L.A. Punk icon releases third solo album
Alice Bag, also known as Alicia Armendariz, rightfully took her place in the punk hall of fame early in her career with her band The Bags. The Bags, as one of the first influential punk groups to originate in Los Angeles, garnered unprecedented support (and unfortunate sexist retaliation) as an all-female punk band in the ’70s. Now, Armendariz is back with a third solo album released under In the Red Records. The album, Sister Dynamite, explores the “intersections of punk, queer pop and alternative rock” according to Armendariz. Previously, Alice Bag has been recognized in music documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, awarded one of the best albums of the year by AllMusic for Alice Bag and named one of the best albums of 2018 by NPR and the Los Angeles times for Blueprint.
Alicia Armendariz’s music addresses important societal issues involving the systematic oppression of women and minorities—Armendariz considers herself not only a musician but an outspoken feminist and author. Alice Bag embodies the voice of an empowered woman, defying societal expectations and paving a path for other women both in the punk scene and day to day life. Sister Dynamite packages spitfire messages into upbeat sing-alongs that reminisce of ’70s era punk without losing any of the central messages that Armendariz employs.
Album opener “Spark” loses no time getting to a refreshing point—it’s time to value our individual and unique qualities as positive attributes. The body of the album, with a runtime of 30 minutes, features concise and vibrant tunes that find the listener energized and entertained. Songs “Identified,” “The Sender Is Blocked” and “Subele” invite the listener to sing along with powerful instrumentals and unique vocal patterns. On top of being catchy, each song on this album packs a its own punch with anti toxic-masculinity callouts, sexuality awareness and feminist kickassery. “Breadcrumbs,” an album favorite, features Allison Wolfe of the movement riot grrrl, one of many influential cameos included in Sister Dynamite. “Risk It” plays the album out with minor instrumentals including notable guitar and bass lines and experimental background vocalists.
Sister Dynamite doesn’t lack lyrical diversity or relevance in its relatively short runtime. This album is quick and bold without becoming cliché or performative. Though the production value is lacking and the sound could be mixed better, Armendariz sets forth a daring precedent as a long-term musician. If Alice Bag were willing to adopt aspects of modern punk sound, her audience may diversify. However, there’s nothing wrong with a ’70s throwback.