A Plunger for Mom


The Shocker remind me of my mom. In our house, my mom ran the show; if she was sick, we all suffered. When she finally had it with hearing, “Ma, can you [fill in the favor]?” she’d say, “Ma’s not here.”

In the family of early-’90s rock bands, L7 wore the pants. Their effort was audible: With a snaggletoothed snarl, songs like “Pretend We’re Dead” and “The Bomb” mocked laziness and superficiality like it was a job. L7 resented having to kick our ass, but it was their self-appointed duty, and they probably loved it. By the time the four women co-founded Rock For Choice in 1991, Rosie the Riveter had a rock band.

Bassist-singer Jennifer Precious Finch left L7 in 1997, and has a new quartet. The Shocker’s EP Up Your Ass Tray! is heavy yet brisk punk rock ‘n’ roll with a chrome sheen. Finch takes a well-deserved detour from being a workhorse of social consciousness.

“My Life as a Plumber” opens with a two-note guitar siren, rescue-mission style, and chords jab forward like a plumber’s snake being fed through a pipe. From an early age, Finch was a problem solver. “While everyone around me was too scared to react/I said ‘Hand me the plunger, baby, and stand back,’ ” she bellows. But now she’s through playing Ms. Fix-It, and flushes her dependents down the crapper so she can tend to her own clogs.

She switches occupations to archaeology in the ebullient and raucous “Your Problem Now.” After busting her ass on the dig, Finch is ready to let someone else break their back. “Uncover, discover, recover, plow. . . . It’s your problem now!” she triumphantly cries as a gang of vocalists (nine of them, the credits say) belt out the husky, sashaying chorus.

Finch is always going to rock the frontline, but now she’s got other priorities. Fittingly, the Shocker cover Chip Taylor’s (then Merrilee Rush’s, then Juice Newton’s) premarital fuck-and-run anthem “Angel of the Morning,” which sparkles like a can of Coors Light in the sunrise. It’s an apropos song for someone learning how to freely come and go.