Bratakus: Target Grrrl- Album review
Bratakus – Target Grrrl (Screaming Babies)
The Scots Riot Grrrls are back with a full length album of gnarly punk rock drawing on a range of hardcore and punk influences from Minor Threat to Bikini Kill.
Chunky bass, distorted fuzz guitar. Stripped back with no frills or wanky solos. Raw vocals. 10 songs in under 20 minutes. Show them an acoustic guitar and they’ll probably smash it up. This is angry, shouty, fast, hardcore punk the way it’s supposed to be done. Yes, Bratakus are 2 young wimmin and, yes, they have a drum machine but neither of those things should define them or hinder them. The drum machine never did Burnt Cross, Cress or Berurier Noir any harm and has been part of punk since the early days (FFR see Metal Urbain). As you listen to the CD you forget cos modern drum machines aren’t the clunky things they were. And as for gender? If that’s a problem for you then you are the fucking problem. On that subject, the cover art and title reflects the way that feminists instantly become targets if they dare to speak their mind. No, not just feminists, any woman. “We’re grrrls so we are targets” they seem to be saying…but that doesn’t mean they are happy about it.
Back to the music. The guitar is mostly brash and abrasive rather than polished. It’s not too dissimilar from Active Minds (with whom they toured funnily enough) and even SLF from their early years but there are times when it veers into a powerful crusty sound akin to the likes of Sedition (there is a familial link). The odd slower, mid-paced moment has a stompy vibe (always good in my book as I love a good stomp). And the bass is an instrument in its own right rather than being a background throb – with plenty of gnarl and crunch in it. I can hear in Bratakus a wide range of influences from across the decades and varying styles of punk which makes them interesting to listen to and difficult to pin down. No bad thing.
“I know Nothing” is kinda like an up to date response to Minor Threat’s “I Don’t Wanna Hear it”. It’s also one of two tracks from their debut EP (reviewed here http://louderthanwar.com/bratakus-gigantopithecus-ep-review/) that have been re-worked. I hear the acerbic in your face attitude of Verbal Abuse (their early stuff before they went heavy metal) in “Hey”. “Who Cares” has a vocal melody on the chorus that is screaming Bikini Kill at me. “No More Love Songs” starts with a shoutro (like an intro but shouted, yeah?) that could come from any number of “Youth crew” records and that style pops up every now and then in the backing vocals, so fans of Straight Edge Hardcore ought to be interested enough to give this a listen.
Their “teaser” video for the LP is definitely worth checking out – hilarious.
Similarly, Bratakus are not easy to pin down attitude-wise. They veer between concern for the planet and animals and gutter punk nihilism, serious subjects and a clear sense of humour. So, in my books, punk as fuck! The old adage goes “Live as if you will die tomorrow but treat the earth as if you will live forever” (the eco-warrior version of Live Fast Die Young), or as Bratakus put it on “Pollution Evolution”: “I don’t think this is working out, This is what we should be talking about. I know that we close our eyes. This is way too big to bide our time”. They want action now.
Since the debut EP, as Bratakus have gigged up and down the country (including an appearance at Rebellion captured on video below), they have polished up their sound and production values without letting anyone smooth off the spikes, splinters and rawness that makes music like this vital and in your face. Amusing samples between tracks are nothing new but they’ve picked some good ‘uns.
As the CD draws to a close they send up their own name with one of the band and a small child having a “No, I’m Bratakus” competition (a la Spartacus) before the bonus/hidden track. It’s their version of “Boxers and Cords” by Quarantine – a Glaswegian punk band with a mid-late 90s vintage. Nice way to round it off.
Like their first EP, this comes out on their own Screaming Babies Records, this time a more professional looking, snappily designed, gatefold cardboard wallet complete with lyrics. They are looking for help with distribution of the CD so if that’s you get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
For the time being the CD is available from Bratakus at gigs and online via bandcamp and big cartel.
You can find out where they are playing via Facebook.
All words by Nathan Brown. More from Nathan can be found over at his Louder Than War Author Archive.