Different Kitchen

Abolitionist A New Militance 10″

At first, I kept thinking that I must be missing something here. I don’t want to be making assumptions about the gender identities of the band members. This can’t possibly be an entire eight-song concept record about feminism by a band of four dudes, with lyrics written in the first person from the perspective of a woman (“Hands off our bodies / We’re tired of the gaslighting”). The cover art is an illustration of an army of women: featuring oversexualized, stereotypical representations of women of different ethnicities. Their faces are covered by pink bandanas, and they wave pink flags while marching away from a cityscape emitting clouds of pink smoke. Unsurprisingly, the illustrator is also a man. It’s almost funny, like one of those “unclear on the concept” cartoon panels, how hard this misses the point. To the band: not all liberation movements belong to you. What feminism needs is for men to step back and let women define the struggle, define the goals, speak for themselves, and get to be the protagonist in their own story. You don’t still get to be the cool guy in the band, you don’t still get to tell the story. Support feminism by supporting women, not by exploiting women’s struggle to promote yourself. And besides it not being your story to tell, you are not competent to tell this story from a woman’s perspective. The pink theme is a little baffling (did I mention the vinyl is also light pink?), and the lyrics read like a BuzzFeed listicle of top feminism hashtags. It’s shallow and reductive, with no signs of actual understanding of why these issues resonate so strongly with women’s real lived experience. I commend the effort and intention that went into this, and am glad there are men that want to support feminist struggle. It’s OK to have a long way to go, as long as you’re willing to do the hard work of listening, learning, and growing. Why not write a record drawn from your own experience of how patriarchy has harmed you and people you care about?

Abolitionist Ugly Feeling LP

A heavier mix of ’90s dude hardcore with an odd amount of FUGAZI-type time changes and chords. These guys have definitely progressed musically in the decade or so that they have been churning out aggressive rock-y hardcore. A turn off for me, though, are the vocals, which are spoken-screamed with no regard for the tempo or key of the music. I kinda prefer their much earlier output. The music was still ruff’n’tuff, but the singer sang along pretty well. I’m a prude, though. For those who enjoy testosterone-laden hardcore of yesteryear without being asshole bros (as their lyrics are still pretty sweet), this seems like a keeper.

DZTN 1980 War of Good Intentions cassette

A really interesting solo post-punk/synthwave type of project. It seems the creator of this project is really leaning into music as a way of coping with the global pandemic we are currently living in, already cranking out four different releases in 2020. This is an eight-song cassette, very heavy on the synth, all songs seeming to have a strong post-apocalyptic feel to them, and the subject matter seeming very much drawn on the times we are living in.

DZTN 1980 Ode to a Dead Earth cassette

I can’t even imagine how many solo recording projects have popped up in Thee Time Of COVID—but I think it’s a lot. DTZN 1980 is the work of Dustin Herron from long-running Portland band ABOLITIONIST, and has cranked out four full releases in 2020. A self-described post-punk project, DTZN 1980 manifests as a brooding, subdued proto-anarcho/goth by way of art school—and then tracks like “Cut & Run” pop up like a gopher…before fading back into the earth. There’s a lot going on stylistically, but the presentation is minimal and the bass tends to take the lead. Overtly and unabashedly political, yet another (likely) aspect of the time (and place) of creation. I admit that I support Ode to a Dead Earth more than I actually like it, though tracks like “Bad Mentality” sounds like they come from another place in/and time, hitting a nerve that encourages me to go back and spend some dedicated time with the entire release (again).

Milk Bath Milk Bath LP

This is straightforward, up-tempo, super driving punk rock that’s just a little noisy and pretty spastic but still totally catchy. They’ve got that WIPERS or HOT SNAKES down-stroke rock thing going on but with screamed vocals that are pushed real hard. Outside of the couple spacy ambient guitar track, every song on here is a rager. It’s not necessarily hardcore, but it’s not not hardcore. If you’re confused, check it out for yourself because this shit smokes.

Better Off Dead / Nueva Generación split EP

NUEVA GENERACIÓN kicks off this split with two mid-tempo songs that walk the line between almost sliding into pop punk territory, but are just a bit too dark and slow to fully cross that line, “whoa-oh”s aside. BETTER OFF DEAD also contributes two songs which are faster and more upbeat than the songs on the NUEVA GENERACIÓN side, with a dueling female/male vocal combo that works together well. While both bands don’t take a similar approach to styles, the contrast works well.