With songs like “My Crotch Does Not Say Go,” “Hot Papa” and “Vagabondage,” the women of San Francisco’s Frightwig make no bones about their topical focus on Cat Farm Faboo. The provocative lyrics’ blunt observations on aspects of love would be more worth considering if not for the band’s awful noise, a disorganized tumult of screechy vocals and sloppy guitar droning.
Bolstered by a new member and a soft spot for tempo and harmonic coordination, the quartet got Beefheart sideman Eric Drew Feldman to co-produce and contribute a bit of keyboards to Faster, Frightwig (the title a nicely ironic poke at filmmaker Russ Meyer). Playing a moderate form of Flipperesque grind-rock with prominent lumbering bass and guitars that sound like they might be on fire, Frightwig puts its satirical outrage (and outrageous satire) to good use in songs like “Punk Rock Jail Bait,” “Crazy World” and “American Xpress” (guitarist Susan Miller’s bizarre travelogue). Finishing the record on a genuinely tender note, “I Am Here Alone” compresses the band’s surging music into a gentle bed of noise, while “Freedom” gets a handsome folky chorus together for a touching gospelly plea.
By the time Redd Kross’ McDonald brothers arrived to produce the six-song Phone Sexy, Frightwig had become a trio, with only founding bassist/singer Deanna Ashley and guitarist/singer Rebecca Tucker remaining from the previous lineup. (Sister Double Happiness drummer Lynn Perko completes the package.) Kicking out the hard-rock jams with kitschy chanted vocals and guitar feedback on a remake of “American Xpress,” Frightwig comes off like Julie Brown doing a heavy metal parody; covering Shonen Knife’s “Public Baths” they sound like the Runaways with bigger amplifiers. Is this progress or what?