A selection of reviews from this week's Alternative Weekly.
Do Your Own Laundry, You Jerk
"Feminist agitpop", the big trend of early 2000, seems to need a shot in the arm, and boy (!) does it get it on Strong Womyn’s latest release. The band consists of two angry lesbians, one recovering heterosexual and "a womyn trapped in a man’s body," drummer Chuck "Pussy" Larson. Larson really does have the soul of a womyn: as the band’s principal lyricist, (s)he’s responsible for great songs like "You Wouldn’t Have Said That if I Were a Man" and "Down With Misters, Up With Sisters," which flat-out rocks. More poignant material includes "She Says She’s Just a Wife" and "Why Buy the Cow (When You Can Get the Milk for Free)" a touching plea for the gay and lesbian community to share reproductive material and raise their children "same-sexual." The band sounds like the Indigo Girls crossed with a softer Bikini Kill as produced by late-period Joe Meek. Co-vocalists Kitty Kat and Large Linda Baylor provide the kind of sweet, soaring harmonies that one imagines would have occurred had Laura Nyro been able to duet with Sarah MacLachlan on some of Joan Armatrading's work, and Sarah Steele plays acoustic guitar like nobody’s business. And, as my girlfriend pointed out, she looks great in a beret. Tracy Thorne
DICK JOHNSON AND THE GONADS
Up the Road a Piece
The joke was growing flaccid. On their first four records, Wyoming’s Dick Johnson and the Gonads wrote songs exclusively about blowjobs. 1995’s Tight Toothless Smile seemed impressive at the time, but when they followed it up with Nobgobbler’s Blues, Lipstick on My Dipstick, and last year’s unbelievably-titled Put Your Mouth on My Penis and Suck it Until I Reach Orgasm EP, you started to wonder how much of a career they could milk from this one trick. The band seemingly asked themselves the same question. Their answer, Up the Road a Piece is full of solid, rootsy twang, with little if any mention of that certain kind of "inappropriate relationship." The band’s musicianship has never been in question, and numbers like "She Went Down (to the Store)" and "Do You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?" sound like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys as a four piece, Rickenbacker-less R.E.M. Laramie label-mate Big Harlan Borowitz (Kansas City Faggots) adds some stunning fretless-bass work to the second half of the album, providing an eerie Mick-Karn-meets-Calexico feel, but minus the southwestern sonics. This record definitely marks a new beginning for this band. Let’s hope they can swallow the urge to perform cheap gag material and continue to pump out more vigorous issue like this. Howard Kramer
WHITE MOFUCKA, AH-MOAN KILL YOU
Z come out of prison a changed man, yo. He don’t be talkin' no more bout the bitches and hoze. Now he down wit the real deal: the Blackman’s struggle against the ole whyte debbil. Z’s first platter since he went into the tank on a booshit sex assault charge in 1999 is packed wit big, fat beats and preacher-wise lyrics to match. He bring up the CIA/crack connection ("White Mofuckin’ CIA"), the AIDS conspiracy ("Fuckin’ White Mofuckin’ Scientists") and the worst exploiters of the Brotherman ("I’m Gonna Go Beat Me Some Jew Ass.") The record’s wackest track ("Got Any Black in You? Get Some") is an old-school breakdown, where Z’s boyees call out the names of famous white mofuckas while Z yell "I’m gonna stick my big black dick up yo ass." Z throw down, boyee! We glad he back. Anderson delaMare Jones IV
Country Celebrates Incest
As a Southerner, you get used to the incest jokes as soon as you leave the region. Never mind that upstate New York has a higher rate of familial familiarity than any Dogpatch you care to name; it just goes with the territory. So, as they explain in the liner notes, the folks at Lasso Records decided to "admit to it and move on. After all, some great incest songs have been written over the years… why not let the world hear them?" The results are on this highly uneven collection. James Robert Cain’s "You’re Better Than My Sister (But Jesus, How I Miss Her)" may be one of the strongest songs about forbidden love ever recorded, and the orotund redneckery that has made Cain such a popular favorite among the hat-and-kicker set of late is in copious evidence. Kathy Colleen and The Aberdeen Queens knock out a terrific version of the unreleased Kitty Wells classic "Please Don’t You Do Me (Like My Daddy Done Did)." Unfortunately, some other songs tend towards the kind of treacly lugubriousness that gives country music a bad name. The Ruff Rider’s "Because I’m Your Father, That’s Why" is ruined by too many strings, while the Silver Spurs’ "Daddy and His Rose (Have a Secret No One Knows)" is marred by sappy lines like "Daddy loves you, yessirree/just don’t tell your Ma on me." There are some gems on this album, but as was the case with Lasso’s previous collection, Country Celebrates Denying Black Citizens the Right to Vote Through Violence and Intimidation, you’ll have to sift through a lot of dross to find them. Just like incest, quality is a relative thing. Jim Hallenback
This piece appears in slightly modified form at The Minor Fall, The Major Lift.