Free Kitten

Nice Ass

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Something of an indie rock wet dream, Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth, Julia Cafritz of Pussy Galore, Yoshimi of the Boredoms, and Mark Ibold of Pavement, Free Kitten is more than just a pickup group. Continuing the group improvisation inherent in at the very least SY and the Boredoms, Nice Ass sounds sloppy but is deceptively deliberate and not without political points to score. The opening salvo, "Harvest Spoon," describes the experience of Sonic Youth touring with Neil Young & Crazy Horse in early 1991 on the Ragged Glory Tour when, as was widely reported at the time, SY and Kim in particular were confronted with a level of sexism backstage never before encountered. Pointedly making this observation, Kim tosses off a verbal riff to Liz Phair, feeling as though "outside of guysville." In among the fuzz guitar and sound experiments these contemporary references abound. Spot the allusions to Beck, Nine Inch Nails, and Stone Temple Pilots. These are of course intentional. Kim and the others are far too smart not to be deliberately placing them, but they unfortunately possess a short life span and after the fact sound like in-jokes for the in-crowd. Which is exactly what they are. Musically Free Kitten shares the fascination of Sonic Youth with strange tunings and guitar skronk, and Kim's singing on "Scratch the DJ" illustrates a continuing flirtation with rap as her glorious rasp is less sung than pronounced in a beat poetry style, more so on cuts like "Call Back." Falling between the pointlessness of Ciccone Youth and the proto-punk-blues of Royal Trux, the end result is a studied amateurism. Nice Ass is a pop cultural artefact, making much more sense when compared to its mediocre contemporaries. But released in 1995 it quickly begins to sound dated. Remember: "We're Kitten and we're badder than you."

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