Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gossip, Erase Errata, and friends

Here is a group of split singles that spiral out of a great four-song 7" put out by Kill Rock Stars in 2002. "Get into the Underground Groove Night School" was curated by The Gossip and shows several of the many ways that the Riot Grrrl ethos transformed and transmogrified in the early part of this century. As you'll see, I've used it as a starting point for pulling together a few other singles featuring some of the same artists - but also pointing off in lots of other directions.

But first, a bit about The Gossip and the other bands on the "Night School" single. The Gossip formed in 1999 in Olympia, Washington, where the band members--Beth Ditto (vocals), Brace Paine (guitar), and Kathy Mendonca (drums)--had moved to from their native Arkansas. They're now based in Portland, Oregon, and have become massively well-known, at least for a queer-punk Pacific Northwest indie band, thanks to their 2006 album Standing in the Way of Control. Ditto's
outspoken body image and support of LGBT causes has lent the band some notoriety within the landscape of mainstream music. Their success is showing in their website design, check it out here.

Erase Errata also formed in 1999, though in Oakland, CA. Similar to The Gossip, their sound bridges early 90s riot grrrl/indie rock and the revival of post-punk in the early 2000s, though they are less interested in Arthur Russell dance grooves than in Wire/Fall-style angular improvisation. The band members at the time of this release were Sara Jaffe, Bianca Sparta, Ellie Erikson, and Jenny Hoyston. They have a website here.

There's not a lot to report about the other bands featured here: The Supreme Indifference is, as far as I can tell, a one-off project comprising Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth, Free Kitten), Alan Licht (Run On, Blue Humans), and Jim O'Rourke (Gatr Del Sol, Loose Fur, Sonic Youth, etc). This is their only recorded output. Sleetmute/Nightmute, who released one single beyond the song here, was a noise quartet whose members were named Lanie, Tan Preston (aka Nate Preston), Colde, and Charli. From perusing the web it appears that they were beloved and played around a lot, but that they broke up in late 2003. Any other info on them would be welcome.

Get Into the Underground Groove Night School 7", 2002
Kill Rock Stars, no. 393

A1. The Gossip, "Snake Appeal" (1:43)
A2. The Supreme Indifference, "A Lick in Time" (2:41)
B1. Erase Errata, "O.M.S.F.N." (1:58)
B2. Sleetmute Nightmute, "The V&V Girls" (1:23)

Jumping ahead a few years, The Gossip put out this split single with Tracy and the Plastics, which is an art-music project by "lesbian-feminist video artist" (thanks wikipedia) Wynne Greenwood. When performing, the band consisted of Greenwood (as Tracy) alongside two pre-recorded versions of herself (the Plastics--Nikki and Cola). A fabulous idea, which you can read all about at the T+TP website.

The Gossip/Tracy and the Plastics, Real Damage 7", 2005
Dim Mak, no. 75

A1. The Gossip, "Left Out Now" (2:48)
A2. The Gossip, "Sleepers" (2:57)
B1. Tracy and the Plastics, "Dawn Feather" (2:58)
B2. Tracy and the Plastics, "Save Me Claude" (0:49)

Next up are a couple of split singles featuring Erase Errata. The first actually predates the KRS comp by a year, containing one of the song's from the band's first album Other Animals as well as a more exclusive track. On the flip side is an instrumental by Black Dice, a Brooklyn-based experimental noise-rock band consisting of Bjorn Copeland, Aaron Watson, Eric Copeland, and Hisham Bharoosha. Read more about them at their website.

Black Dice/Erase Errata split 7", 2001
Troubleman Unlimited, no. 80

A. Black Dice, "Untitled #5.5" (4:55)
B1. Erase Errata, "The Shade" (1:53)
B2. Erase Errata, "French Canadia" (1:47)

And finally, the Erase Errata/Sonic Youth split single. I don't really think Sonic Youth needs any introduction, but it is notable that their song on this single is an alternate version of a song from their album Sonic Nurse (with the glorious Richard Prince paintings), re-written to fit into this single's Mariah Carey theme. Gotta love the Mariah Carey theme. Oh, and also this is Buddy Series Vol. 1 on Narnack Records, but no further volumes ever came out.

Sonic Youth/Erase Errata split 7", 2003
Narnack, no. 2

A. Sonic Youth, "Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Handcream" (5:01)
B. Erase Errata, "Glitter" (2:32)

Get all four singles here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Continuing with the "women in rock" theme:

Squatweiler was based out of Winston-Salem, NC. I believe at least singer Haydee Thompson and perhaps other members as well attended the School of the Arts there. They must have gotten started around 1992 and put this album out the following year, on what I think was their own label. In 1995 their second album
All Tempo Hot Pants was released on the same label. Around this time I saw them play at the Lizard & Snake in Chapel Hill. Unless my memory is all backwards, Cherry Poppin' Daddies (at that point a punk/ska band) actually opened for them! Squatweiler was unbelievable live. Thompson was totally bombastic and had incredible charisma. Apparently she was so good she needed to blow the joint, and left the band in 1996 or so. After that the band went sharply downhill, but released two more albums, New Motherstamper (1997) and Horsepower (1999).

Nothing touches
Full Bladder, though. Female-fronted indie punk rock that still sounds remarkably original and fresh, if certainly of its time--never as programmatic as some of the riot grrrl bands (great as they were) tended to be. The standout tracks are "Willie Fight" which despite its chorus "My willie is bigger than your willie, yeah" concerns a protagonist (Willie) who, much to the chagrin of his girl, decides he is the Lord of Atlantis and wades into the sea never to return; also "4th of July," which is about getting stood up on a national holiday; and of course "Art Fag," which is self-explanatory, and, to this denizen of the art world, still remarkably relevant. Also the Sabbath cover's not bad. And who doesn't love a Sabbath cover?

Squatweiler, Full Bladder, 1993
Huel, no. 001

1. Twofold (3:59)

2. Should I (3:28)

3. Willie Fight (3:12)

4. Full Bladder (3:27)

5. Satan Got Two Thang (3:21)

6. 4th of July (3:58)

7. Art Fag (1:32)

8. Hand of Doom (6:17)

Get it
here. Enjoy.

Bikini Kill

As a footnote to the previous post, I feel it is absolutely essential that anyone out there who doesn't know Bikini Kill learn about the band immediately. To rectify the possibility of such an unfortunate lack of exposure post haste, I am adding here the second of Bikini Kill's mid-90s singles. Simply put, this is the greatest 7" released in the 90s. It is out of print, but has been released on CD along with the two other almost-equally awesome singles the band put out in 1995-96. Buy that disc here. But now, get ready to be rocked.

Bikini Kill, The Anti-Pleasure Dissertation 7", 1995
Kill Rock Stars, no. 250

A1. In Accordance to Natural Law (0:28)
A2. Strawberry Julius (2:17)
B1. Anti-Pleasure Dissertation (2:29)
B2. Rah! Rah! Replica (0:58)

Get it here. Enjoy.

PS. Full disclosure: Although I own this single, I cheated and didn't re-rip it for this post. This is the CD version. Don't worry, there are more scratches and clicks soon to come!

Bratmobile, Cold Cold Hearts, and Frumpies

Over the past weeks, though I haven't been posting, I have been thinking about posting, and considering various options for what to do next on this blog. I can be a bit of a logic freak, so the idea of constructing an overarching organization for future posts holds a certain appeal. The problem is that it also builds up my expectations to an almost unattainable level, where an entire thesis on the history of indie rock springs forth from my fingertips in one fail swoop. So rather than having to get just one post up (already something I have trouble doing), I'll have to conceive of a whole string of posts and actually follow through with the idea. This conundrum explains my silence of late, but I am working hard now to overcome this roadblock. Hopefully what follows will be the first of a group of thematically interconnected posts, which will in turn usher in a new way of approaching this blog, with a bit more order and concept, for your reading and listening pleasure.

I've been knocking around several ideas to base this series of posts around, and since my most recent entries up to this point were focusing on Teenbeat records, I thought I'd start from one of the bands featured on Teenbeat 100: Bratmobile. There's an excellent write-up of their story on Wikipedia, but in short, the band got its start as a duo, comprising Allison Wolfe (guitar) and Molly Neuman (drums), in Olympia in 1991, but almost immediately thereafter moved to Washington D.C., where they met Erin Smith (guitar; also of Teenage Gang Debs) and became a trio. They were one of the fundamental acts associated with the Riot Grrrl movement, along with Bikini Kill, Huggy Bear, Team Dresch and others; but like all indie bands in the early 90s, they operated as part of a larger scene, that in their case included Calvin Johnson, Beat Happening, and K records; Mark Robinson and Teenbeat; and Dischord artists like Fugazi and Nation of Ulysses. This heady mix of politics, punk, and pop yielded some great music that was never too ideologically overdetermined, unlike some of their Riot Grrrl peers. Bratmobile put out one album and slew of singles before breaking up in 1994 (they would reform five years later and put out another album in 2000). This is their first 7".

Bratmobile, Kiss and Ride 7", 1992
Homestead, no. 178

A. Kiss and Ride (1:32)
B1. No You Don't (1:44)
B2. Queenie (1:21)

After Bratmobile broke up in 1994, Molly Neuman moved to the Bay Area and began working at Lookout! Records (which she now co-owns), while Allison Wolfe and Erin Smith remained in D.C. and formed Cold Cold Hearts, at first with Lora McFarlane (drums) and later with
Nattles (future member of Flin Flon) and Katherine Brown (bass and drums, respectively). They put out one single and one album, both produced by Mark Robinson. This is the single.

Cold Cold Hearts, self-titled 7", 1995
Kill Rock Stars, no. 258

A1. Yer So Sweet (Baby Donut) (1:50)
A2. Broken Teeth (2:51)
B. Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental (3:03)

While all this was happening, Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox, and Billy Karren - when taking a break from their more well-known band Bikini Kill - were playing as Frumpies, all singing and playing guitars, with drums helmed by none other than Molly Neuman. They actually formed the band in 1992, not longer after Bikini Kill's and Bratmobile's first records were released, and continued off and on til 2000, around the time of Bratmobile's reunion. This is their last single, aptly titled "Frumpies Forever" - there's a long description of its recording and content at the Kill Rock Stars site, so I recommend you head over there and check it out.

Frumpies, Frumpies Forever 7", 2000
Kill Rock Stars, no. 366

A1. Frumpies Forever (2:24)
A2. We Don't Wanna Go Home (2:40)
B1. Turn Off the Faucet (2:36)
B2. Tell Me (3:19)

Get all three singles here. Enjoy.