The Julie Ruin - Run Fast
From disco-dirge to scuzz-punk from riot grrrl, Bikini Kill and Le Tigre icon Kathleen Hanna
(TJR / Dischord)
Riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna first introduced us to her semi-autobiographical alter ego, Julie Ruin, back in 1997. Her swaggering, legendary femme-punk posse Bikini Kill were on hiatus at the time (having spearheaded the riot grrrl movement and released three LPs between 1990 and 97), and she had yet to form electro-rock dissidents Le Tigre (who issued three terrific albums between 1998 and 2006).
Hanna’s first incarnation of Julie Ruin heralded a lo-fi, fairly low-key, discordant pop solo album that inspired the likes of Mykki Blanco and bagged plaudits from Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. She always intended to build a full band around Julie Ruin, but was forced to take a temporary break from music due to illness (as documented in forthcoming film, The Punk Singer, which documents her diagnosis of lyme disease).
In 2010, she began to amass the charge of personnel present on its overdue follow-up, Run Fast. If its players represent a roll-call of Hanna’s musical interests to date – Bikini Kill’s Kathi Wilcox on bass, long-term inspiration Kenny ‘Kiki and Herb’ Mellman on keyboards, tech overlord Carmine Covelli on drums, and fellow Rock Camp for Girls mentor Sara Landeau on guitar – then so too does the album’s music combine the feminist punk diatribes of Bikini Kill with Le Tigre’s upbeat, angry electro-pop.
Recent scuzz-punk single ‘Oh Come On’ and the brassy hollered manifestos of silvery disco-dirge ‘Girls Like Us’ (‘girls like us invented jazz / girls like us have no foundations, creation myths are so passé / girls like us carry out passports just in case, you know, we have to go’) are reminiscent of bluesy Bikini Kill calls-to-arms like ‘Rebel Girl’. Meanwhile the spiralling synths of ‘Ha Ha Ha’ and the singalong electro-clash of ‘Cookie Road’ sound a bit like Le Tigre, and a lot like one of rock music’s most critical voices having some well-earned fun.