[Sidebar] The Worcester Phoenix
December 17 - 24, 1999

[Music Reviews]

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(Mr. Lady)

The young lady sounds unsure of herself. "We've talked about it in letters, and we've talked about it on the phone," she says, voice cracking as seagulls cackle in the background, in what's like a cross between a douche commercial and the intro to the Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back." "But how you really feel about it, I don't know." You're thinking "it" is sex, of course, but what she really wants to know, as the primitive drum machines and the serrated guitars kick in, is "What's Your Take on Cassavetes?" Possible answers: "Misogynist! Genius!"

It's prime Kathleen Hanna, who since the demise of Bikini Kill has been finding new ways to wrap a gender-studies degree in pop naïveté. (Elsewhere, on Le Tigre, she also wants your take on who put the ram in the rama-lama-ding-dong.) Her new outfit refines the Punky Brewsterish pastiche she began under the name Julie Ruin last year: '60s bubblegum meets pastel new wave, garage rock with a sampler, bedroom disco for anarchist slumber parties. Only this time, the pop packs as much punch as the platitudes. Turntable breaks on the opening "Deceptacon" punctuate the kind of action, drama, and '80s-Madonna kick that kids like Bis have been toying with. "Phanta" hijacks a Beatle-esque mellotron figure on the way to "Space Oddity" territory. And "My Metrocard" takes Rudy Giuliani to task for shutting down Hanna's beloved strip bars while reinventing the "Louie, Louie" riff as the world's sweetest basement hip-hop confection. Bikini who?

-- Carly Carioli
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