PEEPLE WATCHIN’: Somethin’ to Tell Ya: LP

Jul 29, 2013

The cover album with its crude, ziney drawing of a leather-jacketed punk girl walking in the snow down a dirty city street with a 40 ounce in a bag crooked in her arm, the skyline behind her as she looks at the ground is a familiar image, that of the sentimental suffering that you’ll commonly find in punk, but in underground punk, an image that belongs to what I would call the cultural alchemy of punk, the unexplainable and untenable language that underground punk speaks, but is, nonetheless, very much there, beneath Vans Warped Tours and Henry Rollins’ flexing neck. The songs come from the same place: happy-sounding about bad times, sexual frustration, and loneliness; catchy but with garage dissonance; from the familiar place of damage, both familiar to our own and the collective damage that brought a bunch of misfits together in the first place; perhaps what Patti Smith was talking about when she said, “Those who have suffered understand suffering and thereby extend their hand.” When the lead singer sings “with my brand new pair of shoes and a backpack full of booze, I’m comin’ to tell you I’ve got nothin’ else to lose,” once again, it’s comforting and fun to listen to. But Peeple Watchin’ takes a huge subjective leap. The lead singer has recently, at twenty-seven, come out as a transgendered woman and some of the songs take on a far braver detour. Take, for example, when she sings about feeling she missed her prime, lamenting, “the only thing that’s passing is my youth,” she throws the punks a bone, in a youth movement full of old souls, feeling old is not uncommon and hits pretty hard, but she demands you look at it from her perspective, from the viewpoint of a recently out queer woman, and the bait and switch is staggering.

 –Craven Rock (