The other day, I was talking with a friend about the merits + pitfalls of ‘getting the band back together’, which seems to be all the rage these days. Name a seminal punk, emo, or early indie band from the 90s—half of them have done it and I would venture to say that the results vary from ‘yeah, that’s okay I guess’ to ‘thanks for crushing my adolescent dreams and spinning me into a wild state of depression, band I used to love’.
Some people might argue with me on this, and surely they have every right to, but I’m pretty soundly in the Anti- corner of the ring when it comes to getting bands back together after many years of inactivity. More likely than not, it seems to this writer like you just end up with an older, less energetic version of this band you used to love made up of a bunch of over-the-hill parents bizarrely singing about fighting ‘the man’ and adolescent heartbreak before driving their respective minivans to their respective suburban kid-filled homes.
Don’t get me wrong—minus the kids + minivan, I have a whole lot more in common with these geriatric rockers than not. But that doesn’t mean I want to see them unsuccessfully recreate something I already have very fond memories of—and recordings of—already.
Which is one of many reasons to give mad props to Kathleen Hanna, frontwoman of the groundbreaking band, Bikini Kill, and prolific figurehead of the riot grrrl movement.
After a long battle with illness and relative absence from the musical scene, Hanna has chosen to create anew rather than try to rebuild from the ashes of Bikini Kill or more recent electro-socio-political-dance band, Le Tigre. Though her new band, The Julie Ruin, kind of shares a name with her one-off electronic solo project, Julie Ruin, which was book-ended by Bikini Kill + Le Tigre, the new project’s only real common thread to the earlier work is Hanna’s voice + passion. Sure, some of the band’s tracks from their debut, Run Fast, feature prominent keyboard from Kiki and Herb’s Kenny Mellman, but the songs are all rooted in a driving, rhythm- and guitar-heavy sound. And all of them build first + foremost from Hanna’s iconic wail.
Listen to this week’s featured Song, “Ha Ha Ha” and see what we mean. If you like it, you can download the more low-key, soulful “Just My Kind” from the band’s SoundCloud page and then stream the entire album over at NPR. Also below, video for the first single from Run Fast, “Oh Come On”. Finally, be sure to check out a really nice Q+A with Kathleen Hanna that was recently posted over at Stereogum.
The album’s available digitally and on CD + vinyl over on the band’s store page and via the iTunes. Though The Julie Ruin’s NYC show tonight is understandably sold out, you can catch the band’s other tour dates on their site, including their September 19th show at the Echo in LA, not quite sold out as of yet….