ALBUM: Big Joanie – ‘Sistahs’

DIY punks Big Joanie release their debut album Sistahs today, and it’s a mix of the personal and political; coupled with riotous rhythms and a sistah-hood ethos. Recorded at Hermitage Works Studio with producer Margo Broom, and released via Thurston Moore and Eva Prinz’s new label (The Daydream Library Series), Sistahs is a strong debut from a band who have been actively working on and off-stage within London’s DIY scene for years.

Together, Steph, Estella & Chardine have been busy running the Decolonise Fest for punks of colour, volunteering at Girls Rock Camp, and leading the Stop Rainbow Racism campaign, which works to stop racist performances in LGBTQ venues. Their combined pro-active efforts have resulted in the creation of 11 songs that tackle issues of self-motivation, race, equality, and letting go of unhealthy relationships.

The pensive and highly relatable opening track ‘New Year’ brims with a quiet yearning to kick start something, to stop waiting. It’s followed by ‘Fall Asleep’, with its infectious bass lines and wicked guitar riffs. The introduction of electronics 1:44 minutes in is ultra cool, and was inspired by the likes of Joy Division and New Order (which is why Producer Margo added a wall of synths and drum beats).

‘Used To Be Friends’ is an anthem everyone can sing with confidence, with a sarcastic smile and no real sense of aggro – just the care free attitude of someone who’s shed the skin of an unhealthy acquaintance. ‘Eyes’ is a cacophony of guitars, percussion, and recorder. It’s one of the first songs guitarist Steph wrote aged nineteen, inspired by her disdain for “working a part time job handing out over-priced artisan bread at Waitrose”.

‘Way Out’ is a wonderful, reverb-soaked, 90s-esque tune, whilst the brief ‘Down Down’ spirals along with its driving percussion for just shy of two minutes, before the surf-pop-style ‘Tell A Lie’ lifts listeners up again. Much like ‘Used To Be Friends’, ‘Token’ laments an unhealthy friendship, although this time it’s about the feeling of ‘tokenism’ experienced by people of colour, when middle class white people decide to befriend them as a lame act of liberalism. Following track ‘It’s You’ was born from a bad situation. After the lead singer from Steph’s first band (My Therapist Says Hot Damn) left just three days before their next gig – ‘It’s You’ was one of the many songs she had to write from scratch to play at the show.

The penultimate ‘How Could You Love Me’ will have you swaying from side-to-side as it rings out in “60s girl group style”, whilst closing track ‘Cut Your Hair’ is a vulnerable but optimistic ode to predicting a relationship is over before you or your partner are willing to admit it. Despite their breezy, confident nature; the contexts of Big Joanie’s songs are powerful because the relay the struggles of everyday – whether that’s having your mind turned to mush by a boring job, falling out with yourself, or others around you. They’re three women of colour talking about their life experiences to the backdrop of marching beats and punk-inspired riffs – and that’s something the world needs plenty more of in our opinion.

Order your copy of Sistahs here. Follow Big Joanie on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Nova Twins – ‘Hit Girl’

Nova Twins are already on our ‘Hitlist’ – we reviewed their knockout EP Mood Swings last year – but with the release of new single ‘Hit Girl’ they’ve rocketed right back to the top of it again. Premiered via AFROPUNK’s website, the new track precedes the duo’s headline show on May 24th at The Victoria in Dalston, which is set to be an electrifying evening of live music.

Accompanied by a sleek monochrome video, ‘Hit Girl’ seethes with Nova Twins’ trademark lethal attitude and deviously distorted sounds. “I’m just a girl, I’m feeling hostile” snarls Amy mid-way through the track, a line that resonates as deeply as Georgia’s thundering bass lines. The pair want to show the world that women, and particularly women of colour, are not going to be overlooked in music anymore.

Speaking to AFROPUNK, the girls said: “We wanted to kill people’s perception of what a rock act – and women in music – should look like/sound like! Women of colour still get pigeon-holed into genre specifics, like R&B or Hip Hop, and although we are amazing at performing these genres, we also pioneered a lot of other things too.”

With their defiant new single and existing dedication to challenging industry norms, Nova Twins have us riled and ready for more ferocious new music in 2018. Watch the video for ‘Hit Girl’ below, and get your tickets for their headline gig at The Victoria on 24th May here (tickets are also available on DICE)

Follow Nova Twins on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: by Sana Abstrakt

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Divide & Dissolve – ‘Abomination’

Released via Dero Arcade on February 16th, Divide & Dissolve‘s second album Abomination is a sonic force to be reckoned with. The Melbourne-based duo curate heavy-instrumentals designed to “decolonize, dismantle white supremacy, and empower people of color & Indigenous people” – and their latest efforts have succeeded in undermining the forces which seek (and fail) to suppress them.

Together, Takiaya Reed (saxophone, guitar, live effects) and Sylvie Nehill (drums, live effects) have been receiving praise and support since the release of their debut Basic in March 2017, which earned them the accolade of ‘Best Heavy Album’ at The Age Music Victoria Awards. This year they’ve been granted a support slot with Poliça on their forthcoming US tour, and after listening to Abomination, it’s easy to see why Divide & Dissolve are currently in demand.

Opening the album is the eponymous ‘Abomination’: it’s five minutes and fifty seconds of unnerving riffs and ceaseless cymbals, crashing together to form a desolate but powerful soundscape. It paves the way for eerie second track ‘Assimilation’ – poised between chaos and calm from the moment it starts. There’s an intense power in the lack of lyrical content on these songs, which feels reflective of the repressed minorities the pair seek to support with their music. ‘Cultural Extermination’ is another shining example of this; the abrasive break down mid-way through being the track highlight. The pair say so much with their sounds alone, that words would detract from their impact.

The spoken word from Minori Sanchiz-Fung on ‘Reversal’, however, is incredibly potent. “By using English, I have let out many violent spirits. Words that I trust would in English, fling themselves against the wall” speaks Minori from her “Immigrant Mind”; in a composed, vigilant, but visceral manner. Subtle, reverb-heavy guitar scores her incredible poetry, making this collaboration an intriguing, important listen. ‘Resistance’ follows with its manic sax sounds that ring out like defiant sirens in the face of adversity – resisting all notions of conformity.

The brief but bold ‘Re-appropriation’ demands immediate attention with more of the pair’s crashing cymbals and abrasive riffs, before the penultimate ‘Reparations’ seeks to musically right the wrongs that white supremacy and patriarchy have inflicted on indigenous communities. Its slow-building, atmospheric nature seethes and soothes in equal measure, before ‘Indigenous Sovereignty’ closes this exploration of the unheard.

The eight tracks on Abomination are a platform on which Divide & Dissolve “transform the experience of space and time” and draw on the experiences of their ancestors and surroundings to create their unique and extraordinary sounds. It’s instrumentalist activism that seeks to disrupt the norm – and we love it.

Abomination is available to stream  & download now. Follow Divide & Dissolve on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: @annasnowsill

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut