The queer revolution is here and it’s…Kentucky-fried with a side of screamo? That’s what “scream-pop” duo GRLwood have been serving up all over town in Louisville, KY, sometimes performing five times per week. Comprised of singer/guitarist Rej Forester and drummer Karen Ledford, the queer punk duo teased us this year with five aggressive and controversial singles, ranging from a screamfest about being horny for someone and an ephemeral lament begging to connect with someone else. Their lead single, “Bisexual,” made the biggest splash as an attack on those who try to de-validate and erase bisexuality. And, today, with the release of their debut album, Daddy, on sonaBLAST! Records, it’s clear they’re ready to piss off any and all oppressive entities.
Starting off with the moody, almost dreamy “C-State,” GRLwood tricks you into a state of passivity, unaware of the barrage of screeching that’s about to ensure. With such a necessarily aggressive ideology at the core of this project, it’s all the more heartbreaking when they have to slow it down and bare their hearts for us in songs like the opener, “Communicate With Me,” and “I’m Not You.” But outside of those three tracks, it’s time to get to business and dismantle everything and everyone in their way.
Singles “Bisexual” and “Vaccines Made Me Gay” are what you expect from a band like GRLwood. Forester rips, shred, and screams and Ledford pounds away at the drums like their rights depend on it. It’s classic punk rock by the books and, through the lens of queer liberation, it’s always a breath of fresh air from the cismale-dominated scene. However, what lifts this album above by the books are highlights “Wet” and “I’m Yer Dad.” Simultaneously hilarious, horrifying, and spritely, these two tracks are sure to destroy whatever venue GRLwood invades. A marathon of screaming and Mariah Carey-esque falsetto singing, “Wet” pushes Forester’s voice and guitar to the max as they, what sounds like, proudly climax over the course of three minutes. But it’s “I’m Yer Dad” where GRLwood needs to live. Perhaps the most hostile song on Daddy, it’s also the most colorful and animated as if the duo were a court jester mocking the falsehood that is masculinity. It’s proof GRLwood isn’t afraid to horse around and it’s their greatest asset.
Queer punk isn’t anything new, but only in the past few years have we seen all identities finally get the recognition they deserve. Groundbreaking acts like the late G.L.O.S.S. stuck with us because they so proudly shoved their anger with heteronormativity and with their own community in our faces like we’d never seen before. And while music like that is still highly necessary, it can paint a picture of a deadly serious community with no sense of fun. GRLwood is angry, there’s no doubt about that. But they know the joke is on the patriarchy so why not let your ass hang out and laugh in their fucking face?
“America is Gay!” – GRLwood
Find GRLwood on Facebook.