Face the Music: The time has come for the release of feminist punk trio Bait Bag’s album
“The whole reason the band existed was the urgency we felt in 2018,” said Courtney Naliboff, vocalist and bassist of North Haven-based feminist punk trio Bait Bag. “It comes and goes from time to time, but there’s been a pretty constant urgency around the same terrible thing.”
This thing being the treatment of women and our rights.
The other two Bait Bag women are Fiona Robins on guitar and vocals and Claire Donnelly on drums (and vocals).
On Friday, they release their first full album, “Confident, Sloppy, and Loud.” Several singles and a few EPs preceded it.
I spoke to the three Bait Bag members just five days after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, and everyone was struggling. But there’s one thing that helps them all, and that’s making and playing music. They actually released the song “My body my choice” in 2020 and will likely start playing it live again. All proceeds from sales of the single were donated to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
Donnelly said performing and engaging with people provides an outlet for her rage and keeps her motivated. “For us, it’s about figuring out how to have the stamina to keep talking and doing what we can.”
As for “Confident, Sloppy, and Loud,” the album covers all the bases when it comes to empowering listeners with searing rock bangers like “Dress Code,” “Mind Magic,” Hot Garbage,” “Entropy and “Cramp”. Couch.” Heck, they even suggest delegating and going back to the sea in “Selkie Song.” I can’t say I blame them.
There’s also a track called “Splinter” with a waltzing, slowed-down beat that has Robbins singing about post-breakup self-reliance.
In “Bar Fight,” a live track, Naliboff sings about his urge to start a bar fight and then start a revolution. “I can either sing about going out and starting a bar fight, or I can go out and start a bar fight. And it’s much better if I just sing about it,” Naliboff said. “It’s been our mocker from the start, to say the things that are just below the surface and try to bring them out because people want to talk about it and want to identify with it.”
One of the tracks that appeals to me the most is “Deus Ex Machina,” which Naliboff wrote in 2020 about the pandemic and the feeling of not knowing how any of us were going to cope. But that wasn’t the only thing on her mind. “Trump was still in office at the time, and we didn’t see the exit. We need an exit plan, and it’s going to be something big and crazy, and it still looks like this and this been two years,” Naliboff said.
I told the band that “Deux Ex Machina” also registered for me as a song about the Supreme Court decision, and asked the band if they had a message for Senator Susan Collins, considering of his role to confirm Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
Naliboff said she had no suitable words to print, but was working on a related song based on a malapropism she heard Donnelly use. Instead of a stream of consciousness, Donnelly suggested a cry of consciousness. Naliboff loves it and is off to the races with writing a song which she hopes to finish before the band leave for their tour next week.
“The premise is going to be that each verse is kind of a nightmare scenario that turns out to be real, like modern times,” Naliboff explained.
The Bait Bag tour begins July 15 in Rhode Island and concludes July 29 with a show at Sun Tiki Studios in Portland.
You can buy “Confident, Sloppy, and Loud” on their band camp (baitbag.bandcamp.com), and if you go to one of their shows, you can pick it up on tape, which they’ll also have available online if there’s any left after their run of summer dates. The album will also be on streaming platforms.
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