Zombie Dogs - Zombie Dogs
Record Label: Strength In Numbers
Release Date: October 1, 2010
On the all-female hardcore band Zombie Dogs’ eponymous album cover: a sea of tentacles, a few of them strangling some suspiciously phallic-looking skateboards. What looks to be coffee mugs float inscrutably in the background. A weird, delicious mix of caffeine and stifled male potency sounds about right.
And so, with hardcore phallocentrism-crushing intensity, Zombie Dogs — long staples of Brooklyn’s underground punk scene and feminist conferences — come banging onto the scene with their first self-titled LP. They deliver eleven tracks of memorable, eminently capable hardcore punk and surpass many of their male peers in the process. In October of 2010, Zombie Dogs was the first release on Strength in Numbers, an independent, exclusively female-run Brooklyn record label, and it is an auspicious beginning.
First, to state the obvious (as if there was any doubt): Zombie Dogs play fast, loud hardcore, as well as any of their testosterone-dependent counterparts.
Thematically speaking, Zombie Dogs is about on par with, say, the Descendents or Screeching Weasel, with an avowed feminist slant. It has an overstated nerdiness quotient. The album diverts from typical, jockier hardcore and wanders to the other end of the playground. The album references crosswords, critical theory, chemistry class (Are you ready for the final solution?). And that’s just in “Braincrush” (my personal favorite). Contrary to what one might expect in a traditional hardcore album, the song's not about crushing brains so much as crushing on them, as in the smart guys because they make you think and are brilliant at Scrabble. Such orthographic prowess does not extend to the title of “Thrashin,” however. It's an invigorating call to break from boring daily routines (and seems to imply that the only legit thrashin' one does is in the car on the way to work).
There’s more than a hint of intentional juvenility to the thing. “Thirteen,” for example, is a shout-out to that awkward age of weird transition, burgeoning adulthood, consuming “Why-does-everyone-have-a-boyfriend-but-me?” sentiment and general hatred for the rest of the world. And “Flip the Bird” is an enjoyable — if lyrically insipid — count-a-long riff (how many birds can you flip?) with a similar perspective. “Awkward Youth” does it with a little more bite. Zombie Dogs is a band quite wary of not taking themselves too seriously.
“Psycho Gyno” takes on that particular monthly cycle (another shot against grating routine, mostly unavoidable in this case) and explores an intriguing paradox — the disproportionate number of male gynecologists. “You’re a dude, why are you a gyno?/That’s weird, just stick to what you know” is hardly poetic, but it gets the job done.
Naturally, there are more serious undercurrents: those of empowerment, social isolation, etc. There are political points to be made, sure. But the music is more lighthearted, the lyrics slightly tongue-in-cheek, the message a little more subtle. The impression I was left with at the end of Zombie Dogs’ tragically brief runtime of fifteen minutes was one of fun, a rare feeling to take away from a hardcore album. More, please.