Alice Bag is a singer/songwriter, musician, author, artist, educator and feminist. She was the lead singer and co-founder of the Bags, one of the first punk bands to form in the mid-1970s in Los Angeles. She was featured in the seminal documentary on punk rock, The Decline of Western Civilization and went on to perform in other groundbreaking bands, including Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres. She has published two books, including the critically acclaimed memoir Violence Girl and the self-published Pipe Bomb For the Soul, based on her experiences in post-revolutionary Nicaragua. Her influence on popular music is highlighted in the Smithsonian exhibit, American Sabor. Alice’s debut solo album features all original material written by Bag and includes performances by some of her favorite LA-based musicians.
The punk icon, tag gets trotted out on occasion too readily, not on this occasion, Bag is as real as it gets. So no surprise after first listen to the solo album, when I add another to the ‘as with all of artistic endeavours, this album is unabashedly honest and unafraid’ list.
‘Little Hypocrite’ opens the lampoons many a self-righteous charlatan, in fine alternative form, What follows though, should be heard widely, even given the the subject matter of domestic violence, wrapped in the 1960’s feel so powerful effective. ‘He’s So Sorry’ is sadly still prevalent. The video below contains graphic depiction of violence, but if it helps in any way to end any form of domestic violence, it will be a good thing. As Alice Bag states –
“He’s So Sorry” is a song of both urgency and agency. Nobody should risk their life waiting for an abuser to change their ways.
I grew up around domestic violence, so when a good friend of mine asked me for help and advice, I recognized that she was in an abusive situation. Our conversations inspired this song. When I was growing up, my father would frequently beat my mother. I would often go to school wondering if my mother would still be alive when I got home. My mother would tell me that she stayed with my father for my sake because I needed to have a mother and a father. It was a different time and a different set of values.
As a child, I hated my father for beating my mother and I felt anger and frustration at my mother’s inability to leave. My mother WAS NOT to blame for the abuse – that is unequivocal – but she did fail to recognize that she had the power to leave the situation. She was tethered by the fear that she wouldn’t be able to survive financially and by what I imagine was societal and familial pressure to stay in a dysfunctional marriage.
The 11-track album continues with fair stab at the US education system in ‘Programmed’, followed with the narrative heavy ballad ‘Suburban Home’, ‘Poisoned Seed’ wins, a solidifying decry that stirs the blood. There is no real let up in quality, attacking the culture of rape, moreover the wrong mindset that allows that behaviour on ‘No Means No’.
To what i hope is also a single, the wholesome ‘Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice’ which sounds on form. The video below is directed by Jennifer Juniper Stratford and features cameos from original riot grrrl Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile, Sex Stains), Mecca Vazie Andrews (Sex Stains), Angel Melody, Martha Carrillo (mother of Angel Melody, artist), Andrea Flores (animation artist), Candace Hansen(co-organizer of OC Rock camp for girls), Josie Wreck.
‘Incorporeal Life’ is nearly overshadowed by the former, but leads nicely to the impassioned ‘Inesperado Adios’, and that’s your whack. ‘Alice Bag’ is more impressive musically that i pre-judged, in 2016 Bag has more to comment, denigrate and and upload, lucky for the listener. The album is a true powerful form of self expression, that has beguiled everyone here at WithGuitars. The Latina punk icon delivers in spades, match winning, as if that was important. 8.8/10