By: Dillon McKinnish
Olympia, Washington is easily one of the more diverse and exciting punk/hardcore scenes right now. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the city’s rich musical heritage of everything from Modest Mouse to Bikini Kill to Karp, as well as D.I.Y. labels Kill Rock Stars and K Records.
G.L.O.S.S., however, are an entirely different and more furious beast in comparison to the Olympia guard of the 1990’s.
A barrage of squelching feedback immediately surges through the speakers shortly before vocalist Sadie shouts a declaration of war on the culturally-ingrained concepts of gender roles: “They told us we were girls/How we talk, dress, look, and cry/They told us we were girls/So we claimed our female lives/Now they tell us we aren’t girls/Our femininity doesn’t fit.”
Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit make no attempt whatsoever to veil their frustration with the plight of transgendered people in contemporary society. Lyrics such as, “Straight America, you won’t ruin me,” and “Trans girl, be free,” lay the groundwork for aggressive, empowering hardcore punk.
Pounding drums accompany menacing guitar riffs on the charged, Boston hardcore-influenced anthem “Outcast Stomp,” which culminates in chants of “The freaks are coming.” While the raging thrasher, “Masculine Artifice” is an all-out assault on transphobia in the media, which resonates with the treatment of notable transgender people by the media that this track confronts.
The catchy, Black Flag-esque opening to “Targets Of Men” quickly gives way to a circle pit-worthy debunking of the assumption that trans/queer individuals are weak, enfeebled prey for hyper-sexualized males. Lines like, “On the street, you follow me around/Catcall from behind, see my face, and cut me down,” and “I’m a flawless bitch and you’re a fucking bore,” lay waste to attraction-turned-bigotry.
It’s difficult to choose a standout song from such a solid demo, but “Lined Lips and Spiked Bats” is arguably the best song on this release. In addition to being a great title, the lyrics serve almost as a manifesto against cisgender standards: “They wanted me to be a man/They wanted me to become one of them/Straight and repressed/Emotions grotesque/Ready for war and the cubicle desk.” The deceptively mid-paced mosh opening transforms into a start-and-stop-on-a-dime build up to an intense hardcore frenzy, reminiscent of M.D.C. or Minor Threat. While the Oi! punk-influenced latter half stomps its way through the remainder of the track as Sadie espouses a plea for unity within the queer community.
Hardcore punk has always made its home in the hearts and minds of the angry and oppressed, and G.L.O.S.S. is no exception. Driven by both fury and trans pride, the spirit of hardcore is very much alive and well in these five Olympians. Both of the cassette pressings are sold out, but a 7” vinyl version is in the works on Total Negativity and http://nervousnelly.storenvy.com/. In the meantime, the demo can be streamed or purchased at a “Name Your Price” rate on http://girlslivingoutsidesocietysshit.bandcamp.com page.