ALBUM: THICK – ‘Happy Now’

Raging against the patriarchy by writing about their experiences of being women in what used to feel like a doomed music scene, Brooklyn-based pop punks THICK have forged their own path on their latest album, Happy Now. Filled with thrashy instrumentals and anthemic crowd-pleasers, the band – formed in 2014 and comprised of Nikki Sisti (guitar/vocals), Kate Black (bass/vocals) and Shari Page (drums/vocals) – embrace and further their potential throughout their most recent effort.

Upbeat guitars and energetic vocals characterise this concise yet assertive album, which tackles lighter topics compared to their previous record, 5 Years Behind (2020). The first single from the release, ‘Loser’, is a standout. The trio’s vocals are the defining feature of the song, particularly the fade between the solo yelling verses and the group harmonies in the chorus. Their trademark agro-punk overlaid with emotional honesty is blatant here. The single reclaims the term loser: “In music, it’s so easy to feel like a loser and a f*ck up”, comments drummer and vocalist Page. “We want people to know that it’s okay to mess up and that everyone’s a loser sometimes. It’s really the best way to live”. Page’s sentiment is embodied by the track’s lyrical wit: “I love when people tell me I should quit.”

Hints of the band’s early influences have always lent themselves to their releases. The vibrant introduction to ‘Her Chapstick’ wouldn’t feel out of place on a blink-182 record, while several other tracks feel riot grrrl-infused, especially the Le Tigre-esque ‘I Wish 2016 Never Happened’ and the Sleater-Kinney inspired ‘Your Garden’. The latter is a fast-paced song and the crux of the album, compounding the best of the swirling vocal rounds and roaring guitars that the remaining body of the tracks are dominated by.

‘Happiness’ is the perfect opener. The track is rapid in pace, complete with punk rant choruses and melodic collective verses. ‘Tell Myself’ expresses the group’s musical muscle in a slightly more stripped back way. End track, ‘Something Went Wrong’ is another highlight. Its well-paced bass riff is a moment of shine, which shows THICK are as strong instrumentally as they are lyrically. This finale is buoyant, leaving listeners on an upbeat note.

Ultimately, THICK’s sophomore effort is packed with moments of promise. It expresses viable growth from their debut, feeling less like a laundry list of things they’re exasperated at and more like a cohesive story, all without abandoning the perfect blend of guitar solos and layered vocals the group are celebrated for.

Follow THICK on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

Photo Credit: Jessica Gurewitz

Sarah Bennett
@sarah_benn3tt (Twitter)
@zasbennett (Instagram)

ALBUM: The Linda Lindas – ‘Growing Up’

Performing at the Los Angeles Public Library last year, Mila de la Garza, drummer for LA-based Asian/Latinx punks The Linda Lindas, explained that their most aggressive song on the setlist, ‘Racist, Sexist Boy’, was written after a negative classroom experience. “A boy in my class came up to me and said that his dad told him to stay away from Chinese people. After I told him that I was Chinese, he backed away from me.” Changing the polarity in a 1-2-3-4 count, The Linda Lindas slam all racist, sexist jerkfaces hard with crushing riot grrrl rhythm and positive affirmation. “We rebuild what you destroy!”

It was a defining moment for the band that caught the attention of the legendary Epitaph Records. Known for working with punk heavyweights like Bad Religion (featuring guitarist and Epitaph co-founder Brett Gurewitz), Refused and The Offspring, Epitaph seemed like a no brainer to release The Linda Lindas’ debut LP, Growing Up; a collection of effortlessly cool and catchy feel-good punk.

Taking their name from the Japanese film Linda Linda Linda – a coming-of-age comedy featuring a group of teenagers who quickly form a band to cover songs by The Blue Hearts – Mila (current age 11), alongside guitarists Lucia de la Garza (14), Bela Salazar (17), and bassist Eloise Wong (13) formed the punk quartet after joining Kristin Kontrol for a one-off performance at Girlschool (later Gxrlschool) in 2018. As The Linda Lindas, they opened for riot grrrl pioneers Bikini Kill just a year later at the Hollywood Palladium – later covering their song ‘Rebel Girl’ in Amy Poehler’s 2021 feminist flick MOXiE! for Netflix – before self-releasing their self-titled EP in 2020. So far, so DIY, so punk!

Growing Up – produced, engineered and mixed by Mila and Lucia’s father, Carlos de la Garza (ex- Suburban Rhythm, Reel Big Fish drummer) – is not a cliché album title. “We’ll sing to people and show / What it means to be young and growing up,” sings Lucia on the title track, a celebration of friendship and the determination to “make every moment last.” For the ferocious ‘Oh!’, the band tap into the pop sensibilities of The Go-Go’s with an infectious bassline, dynamic rhythm, snarling lead vocals from Bela, and self-reflective lyrics written by Eloise: “Why do I say something / Say anything at all (Oh!) / It seems that when I try / I always take the fall (Oh!) / But when I don’t speak up / There’s nothing but regret (Oh!) / I can’t stop thinking of / What could’ve happened next!”

Wise beyond her age insight from Mila features on the bubblegum flavoured ‘Talking To Myself’ (“We’re all talking to ourselves / About things we cannot help…”) whilst Eloise spits lyrical angst on riot grrrl rager ‘Fine’. (“It’s not fine!”) ‘Nino’ follows as a spiritual successor to ‘Monica’, a track from the band’s self-titled extended play, written about Bela’s cat! Similar to the unconventional lyrics of Shonen Knife, Bela sings “I have a cat / His name’s Nino / He’s a savage cat / Killer of mice and rats” over savage pop-punk riffs before Eloise returns with the heartbreakingly heavy, Jawbreaker-esque ‘Why’. “I just drown out everything / Cause I cannot feel this way.”

Taking inspiration from Latin culture and bossa nova beats, Spanish-language ‘Cuántas Veces’ is for the misfits; a deeply personal song from Bela. “Cuántas veces tengo que decir / Ya estoy harta de sentirme asi.” Whilst ‘Remember’ – an outpouring of frustration – leaves Lucia optimistic that “maybe tomorrow will be bigger, brighter, bolder.” Sharing vocal duties for the deceptively whimsical ‘Magic’, the de la Garza sisters trade verses over shimmering guitar hooks before the band closes their electrifying debut with a cathartic studio recording of their aforementioned anti-hate anthem, ‘Racist, Sexist Boy’.

All killer, no filler, each member of The Linda Lindas has brought their own unique style of songwriting to Growing Up, through self-reflection and social awareness. They are a band growing up both musically and personally – developing their identity and DIY ethos together, one punk song at a time – yet already confidently stage-diving into punk rock history.

Follow The Linda Lindas on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Zac Farro

Ken Wynne

LISTEN: THICK – ‘Mansplain’

A cathartic, witty, guitar driven take-down of the men who undermine women in bands (and women in general), Brooklyn punk trio THICK have shared their latest track, ‘Mansplain’. Lifted from their debut album 5 Years Behind, which is set for release on 6th March via Epitaph, the single’s premise will resonate with women and girls who have struggled to be taken seriously on, and off stage.

The track opens with a plethora of snarky comments – “Girl bands are really in right now”, “Does she know where to plug that in?”, “Are those your boyfriend’s drums?” – before the single rips into life with crashing drums, cutting vocals, and riotous riffs. “Those are all things that men have actually said to us or our friends at shows,” drummer Shari Page explains. “A lot of these songs came from feeling stifled in silence, but then the song itself is an answer to that,” adds bassist Kate Black. “It’s us saying, ‘I have my opinion, and I’m going to share it no matter what.’ Instead of keeping things all bottled up, it feels so much better to face everything head on, and just be really loud about it with your two best friends.”

THICK have crafted the perfect track to crank up the volume to, and rid yourself of the unnecessary negativity on ‘Mansplain’. The band took this ethos of doing what feels right into the studio with them whilst recording their new album at Studio G in Brooklyn, with producer/engineer Joel Hamilton (Iggy Pop, Jolie Holland). “It was really important to us that the songs feel emotionally connected to our reality, so that it feels as natural as possible to play them” Black shares. They’ve clearly achieved this on ‘Mansplain’, which is accompanied by a humourous video directed and produced by Jeanette D. Moses.

Watch the video for ‘Mansplain’ below and follow THICK on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Michelle Lobianco

Kate Crudgington

LISTEN: Ariel View – ‘Friday Nights’

Newly signed to Epitaph records, Ariel View walk the line between scuffed indie rock and adorable pop attitude on this classic slice of melodic guitar rock. While ‘Friday Nights’ is definitely the kind of care-free sounding, summery, irresistibly loveable song that you can totally lose your shit to at a live show, it’s actually a song about heartbreak according to Ariel View’s singer, Harmonie Martinez, who wrote the song following a relationship breakup.

This might explain why the song feels so heartfelt and impassioned, with the emotion of the vocal balancing nicely with the song’s strong chorus and tight guitar sound. The band make it sound easy and it’s clear that Epitaph were on to something when they signed them, as there’s a sophistication and maturity of sound here that suggests Ariel View could become very big indeed.

‘Friday Nights’ is out now.

Cazz Blase