouched down. She asks a friend in the crowd “Is it time? Should we start?“. Within moments we’re dancing away to the first track of the Menstrual Cramps set – Hashtag Sad Penis, which features on their last release, We’re not Ovaryacting. Emilia is sporting a hand-drawn shirt design to further drive the point home, featuring a crying aubergine with the words “No more dick pics” emblazoned beneath. The first track sets a high energy bar for the night and captivates their audience. I was at their very first show a few years back, and every time I’ve seen them since that debut, they’ve never failed to replicate the same energy they had that night. You can’t help but cheer them on.
I love how much of themselves they throw into their music. Between songs, they talk about the rejection they’ve had from the old-guard of the punk scene, particularly from Nazis (but who’d want their acceptance?!) who’ve told them they have no place to be making this music, that they “weren’t there” and they have no business existing. This I can relate to a lot, as a performer in the black metal scene. The rejection and estrangement I’ve felt from other artists who don’t believe a woman should play this sort of music (and have no problem telling you this), the idiotic elitists who idolise some of the more questionable roots of the genre, and the struggle to make yourself heard against the vitriol. I salute the Menstrual Cramps for taking the backlash against them and turning it on its head; for using their voices and subverting their negative experiences for the creation of great art. They turned all this into a song called Neo Nazi, which went down a storm.
The rest of their set continues the trend – they play magnificently, wearing their hearts and their politics on their sleeves as ever. We fling ourselves about to their anthem I like that top inspired by the gentrification of Bristol. We are told not to separate art from its artist, and not to idolise our Idols – words which cause a stir in me, and ring a parallel once again to the black metal scene that is often guilty of both charges. Unabashed, unashamed and a real entertainment, the Menstrual Cramps go out to thunderous, well-deserved applause. A fun and thought-provoking set, featuring a mix of songs from their previous release and their new album, Freebleedin’.
A quick dive up and back downstairs later, Skating Polly haven’t even started yet but I’m already in awe of their stage outfits as they set up. Red silks and collars, white fringe, hearts tattooed on knees and so much rock n roll glamour! They’re just as I remember them from Bristol, supporting Babes in Toyland about three years ago. My hype builds as much as the lime and soda I was given on the house upstairs bubbles in my hands. I’m near the front again, but with not quite as clear a view as I had for the Menstrual Cramps. And the demographic of the crowd around me has changed somewhat. For the Cramps I had a gaggle of other young (mostly) women dancing with and around me, but for Skating Polly I note that I am surrounded by older dudes. One of them has terrible B.O.
As Skating Polly start playing, it dawns on me that nearly all of them are photographers, and they’re really quite tall. They mob in front of me, and being fairly short I have no choice but to climb onto a nearby step at the side of the stage to be able to see at all, which sucks. “Oh well, three song rule.”, I think to myself.
But they don’t leave after three songs and stay put, taking photos for the entire set.
I try not to let it dampen my enjoyment too much, and it doesn’t, for sisters and brother (a new addition!) trio Skating Polly are incredibly entertaining, playing a super dynamic show for us. Their star power shines over any technical issues (“it wouldn’t be ‘Ugly Pop’ if everything fucking worked!” cries Kelli as the snare drum breaks), and their vocal talent and instrument-swapping dazzles throughout. Everyone sings along and it’s a little bit magical. They wow us with another high energy start to the set, just as their support act did, and tell us that a new video of theirs for their song, Free Will At Ease has literally just dropped over in the States, which they then play for us. This one’s a song led by Peyton, about healing from a shitty past relationship, something that anyone could relate to.
Once again, I admire how much of themselves they put into the music. Kelli tells us a story as she tunes her 3 string white Fender bass, about a guy back in Oklahoma who said he hated her music, especially “that screamy shit she did”. So in defiant retaliation she wrote the “most screamiest, most shittiest song she could”. She plays it and screams wide-eyed and furious into the microphone as she high-kicks the air, everyone eating it up. Their pacing is on point, giving the audience a chance to mellow down between high energy numbers with quieter, more thoughtful tracks like Little Girl Blue and the Battle Envy from their new album, The Make It All Show. Towards the end of the night, Kelli dives into the crowd to crowd surf almost against the roof of the sweatbox venue as she continues playing, which was badass as hell.
And that says it all really. Overall, a fantastic night! A bit of a shame about the photographers obscuring the view thoughout Skating Polly, but it didn’t ruin the night. I would urge any London promoters to enforce the “three song rule” more strictly in venues without especially elevated stages. And you, dear reader, if you ever get the chance to watch either band, you should. I picked up both bands’ latest releases at the merch tables and neither fail to impress.
She Makes War dropped a ‘surprise single’ this week, and it’s (unsurprisingly) an absolute banger! Laura Kidd (SMW) says of ‘Devastate Me’:
“It’s about photography as a reflex, the way people overshare online and how when we die our online profiles just stay there. The internet is amazing – I’ve built my career using it, but it can be so awful.”
The track is taken from upcoming album, Brace For Impact, the follow up to 2016’s acclaimed Direction Of Travel.”
She Makes Tour, too, in October, strongly supported by our BFFs The Menstrual Cramps and Dream Nails – gig perfection. Make sure to catch at least one of these shows!
This year’s final line-up for LOUD WOMEN Fest has just been announced, and now includes worldclass artists She Makes War and Efa Supertramp! Here’s a taster of how it’s going to look …
This, the 3rd annual LOUD WOMEN Fest will showcase 21 punk and indie acts in 1 day, over 2 neighbouring stages – The Dome and the Boston Music Room, Tufnell Park, London. Last year’s festival massively sold out, so early ticket-buying is advised!
Plus DJs including Mammory Tapes AND cake stall from Ladies of the Lock – The WI group for Camden, Kentish Town…
This year, we’re taking over The Dome, Tufnell Park and Boston Music Room. Using these two amazing, world-class neighbouring venues we can keep the music constant throughout the day, and make our Fest bigger and better than ever!
* Delicious hot food and cakes.
* Stalls with zines and goodies.
* The best damn day/night out of the year.
Applications from stallholders and zine sellers, other kinds of performers that we haven’t even thought of yet, and any other enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org