From Cape Town, South Africa
We’ve stated the obvious before and we’ll state it again; Whether it be politics, the arts, career opportunities, sports, or pretty much anything else in regards to individual recognition, time has been very backwards in accepting the contributions of the female species. Here at RDM, although it was never planned, the fact that almost half of the artists showcased are made up of female-fronted bands just goes to show how prominent women are in the scene at the moment and indeed how much excellent music is being thrown out there against the once impenetrable force of male dominance. There is a revolution brewing and whether it is part of the big plan, or just simply nature’s calling, the time is now upon us where the hierarchies of power are being leveled out and the beauty and creativity of the female mind is finally breaking through. Charly Bliss were the first band to be officially endorsed by RDM and if the next few releases live up to what we’ve heard so far, The Soap Girls may very well be next.
Born in Paris, France and moving to Cape Town, South Africa soon thereafter, sisters Mie (Guitar, Vocals) and Millie Debray (Bass, Vocals) began their entertainment careers as street performers at the age of just 9. Having caught the attention of various A&R scouts they signed to UMG recordings when they were 15 and ended up releasing a Pop/Dance album entitled Xperience for the label, providing a handful of chart hits in their home country and contributing to the new wave of young singers, no doubt destined to be chewed up and ultimately spat out by the corporate music machine. It was a few years later when the daunting reality set in of having to produce label- and radio-friendly manufactured Pop, that the girls made a quick exit to New York and released a couple more singles, before cutting ties to their early days of stardom and starting afresh with their own sound, on their own terms.
It wasn’t too much longer before a taste of exactly what they had in mind came to fruition, as in 2015 the debut LP of this new era, Calls For Rebellion, was released. Raw, catchy, anarchistic Rock and Roll is one way to describe the overly unique crossover lying in the valley between the mountains of Punk and Grunge. Co-produced with Charlie Hamilton (Backyard Studios) the twosome seemingly hold nothing back, giving us no less than 16 tracks to ponder, which in a generation of short attention spans may not have been the wisest idea and could arguably be best considered a double-album. Fortunately, however, the record is so diverse and simply effective that the freshness is maintained throughout and put together in a way that come track 12, things actually begin to pick up in a different direction as opposed to fading out with fillers as is so often the case – and it is all a testament to The Soap Girls‘ talent. We’re talking about the real Punk roots that emerge with the cat-like vocals and Buzzcocks-esque verse of “Black Mass” and Damned-influenced sounds of “Snakes and Ladders”, before “Champagne Cocaine” mixes up The Clash with awesome harmonies akin to L7 with a bit of added Pop Punk and a Bubblegum twist, for what is one of the best tunes on the album. This must be the first review we’ve done starting from the 3/4 mark…Bursts of energetic Pop Punk break through on “Ugly Underneath”, including early Silverchair style breakdowns in anticipation of closing song “Real”, starting off with a dark instrumental, Grungy as you like and in the ballpark of a depressed Daniel Johns duetting with Dutch vocal extraordinaire Anouk.
“Nymph” is another vaguely darker number, Grunge at the core and reminiscent of early Scanners in its eerie vibe. Coincidentally or not, the lo-fi somewhat underwater feeling fits well with the lyrics “Take me to the water”, where the track manages to create an atmosphere unlike anywhere else on the album; something the girls seem to have a real knack for.
Despite the very Grunge/Punk instrumental aspects, we have barely scratched the surface as relates to the other elements of The Soap Girls‘ forte; First and foremost being the incredibly powerful voice of Millie, usually accustomed to Soul and heavy Blues Rock, the edgy and deep gritty vocals could carry the songs on their own and are able to penetrate so strongly in ways that indeed Anouk and also Joss Stone have become famous for. Add Joan Jett to the recipe and you start to get the gist. There is real talent in the singing voices of the duo and helped by the fact they have that blood connection, play off of each other with the most perfect of harmony. The traits are audible throughout, thrusting themselves to the forefront particularly during opening number “Pretend Friend” and “House of Fun” with the former sounding a lot like Garbage, or a similarly Butch Vig-produced piece and the latter touching on the vibes of Sleeper, albeit with its obnoxious outbursts at the end. It is a running theme popping up every now and again, as much of the lyrical content revolves around their experiences and encounters with typical scenesters, whether it be the industry honchos themselves or ego-driven concert-goers, who in their own words are summed up as “cock sucking assholes” during “House of Fun” and sternly informed on brand new single “Bad Bitch” that “I’m a bad bitch, I don’t give a shit”. They don’t hold anything back that’s for sure but no matter how offensive it can get at times, it comes from the heart and is after all, Punk. Neither does it take away from the overall product, in fact it enhances it. Together with their live shows (performed as a 3-piece with drummer), they play into their gimmick and go the extra mile to look the part with their sleazy Rock and Roll outfits, cut fishnets, leather and the occasional lack of upper-body clothing. We love it when an artist lives their image as it gives that extra dimension, the theatrical factor, which so many are lacking in their arsenal. KISS never appeared in public without their makeup, Mötley Crüe were never seen without their perms, Axl Rose never hit the stage on time… It’s all about creating that perception and becoming magical in the eyes of the observer. The Darkness were another great example of BEING their image, even if it did create negativity from media outlets and music fans who didn’t understand the concept of entertainment. Either way, The Soap Girls are gaining fans in droves, rightly sticking their middle fingers up to the haters and continuing to do what they do best, alongside their faithful legion of followers The Soap Suds.
Back to the record, rewinding towards the beginning and second track “Voodoo Child”, it calms down, a bit more relaxed, sounding like The Offspring‘s melody on “Gone Away” with raw soapy harmonies. “Welcome to the Neighbourhood” and “Hater” are the surefire singles, whereas “Bloody” lays back proclaiming “Your hands are bloody, don’t touch me, stay away”, showing the heavier aspects of their sound with its big Queens of the Stone Age/Foo Fighters Rock outro. One thing about these vixens is they are not shy of sharing their opinion on matters that have touched them. The softer voice on “Pretty Good Looking” retains its prowess during another Grunge number mixed in with Punk Rock where you can connect Pixies and the awesome Radio Чача. “Cigarettes and Medicine” is the ballad of the record, another introspective tale, showing that there is more to meet the eye than being just a pair of raw punkettes, which takes us into the fastest non-fast song on the album: “Hold on Tight” – Great Garage Rock/Punk showcasing the girls’ vocal ranges and featuring a subtle synth that gives it a real cool-ass groove – “Hold on tight, she’s a creature of the night” being a line that would make even Dio proud.
“Bad Bitch” by the way, previously mentioned, is not on the LP and is in fact the new single released just a few weeks ago (music video currently in production). The cat-like scream in the intro gives way to the trademark vocals and harmonies we have come to love over the past few months, with a simple riff busting into the energetic rocky chorus, full of hooks and melody and hitting home the message of The Soap Girls – Rock and roll done with a feminine take-no-shit elegance. The tune rocks.
The Soap Girls are currently on the road with dates being confirmed as we speak, across the UK and Europe. Check your local listings and keep up-to-date with the band via the links below and be sure to catch them during their May-November 2016 rock jaunt!
You can also check out the debut album over at Bandcamp and follow them on social media:
No longer do we have to put up with the raspy smoker voices of Courtney Love and Brody Dalle when we think about female Grunge. There are new kids on the block and The Soap Girls are here to set the standard for the new generation.