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Issue: May 2011

Punk Lives

Bipolaroid (Noise Pollution)
Hal Dolls

Punk is not dead … and thank goodness for it.

As a fan of punk, and in particular, pioneers The Ramones, I can't help being on the lookout for bands that understand what made the Ramones and the punk movement so vital and important – and Louisville's Hal Dolls get it. This 10-song album is a mess of raw, bleeding energy, from the way Erin Fitzgerald spits her venomous vocals to Doug Maxson's pissed-off-at-the-world guitar style to Matt Whitaker's assault on the drum kit.

Perhaps the best thing about this recording is that it is so imprecise – it sounds like it was recorded live (or at least much of it was), which is exactly how an album like this should be recorded. More points for Hal Dolls. And of course there is the nice touch that the songs for the most part come at you rapid-fire, with barely a breath's worth of space between the tracks.

Additionally, this is punk also in the sense that the songs contain a lyrical urgency that matches that of the music and vocals. The songs are often angry while maintaining a sense of irony and humor.

For instance, in "Low Life" Fitzgerald insists, in her guttural growl, that "If you want to live the low life / Then you gotta be committed / If you're gonna hit rock bottom / Gotta jump right in and hit it."

"Therapy Session," a rant about someone who is about to "crack," screams out of the speakers like a lost early Nirvana track, and warns, "I'm made of stone – except when I'm alone."

There is also some tongue-in-cheek social commentary by way of "What if Barbie Got Fat?" Maxson takes a turn at lead vocals with "Nuts," a song that hearkens to the early punk days of CBGB's, his vocal delivery vaguely reminiscent of Romeo Void's Debora Iyall at times. (I half expected Maxson to warn, "I might like you better if we slept together.")

You get the picture. This effort from Hal Dolls is yet another strong addition to the local punk scene. I know this because every time I listen to it, I want to break things. There's your quality satisfaction guarantee.

Find out more at myspace.com/haldolls.

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