Sara Stoudt

Sara is a statistician, but during her free time she is crafting the perfect playlist for any occasion. Her dad trained her well in the art of music appreciation (for which her live music trivia team is thankful for), and she is definitely judging you by your karaoke song choice. Follow her on Twitter or check out her website.

Sep 062019
 
Revolution Girl Style Now

This post brings our week of riot grrrl to a close. Although not everyone featured in these posts may even explicitly identify with the riot grrrl movement, and certainly not everyone who does identify with the movement could be featured, I hope that these posts have given a brief overview of the era and given enough additional references to allow interested readers to further explore on their own.

Although I missed the original riot grrrl movement, I felt it was important to learn its lessons myself through the writing of these posts and embark on my own year of the riot grrrl. Maybe, dear reader, you will feel called to do the same. The riot grrrl movement remains relevant today, not just politically, but musically. The often brutally honest lyrics and the powerful instrumentals have inspired another wave of musicians. It’s no wonder that riot grrrl anthems have been revitalized through covers. Did I miss a cover of a riot grrrl song that really speaks to you? Share in a comment!

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Sep 052019
 
Bratmobile

Alas. Even in a week of riot grrrl posts, we cannot feature every band associated with the riot grrrl era. However, in this post we get to hear a new group of riot grrrls put a fresh take on songs ranging from traditional punk and rock genres to more surprising choices. I’ll give you a hint: you should know better than to cheat a friend.

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Sep 042019
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

L7 cover songs

L7 formed in Los Angeles, outside of the riot grrrl hub of the Pacific Northwest, in 1985 with just two members. Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner both provided guitar and vocals. Jennifer Finch on bass and Anne Anderson on drums joined shortly after. The bass and drum spots changed throughout the band’s career, but Sparks and Gardner have been through it all. L7 may not formally identify as a riot grrrl band, fitting more into the grunge scene, but their timing and musical content make them relevant to the broader movement. 

L7’s politics are no secret. Early in their career, the band organized the Rock for Choice benefit concert to raise money for abortion access. This benefit, started in 1991, continued every year until 2001, when the band started their “indefinite hiatus.” The venue featured both fellow riot grrrl bands like Bikini Kill and allies like the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. L7’s activism is still strong. Their first new song after the conclusion of their 18-year hiatus, “Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago” was released in 2017. They followed this with “I Came Back to Bitch” in 2018, with lines like “throw some bloody rags of fun” referring to their earlier days when Donita Sparks took out her tampon on stage and threw it into a mud-throwing crowd. (Forget bra burning, tampon throwing is the riot grrrl way.) Their latest album, this year’s Alfa Y Omega, even includes the line “make no mistake – lock us up, lock us up” in the song “Burn Baby.”

Outside of their original work, you can find hints of L7’s feminism in their covers. Hear/see for yourself…

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Sep 032019
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

sleater-kinney covers

When Sleater-Kinney reunited for the first time in 2015, they commented on the riot grrrl movement for an interview with The Cut.

For [guitarist Corin] Tucker, riot grrrl isn’t a dirty word. “I was definitely part of riot grrrl in Olympia,” she said. “For me, that was about having this really supportive group of women that wanted to do art — that was fanzines, that was music, it was spoken word, it was visual art — and that we would support each other and make a larger space for women’s voices in the world.

Tucker said, “For us, the lyrics are really tied to our beliefs and our desire to change things – that’s really the scene that we came from, is all about sincerely being angry and wanting to use music to change the world, basically,”

 

Now, as they prepare to release a new album, I’m hopeful that a change in this world is on the horizon. There is a riot grrrl in all of us, and now is the time to be heard. 

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Sep 022019
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Bikini Kill

2019 marks the return of the riot grrrl. Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, L7, and Team Dresch, all formative riot grrrl bands, have reunited in 2019 to play tours and (in some cases) even release new music. In the era of the #MeToo movement, increasing abortion restrictions, and the struggles of the LGBTQ community to find acceptance, riot grrrls sense that they are needed, and they’re coming back. The riot grrrl movement was a punk musical movement, but it was also a political movement; lyrics took on weighty topics, promoted feminism, and unabashedly commented on politics. This week we celebrate riot grrls, and thank them for speaking up and pushing for equality through their music. 

It only seems right to kick off a week of riot grrrl posts with Bikini Kill, often considered the founding band of the movement. Founded in Olympia, Washington, home to the early riot grrrl scene, in 1990, the band is made up of singer Kathleen Hanna, drummer Toby Vail, guitarist Billy Karren, and bassist Kathi Wilcox. Before disbanding in 1997, Bikini Kill recorded five albums, demanding “girls to the front” at their shows. Afterwards, the members went on to other musical projects. Most notably, Hanna became part of Le Tigre, the rock band known for its liberal political statements. Ironically, Hillary Clinton’s campaign tried to use “Rebel Girl” in a campaign video, but Vail requested that it be removed.

In 2006, when Rolling Stone picked the best songs of each year since 1967, Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” was deemed the best of 1993. But this song is not just a song for the ’90s (not to mention a refreshing break from heteronormative lyrics), it’s an emblem, an anthem for everyone fighting injustice in this world. 

When she talks, I hear the revolution
In her hips, there’s revolution
When she walks, the revolution’s coming
In her kiss, I taste the revolution


These covers span the spectrum from screaming to singing, and they choose a variety of tempos marked by a steady metronomic drum beat. 

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Aug 142019
 

The Bird and The BeeNine years after The Bird and the Bee’s first cover album, Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates, Volume 2 has arrived, and let me tell you, it is worth the wait. The duo had me when they released “Ain’t Talking ’bout Love” as a single. (If you haven’t seen the live version with Dave Grohl on drums, stop everything and watch it here.) With “Ain’t Talking ’bout Love” released ahead of the album, along with “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher,” I was worried that we had already heard the juiciest covers from the album, but the rest of the songs do not disappoint.

Why would the jazz-based electro-pop duo choose Van Halen for their latest tribute? Well, they already made a shout-out to David Lee Roth in their song “Diamond Dave,” from their 2009 album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future album. They bring it back here, covering their own song to round out their tribute album. Plus, it helps that The Bird and the Bee, of Los Angeles, are practically neighbors of Van Halen, originally from Pasadena.

Since the cover-ers and the cover-ees come from very different musical genres, the pairing is a compelling one. Replacing Van Halen’s heavy electric guitar with a mixture of synths and more traditional piano, and changing the original vocal style from gravelly rock, to a smoother and sultry jazz vibe, The Bird and the Bee create another instant classic tribute album.

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