War on Women – Live From Magpie Cage (Bridge Nine, 2018)

I rarely get time to pick up reviews at the moment, life getting in the way of life and all that, so on the odd occasion that I do shout up when Tony offers things out why do I insist on choosing things that give me so much conflict and difficulty?!

A couple of qualifying statements before I get down to it here- first off, I really really like War on Women and in particular their last full-length, Capture the Flag. Furious feminist hardcore punk, musically and lyrically, exactly what we need in this current global, increasingly (it seems) right wing, rich white male dominated #metoo world. And from what I’ve seen on the Youtubes of their live performances they live up to expectations too.

Secondly, I’m generally not much of a fan of acoustic punk rock. Obviously this is a huge generalisation, but I’m mostly comfortable with that, I just find there’s something not quite right about it. Can’t really explain why, I guess it’s just down to personal taste or whatever.

Okay, so here we go, the latest offering from WoW is an acoustic live session, “Live From Magpie Cage”, again on stalwart hardcore label Bridge Nine Records. It is a 5 track 7” EP, recorded at legendary producer J Robbins’ studio (as per the EP’s title), who also produced the above mentioned LP of theirs.

The tracks featured are all acoustic versions of songs from earlier releases, and although obviously stripped down and raw they still manage to capture the urgency and fury of the louder original versions, especially the stand-out (for me) opening track, Predator In Chief. When vocalist Shawna Potter beautifully and almost gently croons “touch me and I’ll fuck you up, I’ll show you the meaning of fear”, you really believe her and it’s so powerful in this style that it sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it. This track and two others, Silence Is the Gift and Anarcha all feature in their original form on Capture The Flag whereas the other two tracks, Glass City and Servillia are reworked from the band’s first full-length, 2015’s self-titled LP. Lyrically, there’s no coded messages here in the watered down musical versions, it’s very very clear what and who this anger is fuelled by/directed at. I read another review of Capture The Flag that said WoW’s songs should be part of the curriculum, and that’s testament to how important the subject matter of every single track is in this day and age, the post-Weinstein #metoo era of calling out terrible, inexcusable behaviour and holding the perpetrators to account. Shawna states her case incredibly eloquently whilst still conveying the outpouring of anger driving activists to stand up for any and all victims of oppression of pretty much any kind, and for me this is exactly what hardcore punk needs a shitload more of.

The downside, personally, is that I just cannot get on with the acoustic sound anywhere near as much as the format of the originals. And I appreciate this is probably somewhat trivial an opinion of it, because looking at it objectively there’s more of a chance of the songs having wider appeal in this stripped down style, which can only be a good thing both for the band and for society in general?

Anyway, I am going to give it more listens, I’m absolutely not dismissing it at all but I think I’ll be returning to the LPs more than this EP. I urge you all to give it the attention it deserves, especially lyrically, and use it to question yourselves, and GET BETTER AT LIFE!

You can pick up a physical copy from Bridge Nine or get a digital download from the Bridge Nine bandcamp page

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