Wednesday, November 14, 2012

L7 - Bricks Are Heavy

I first discovered L7 in college when I had the misfortune of hearing the band’s debut. It’s awful, horribly produced, and it’s absolutely nothing that you need to consider.

The point it, by the time their third album¸ Bricks Are Heavy, I was already predisposed to disliking this band very much and probably wouldn’t have noticed if it wasn’t for the promotional copy I received.

Bricks Are Heavy is produced by Butch Vig, which had a certain amount of credibility back when this record was first released as Mr. Vig was already regarded as the dude that helped break Nirvana.

Within moments, you’re greeted by that friendly compression that Vig painted on nearly every early 90’s document he touched, but the amazing thing is how L7 brought their A-game to the Midwestern comforts of his Wisconsin studio.

Credit Donita Sparks for shouldering a large portion of those crunchy and melodic songs. She’s no poet, but she brings a lot of piss and vinegar to the proceedings with stories straight out of the trailer park, garage, and mosh pit.

Sparks is sassy and she has an incredible knack for a good story. Like the mother huffing skinhead named “Scrap” who has a taste for sniffing up gold metallic paint in a garage, only to come out of it “seeing stars.” Sparks passes no judgment on Scrap, she merely tells his story, accentuating the “funky dyin’ brain cell!” line just enough to point out that Scrap’s story is not something to emulate.

These fringe characters were real, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they were part of L7’s world back in the early 90’s. The time capsule is here, it’s loud, and it’s catchy as hell even two decades later.

In the cd booklet, there are pictures of the band in various stages of poses, but there’s a lone picture of a girl’s legs, each one intricately inked with L7’s logo, a pair of hands shaped like an “L” and a “7.”

Those legs belonged to Stacie Quijas, a member of San Francisco’s LGBT punk community and, obviously, a fan of L7. 8 years after the photo was taken, Quijas succumbed to her heroin addiction in the form of an awful flesh-eating bacteria that was acquired from intravenous injections. It came from a nasty strain of tar heroin, and the tainted drugs nearly took another friend of hers shortly after her passing.

Like I said, Bricks Are Heavy works because there is sad reality behind these goofy characters that L7 brings to the forefront. There’s Stacie the addict, the temperamental music fan Everglade, and that aforementioned squatter skinhead, Scrap. But what they also bring to those tragic figures is a voice-supplemented by heavy guitar chords-and a fuck all feistiness that transcends gender, economics, and in the case of this album, the twenty years since these stones were first hurled.

1 comment:

Cousin J said...

I never knew you liked this. 'Pretend we're dead' is an awesome song off of this too. Not an album I listen to anymore but was great in its time.