Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bikini Kill: Bikini Kill

Review # 48
Artist: Bikini Kill
Title: Bikini Kill
Format: 12" EP
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Year: 1992
Songs: 6

The self-titled debut of riot girl pioneers Bikini Kill is nothing less than amazing. For those not in the know, Bikini Kill was one of the first bands to set sail under the banner of the riot girl movement, a new kind of punk rock of, by, and largely for women. The band's uncompromising feminist stances earned them the undying devotion of thousands of young women in the 1990s (and on) and the scorn and disdain of many who found their message and music too abrasive, confusing, or threatening to their worldviews. Bikini Kill was started as a zine in Olympia, Washington by singer Kathleen Hanna (who would later go on to form the now famous feminist dance-rock band Le Tigre), Kathi Wilcox (bass) and Tobi Vail (drums). The zine project would, in short order, become a band with the addition of Billy Karen (guitar).

This record is the band's opening salvo, a manifesto put to catchy yet abrasive punk rock. From the opening of the record, "Double Dare Ya," when Kathleen shouts: "we're Bikini Kill, and we want revolution, girl-style, now," the passionate defiance of this record is evident. The songs herein deal primarily with women's rights ("rights, rights rights? You have them you know") but also connect society's treatment of women with other inequalities, like racism and the abuse of animals. It's hard to say what the standout songs on this record are because they're all brilliant. From the melodic "Carnival" to the fierce anger of "Suck My Left One," this record is a volley of righteous anger, backed up by energetic punk rock that confidently walks the line between hardcore and more melodic sounds. The most unusual song on the record is undoubtedly "Thurston (hearts) the Who," a live track in which the band plays repetitious progression while one member reads what sounds like a negative review of one of their concerts and another sings about pettiness in the music scene. The whole thing ends with a cacophony of screams. It's not easy to listen to, but the concept is cool and inventive, and fits well with the defiant attitude that characterizes the whole record.

Most of the other songs on the record were recorded by Fugazi and Minor Threat's Ian Mackaye, which only serves to make this record cooler. The importance of the Bikini Kill self-titled debut would be hard to exaggerate. It was a rallying cry for women (and their allies) who were sick of sexism in the music scene and the world in general, and it was a manifesto for an important musical movement, of which Bikini Kill would quickly become the best recognized participants.

It's just awesome. Check out "Double Dare Ya" to hear how it all began.

Total songs listened: 598

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