Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Album Review: Gina Birch - I Play My Bass Loud

Gina Birch
I Play My Bass Loud
***and1/2 out of *****

The solo debut from Gina Birch, I Play My Bass Loud is a mix of angst, rock, and electro-dance ready protest tunes. The founder of the post punk, influential outfit The Raincoats touches on a host of different feelings as she transverses these eleven efforts. 
Birch let's it all hang out here starting with the title track that hovers between groovy and trippy via weird echoes, digital flourishes and a deep bass line as Birch plays with that catchy/protesting/artsy trifetca throughout the album. Her sense of blurring lines and boundaries, staying experimental but still accessible, is a plus on I Play My Bass Loud as she never gets trapped into what is expected.

"And Then It Happened" uses Birch's bass as a foundation with odd digital noises around the edges and spoken word lyrics that acts as a long intro into "Wish I Was You", the most alt-rock sounding, bombastic, track here. Playing like a mix of The Breeders and Sleater-Kinney (two bands Birch inspired) the effort slams with big banging distortion and woolly charm.  

While Birch may have been able to produce a whole album of these alt-rock winners, her art takes her deeper into digital protest songs. The album centerpiece is "I Am Rage" as she calmly states her anger around marching drums and digital squiggles; the track is all the more affecting because she never blows her top, she just states the rage is there...waiting. She shifts gears for "Dance Like A Demon" which goes more artsy, but still manages to drop in a pretty ripping solo to end. 

Birch used different vocals of herself to create a group of catty friends on "Big Mouth" which discusses secrets and spats, ending friendships while "Pussy Riot" is a digital, dance hall influenced tribute to the band of the same name with lyrics like “We have to remember freedom’s not a given/It’s something to fight for every day/We have to remember it’s our duty to fight for those who’re still in chains.”. 

This idea of constant struggle is everywhere on I Play My Bass Loud from the subversive to the overt. The direct "I Will Never Wear Stiletto's" is dance music that states the obvious but infuriating threat of male on female violence with "I’m not saying the city is a warzone/But can you run in them?". Not everything is as successful, the dance hall reggae of "Digging Down" is hypnotic but goes on a bit long and the closing "Let's Go Crazy" is a tame closer, that relies too heavily on a trance like vibe. 

Birch delivers a lot for patriarchy to be scared of throughout I Play My Bass Loud as Birch sums up her thoughts with the pulsing "Feminist Song", a direct commentary as to how everyone should be mad and making real societal changes. Gina Birch continually does that through her art, and on I Play My Bass Loud she does it very successfully. 
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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