Album #152: Big Joanie – Sistahs

  • Released: 2018
  • Origin: London, England
  • Label: Daydream Library
  • Best Track: Token

Recent worldwide focus on racial equality has made me think about my own music collection and what I’m writing about on this blog. I dread to think what percentage of the artists I’ve covered on here are white, and probably mostly male, so am I prejudiced myself? Am I turned off music made by people who don’t look like me?

Most of the genres I happen to be into are, to face the facts, dominated by white males. Punk is at the epicentre of my tastes, and with a handful of exceptions (Bad Brains, Alien Kulture, X-Ray Spex), it’s pretty overwhelmingly pale-skinned. One high-profile black feminist punk group, however, is London-based Big Joanie, so I had a listen to their debut LP from two years ago. This is a band specifically set up to challenge the lack of diversity in the genre.

Punk isn’t generally known for technically accomplished vocals, so what immediately stands out with Big Joanie is that the girls can hold a note and harmonise.

Lyrics are interesting too. Sometimes, like on ‘Down Down’, they consist of the same phrase repeated in the vein of ESG, who I’ve been introduced to recently. Other times, like on ‘Token’, they’re thought-provoking and probing. As Stephanie Phillips chants “All of my friends are white/rich/take drugs, but you, you’re special’, the message is a little cryptic, but the title ‘Token’ gives it some context.

This is no token inclusion on my blog though. It’s a strong record, and an intriguing use of punk to project a voice and identity underrepresented in the genre.

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