Home > Bargain > Red Aunts – #1 Chicken

Red Aunts – #1 Chicken

Epitaph Records, 1995

Ahh, nothing like picking up a record and seeing that one of the members on the cover is giving you the ‘Loser’ sign.  Does the music store owner see a patron shudder whenever he or she picks up this record?  Psychological effects aside, the scratched out band and album name, as well as the bleached blonde smokin’ with shades in the passenger seat, gives off the air of something edgy.  The fact that it’s an Epitaph Records release seals it, as this was going to be some kind of punk or hard rock.  I was definitely intrigued with the thought of hearing what “Rollerderby Queen” sounded like, never mind that plushy song title of “Satan” (hmm).  And hey, I had to review this album or that girl was going to drive by and flash me the ‘Loser’ sign again.  NOBODY ‘Loser’ signs ME and gets away with it, MAAAANNN!

As a California grrl punk band in a decade of grrls, the Red Aunts are abrasive, raw and a little rude.  However, they know that in two minutes or under they can make your adrenaline rush.  “Freakathon” has no slow introduction and immediately begins its jilted assault of heavy riffs and Terri Wahl’s screamy vocals.  No sooner has it gotten started than “Tin Foil Fish Bowl” and “Hate” barrel in with similar quick tempo.  Along with Kerry Davis, Wahl sings in various tones depending on the situation.  Both ladies often sing/scream high pitched, but on songs like “Detroit Valentine” they sometimes opt to sing at a lower, sultry level.  This at least gives the impression of variety and skirts the worrisome ‘monotonous’ label.

The Red Aunts rarely ever take a breath on the record.  “Krush”, after a slow guitar intro (aka breath), the song turns into an exciting noise and scream fest.  “Rollerderby Queen” consists of some clever tempo changes, as the beginning has Wahl wailing while the backup girls sort of sneer.  Then the song quickly changes into a slower swing, before accelerating all the way to the end.  “When Sugar Turns to Shit” is another great punk tune that actually has some slide guitar and harmonica in it, though damned if I know what the heck Wahl is squealing throughout.

Cowbell actually shows up in “Poker Party”, but unfortunately that’s about the last of the interesting items of the record.  The rest of the songs until the end of the record don’t have any unique “Freakathon” or “Krush” moments, so though the band does power through a solid instrumental of “Mota”, it is apparent that their best songs are contained earlier on.  For a record that easily finishes under thirty minutes, it is doubtful that many will notice or care that the band had to squeeze out a few so-so tracks to make it past twenty minutes.  They’re listening for the rush of it all.

Though you can listen to them on MySpace, I prefer this amusing video of the ladies on skates in “Rollerderby Queen”:

I like the Red Aunts for what they stand for and how they delivered it.  With so many grrl bands of the day, the Red Aunts not only sounded rough for four women but also managed to construct a few catchy tunes as well.  I found that a lot of grrl stuff tended to be one-and-done to listen to, as they were understandably heavy on the message but less so on the return value for the casual fan.  I thought this record succeeded in its spinability.

The Red Aunts put out a few more records after this one before disbanding in 1998.  The popularity of the grrl movement was about done at that time, but I would like to think that the band motivated a few other girls in the California area to start up their own rock bands.  Though one doesn’t hear this kind of sound these days, I recommend giving a listen to this record if you want to hear something that positively represents the grrl era.

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