Friday, January 14, 2005

B, V

Bikini Kill- ‘Reject All American’

I associate Riot Grrrl (and, thus, Bikini Kill) with my sophomore year at UNH, 1993-4. That was the year where- I shit you not here- the student press totally eliminated the word ‘freshman’ from the lexicon because it was sexist. I’m serious- if you said the word ‘freshman’ on campus it was likely that someone would scold you and you’d get this tirade- ‘What about all of the women, huh? What about the women? They’re not freshMEN, they’re not freshWOMEN, they’re FIRST YEAR STUDENTS!’ It wasn’t a time or climate when anything could be said (although angry letters were routinely written to and dismissed by the student newspaper, whose editors did a lot to perpetuate the whole thing.)
I had the first Bikini Kill 12”. In retrospect, it was pretty fuckin’ awful- sure, it was empowering and everything, but that doesn’t mean that I have to listen to it (although ‘Carnival’ was, and is, a great way to fill out the last minute and ten seconds of a mix tape.) Back in the day, though, saying Bikini Kill was awful was like trying to say ‘freshman’.
So, much trepidation (always the trepidation with me) came when I pulled this one off the shelf. I can’t remember the impetus for buying it, exactly- I think that it was pretty widely regarded by both the indie and mainstream press. Check it out- there was a point, not sure when exactly, when Bikini Kill learned to play! The band’s musical chops aren’t like totally out there or anything, but they’re solid- this record is solidly in the Sex Pistols realm of punk rock, for the most part. Kathleen Hanna gets her vocal lines right in the middle of things where they belong. There’s a few quieter numbers on here that work well- I’m reminded of that Julie Ruin record that Ms. Hanna put out a few years after the Kill broke up.

Bitch Magnet- ‘Umber’
Bitch Magnet- ‘Ben Hur’

When I’m sitting in my room listening to these records (Louisville proto mathrock) by myself, they make no sense. When I’m sitting on the back porch listening to these records ('dude, check it out, it's in SEVEN!') with Ed playing air guitar to ‘em, they make perfect sense.


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