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Review: Blueprint by Alice Bag - A Glam-punk Riot grrrl dance party

By: 
D'Arcy Briggs

August 16, 2018

 

 

Alice Bag has been an active performer and frontwoman in punk bands since the late 1970’s when she formed Los Angeles’, The Bags. She is also a feminist archivist, author, and and educator. 2018 marks the release of her 2nd solo-release, Blueprint. The album features a band comprised of industry vets such as Eva Gardner (Mars Volta, Moby) and Danny McGough (Social Distortion). The album also features more than a few guest vocalists, including Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) and Martin Sorrondeguy (Los Crudos, Limp Wrist).

The album jumps around musically many times within the punk genre, but seems to be most firmly rooted in Bag’s glamrock-inspired vocals. Some tracks are certainly along the lines of standard melodic punk, while others might be more at home on a power-pop record. Still, Bag’s unique voice and lyrical penchant keeps it all recognizable and cohesive. The album itself is inspired by the ideas of blueprints themselves: how a plan can be laid out perfectly, only to find a problem and have to switch gears. A blueprint, for Bag, is something that is set as a guide, but must be open to change. “We're all constantly building structures of many different kinds,” says Bag.. “So, it's up to to us keep things on track and moving in the direction we want to see them go. Otherwise, we end up with an idiot in charge."

The lyrics are where this album really shines. From personal battles to political struggles, the album covers a myriad of topics over its relatively short runtime. The track “77” musically pays tribute to the punk sounds of the period, but lyrically address the wage gap faced by women and other marginalized groups. One verse belts “I make 77 cents and it's not right /  It's bad for women / And worse if you're not white / You're head of household? So am I / It's not just about me - I need to provide!” The track “White Justice” addresses contemporary racist populism with the struggles of the pro-Chicano Brown Berets organization during the 1970’s. The song presents a narrative of rally and counter-rally, opening with “Blue skies, brown berets / This march feels like a parade / My neighbor and her children came / No one could stay away. / Rest on a green lawn / Agua fresca, yellow corn / Oh no, stormtroopers in uniforms / Are swinging their batons.” The rest of the album focuses on introspective matters of mental anguish, resilience, and change.

Blueprint is an incredibly focused album thematically. It’s lyrics are just as haunting and beautiful as they are poignant. It addresses many issues faced by those fighting for social change today, both in terms of political and personal struggles. It offers support in the struggle just as much as it offers solidarity in sadness - that’s quite a lot for such a short album. For those who are looking for a glam-punk Riot grrrl dance party in 2018, I can’t think of a better album than Blueprint.

 

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