Kindred spirits: Liz Phair, Bikini Kill, California X
Show: With Priests and Radiator Hospital on Wednesday at DC9. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. 202-483-5000. www.dcnine.com. $8.
“Hell Bent,” the first full-length album from Northampton, Mass., quartet
Potty Mouth, is worthy of the old-school punk rock label. The band’s music is tight and infectious, like punk in the ’70s: fast, raw and loud.
The band boasts three recent Smith College graduates. The fourth member, singer Abby Weems, is only 19, but her understated delivery plays an ideal foil to the aggressive guitars. Vintage punk vocals channel rage and discontent, but her dispassionate style complements the band’s lyrical themes.
Potty Mouth’s punk oeuvre is one of unease about its place both in the world writ large and within the punk community, and Weems’s voice adds potency to those ideas. The track “Wishlist” reveals the band’s feminist aesthetic (“You say you wanna be big in this world / But you’re held back because you’re a small town girl”), while “Sleep Talk” reflects a more universal, 20-something angst (“I don’t wanna dream anymore / My biggest fears creep up on me / And it’s so hard to feel secure”).
Not to be overlooked are Potty Mouth’s musical chops, which lend power to its message. Ally Einbinder on bass and Victoria Mandanas on drums forge a driving rhythm section and provide a solid base for the interplay between Weems’s rhythm guitar and Phoebe Harris’s lead. Such tracks as “Rusted Shut” and “Black and Studs” highlight the discordant guitar work that allows Harris to rise over the other instruments, giving many of the tracks on “Hell Bent” a strong melodic hook.