Friday, August 28, 2009

The West Georgian week 3: Finally Punk LP review

I'm posting this early since I'm not sure when I'll be in front of a computer again.
Finally Punk
Title: Casual Goths
Label: Army of Bad Luck
Release date: July 2009
Release number: ABL-014
Vinyl color: Some are pink

Finally Punk, an Austin, Tx. four-piece, have compiled every song from their three 7” singles and some unreleased gems for “Casual Goths”, their first proper L.P. on Atlanta-based Army of Bad Luck records.

The band is the sum of its parts, as Erin, Stephanie, Elizabeth and Veronica switch instruments and share vocal duties. It’s kind of like Atlanta’s Coathangers, another all-girl band capable of leaving their egos at the door and contributing as needed because no one is married to their instrument of choice.

Like most all-girl groups of today, Finally Punk are going to primarily be compared to the music of third-wave feminism and the Riot Grrrl movement of the early 1990’s, though their sound incorporates plenty of other influences.

There are shouty songs on this L.P. about personal and sexual politics, like “Indian Giver,” “Missile” and “Bald Cake,” but Finally Punk’s sound can and does go beyond the limitations met by most Bikini Kill clones.

The best of Finally Punk’s feminist manifestos is “Boyfriend Application,” which lies out that they don’t need boys or sex to feel socially secure (“You can buy some condoms, but it won’t get you nowhere”).

Finally Punk shows their songwriting talents (they share those duties, too), by seamlessly going from the before-mentioned shouty songs to more musically complex and aurally pleasing tunes like “Know Age” and the beautiful “Primary Colors.”

Other influences you can hear come from the wide, and sadly uncharted by most, world of female-fronted post-punk bands from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The aptly-titled “5-year-old Angst” utilizes the angry conversation over chaotic bass and drums formula created by Inflatable Boy Clams, while the mellow “Coffee, Tea and Misery” is reminiscent of the godmothers of post-punk, The Raincoats.

On one song, “Pregnant,” they tie together personal politics with post-punk influences, as a song that unsurprisingly is about being pregnant starts off mellow like The Raincoats and then becomes chaotic, modern and crucial like a Mika Miko song.

“Penguin” is the best song on the album, and it brilliantly mixes the lo-fi dance beats of Delta 5 with squeaky toy sound effects. In fact, it’s probably the best use of a squeaky toy in a song since The Clash recorded the forgettable “Shepherd’s Delight.”

There’s even a song about Johnny Depp thrown in for good measure and other fun stuff like “Perks” (“Turn this house into a house party!) and “Australia,” which references peeing on a rattlesnake.

In case it was not obvious that these girls listen to all the right bands, there’s a cover of Nirvana’s “Negative Creep.” It’s not as good as the original, but what is?

Since Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is commonly believed to be about Bikini Kill drummer Tobi Vail, does that make Finally Punk a Riot Grrrl-inspired band inspired by a Riot Grrrl-inspired band?

This like other Army of Bad Luck releases, comes with a CD version of the album for the car or your MP3 player. It’s one of the latest great releases of 2009, so purchase a copy at

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