Seattle’s feminist rock scene has a beautifully rich history at this point, and it’s a total blast to see where the kids are taking it. Three bands in particular have, hand in hand, brought the noise consistently for the last couple years: Chastity Belt, Tacocat, and Pony Time. These three acts have each spun Seattle garage in a uniquely awesome way, and each are only getting more incredible with time. But in a brilliant flash of light, the three went Voltron on us and combined forces to birth this ridiculously awesome cassette tape. Enter Childbirth, the combined forces of Chastity Belt vocalist and guitarist Julia Shapiro, Tacocat’s shreddin’ bassist Bree McKenna, and Pony Time’s Stacy Peck on drums. Their 17 minute debut to the world is called It’s a Girl! and it’s a fantastic testament to the unique take on feminism that these women hold, as well as their sidesplitting sense of humor.
From its first minute to its last, Childbirth’s debut cassette goes for the arteries. Topics range from sister wives and cross-stitching to Lisa Nowak (the astronaut who drove to Florida with intention of kidnapping) and menopause. “I Only Fucked You as a Joke” puts up a wonderfully blunt front for a bad one night stand. The hook is a ruthless, churning machine that throws punches and only punches. Shapiro’s snarl here is divine. “I hope I’m not pregnant ‘cause I don’t want to have your kid.” Here, the tables are turned on the typical lack of attachment in this type of situation for a delicious Childbirth scolding to whatever chump may write them off. Similarly murderous hooks appear on “How Do Girls Even Do It?”, which documents an awesome conversation about confusion related to lesbian sex. “Which one of you’s the man?” Shapiro yells. The mood is comical, but the undertones here are pretty noteworthy - much like the entirety of the indie rock music scene, Childbirth find themselves surrounded by people frantically attempting to assign value to them on an androcentric scale. On the same note, Childbirth turn down a more serious path with “Sweet Pea”. “Am I an object in your eyes? All I want is to be desired”, Shapiro sings. The chorus hook is biting and furious and it drives the message home perfectly.
But Childbirth are great even when they aren’t all that serious. “Crossbitch” paints a picture of a bloodthirsty cross-stitcher and “Cowling At The Moon” hates on people who wear turtlenecks to hide hickies. But the real comic gold here is “Marination Station”, which documents the adult diaper-clad travels of Lisa Nowak. “She won’t stop, she’s shitting herself for love. She’s a disgrace to all women in space.” The narration is accompanied with yet another furious hook showcasing near-perfect synchronicity between these three ladies. The combined forces of Chastity Belt, Tacocat, and Pony Time are not to be trifled with. Finally, the tape closes with a double header of weirdness. “Will You Be My Mom?” finds itself among the more catchy cuts of the record, as Shapiro and McKenna beg a loving candidate to fill their maternal void and be their breadwinner. “Menopause” is a monologue from an angry mom with menopause, which could be interpreted quite literally (“I hate my kids and I hate my job”). Or, maybe it’s another track about how male-dominant society writes off female stress under a glass ceiling as some kind of biological phenomena. However you take it, It’s a Girl! ends with a memorable bang.
Shapiro, McKenna, and Peck kept their introduction as Childbirth brief, but not a second of it is wasted. It’s a Girl! showcases some of the best work from these three young women, and proves that they aren’t slowing down any time soon. The Seattle garage scene can look forward to plenty more smirks and birth jokes, and hopefully more rocking out in creepy maternity gowns (see the “I Only Fucked You As A Joke” video above). It’s a Girl! is out now through Help Yourself Records. You can listen to and buy It’s a Girl! digitally over at Childbirth’s Bandcamp and you can order the cassette at the Help Yourself site. Childbirth played their album release show this last Tuesday at Chop Suey, but keep an eye out for future dates at their Facebook.