Heavens to Betsy

  • Heavens to Betsy
  • These Monsters Are Real EP7 (Kill Rock Stars) 1992 
  • Calculated (Kill Rock Stars) 1993 
  • Direction ... EP (Chainsaw) 1994 
  • Excuse 17
  • Excuse 17 (Chainsaw) 1994 
  • Such Friends Are Dangerous (Kill Rock Stars) 1995 

Forget Paris in the springtime: Olympia, Washington was a better place to experience life as a young grrrl in the early ’90s. Singer/guitarist Corin Tucker and drummer/bassist Tracy Sawyer — collectively known as Heavens to Betsy — were right in the thick of the city’s productive and empowering scene, succinctly reflecting its emotions in their music. Calculated, the duo’s only full-length release, demonstrates an ability to articulate more than just anger (“Terrorist,” “Nothing Can Stop Me,” the anti-racist “White Girl”); the album’s range of emotions includes fear, confusion and vulnerability. Despite the pair’s rudimentary instrumental skills, the songs are well formed, and their contrasting vocal styles (Tucker’s warbly fortitude versus Sawyer’s spine-chilling screams) create a mighty tension. (Direction, like These Monsters Are Real, is a four-song EP; though in the same vein, it’s more consistently inflamed than the album. Pick hit: “Driving Song.”)

After H2B parted ways, Tucker — the more melodic of the two — formed a new trio, Sleater-Kinney (named after a local road), with singer/guitarist Carrie Brownstein and drummer Lora Macfarlane, replaced after the second album by Toni Gogin. Brownstein, aka Carrie Kinney, was still in Excuse 17 when that trio made Such Friends Are Dangerous, a seriously good album that doesn’t sacrifice musical competence to a burning punk sound and prickly lyrics.

[Denise Sheppard]

See also: Sleater-Kinney