reviews of excellent bands that are making a difference while making some noise! if you're in a band that's female/co-fronted or all-girl, you can send material to be reviewed too if you like! please e-mail sara scalper at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wanna be a part of this!
northern state-'dying in stereo'-whoever said that white girls can't rap obviously didn't get the memo to the talented ladies of northern state! mc's hesta prynn, dj sprout, and guinea love make some of the finest hip-hop this girl has heard in a long time, with a sweet old-school flavor and biting rhymes...who wouldn't love a song containing the lyrics 'if you pass me on the street, don't say what's up honey, i'll get kung-fu on yr ass like it's not even funny'?! but the best thing about northern state, by far, is that they are bringing politics and women's issues back into hip-hop. at a time when hip-hop has become all about 'bling-bling', and women have been delegated as 'bitches and hos', it's refreshing to see a group of women take the mic and never look back, spouting all that they feel. songs like 'vicious cycle' talk about all the kids with fresh ideas keeping hip-hop alive and real, while 'at the party' is about holding their own in the boy's club. my favorite song of theirs, though, is 'signal flow (you can't fade me)', a killer musical romp that drops major names...but not the kind of ones you'd usually hear mentioned in hip-hop! the songs are inspired, the lyrics are intelligent and highly feminist, and the minimalist sounds are very catchy. it's obvious to me that northern state, along with a small group of others (princess superstar, sarah jones, etc.) are the last great hope of women in hip-hop today...keep on stylin', ladies, we're rooting for you all the way! p.s.- i really liked the air fresheners too...one's so goin in my car! (buy stuff: www.northernstate.net)
bang! bang!-'do you like it?'-honestly, yes i do! there's gotta be something about bands with the word 'bang' in their name (the bangs, bang sugar bang, etc.) that's predeterminedly great, and bang! bang! is no exception. jack flash's vocals remind me of a delicious combo of richard hell and mark mothersbaugh of devo, while gretta fine's cute interjections are the icing on the proverbial vocal cake. the songs are unique (my personal faves: 'in or out'...check the woos if you dig 'hedwig'!, and 'move'), the tunes are most definitely rockin' (very lates 70s-cbgb's sounding), and you just have to dig a band that can pull off completely white outfits, a lightning bolt tie, and hot pants!!! i expect more greatness in the future from this band, no doubt. (buy stuff: www.bangbangband.com)
the cutters-'in the valley of enchantment' and 'sunday! sunday! sunday!'-not only was this band kind enough to send me two cds to review, but i enjoyed them both! vocalist angela brown has a beautiful, full voice and the songs are catchy as hell. on 'in the valley of enchantment'-'(back in the) 20th century' has excellent searing lyrics (check the line 'in the home of the brave and fancy free where you can be all you can be'...the intonation in angela's voice makes this play on words so amusing!), 'sushi' has some of the most clever wording i've heard in a while, and 'eric's room' is incredibly deep. as for 'sunday! sunday! sunday!'...they do a song about 'veruca salt' from 'charlie and the chocolate factory'! need i say more? you must give this band a listen! musically: take the muffs, put them in a blender with joan jett, x, and a whopping dash of 'secret chemical x'. i have a feeling this is going to be in serious rotation in my cd player for a long time. (buy stuff: www.blackjackhumboldt.com)
the dollyrots-'eat my heart out'-the dollyrots are definitely one of my new favorite bands. not only are the songs extremely catchy and fun, but the dollyrots are some of the nicest people i've ever met! i had the good fortune of hanging out with them at a show they played near me, and they are extremely sweet, especially kelly! that girl is a LIVING doll! their live performances are full of energy and spunk, and their cd does not fail to deliver this as well. kelly's childlike, unique voice, melodies that'll hook you from the beginning, and singalong lyrics combine to make this album a definite keeper. my personal favorites are 'jackie chan' (i love the way she says 'chan'! it's so darling!), 'wreckage', and 'kick me to the curb'. also, make sure to note that they cover an old classic with style and panache, 'be my baby' (by the shirelles, i believe). all in all, an ace recording. i'm so lucky to have become friends with the dollyrots! (buy stuff: www.thedollyrots.com)
shiny mama-6 song demo-yana chupenko, the lead singer of shiny mama, is a renaissance woman! in addition to many wonderful bands in the past and present, she also runs a line of cosmetics, tony and tina. so it's no surprise to me that a woman of so many talents should make such rockin' music. this cd is metal, metal, metal!!! with some punk thrown in for good measure. yana's beautiful, almost operatic (she trained in opera as a child) vocals are powerful and go perfectly with the harsh guitars, adding balance. the lyrics are witty, songs are totally meant for the banging of the head, and yana herself is a real sweetheart. and, for a special treat, shiny mama does a cover of the rainbows' 'long live rock'n'roll' (the song will be included on kill yr tv's comp 'penis goes venus'), giving them tons of metal cred...three words-ronnie james dio! shiny mama, rock on with yr bad self! (buy stuff: www.shinymama.net)
the hunks-'the perfect pick-up line'-if i were you, i'd definitely get my little behind over to the hunks' website and pick up one of their six-song eps this very moment. why, you may ask? 'the perfect pick-up line' has a wonderful mixture of poppy, upbeat tunes, angsty anthems, and soft balladic melodies...it's a surefire bet that everyone will like it! to describe the hunks' sound, i would say the throaty, snarling vocals remind me of chrissie hynde of the pretenders, while the intricate guitar parts are reminiscent of old sleater-kinney...but the band stll has a sound all it's own. yes, it's just that good! no, don't take my word for it, get a copy from the hunks yrself! (p.s. my fave tracks were 'littleton' and 'flowers=badass'.) (buy stuff: www.jesmuse.com/thehunks.html)
farewell to youth-s/t-this band perfectly defines 'pop punk'. no, not that horrible shit that mtv deems pop punk, but truly poppy punk...cute female/male vocals with catchy melodies and singalong choruses. young 'punks' who are buying into the avril lavigne/lillix hype should feast their ears on this album, and possibly learn a little something. yes, punk can be catchy and have a message as well, and farewell to youth proves this. (buy stuff: www.loreleirecords.com)
the dials-'sick times'-the dials are candy to my ears! they are absolutely wonderful! take the dickies, blend them like children's clay with the gogos and sleater-kinney, and you have the dials. not many punk bands can pull off the organ sound (the dickies and x are the two best examples i can give), but the dials make it work and make me want to listen to this cd over and over again! my favorite songs: 'take it to the man' and 'sick times'. you will definitely have some sick (in the good, surfer-esque way) times if you have this album. (buy stuff: www.thedials.us)
shevel knievel-'bull wevel'-this band is absolutely nuts (in a good way)! i've had the pleasure of interviewing them, and they are very interesting people...and their music reflects that. first off, if you don't know the story behind the band, you will...have to e-mail them and ask them because i am not typing it all up here lol. these grrls are so much fun! but we're not here to talk about them....we're here to discuss the music! this stuff is the very definition of 'raw'. imagine if L7 and fugazi had a big orgy, and then committed mass suicide, then reformed into one entity. that's what shevel knievel sounds like. very diy-sounding recording, songs with crazy lyrics that get stuck in yr head...worship at the feet of shevel knievel or be mercilessly slaughtered! (buy stuff: www.shevelknievel.net)
bubble-'rock'n'roll hell'-who are bubble trying to kid? this album should be titled 'rock'n'roll heaven'! bubble is an excellent band out of cali that plays catchy songs that, yet, are tough as hell. their sound reminds me of a heavier muffs mixed with some l7 and babes in toyland, spiced with a little of the older garbage material...heavy, hard-hitting melodic tunes with little electronic bits thrown in here and there and gravelly vocals. singer share is like courtney love, only ten times tougher. yes, they really are this good. the tunes that kept getting stuck in my head: 'kiss or kill' and 'deadender' (my absolute fave...excellent chorus). the album art is also highly amusing...the all-around renaissance band. (buy stuff: www.planetbubble.com).
manda and the marbles-'angels with dirty faces'-okay, they do a cover of the avengers' 'cheap tragedies' on this album. need i say more? haha. this album=the soundtrack to every young new wave girl's life....sounds authentically straight from the 80s. if you are blue cuz the one you dig's untrue, this cd will pep you up again. a lot of the time listening to this cd was spent doing crazy 80s dances like a fiend on my kitchen floor...it will move yr feet. you have been warned lol. best songs on this album: the aforementioned cover, 'ode to rock', 'lipstick', and 'seventeen'. (buy stuff: www.mandaandthemarbles.com).