War on Women- The Shondes

War on Women
Improvised Weapons

Exotic Fever
10" E.P.

Lest you get the wrong idea about this Baltimore band based on their name, let it be known that War on Women is a feminist band and not a misogynist outfit. Some of the songs have an appropriately feminist message (or really, just a 'get a clue, jackass' message) and not to discount that but Improvised Weapons really is all about rocking your socks off. Musically the band (two women, three men) plays fast, punk-tinged garage rock with melodic overtones that recalls any number of female-fronted modern bands like Girl in a Coma as well as legacy acts like Missing Persons and Blondie. Singer Shawna Potter is the reason for those comparisons; she scowls angrily through her lyrics one minute and squeaks out high notes like a pop goddess the next, demonstrating a versatility throughout these six songs that keeps the listener guessing as to her mood. There's no need to over think this one though; just turn it up and shake it loose.

The Shondes

Exotic Fever
12" L.P.

I try my best not to ever cram a band into a pigeonhole but when I set Searchlights to spinning I immediately flashed back to hit makers like Concrete Blonde. And that's not a bad thing. If you like well-done, sprightly pop/rock featuring a vivacious girl singer then you'll have it in the case of the Shondes and lead vocalist Louisa Rachel Solomon. Solomon's voice rings clear as a bell here, demanding a sing along on original songs like "Give Me What You've Got" and channeling a Debbie Harry/Patti Smith mash-up on "All This Weight." Searchlights probably would have garnered a gold record had it come out in the '80s and there's definite treasure here for those willing to take a chance.

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