Punk Retrospective

Bikini Kill

The cut against the grain and the rebellion that sparked in the US in the form of hardcore punk was revolutionary. It also changed the face of metal and gave birth to a plethora of new subcultures within urban and suburban America. It's presence and influence is still felt today in the music world even amongst all the chaos, often brilliance, that the mixing of sub-genres tends to create. But there was always one missing element. One thing that has alienated an entire demographic to a large extent.

There were no female bands. The feminine perspective in general was just missing. Angry young women needed an outlet too and so riot grrrl was born in the early 90's. Feeding off of the energy of the few all female grunge bands (Babes In Toyland, L7, and 7 Year Bitch) and bands like The Runaways, riot grrrl is to women what hardcore is to men. The music was often crude and simple in the beginning because, like their male predecessors, a lot of these girls just started picking up instruments during that time. They tackled cultural feminine issues along with political activism and, so, they have come to be viewed as an underground feminist movement.

The most notable band that helped create this sub-culture is Bikini Kill. They carried over the brutal honesty and D.I.Y. ethic of hardcore which helped unite most of the bands under a common mentality. Self-promotion took the form of local zines, meetings between bands and fans, and the formation of riot grrrl chapters around the US.

The band's debut album “Pussy Whipped” is still one of my favorite punk CDs out there. The vocals on this baby are as diverse and interesting as L7's. “Lil Red”, “Sugar”, “Star Bellied Boy” and “Hamster Baby” stand out for me in that regard. Instrumentally, it's just as diverse ranging from very aggressive to very tranquil. “For Tammy Rae” is the most harmonious and longest song of the bunch clocking in at 3:33 minutes. Although “Rebel Girl” is the song that this band is known for, I really do enjoy “Alien She” the best on this album. It just screams hardcore punk, i.e. the same chord playing over and over until the end where there is some progression and an almost abrupt finish.

So dear reader, I can only hope that you enjoy their music and passion as much as I do.

[play-button:http://domesticgenocide.com/audio/02-Alien%20She.mp3] Bikini Kill – Alien She Link source

[play-button:http://domesticgenocide.com/audio/05-Lil%20Red.mp3] Bikini Kill – Lil Red Link source

[play-button:http://domesticgenocide.com/audio/07-Sugar.mp3] Bikini Kill – Sugar Link source

[play-button:http://domesticgenocide.com/audio/08-Star%20Bellied%20Boy.mp3] Bikini Kill – Star Bellied Boy Link source

[play-button:http://domesticgenocide.com/audio/09-Hamster%20Baby.mp3] Bikini Kill – Hamster Baby Link source

You can find tons of Bikini Kill LP's, CD's and 7"'s @ GEMM

Posted by saturnword

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  1. A parallel of the dominant culture…it’s amazing to me that, even in hardcore, bands like Bikini Kill were somewhat set aside as novelty acts simply because women were playing the music. To make the impact they did, they had to play and work harder than their male counterparts, for less reward. Some things seem to take forever to change…and that change has to come from individuals like Bikini Kill, because the corporate forces are only good at reinforcing stereotypes. Great post, thank you!

    • I’ve noticed how dismissive most hardcore fans, male and female, usually are of riot grrrl and that can be depressing. They even get down to saying that they don’t like female vocals in harsher music because “it ruins it”. I can only imagine how dedicated and passionate the riot grrrl bands had to of been. In some respects it makes me less forgiving of most grunge bands (L7, etc) for selling out toward the end, because it is something riot grrrl bands refused to do. Also, it’s a pleasure! Thanks for the mention on blip as well.

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