Riot Grrrl at 25 & Opinions on Radiohead & Drake

Bikini Kill

While the Seattle grunge bands had the commercial success, the Pacific Northwest’s Riot Grrrl scene had an equally important legacy. Jim and Greg look back at feminist punk movement 25 years on. Then they review the new albums from Drake and Radiohead.

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Last weekend was the famous Eurovision Song Contest, the World Cup of music. A fixture in Europe since 1968, past winners include ABBA, Celine Dion and Katrina and the Waves. Eurovision never fails to feature weird music and geopolitical controversy, and this year was no exception. Singer Jamala from Ukraine beat out Australia and Russia for the top prize. Russia was irked by Jamala’s song choice, a track called 1944, about Stalin’s exile of the Crimean Tatar population – with obvious connections to today’s crisis in Ukraine. Better the countries fight via silly pop songs than actual guns, Jim argues.

Get your sunscreen, hats, and wallets out for the first Desert Trip! The new music festival will be held in the same location as Coachella, and with its septuagenarian lineup, it quickly acquired the nickname Oldchella. Desert Trip will feature six major acts from the 1960s rock scene: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who. Ticket sales have already exceeded a record $150 million – thanks to ticket prices reaching into the thousands. That’s not to mention the $6,500 resort packages. Jim thinks that for that price, they ought to air condition the desert.

Riot Grrrl

Let’s get ready to riot! This week, Jim and Greg celebrate the 25th anniversary of the underground feminist punk movement, Riot Grrrl. It all began in the early ‘90s in Washington, D.C. and the Pacific Northwest when women united in outrage by speaking out on issues like domestic abuse, reproductive rights, sexual harassment and rape. They conveyed their messages through loud, confrontational punk music, a genre that was notoriously male-dominated.

Jim and Greg revisit an interview from 2011 with Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. Sara shares the history of the movement as well as her quintessential Riot Grrrl recordings:

  • Bikini Kill, The C.D. Version of the First Two Records
  • Bikini Kill, New Radio 7"
  • Bratmobile, Pottymouth
  • Heavens to Betsy, These Monsters Are Real 7"
  • Huggy Bear, Taking the Rough with the Smooch

Though the initial Riot Grrrl movement came and went quickly, it produced a legion of musicians who continue to produce powerful music. To cap off the show, Greg and Jim play songs by two bands rooted in the Riot Grrrl movement. Greg chooses I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Sleater-Kinney. Sleater-Kinney was founded by Corin Tucker, of the Riot Grrrl band Heavens to Betsy and Carrie Brownstein of the queercore band Excuse 17. Jim goes with Hot Topic by Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna’s second band after Bikini Kill.

A Moon Shaped Pool Radiohead

A Moon Shaped Pool

If there’s one band from the ‘90s alt-rock explosion that’s retained its relevance, it’s Radiohead. While it’s been five years since their last release, Greg argues that the quality hasn’t suffered on their new album A Moon Shaped Pool. Multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood seems to have integrated everything he’s learned about scoring films into the album. The musical arrangements lift vocalist Thom Yorke to new heights as he contemplates everything from breakups to the environment. Greg got lost inside the record and its ideas of transformation. It took Jim a bit longer to dig what was inside. He laments the under-use of drummer Phil Selway, and the lack of a real fist-pumping save-the-planet anthem. But Jim knows to review what you get, not what you want – and he hears a complex and beautiful chamber pop record reminiscent of Nick Drake. That earns A Moon Shaped Pool an enthusiastic double- Buy It.

Views Drake

Views

After much anticipation, rapper Drake has finally released his fourth album, Views. Over the past six years, the Canadian artist has risen to the top of the commerical rap genre, releasing four albums and several mixtapes, all of which have gone platinum. Jim takes issue with the album’s subject matter, with Drake frequently complaining about the perks of his superstardom. Aside from that, he thinks Drake has yet to take his 808s & Heartbreak-inspired music to another level, something contemporaries The Weeknd and Frank Ocean have managed successfully. Greg agrees, though he acknowledges that Drake’s earlier material was pretty effective. Ultimately, Greg thinks we’ve already heard this Drake album and he’s capable of more. That’s a double Trash It for Views.

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