Bangs — Call and Response

Reviewed by ryan

Despite rock’s history of stage names, alter egos and larger than life personas, there’s only been one constant that really, truly matters: the music. And, of course, Bangs know this. Which is why the band’s two figureheads – guitarist Sarah Utter and bassist Maggie Vail – supercede feminist pigeonholing, evade any form of musical gimmickry and concentrate on simply letting their punk energy squirm and writhe into pure rock ‘n’ roll on Call and Response, parented by their aptly named Kill Rock Stars label.

Nothing represents Bangs’ punk rock call to arms better than the blaring garage squall of “Call and Response.” In fact, that clamor of clashing garage rock that perpetually exudes energy and endlessly perspires catchiness is so refreshing and so exciting it’s difficult to get past the introductory tune and discover what lies beyond. Although Bangs’ Call and Response situates itself close their relatives in Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill [literally in this case; Maggie’s sister, Tobi, is an ex-member], their concoction of sweet and sour punk ingredients amasses an exciting – if unoriginal – recipe for a garage rooted band.

While the drummer position seems to stand as a revolving door for surrounding musicians in their native Olympia, Washington, new sticksman Peter Connelly’s straightforward beats slash and burn while adding a healthy does of rhythmic tension to Bangs’ guitar-fueled punk jitters. Bangs know what they’re good at – lashing out with tart melodicism that sweats beneath punk rock’s classic three-chord assault – and they religiously adhere to it. Call and Response complies to this never fatiguing formula with noticeable breaks only stemming from the plunking piano on “Kinda Good” and the immediately danceable and singable closer “Dirty Knives.”

Call and Response is the sketch of a fun-inflicted trio playing the classicism of rock through punk’s 25 year history filter while disregarding any unnecessary decadence and avoiding typical indie elitism. It’s simply three people righteously rocking out for rock’s own sake – and that’s something we can all appreciate.

Sep 25 2002