By Joe Witthaus
You can buy this album here.
Meghan Rose will return to Madison on Wednesday, July 13th when Damsel Trash and the German Art Students play the Frequency.
If you are going to be loud and noisy in the world of punk rock, then you need to make sure you have something to say. Something that grabs the listener by the hair and drags them around kicking and screaming, somewhat frazzled, until, eventually, they realize they really like it. Call it a natural tendency to enjoy what is rebellious, call it a sort of shared understanding between those seeking to be different than the norm. Shit, call it just enjoying some loud fucking rockers kicking ass and screaming about the things (good or bad) that surround them on a daily basis. The fact of the matter is, when you stand back and look at it, we are all just punkers rebelling against or fighting for the things we truly care about…even if those things are dogs and stupid losers that still live with their parents.
On first listen, Wasted $ Broke may require a readjustment of your thought process. The majority of these types of bands have been primarily male-driven, often referring to women in a bevy of contexts, in particular releasing their angst toward society and ex-girlfriends who did them wrong. Occasionally, you’d get a punk rock love ballad, but this was usually reserved for the bubblegum-punk bands that ruled the early 2000’s. Damsel Trash’s brand of fast, dirty rock is a clever take on young women in today’s society as well as within the punk scene, portraying them as brutally honest, funny and intelligent and writing songs about the shit that annoys them (even men and weird-faced actresses). Perhaps the humor in Damsel Trash’s music is what keeps it interesting, but it should not downplay the fact that these ladies know how to rock.
From the onset of Wasted $ Broke, the band’s sophomore effort, it is clear that Meghan Rose (vocals/guitar) and Emily Mills (drums/vocals) mean business. A shrill scream, fuzzy guitars and punching drums kicks off opening track “All Girl Band,” a perfect example of the humor that Damsel Trash poke at the male-dominated punk scene, highlighting the astonishment some must have at this fact. Aside from the lyrically smart approach, the rhythmic and distorted instrumentation touches on notes of punk, garage rock and hardcore, reminiscent of 90’s rock staples like Local H and Tripping Daisy. This blend of quick, gut-punching riffs and piercing vocals set the stage for the rest of the album.
In “Bad Dates, Cute Dogs,” the band shifts to a more melodic and toe-tapping tempo that slides into a whirlwind of blazing guitar in the refrain, touching on numorous anecdotes about loving animals, but hating their owners. Damsel Trash excel at displaying their wit and impatience for people that aren’t quite what they seem. Lines like “You give awful hugs/ You live with your mom/ You do too many drugs/ But i’m tight with your dog,” not only shine creatively, but also weirdly speak to almost every 20-something trying to meet that special someone and realizing that animals are way cooler.
Damsel Trash break out the chops and display some really interesting tracks elsewhere on Wasted $ Broke, such as “Dance Tantrum,” an all-instrumental track that recalls the chord-shifting, technically complex structures of noise-rockers Unsane. Albeit short, the song serves as a testament to Rose and Mills’ talent and skill as musicians. Not often do you see such dynamic musical shifts in the middle of a punk album, but playing it safe does not seem like Damsel Trash’s thing.
Wasted $ Broke’s final tracks play out with strength. A mix of the lighting-fast (“Kirsten Dunst,” “All I Think About Is Sex (But Not With You),” “Scott Walker, You’re A Piece Of Shit”) and some more crushing, smash-em-up tracks (“Wasted and Broke” and ”Can’t Be In Our Band”) make for a hell of a finale. On “Scott Walker,” Rose and Mills really let the fists fly, telling the oft-despised Wisconsin governor to “get out of [their] state” and letting him know how big of an “ass” he is, leaving little doubt as to how big of a douche this guy must be. Subject matter notwithstanding, the vocal stylings and screams are unparalleled and showcase the aggression and raw power at the core of Damsel Trash. All of this well-placed hostility serves as a great lead-in to “Can’t Be In Our Band,” a slower, more progressive track that again adds another layer of creative genius to the album, reflecting the angsty, mid-90’s. The pedal-morphed, bridge-slid guitars echo across the duo’s shouting, generating the musical equivalent of a fist fight that already has a clear winner.
Keeping in mind that this is only Damsel Trash’s second full-length release, it is exciting to think where the band could be in another year or two given the right audience or set of ears. There are no punches pulled and no corners cut when it comes to Damsel Trash. There is no settling for paths that have been paved before them. They are their own people and undoubtedly talented, which is more than apparent on Wasted $ Broke. What should be understood more than anything else after hearing what Rose and Mills have created is that these two are some badass bitches that are blowing the doors right off of the punk-rock community. Fear them. Adore them. Listen to them. Learn from them. Because this is where punk-rock is headed and it is refreshing to see bands like Damsel Trash lead the way forward.
Joe Witthaus hails from St. Louis, MO. An adamant fan of punk, hardcore, stoner metal and anything that shreds, he has written about pretty much everything loud that your parents hate. Endeavors that also humor his writing include The Burning Beard (previously Ride With the Devil) and a review blog for STL’s own Music Record Shop. Outside of music, he enjoys BBQ, beer and spending time with his lady and mohawk-rocking Cocker Spaniel, Charlie.