Courtney Love -The Riot Grrrl Has Mellowed
- Category: Music Archive
In case you haven't heard, Courtney Love is back with a new album called Nobody's Daughter. It's been five years in the making and, considering the hype and controversy surrounding Love, it's likely to be an interesting cultural event. In fact the first single, Skinny Little Bitch, appeared online recently and, I have to admit, it's a great song.
Skinny Little Bitch harks back to the power pop days of Celebrity Skin while grafting on the grunge of 1994's Live Through This. I was surfing reviews and came across an interesting point in L Magazine's appraisal of Skinny Little Bitch: "... as a sort of bullshit feminist anthem, about being proud of your size or your age, or just generally being resilient". I had to laugh. Courtney usually sets feminist themes and missives within her songs but not this time. Skinny Little Bitch was clearly never intended as a feminist anthem.
Why not? Maybe because there's no need for Love to discuss the issue of feminism in her songs any more. The days of epoch defining, rabble rousing girl power anthems are behind her. Perhaps the original mighty battles of grrrl power have been won? The idea of publicising yourself as a woman in a rock band is a dinosaur manoeuvre. For the past year, truly amazing female fronted bands have come up from their basements with the songs, attitude and noise to rule the internet's musical universe.
Just yesterday, I stumbled across the Bitters, a Toronto based band fronted by Aerin Fogel and Ben Cook (of Fucked Up) and I've got to say, their tracks Warrior and Wild Beast (from their forthcoming album East General) blew me away. And there isn't a trace of the superficial hipster blogger about them; instead they're writing massive signature songs. Sure, Warrior sounds like it was recorded for a fiver, but if you've got the songs, production is secondary. It sits far from the power pop of Skinny Little Bitch but has a similarly playful aspect of menace and discord underneath.
In January I was invited to judge a battle of the bands in Wales, where I now live. There I heard KGB Slideshow play their first gig and they were incredible. They only had three songs at that point but the band have immediate authentic appeal. The focal point was lead singer Beti. Her personality dominated while the buzzed-up songs reminded me of X Ray Spex (especially as Beti spent half the gig on the stage floor).
The energy was intense and the songs were built around elementary, grinding riffs. Post Modern Literature and Echoes utilised huge, crude, jagged-edged power riffs that were shot through with blinding intensity. KGB Slideshow sound absolutely canonical.
The riot grrrl fight of Love's era is over. Why have a manifesto when your aim has been achieved? The battles have been won. There is no unifying tag for any of this. Nothing except rock'n'roll.
Reproduced by Kind Permission of Alan McGee and The Guardian