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Slow Songs For Fast Hearts: Riot Grrrl: revolution girl style now! - the book review!


Riot Grrrl: revolution girl style now! - the book review!

So previously I’d mentioned I’d been reading this book Riot Grrrl: revolution girl style now!, which was put out a couple of months ago by Black Dog Publishing. This book is made up of articles wrtten by a bunch of different authors who were around during the Riot Grrrl heydey, or who are involved in similar things these days, and so the articles are a mixture of their own experiences and the oral histories of other women involved, such as Allison Wolfe, Tobi Vail, Layla Gibbon and more.

One of the most striking things for me about this book was its UK slant. Up until now, most of the stuff that I’ve read about Riot Grrrl comes from the US, for obvious reasons I guess, but sometimes it feels like you are reading the same information over and over, and while I love to read about Riot Grrrl regardless, I was wondering if this book would just be another one of those, so was pleasantly surprised to find that wasn’t the case. Obviously, Huggy Bear plays a big part but you also get to hear about various UK distros, fanzines and feminist spaces.

Also interesting were the discussions around the inspirations and off shoots of Riot Grrrl, particularly its connection with twee. I’d sort of assumed they’d discuss the development of feminist electronic and experimental music and stuff, and while Le Tigre was the starting point for the final chapter, it was mostly in terms of them being artists and the lyrics to Hot Topic and Sadie Benning’s films, and other bands like Chicks on Speed, Erase Errata, Kevin Blechdom etc, which to me seemed like logical follow ons weren’t mentioned at all. So instead of those kinds of bands, the girl group genre, populated with bands like the Ronettes and later the Pipettes, garage music like thee Headcoatees and the Gossip, and the twee stuff such as Calvin Johnson’s projects in the States and bands like Belle and Sebastian in the UK, are added to the family tree. The twee connection was obvious really, I guess, with the whole Riot Grrrl love of DIY and tapes and cute letters etc, and perhaps the electronic and experimental stuff stemmed more directly from post punk, rather than Riot Grrrl, though there is that more direct political edge to bands such as CoS that I’m sure owes more to Riot Grrrl than the vaguer post punk genre…anyway, that’s another story! So once again with this book I was pleasantly surprised to be reading about Riot Grrrl from an angle which I’d not really considered before.

This book is visually interesting too, with colour photos and pictures of zines and posters throughout, including segments of Jigsaw and the Huggy Bear zines, riot grrrl graffiti perpertrated by the author of one of the chapters and art ranging from Judy Chicago to Julie Doucet, plus a timeline at the back and an intro by Beth Ditto!

This book is quite sprawling in lots of ways. Each chapter seems to have a vague theme, but ultimately it is a collection of each writer’s different take on the Riot Grrrl scene, then and now, and therefore avoids canonising any one band, or promoting any one version of events. It certainly leaves plenty of room for another book to be written, perhaps by Americans, or perhaps by women from another part of the world, because as this book shows, Riot Grrrl was more than just Bikini Kill, and it leaves you wondering what else was going on in other parts of the world (though it does discuss Riot Grrrl in some European countries to a certain extent), and makes you want to join the conversation and compile a book on Riot Grrrl in NZ! Go on, you know you want to!

You will soon be able to order this book from

Posted Dec 22, 06:24 PM | By Melissa |
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