Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

Julie Ruin

  • Julie Ruin [Kill Rock Stars, 1998] B-
  • Hit Reset [Hardly Art, 2016] A-

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Julie Ruin [Kill Rock Stars, 1998]
"What would `L'Ecriture Feminine' sound like as music?" the once and future Kathleen Hanna asked herself, and if this is the answer we're in trouble. It sounds like Calvin Johnson prattle, it sounds like she needs all that sound equipment she can't afford, it sounds like she took her bat and went home. It's fine to reject confessional for narrative if you have some fictional craft, fine to let machines do the playing if you can figure out how to make them sing, but so far Hanna doesn't and hasn't. Instead she takes the obscure rants that were so compelling at Bikini Kill decibels and murmurs them into her cheap mike at two in the morning, if we're lucky to one of the simple tunes that provide meaning in a band context and relief in this. "I don't expect people to like it or anything," she told some zine, and here's hoping they don't. She's 29, and she needs to move on. B-

Hit Reset [Hardly Art, 2016]
After years of illness, 47-year-old Kathleen Hanna still has the same girlish voice she did with Bikini Kill at 21, small and cute. But unlike Astrud Gilberto, say, she's tended to weaponize it. Le Tigre had a sisterly ebullience sometimes, and on her 2013 Julie Ruin comeback she sounded so glad to be alive everything else was secondary. But here she's grrrlish once again, proudly indulging her inner brat as she and her crack electropunk band launch putdown after empowering putdown at a fearsome dad, a pickup creep, a bullshitting promoter, a pushy fan, a pushier friend, a troll, and assorted conversationalists. Since the most painful and effective of these seems to implore a lifemate "Let Me Go," it's a relief when the enigmatic finale wonders quietly what made her think she could fly and then thanks the unspecified person who gave her the courage to try. A-