By Al Kaufman
Supergroups of any type rarely live up to their hype, but since the hype for Wild Flag was practically non-existent, and since the women in this band don’t care about such petty things, their debut album far surpasses any expectations that may have been garnered.
Wild Flag consists of some of the best punk-girls of the ’90s: guitarist Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney, guitarist Mary Timothy of Helium, and Minders’ keyboardist Rebecca Cole. Brownstein and Timothy share the vocals here as well. Together, they prove that women can flat out rock. This ain’t about costume changes and drum machines.
Wild Flag is about swirling keyboards, long guitar jams, and intense vocals. But they wrap it all up in ear pleasing melodies and choruses. These are women who have literally lived for rock and roll. “Romance” would seem to be a love song. But listen to lyrics such as “We love the sound, the sound is what found us/Sound is the love between me and you,” and it quickly becomes apparent that this romance is with music. It is performed with all the hippie intensity of a Patti Smith, with a Go-Gos-like chorus to keep it driving along. Brownstein hiccups her way through “Boom” in a style recalling Lene Lovich. “Glass Tambourine” is a nice mid-tempo rocker with girl group harmonies and more than a touch of psychedelia. And just when you think the song is pleasant enough, they throw in a nice ’70s jam session. “Future Crimes” is a straight ahead rock song that Keith Richards would be happy to play on. “Racehorse,” with its overt sexuality (“Pony up and ride”), offers up more swirling guitar solos.
In the end, Wild Flag is a political statement. Wild Flag proves that women in music don’t need to wear wild costumes, rely on men to play the rhythm, or only play mindless dance and pop. Wild Flag is here to prove that women can kick your ass, or ears.
Wild Flag play Black Cat in Washington, D.C. on October 20…
… and 40 Watt Club in Athens on October 22.