fri 23/02/2024

Album: Gina Birch - I Play My Bass Loud | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Gina Birch - I Play My Bass Loud

Album: Gina Birch - I Play My Bass Loud

Solo record from The Raincoats' founding member lives up to its possibilities

No kitchen sink drama

The Raincoats are one of those revered names that I never believed I would witness live. (See also: Hole, Elastica and, until their last UK tour, extraterrestrial kooks the B52s). But in late 2019, there was a surge of activity from the godmothers of post-punk as founding members Gina Birch and Ana da Silva came together for a string of shows.

And so it was, flanked by three of my favourite women, I stood in Glasgow’s Mono watching the cult group come together again. "Feminist Song" has been a regular in the band’s live set since but now finds its recorded home on Birch’s highly anticipated solo record, I Play My Bass Loud – something the punk veteran has been doing since her squat days on Kings Road. Released on Jack White’s Third Man Records, and much like The White Stripes frontman himself, this record artfully dances between old and new. "Digging Down" is a glitchy 2-Tone number that feels like it comes straight from the songbooks of fellow seventies stalwarts, The Slits. While "Dance Like A Demon" comes full circle to the sound of contemporaries like Big Joanie who grew up spinning The Raincoats records in their bedroom.

"I Will Never Wear Stilettos" is another track that’s been in the creative wings. The concept also served as a basis for a painting and short film by Birch screened at New York City’s Kitchen in 2017. Because, sure, Birch is playing her bass loud but she’s also adept at wearing more than one hat. She’s an art-school adventurer who has painted, filmed and performed by her own rules for over four decades.

Like any good liberationist, I Play My Bass Loud flexes a softer vocal side ("I Am Rage" veers eerily close to a Catatonia album track) before sections of raw grit and gumption (the frantic neon day glow of "Pussy Riot"). But for all its multi-layers, I Play My Bass Loud centres around one unifying theme: rebuking being typecast and ignored. And, after the last 45 years in the business, Gina Birch is the best kind of lightning rod to rally the troops to the front, taking up space and making some noise. Play it loud.

Below: Watch the video for "I Play My Bass Loud" by Gina Birch

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