April 2, 2013

LP: Bleached - Ride Your Heart

A love letter to the Clavin sisters. 

I could write about Ride Your Heart like I do any other review. I could tell you that after hearing Bleached's first two seven inches in the summer and fall of 2011, I fell super hard for them and wanted to move out to California so I could live my own version of the "Think of You" video. I waited patiently through 2012 to see if they would come out with any new material and was thrilled when I found out they were coming out with an album in the beginning of 2013. When Ride Your Heart was finally up for streaming, I listened to it over and over again. Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, the sisters behind Bleached, crafted an album that is brand of fast-paced, mature surf punk that's a fuller extension of the previously released Bleached tracks. I could tell you how "Looking For a Fight" makes me feel like I'm in a girl gang and how "Dead in Your Head" is probably the best song of the year. I could talk about how this album is everything I've been waiting for from the band – but I don't want to do that.

This album means a lot more to me than that, or more specifically, the Clavin sisters hold a special place in my heart that deserves more than a write up on their debut album. It dates back to the summer of 2010, also known as the summer I read Marisa Meltzer's amazing book, "Girl Power", which chronicles the different waves of female musicians in the nineties and earlier 2000s. I have always been very invested in music but as a woman, I never paid attention to the place female artists held in the spectrum of music. When I first got into music, I was a middle school girl who worshipped the ground that male emo musicians walked on. As I got older, my tastes expanded and I became attached to artists such as Jenny Lewis and Mirah. But their gender didn't hold much significance to me and I never actively tried to find other female artists to take up space in my male-dominated iTunes library. Reading "Girl Power" was an incredibly eye-opening experience for me because I realized it's not easy for girls to grow up to be musicians. As girls, there are more than a few female artists for us to look up to, but not nearly as many as there are men. Thanks to "Girl Power", I also learned about riot grrrl for the first time and spent the summer researching Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and the like. Although I felt inspired by these bands, I still felt like I had missed something and resented my young age at the time the riot grrrl movement had taken place.

In the last few years, I've been able to have my own moments that reflected the sentiment that riot grrrl had once produced in the early nineties. Last June, I attended a Pussy Riot benefit at Death by Audio in Brooklyn and felt a rare sense of elation when I found myself dancing in a room full of girls to Le Tigre songs. In February, I watched a group of D.C.-based girls performing as Blood spew experimental punk onto a small crowd of onlookers as I watched in awe. But musically, the Clavin sisters did something for me to change my life. Inevitably, it starts with their previous project, Mika Miko. When I first heard Mika Miko, I was shocked at just how fucking ridiculously talented the band was and how well they crafted short and powerful punk songs (you can read about my thoughts on their album C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. here). Punk had always been a hard genre for me to get into, but Mika Miko showed me that girls can be just as good and have just as much fun as boys. Unfortunately, I started listening to Mika Miko after they broke up and missed their legendary live shows. But Bleached carries on the torch that Mika Miko first ignited for me. The Clavin sisters might have grown up, but they are still showing girls that you too can play guitar, sing about breaking a boy's heart, and simply be an all around badass. The Clavin sisters showed me that I didn't have to be scared to pick up the bass because I felt like I couldn't ever be good at it because of my age and gender – just fucking do it.

So thanks, Jennifer and Jessica, for all that. And listen to Bleached's new album because it rules.

You can buy Bleached's new album Ride Your Heart over at Dead Oceans

Written by Emily Thompson