The best thing about queercore is the unique context it provides for unfettered honesty: using punk’s anything-goes forum and the up-front sexuality countenanced by gay activism, bands like San Francisco’s Tribe 8 can trample over lyrical boundaries that would paint straight songwriters as pathetic sexual obsessives (what rocker short of Ted Nugent would have the gall to name a song “Barnyard Poontang”?) while simultaneously claiming the right to piss on the gay community’s prevailing propriety. Fist City, the hard-rocking lesbian quintet’s impressive first album, makes twin goals of singularity and hot sex and comes off as a blast of musical liberation. “Frat Pig” (date rape), “All I Can Do” (emotional scars), “Allen’s Mom” (family collapse) and “Kick” (drugs) make serious work of serious issues, but Tribe 8 has its own heated agenda: “Neanderthal Dyke” rejects political correctness (“Feminist theory gets me uptight/Get in some heels and lipstick/And I’ll spend the night”), “Manipulate” rejects human consideration (“I just want to objectify my girlfriend”), “Flippersnapper” rips apart fashion convention (“Let’s all cut our hair like hers/We don’t care about individuality/We want popularity and loads of promiscuity”) and “Freedom” offers an offbeat equation (“I had my freedom when she was in my bed”). Behind growly singer Lynn Breedlove, the group’s rock barrels along with as much intelligent raunch as the lyrics, a guitar-drenched punk charge that means business but stays well within safe musical boundaries.
The four-song Roadkill Cafe EP is a tour-snapshot goof: a lengthy funk joke about gender misperceptions (“Wrong Bathroom”), a pointless cover of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love,” a live and sleazy “Ice Cream Man” and an exceedingly hoarse rendition of the debut album’s “Manipulate,” also recorded onstage. Snarkism gets the band back to full-scale operations with such bristly rock topicals as “Republican Lullaby,” “Tranny Chaser,” the rock-star legends of “Jim, Darby & Sid” and a reprise of “Wrong Bathroom.”