Music

War on Women Begins the Righteous Fight!

By mixing darker shades of old school and modern hardcore with incisive feminist diatribes, War on Women produces a walloping torpedo of truth.


War on Women

Improvised Weapons

Label: Exotic Fever
US Release Date: 2011-02-01
UK Release Date: 2011-02-01
Amazon
iTunes

With blistering tunefulness that bridges back to the zenith hardcore days of Black Flag, Baltimore-based War on Women produces a confessional, contoured, and convulsive six-song EP. Although knee-deep in feminist creeds, don’t expect mere socio-politico placards back-dropped by assaulting, dark, and compressed musical templates. In contrast, the band buries any sense of preachiness inside quickstep tunes that can be heavy enough to feel like an injection of lead into the backbone and nimble and acrobatic enough to satisfy any prog-punk fans, all within each tune.

Breathtaking opener “Confess” gallops out of the gate by combining the steel-toed directness of British street punks Deadline with a chorus that feels as mysterious, lilting, and venomous as a brief foray into Tool territory. That balance between raw-boned rancor and effortless ambience happens in a scant two minutes.

“Effemimania” (the title references male-envisioned expressions of femininity, like male-to-female transsexuals) aims to collapse binary gender norms. In scissory lyrics like “We all have a penis . . . We all have a clit”, singer Shawna Potter offers up a “public cervix announcement” while shredding the notions that relationships should be defined by female “recipro-cunt” passivity and male-female antipodes. Sure, taken apart and deconstructed, the lines seem like heavy-duty philosophy for a song doused in riffage torn from Tragedy and From Ashes Rise, but the musical blitzkrieg and skill meld with theory-driven intelligence in tight-wound effectiveness.

“Broken Record” adds even darker shades of hypnotic guitar parts and spoken-word dialogues. The lyrics seem to echo song sentiments expressed in tunes like “Suggestion” from early era Fugazi too. Both songs attempt to subvert the male gaze, which objectives women as they walk down streets. “What I’m wearing has only to do with the weather . . . I’m not your baby”, snarls Potter when she is not re-enacting a pick-up scene on the corner, mimicking ignorant male pleas for phone numbers and attention. Impassioned and steadfast, the lyrics castigate male banter as “a broken record” as the song pushes back and forth with pummeling drums and fluctuating, powerhouse guitars.

Meanwhile, “How’s Tricks” boils down tumultuous relationships into a cross-section of sexual desires and self-imposed drama. As the song suggests, women forgive men for yelling, slutting, and trickery in order to receive a modicum of their attention and sexual prowess. Not hamstrung by such weak convictions, the narrator lashes out, shredding “the last cells of a girl who didn’t mind not being treated well”. The song re-enacts the birthright of freedom as the narrator tosses out the last vestiges of male-power games that riddle common, everyday circumstances.

With a dizzying catalog of sardonic wit, “High School Reunion” puts the whole graduation class under vengeful scrutiny, from the “dumb footballers” and “first breeders” bearing “baby weight”, to boys sent away to a war that’s made the country bleed for years. It’s a prognosis of ennui, a slugfest, and a lash against “normals” that made up a fractured teenage cosmos. Lastly, “I Like Science”--equally pungent and wailing--has little to do with bunsen burners: imagine a boy-girl standoff between a “pussycat with claws” and a guy with a prick that takes a “microscope” to find. It’s harshly human.

To some degree, War on Women updates the riot grrrl intensity of Bikini Girl, but with Net-generation lacerating pithiness. Musically, the band sustains a cascading metallic dirge the whole time, mixed forcefully with abrupt, adept, and alluring tempo changes. Meanwhile, the songs’ razor-slinging poetry avoids relying on tattooed punk clichés as well. To be sure, War on Women weaves its vendetta-rock with tenacious talent and empowerment. Luckily, the music offers no one-dimensional growl: it’s a dark dance on the grave of misogynists and their enablers.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Books

'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.

Music

2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.

Books

'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.

Music

Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.

Music

Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.

Music

Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.

Music

Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.

Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.