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Preview Tue Apr 08 2014
The Julie Ruin originated as a solo project by Kathleen Hanna in the midst of a short break from Bikini Kill, the band that introduced Hanna and the riot grrl movement of the Pacific Northwest to national audiences. Hanna recently told the Detroit Metro Times that by adopting the Julie Ruin moniker for her solo work, she "had this artificial character that I could hide behind. Because I had that safety I was able to be even more honest."
This honesty is conjured in ample spades on 2013's Run Fast, the second album released under the name The Julie Ruin, but the first recorded by a band. The lineup includes Bikini Kill bassist Kathi Wilcox, and Kenny Mellman of NYC cabaret duo Kiki and Herb. The album is also the first release of original material by Hanna since she took an extended break from her previous band, Le Tigre, and music, in 2006. We learned in last year's documentary The Punk Singer that the hiatus was due to chronic health issues stemming from a diagnosis of late-stage Lyme disease (the film itself is an excellent primer on Hanna's life and her foundational role in the movement that spurred so much amazing music). Only in the past few years has Hanna re-emerged on the music scene, beginning with a live performance in New York City in December 2010 and culminating with the release of Run Fast last autumn.
Just as Le Tigre supplemented Bikini Kill's punk fervency with electronica, The Julie Ruin incorporates the synthetic squiggles of Hanna's previous band with a jubilant and periodically laid-back approach. Hanna's newest work strikes me as emanating from someone who feels assured that they've amassed a legacy for themselves, and who now feels a freedom to forge ahead on whatever musical thruway seems most exciting. Run Fast, in fact, may be my favorite album of Hanna's myriad projects; the songs run the gamut of sensibilities and sounds, and there is a confidence in the experimentation that is as casual as it is formidable.
Kicking off the evening is the powerful New Jersey rock trio Screaming Females, who are led by guitarist and vocalist Marissa Paternoser; they released one of my favorite records of the past few years (2012's Ugly). Paternoser's work on the fretboard has received significant attention, but the songs themselves deliver a potent punch, with riffs that alternate between acting as scalpels or battering rams, and tunes that are equally adorned with heaviness and hooks.
The Julie Ruin plays at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 with openers Screaming Females. Doors are at 7pm. Tickets are $16 (a few more were just released, even though the show's been sold out a few weeks) and the show is all ages.