Back in my college days, the mid/late 90s, a boy I worked with at the campus radio station once told me he was “done” with any music containing guitars. I remember replying, “But what about girls with guitars?” He pretended to concede my point, to his credit. But for him, and for many, the late 90s were all about electronic music. For me, it was more about the riot grrrl hangover. Bands with some or all female members felt more prevalent back then than they do now, and it was excellent for an angsty young rock n roll loving feminist like me. One of my favorite bands from the era didn’t get a lot of attention, and you still don’t see them mentioned in pieces that name drop Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney but never dig any deeper. So, my record of the day is one I’m excited to share — Tiger Beat by Bangs, released in the blur that was 1998 on Kill Rock Stars. If you’ve never heard it before, I think you’re gonna like it.
Bangs were a band of three and included Maggie Vail, who continues to be a bad ass. The record was recorded in three days, and there’s only one song on it that’s more than three minutes long. Punk rock perfection.
The band mastered the slow burn, with songs that start gentle and build into a frenzy, each with a crescendo that you can’t miss, one that makes you want to jump into a mosh pit or sit at a coffee shop and smoke a pack of Camels or whatever it was that we did back then before technology turned us into homebodies.
Bangs’ second album is just as good, and includes a great Southern Girls cover, and both records can be found super cheap, because the group wasn’t really around long enough to get the credit they deserved. Or maybe their lack of fame was due to all the college radio boys turning their backs on guitars like they were antiquated relics and not one of the basic foundations of the best thing to ever come out of the old USA: rock and fucking roll.