Skating Polly #1

So, friends, I have discovered a new (to me) band, and I am in the first flush of band crush. Their name is Skating Polly. I discovered them about a month ago in my YouTube suggestions. I think the first two videos I watched were new ones – Louder in Outer Space and Hail Mary. After that I was pretty much hooked, and watched many videos after that. Please check out the following playlist featuring five of my favorite videos and be prepared to be wrecked by their raw energy and inventiveness!

Skating Polly consists of step sisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse. When their respective parents got together, the two bonded over a shared love of punk music like Patti Smith, the Ramones, etc., and they decided to form a band . At the time Kelli was 9 (!) and Peyton was 15 (that was about 6 years ago already). Kelli plays a “basitar” – a kind of 3 stringed bass that was a little easier for a small human to handle, Peyton plays the guitar, and they switch off on drums. They also both play piano, and of course both sing and write songs. More recently, Kelli’s older brother Curtis has joined on drums to fill out their live sound.

Kelli’s singing has quite a range – from soft, whispery vocals to banshee screams. As revealed in the videos, Kelli has a more manic energy than her older sibling, that tends to put her a little more in the foreground. The older Peyton, whose presence is a bit more restrained, can also go for it vocally. Sometimes Peyton kind of hollers, and drifts out of key, but in a way I find really effective. Yet her voice is also rich and beautiful when she wants to express herself in that way.

For me, Skating Polly has all the stuff I care about – great vocals and harmonies, a minimalist sound based on guitars and drums, and songs with inventive structures and killer hooks. They also have a number of softer songs, with vocals layered over piano or acoustic guitar, that rival the best of them.

I had the chance to see Skating Polly about a week ago in San Francisco. I’ll put up my concert review in a subsequent post.

The Muffs Part 1

Less than a year ago, fun-loving 90’s band the Muffs came on my radar. I don’t know why I was unaware all this time, but it happens. I put the first Muffs album on my Christmas list (and my family dutifully bought it for me), and I’ve been listening to it a bunch since then. A couple of weeks ago it clicked that I really liked the album, and I’m currently in the ‘I play this album every day’ phase of the relationship.

The band in its current form is fronted by Kim Shattuck (formerly of the the Pandoras) on guitar and vocals, with Ron Barnett on bass guitar and Roy McDonald on drums.

I’m just going to talk about The Muffs self-titled first album, since that’s the only one I know at this time. However, I intend to buy the second and third Muffs albums, Blonder and Blonder, and Happy Birthday to Me at a minimum, since they seem equally well-loved, and there are many newer ones to discover as well.

I don’t think I can get all music critic poetic in this moment, but there’s something about this album that just feels like coming home – like settling in to 16 satisfying cuts of succinct, pure and satisfying rock and roll. It is Ramones-like in the sense that nothing is wasted, and every note contributes to the effect.

Shattuck’s voice kind of has one raspy, loud timbre that rarely varies, yet every lyric is delivered with clarity and a brassy smile. She sings like she’s enjoying herself. And I guess there’s a forthright, happiness about this Muffs album that makes me feel good.

And can they write hooks? Standouts on this album include “Everywhere I Go”, “Baby Go Round” and “All for Nothing”, but really there are so many great songs on this album that I could practically list them all.

So if you haven’t been exposed to The Muffs yet, and could use a dose of pure, happy tunes, you could do worse than to pick up The Muffs first album and give it a spin. And they are still performing, so by all means if you get the chance, go to a show. I plan to next chance I get.

Muffs website https://www.facebook.com/TheMuffsMusic/

Pussy Riot Revolution

Flyer for Pussy Riot Theatre Revolution

I’m trying to document some of the musical and cultural things I’m doing on this blog. That was always the intent of Girlbandgeek, but as you know, we don’t always carry out all our plans. Anyway, I recently saw a performance by Pussy Riot Theatre of their piece “Revolution”. The piece was written by Masha Alyokhina, and produced by Sasha Cheparukhin. The performance included members of the band Asian Women on The Telephone as we as a member of the Belarus Free Theatre.

Masha is one of three infamous members of Pussy Riot who spent time in jail after performing anti-Putin song “Punk Prayer” in the Moscow Cathedral in 2012. Revolution documents their story using word, dance, music and images. I guess you could call it sort of a political rock opera. The words were all in Russian, which made it hard to follow at times, despite translations that were projected on a screen above the stage, along with photos, drawings and slogans that complemented the story.

It was a very powerful and exciting piece, which documented their story from before the performance in the cathedral, through their arrest, trial and imprisonment, and subsequent release. The music was percussive, funky and very well done. The parallels between the political situation in Russia, and what’s going on in the US with our current administration heightened the impact and relevancy of the piece significantly. Masha, Sasha and one of the musicians came back after the performance to answer questions, which was cool of them, but pretty cringeworthy as these things often are.

Anyway, I am totally awed by the bravery of the Pussy Riot collective in standing up to one of the most brutal and thuggish governments, and shining a light on the injustice and repression. I found it both inspiring and humbling. I feel very lucky that this performance came to our little podunk town!