Out 4 Blood (Bloody Daggre Records)
By: Paula M. Sherman
When I first received this CD, I examined it. The name of the band was interesting, as was the name of the record company. The bio was straight and to the point in describing a female punk/alternative band. I thought immediately that I was starting to stereotype the contents of this package that I opened. My first impressions were not good. The reason I'm saying this is because looks are VERY deceiving! This is an important point and I wanted to address it. You should never prejudge anything until it is fully surveyed. The minute I see a female punk/alternative band entitled Wound with a release that contains the same word as in the recording label, and that word is "blood"; I immediately think "male basher". I laughed when I thought that because the bio told me in plain and simple words, "We are not, however, male bashers", from the band's guitarist Sondra Menthers. It was complimented by a statement from the lead singer, Drama Arthur, "If you are not a rapist or a stalker, our songs are not about you."
You will understand my amusement when I listened to the first song, "Brainstem Only". It started out great. I was enjoying it immediately, until I heard the lyrics, "You think with your dick, instead of your brain, and when you can't help it, you go insane." The refrain got worse, as did the rest of the song. My attention span was thinning rapidly. By the end of the that song, I was pissed off. It was horrible. I could have played that song with a bunch of my friends easily, and I'm not instrumentally talented. There was no imagination or creativity behind the music, just a lot of anger and unnecessary and badly performed cursing. I was getting depressed that I may have been right in my first impression. I walked away for a moment. Luckily I didn't turn off the CD player.
I normally always listen to everything all the way through before making a judgement. The second song, "Goodbye", filled the room nicely. The vocals are pleasing and the music is solid and in no way offensive. On the contrary, it was treat! The tune maintained a moderate tempo with an excellent distribution of instrument sound and a well executed vocal echo. It was reminiscent of Hole and/or Madonna. Now they had my attention. The guitar work in this song was incredibly imaginative. Then the next song came on, "Isolationist". Another song with poor poetry, really badly placed cursing and really annoying vocals that sounded like Gwen Stefani with a really bad throat infection. When it comes to cursing in a song, I feel it should be done within the verse, not the chorus where it is repeated. Both "Brainstem Only" and "Isolationist" glare this problem. Songs like these seem like afterthoughts and I couldn't believe they were lingering at the beginning of the compilation.
"Comotose Love" was much easier on the ears, absorbing and thought-provoking; but the vocals sounded weak. The lead singer sounded like she was trying too hard to imitate Courtney Love and failing dreadfully. The guitar work was enticing enough for me to continue listening. "Naked Greek Men" started off with a strong intro, but again, the music was boring and repetitive and the vocals and lyrics were ANNOYING! I love punk rock and I just couldn't get used to this lead singer. Her voice wavered and was too whiney even for a punk rock song. The only thing that was saving these songs so far was the guitar playing. This band's bio reflects a statement that "grrls" can really play instruments. Well they can and they do that part rather well. But in the same breath they say that "Wound fits in perfectly in the aftermath of the Riot Grrl forerunners including the Slits and Cycle Sluts", and their "contemporaries" are the likes of Hole and Alanis Morrisette; to name a few "angry females who speak their mind and play hard-edge, angry music". The difference between these artists referenced is that they are well-produced. At this point in the CD, Wound seemingly doesn't resemble the art of being well-produced.
Less than halfway through this release, I had to stop it and figure out why I wasn't liking it. I can stomach most music and so far out of 5 songs I was only appreciating 2 of them. I was afraid to continue at that point. I feared maybe I was losing my passion for punk. So I pulled out my Hole CD, Live Through This. I love this group. Their music is loud and very hard- edged, very angry and extremely offensive in some cases. But the difference in Hole's offensive nature is that it is creatively worked to the point that you don't even realize you're listening to offensive or angry music because it is so incredibly powerful all the way around. From the arrangements to the way Love delivers the lyrics, it's done with a respect for music and poetry. The music is spine-tingling and makes you want to get up and jump up and down. When Love screams, grunts or growls she does it on key and her voice attacks you passionately and ravenously. She takes a bite out of you, chews you up and spits you out and you're happy about it. And in her slower tunes she can sing in a way that makes you feel like the music is stroking her angry fur till she purrs. In the simplest of songs like "Doll Parts", where the music and lyrics are minimal yet rich; the whole song is delivered with the right amount of emotion at all the right moments. And even when Love is vocally fooling around, like in the last song on this release named "Rock Star", IT IS GOOD! It's obnoxious and loud, all in a thrillingly awesome way.
I think why I'm more comfortable with Love's music is because she's a good story-teller. She can tell you something that pissing her off in a way that makes you want to listen closely. This is what I feel Wound lacks, the thrill and the content. They claim not to be "male bashers", but this is the sentiment I swallow as I pick up there I left off. "Looks Like The Wedding's Off" came in at number six, and while the guitar playing was very solid and the rhythm was good; the vocals were again weak. The lyrics were telling a story and I just wasn't interested. "High Steaks" was next and this turned out to be a good song. The lead singer sounded on the mark. In this song everything goes together well and ranks up there as a remarkable tune. I'll would go as far to say it's single material. "3000 Miles" jumps in quickly and offers another look at a band who really does have an undeniable talent. Great music, stimulating vocals, accented with a sad love story theme that wasn't sickening. I'm starting to feel that the worse is well over, because the next song, "You're All The Same" is again indicating a sense of punk enthusiasm mixed with inventive song structure.
To my absolute pleasure the next song, "Woman", is also well done and is a classic punk track worthy of radio play. This song demonstrates their instrumental talent to the max. It's a spicy number that shows off the lead singers ability to carry a tune from beginning to end. As does the following song, "Lost Sheep", the vocals are phenomenal. Exciting riffs and melody swim perfectly with the lyrics. Lastly, "Irish Castles" is another classic punk tune and as a closing song, it incorporates all the qualities that I mentioned Hole brings forth. Out of 12 songs, half of them were excellent examples of true punk sound and concrete testaments to "grrls" knowing how to play instruments. The other half should have been reworked or left out all together. I feel they completely distract from the half that are worth listening to.
I'm so harsh with my opinion because I feel that too many musicians step up to the microphone claiming to be punk rockers and they just don't follow through with the attempt. Wound proves without a doubt that they know how to be punk rockers. The band consists of four players: Sondra Menthers on guitar, Jaye Barnes on bass, Drama Arthur performing vocals and Ryan Hulbert on drums. This quartet can produce a pretty soulful yet wieldy rocking punch as long as they don't get too sloppy. I will go further to say that their cause to "uplift and encourage females" should be focused within the music, not on top of it. It's one thing to point out the atrocities of humanity, it's another to be a insultive name-caller or a retentive whining victim within a song. It's fine to be angry. It's fine to have an attitude. But channel it in a way that truly benefits those who are going through something similar, those who need to learn and those who want to listen.
I predict this band would be a thrill to experience live on a stage. I can picture them vibrating the walls of a club as the moshers crack the pit's floor. I look forward to future releases from Wound. Overall I give Out 4 Blood a C+.