Once upon a time, the sight of a punk girl moving in next door might have sparked a neighborhood watch for the barricades of cultural revolution. By today’s grim revolt-into-product times, the lights are on next door, but the punk girl’s not home; she’s started up a dotcom offering real-time textual analysis of Jerry Springer’s “Final Thought” homilies for a fee. So much for intellectual-property values on your street.
But Charlotte, North Carolina, terminal youngblood Chris Peigler can’t let go of that vision-in-shiny-black-boots punkette ideal he glimpsed around 1980. He’s pursued her musically ever since, first with his new-wavish band Intensive Care, then through the zip-hop Proletariat Madonna, and finally in the fully punk guise of My So-Called Band, now on their third CD release. The supporting players change from disc to disc, but bassist-vocalist Peigler and his incisive-couplet lyrical obsessions anchor each lineup. His persona amounts to a feminist whose atavistic Southern chivalry makes him want to protect these assertive punkettes from the leering-chauvinist society they’ve pogoed into. But for all his enlightened, self-interested lust, the alt womyn always end up in arms other than the narrator’s—often those of some testosterone download bent on abuse.
Not a pretty dancefloor picture, but My So-Called Band’s soulpunk musical smarts make for a bracing background for itchy ressentiment of those cock dings: relentless churn from Ryan McGinnis’s guitar and Peigler’s bass, punchfunk drums from Chris Loebs, chord changes that stop on a Ramone, and insistent auteur Peigler’s speedcroon vocals darting through the valleys of frenzy. To coin a soundbite simile, My So-Called Band sound like Steve Forbert might’ve if he’d fronted the MC5 while on the lam from all those Next Big Dylan delusionals. Positively shakin’ street.
Yesha, P.O. Box 31725, Charlotte, NC 28231-1725, www.yesha.com