July 10, 2017
Released On November 3, 2015
With the sheer number of digital retailers and streaming services all at our fingertips, and the infinite number of music blogs and websites all recommending various artists, albums, and singles, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that we live in an era with far too much access to music. On the one hand, it’s really nice because music is great and having so many options means that there are more ways to discover something new and exciting. The inverse, however, is that with so many available choices, it’s harder now for music to have the same kind of staying power when there’s so much out there, readily accessible. I mention this because, while every December I manage to come up with 20-odd albums that make up my AOTY list, there are always a few albums that get lost in the shuffle once the new year begins. Fuck Marry Kill, the debut (and sole) album by North Carolina’s Daddy Issues, is not one of those albums that’s been lost to time. It’s only been two years since its release, but I find myself coming back to it at least once a month, if not more (usually more).
A little background info on Daddy Issues and the release of Fuck Marry Kill: I discovered Daddy Issues accidentally while browsing Bandcamp. At the time they had only released a single song and its title, “So Hard,” piqued my interest. The surfy vibe and sweet melodies caught my attention, but it was the open sexuality and playfulness of the lyrics that cemented the song into my brain. I know that women writing songs about sex is nothing new, but for whatever reason (though I’d put my money on sexism and misogyny), women being open about sex is still considered to be taboo on the regular, at least on a wide scale. But “So Hard” didn’t make me feel uncomfortable — it just made me want to hear more by this band. A few months later when the band put out the Double Loser EP, featuring “So Hard” plus three more songs, I bought it immediately and I was… well, less impressed than I had hoped I’d be. It’s not that the songs were unlistenable, but they lacked the same balance of attitude and catchiness as their initial single. A few months later I had almost all but forgotten about the band when I got an e-mail from them saying that they weren’t a band anymore but they would be releasing their final recordings in the form of Fuck Marry Kill a week later. In spite of my response to Double Loser, I went ahead and pre-ordered it the moment I got home.
Much to my delight, Fuck Marry Kill not only has that attitude and catchiness as “So Hard,” it also takes it up a notch. Right off the album hits with the one-two punch of “Glue Sniffer” and “Pissed,” highlighting the band’s brattiness. The former is all about why their friend should ditch their loser boyfriend (although given that he’s described as not having a car and as someone who is always on Tinder, he sounds less like a boyfriend and more like, and I’m fairly certain this is the scientific term, a fuckboy), while the latter, in a similar fashion to “So Hard,” tackles another taboo, especially when a woman discusses it, subject: public urination. Neither are necessarily serious tunes in terms of their tone, but they sound just as rebellious as if they were serious. Even the following songs on the album are musically less aggressive, with the exception of the title track, they all have the same taunting and playful lyrical approach. However, I think that it’s “Riot Grrrl,” which is literally the album’s centerpiece, the song that, I think, artistically ties the album together. Before it’s even over, the repeated refrain of “Fuck me in the back seat” will be stuck in your head. It’s not a loving statement, yet the band makes it sound that way. Ironically, “Riot Grrrl” is not an original tune, but rather a cover of the Keel Her single of the same name. Nevertheless, it sums up exactly what the band was best at: wholesome melodies combined with confrontational lyrics.
The more I listen to it, the more I’ve realized that what makes Fuck Marry Kill, and Daddy Issues, so important to me is more than just the songs, even though the songs are really good — it’s what the songs stand for: the belief that women get to define how women should act. Throughout the album, Daddy Issues continually take on issues that our society has deemed “un-lady like,” or at the very least, less acceptable for women to discuss than men (to re-cap in case you’ve already forgotten: sex, calling out assholes, public urination, and more sex). There’s been a lot of discussion this past week about sexism in punk rock and whether or not it’s acceptable. (I’d like to point out that was a weird sentence for me to type.) It’s bizarre that anyone in the scene could defend sexist actions and words. Punk rock should be about offending the status quo, not offending those already being oppressed by society at large. But I digress. Daddy Issues knew which side they were on, and they stood their ground, with their tongues sticking out.
Dustin Gates (@cmoncheermeup)
Relapsed Pop Culture Junkie
Surf rock foundation. Riot grrrl attitude. Resplendent melodies & harmonies.
A good teacher models what she wants her students to do. Never do I plan out examples of, say, a good and relevant argumentative essay topic because I want my kids to see me think about the news, my life, what I have going on, and go from there. Often, especially when I’m teaching about argument and objectivism, I focus on politics and advertisements, some of the most biased and readily available info out there, and soon some detective will figure out that I lean pretty heavily into the progressive, feminist, Democratic side of the spectrum. Talking about sexism in ads one day, I had a student raise her hand and ask not about content, but rather how I wasn’t angry all the time. “I mean,” she said, “you see all this stuff in these things that I don’t until you show me, so how do you not get mad just like walking down the street?” Her incredulity kind of killed me. Meet me in person, hear my laugh and Southern drawl, see my house with records and pictures and shawls draped everywhere, roll your eyes and how often my husband and I hit on each other, and ask me again if I’m angry. Of course I am. I’m a woman — I have daughters — I can read. But I worry that I’m not angry enough. Learning about the feminist waves while I was in college, I remember thinking they really had something to fight for like we still don’t. The stupid debate about the point of third wave feminism makes me insane, I don’t have space to talk about this and I’m already over the word limit and I haven’t even written “Daddy Issues” yet, but this album transcends that little space between feminist fury and having to have a life. Every song on the beachy, indie punk Fuck Marry Kill fronts an irreverence and chin-up defiance that colors feminism today. Yes, we respect the fight for the 19th Amendment, and we also can sing about how bored we are fucking some dude in the backseat and we are not less important or serious because of it. Every song is about sex in some gloriously funny and relatable way, and when you lay this down on the digestible, happy rocking sounds, especially that plucky bass backing up the echo chamber guitar, you have a soundtrack to the feminist alleyways of today: no less smart, no less determined, but also hell bent on enjoying this life.
Even though my friend Chris put out Daddy Issues’ Double Loser EP on his Negative Fun label (a co-release with Richmond’s own Egghunt), I hadn’t listened to much of their music. I thought I knew what the band was going to sound like — punky girls sing-talking over loud guitars. I sound like the squarest old fogey, I know, but I listen to a lot of music. When I pressed play on Daddy Issues Fuck Marry Kill though, I connected with the band instantly — they reminded me of an East Coast Tacocat, with less surf and the same wicked sense of humor. There were melodies! I was thrilled. “Glue Sniffer,” the first track, warns another girl about her 30-something beau who doesn’t have a car, spends too much time in dive bars, and has a “lopsided cock” (just typing that makes me laugh so hard), all while maintaining buoyant harmonies. I was so surprised when the guitars kicked in for track five — I know that song! It’s Keel Her’s “Riot Grrrl,” a song I loved so much I ordered the pricey 7″ from the UK. Daddy Issues’ version takes away a bit of the original’s Slumberland-ness (I can’t say it any other way, ok?) and makes a clean, catchy pop song. I’d like to think the band chose to cover the song because they love to sing, “fuck me in the backseat / I’m so bored” as much as I do. The rest of the brief album is just as charming, melodic and punchy. Put it on the next time you do chores, and when it’s over, keep pushing repeat. You deserve it.
There’s a particular kind of alchemy that Brian Wilson mastered with the Beach Boys, and that Daddy Issues knocked out of the park on Fuck Marry Kill: Taking sounds associated with letting the good times roll and folding in lyrical and emotional depth to create something bigger and more significant. Pitchfork‘s review of a new Beach Boys’ rarities collection called 1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow referred to “Brian’s sad-boy masterpieces,” and while melancholy may have been a big part of the third dimension Wilson added to surf rock, Daddy Issues turns warm, sunny-sounding guitar music into pure, self-assured power. Though “self” might not be the right word to use; double-tracked singing and energetic background vocals consistently project such an infectious sense of unity that there might as well be a choir of hundreds or thousands. From opener “Glue Sniffer” to closer “All My Girls,” you’ll hear women supporting each other — both in the lyrics and in the music that surrounds them. I love the net effect, but there are tiny moments and specific passages I’m just as attached to. The chorus of “Wild Thing,” which is a vinyl collector’s dream: “Drink some whiskey, drink some wine / Flip the record and stay the night.” The way the descending lead notes starting at 1:17 in “Pissed” call to mind Radiohead’s “Talk Show Host.” I’d love to go back to the early 1960s and play this album for surf rock fans. How could they possibly have imagined how big and bold the sounds they were hearing could become?
I like that Daddy Issues is a band active on the DIY scene here in the Mid-Atlantic area. I write a column about local live music, and have had occasion to discuss this band a time or two before as a result. I always dig their stuff when I hear it, and it’s nice to run across it in this context, since I’d never really made the commitment to listen to a full album of theirs before. I mean, assuming Fuck Marry Kill even amounts to a full album — its eight songs clock in at somewhere under 25 minutes. Anyway, I really dug what I heard when I cued up these eight songs. While the irreverent band name and album title may lead you to expect some antisocial punk rock, the lasting impression Daddy Issues leave is a sweet one. I’m a huge fan of ’60s-style garage rock, and Daddy Issues definitely have some elements derived from that whole style. However, their less fuzzy, more restrained songwriting places a greater emphasis on melody than one might expect, resulting in a sound that seems to pull just as much from tougher girl groups of the same era (e.g. The Shangri-Las) as it does from Sonics-ish up-tempo rockers. The combination of these two elements, with some notable bonus touches — in particular, I appreciate the prominent tambourine — creates a charming mini-LP that would make great music for driving to the beach with the top down and the wind in your hair.
Short-lived, but memorable — the band forged their own unique identity, one that relied as much on modern liberation as it did on classic sounds.
There’s almost no way to casually mention this week’s band, or accompanying album pick, without sounding just a little odd in the process. This sentiment goes double if one’s reception is positive, which is the case here. Proclaiming enjoyment of Fuck Marry Kill or Daddy Issues just sounds a little off, does it not? In any case, this quartet from North Carolina have a very confident grasp on their chosen surf pop niche. Fuck Marry Kill comes right out with the classic aspects of surf pop and even a touch of surf punk; giving priority to clean toned but thin and mildly twanged lead guitar. Unison shouting and subsequent singing that kicks off “Glue Sniffer” propels an up-tempo and chugging rhythm that’s easy to pack in a playlist with the likes of Best Coast, Wavves, Surfer Blood (and many others, if comparisons for “strictly female vocal aesthetic” were the objective at hand). Still, with track titles like “Babehammer,” “Riot Grrrl,” (a Keel Her cover) and “All My Girls,” it’s clear that Daddy Issues have no issue making associations to female fueled concepts. The combinations of bent guitar notes, jangles of tambourines, uncomplicated song structures (e.g. verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus), and light, smooth vocals make parts of Fuck Marry Kill good for a backdrop to an afternoon at the beach. However, the occasional uptick in speed and-or lyrical aggression on tracks like “Pissed” and “Wild Thing” help this album maintain a slice of mild prickliness that is more in line with the album’s blunt and callous title, as well as leaning Daddy Issues more toward the garage and punk side of surf music, over group singing on cruise control over a bunch of bouncing tracks. In short, Fuck Marry Kill alternates how and where it showcases its nice and its naughty sides and it’s that presentation of contrasts that takes Fuck Marry Kill to a more fun place and makes more than what it might first seem.
One of my dirty little secrets is that I didn’t really like any of the original Riot Grrrl bands. While I applauded the movement as a natural and necessary extension of some of the breakthroughs of the punk and post-punk eras (which included some of my favorite female-led bands like The Slits, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Raincoats, and Young Marble Giants), none of these new groups did it for me on a gut musical level. I did love L7’s Bricks Are Heavy and Hole’s Live Through This, but always thought they were tangential to the thing itself, maybe because they were on major labels. Yet over the last couple of years, I haven’t be able to turn around without stumbling across another excellent band or artist that uses Riot Grrrl as a reference point — Perfect Pussy, Tacocat, Chastity Belt, The Courtneys — and some of these were among the best guitar-driven albums of their moment. In fact, I just named The Courtneys II as one of the best albums of 2017 so far! Now, thanks to Dustin, I’m a Daddy Issues fan, easily falling for their tuneful twin-guitar sound, witty lyrics, and insouciant attitude. While this is very a much a band record, I do want to single out Madeline Putney, the bass player, who is simply murdering her instrument on every song, using a pick and a fat, distorted sound to put some grit and muscle beneath the chiming guitars. While it’s obvious they love Riot Grrrl, they are also irreverent enough to use it as a name for a song with the refrain, “Fuck me in the backseat / I’m so bored, I took some G.” Since the first song is called “Glue Sniffer,” I’m going to assume that’s what the “G” refers to. The rest of the words consist solely of “Summer fucking, lonely night / Red ribbon, big car light,” which puts them solidly in the minimalist zone also occupied by The Courtneys, even if their sound is not quite as sleek. There is some interesting dissonance between the cheerful, upbeat sound of Fuck Marry Kill, which they themselves call, “North Carolina surf pop,” and its confrontational title and subject matter. I can’t tell if the members of Daddy Issues are playing at being dangerous or if they really are a bunch of pissed glue sniffer babehammers dead set on executing the plan outlined by the album’s name. If that is the case, they did a good job of getting their shit together to make this delightful breeze of a record!
I want to hang out with these girls. Badly. Talent, confidence, wit, humor, and creativity are the ingredients for the intoxicating cocktail that is Fuck, Marry, Kill. The opening track, “Glue Sniffer,” delivers an ever-cool retro sound that makes you want to grab a surfboard and a case of Pacifico, but more than that, it lets us know right away that these girls can rock! Okay, so now we’re nestled into the second tune “Pissed” — these girls can definitely rock! Do you know why guys love strip clubs so much? Well, apart from the obvious visual and slightly physical stimulation, it’s the salesmanship. Those girls know exactly what we want to hear, and they’re not scared to say it. In fact, they’re incentivized to. It’s fun for us, but it gets expensive, and it’s completely phony. But when it happens organically, like on “Riot Grrrl,” it’s enchanting. “Fuck me, in the back seat, I’m so bored.” Yes, continue on. But that’s just the appetizer for “Wild Thing,” the album’s most engaging, and seductively detailed track. I am a record collector — a vinyl enthusiast, as I am sure many of you are. I also get really enthused about a nice glass of bourbon on the rocks, and a pretty lady. So you can imagine how my ears and, ahem, senses, perked up when I heard the invitation to “drink some whiskey, drink some wine, flip the record and stay the night.” These girls know how to party, they know how to chill, and they know how to write lyrics. Now I just have to decide if I want to fuck or marry.
Ultimately, it is the quartet’s wit, equally snarky and ingratiating, that makes their music so remarkably notable & effortlessly absorbing.
It’s about to hit highs of 106/107 degrees here in Boise, ID in the next few days, and I think listening to Daddy Issues’ refreshing album Fuck Marry Kill will be just the thing to keep me cool on these blistering afternoons. Daddy Issues’ sound was very much a throwback to ’60s girl group pop and ’90s surf rock with some playfully modern touches and a healthy dose of riot grrrl female empowerment. They hit the sweet spot for me on this record between production polish with the classic surf rock reverb and enough grit to keep it all a little punk. They never take themselves too seriously either, with an entire song devoted to the difficulties women encounter urinating in public (it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious), and lyrics like “He’s always on Tinder but he can’t get a match” from the perfect opener “Glue Sniffer.” My personal favorite song, “Babehammer,” recalls and subverts the ridiculous, kind of gross “Bad To The Bone” with its stuttering one word hook and turns that song’s sexist themes on their head. Daddy Issues clearly knew their music history and they knew how to bring it into the 21st century with a wink and a nudge. They had catchy hooks, spot on production, funny, relatable lyrics — Fuck Marry Kill is the total package. It’s too bad this was their farewell release, because it was full of energy and wit, and I would’ve loved to hear what they did after this as Daddy Issues. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for what these women do in the future!
David Munro (@david_c_munro)
Idiosyncratic Avant-Garde Wanderer
This was a wonderful, high energy punk album. (Their Bandcamp page lists them as “NC Surf Pop” which I can understand, too. Maybe it’s giving a false expectation to call it “high energy punk.”) It’s just so raw. And tough. I loved it quite a lot. I highly recommend listening to “Wild Thing” at three in the morning when you’re driving and there’s almost no one else on the road. And you should listen to “All My Girls” every day, no matter the occasion or setting or mood or age. It’s maybe a perfect song. That guitar tone on the solo is like honey dripping from some magical tree that also has, in its branches, enough money to pay your bills for the month. It’s sweet and satisfying and feels like a gift from some sort of benevolent deity. It’s a backflip finish at the end of what was already an excellent album.
Fuck Mary Kill blends riot grrrl sensibilities with a surfer rock vibe — imagine a feminist punk rock beach party and Daddy Issues would be the headlining band. This 22-minute album is a summer must-have for those of you looking to have a season worth remembering or a go-to album for when you’re at least 80% over it, it being all your friends, your partner, your parents, your pets, and whoever else has disappointed you lately. With each track in some way related to sex, you may start to get the wrong idea about Daddy Issues, but this band isn’t trying to lure you in with a big wink and some flirty innuendo. The album takes a more realistic view on the average sexual experience with lyrics like “Fuck me in the backseat / I’m so bored / I took some G” on the track, “Riot Grrrl.” Honestly, apathy has never sounded this cool. The tracks are great by themselves, but honestly, the album has such a nicely orchestrated flow that I would recommend listening all the way through to get the full experience. After listening to Fuck Mary Kill, Daddy Issues has joined my list of bands I need to see live, though it was quickly crossed out after unfortunately learning they broke up before the release of this. Sigh. Anyway, stand out tracks include “Fuck Marry Kill,” “Glue Sniffer” “Sucker Punch,” and “All My Girls.” If you consider yourself a fan of Dead Kennedys, Blondie, The Runaways, Spinnerette, and/or April March, trust me when I say you need to add this album to your collection as soon as humanely possible.
Erin Calvert (@erinpcalvert)
Elder Goth In The Making
Girl groups and punk rock. My two favorite genres of all time and also my answer when poised with the question, “What type of music do you like?” You know, after I first reply with the douchey answer, “Oh, I like pretty much everything.” Really? You like pretty much everything? Well, here’s a mixtape that includes Hollywood Undead and guess what — my friend’s brother’s roommate is performing tonight and he does a wicked cover of Cage The Elephant. You should totally come! (Nothing against either band, but you haven’t heard bad until you’ve heard a duo named after Four Loko slowly, slowly covering “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” at 1 AM on a Tuesday.) Anyway, girl groups and punk rock. That’s it for me. A bratty guitar sound to let out the anger and depression clouding your mind, and sweet melodies & gorgeous harmonies to ease your heart and soul. Somewhere between a record like (GI) by The Germs and Universal’s 2004 compilation Leaders Of The Pack: The Very Best Of The 60’s Girls lies the perfect sound in my mind. Not far from that mark on the sonic spectrum lies North Carolina’s Daddy Issues, an impressive quartet that sadly came to my attention way too late. Even though their sound skews more towards Dick Dale and Murry Wilson than Carole King and Holland-Dozier-Holland, there’s still the timeless harmonies and melodies, each dipped in youthful innocence even as the lyrical theme becomes overtly sexual. That twist reveals the liberating feeling of the record, something that has always been crucial to punk rock. For The Germs, it was liberating to just flail about, scream as loud as you want, and do things with peanut butter that caused The Damned to react like this. For Daddy Issues, it’s liberating just to be able to talk about your own body and your own sexuality in whatever way you want to, and make it virally infectious with fundamentally sound arrangements (“Wild Thing“) and extremely creative hooks (“Babehammer“). It’s actually shocking how close they are to what I’d consider a perfect sound… a fact that only disappoints when I remember Fuck Marry Kill was the band’s swan song. But what a swan song it is. And what a band Daddy Issues was. Want to know what music I like? Start with “Glue Sniffer,” surf your way to “All My Girls,” and you’ll have a pretty good idea as to what pleases my ears.
Rockin’ Chair by Gwen McCrae
Chosen By Jeremy Shatan