Graded on a Curve: Typical Girls, Volume 3
and Volume 4

Back in 2016, the Emotional Response label released their first Typical Girls compilation, and it shed a fine spotlight upon female fronted punk, post-punk, and associated styles. Early last year, a second volume extended the momentum, and now comes the simultaneous release of the third and fourth installments, both issued on clear vinyl. Their contents bring back memories of sitting in a Hardee’s reading an issue of Maximum Rocknroll while listening to homemade punk tapes on a Walkman and sipping on a half-flat Coke, but even better is that the music spread across these four sides is a ripsnorting representation of right now.

Speaking of Maximum Rocknroll, there was a time when comps of an openly punk orientation cared little or not at all for diversity in annotation; it was part of the reason many became detached from the scene. Thankfully, Jen Turrell and Stewart Anderson, along with Camylle of the Midnite Snaxxx and Bad Daddies bands, who helped with the compiling of these two sets, share a broad definition of punk’s possibilities, so that even with a unifying theme, namely female and trans empowerment, these volumes not only avoid boredom but are loaded with surprises.

But hey, if it’s a beefy, fast-paced, full-throated gallop you want, Volume Three has it right off the bat with “Make Room Make Room” by the UK’s Natterers, and follows it with the anthemic and hooky “Por no estar sola” by Madrid’s Rata Negra; next comes the vaguely Bratmobile-ish (but with hardcore breakdowns) “Greedy Goblin” from Hattiesburg, MS’s Judy and the Jerks. Completing the set’s first fourth is Fresno’s Fatty Cakes and the Puff Pastries, whose “Girl Gang” combines a distinctly more pop sensibility with Riot Grrl righteousness.

From there, Portland’s Macho Boys serve up a sub-one-minute breakneck HC blitz in “Victim to Blame,” and Carrboro, NC’s Fitness Womxn dish garrulous and rhythmically driving post-punk in “Living Hell.” Although Crooked Bangs’ Leda Ginestra sing-shouts “Baudelaire” in French, the band is from Austin; their stated influences of ’80s Crass Records, UK82 HC, and ’90s noise-rock are palpable, but are aided by a solid melodic foundation, the better to fend off the genericism mentioned above.

“Can Be Happy” by the Japan-based Scaredy Snake redirects into bedroom pop, and then the pendulum swings violently in the opposite direction with the full-throttle fury of “Voluntary Human Extinction” by Chicago’s C.H.E.W. Kicking it back to an earlier era, Richmond, VA’s Sick Bags turn the amps way up on the decidedly Ramones-like “Microwaved Brains,” which nicely foreshadows the inclusion of Alice Bag, she of the terrific Bags (of Dangerhouse Records fame), represented here with a sturdy slab of punkish melodic rock in “Missed Your Mark.”

Also snappy is how “6-18-16” by Des Moines, IA’s Karen Meat injects a homemade Casio pop foundation with late-period power pop guitar largeness, while “Gereyðing” by Reykjavík, Iceland’s Dauðyflin is a caustic HC grind with rippling vocal screech. To these ears, “Stabbing Pain” by Japan’s Unskilled Lab lands somewhere between ’80s goth and neo-psych, and it’s a cool segue into the throaty and rhythmic post-punk of “No Beginning” by Oakland’s Swann Danger.

With the flailing noise-punk forward motion of “I Need a Doctor” by Kansas City, MO’s Warm Bodies, Volume Three concludes. It’s a strong set diverse enough to hold up to repeat listening, which is a true mark of quality for comps, but hey, diving right into Volume Four is just as smart a choice; its simultaneous release reinforces just how much worthy material is currently out there.

Four begins with the robust throttle of “Dead if I Do” by No Love (where they’re from I’ve no idea), quickly moves into the early-Rough Trade-ish rhythm-sax-vox fest “Evolution of a Friendship” by Los Angelinos French Vanilla, and then offers the vaguely Plurex Records-like post-punk of “Vacuum Rebuilder,” a live cut from Calgarians Janitor Scum and the Scums. Further underscoring the sheer range, “Colere Vide” by Leipzig, Germany’s Couteau Latex is a decidedly and fittingly Neue Deutsche Welle-ian state of affairs.

However, the raw melodic punk of “SK8 Witches” by Seattle’s Mommy Long Legs establishes that Emotional Response isn’t partaking in eclecticism for the sake of it. No, these records flow as they strike blows to oppression, but just as often they pound, which is the case with “Intervencion Y Disciplina” by Barcelona’s Chroma. “501” from London’s Schande is riffy indie pop with cool noise bursts, while “Unsavoury Union” by fellow Londoners Es applies a somewhat Gary Numan-ish synth ambience to the reliable rhythm section-and-vocals post-punk scenario.

“Delivery Boy” from Gainesville, FL’s Ew combines Misfits and New Wave to a tangibly neo-’60s result, and it serves as a tasty prelude to the expert indie pop crispness of The Primitives’ “Rattle My Cage,” as the veteran UK band’s appearance here sorta mirrors Alice Bag’s entry on Volume Three, deepening matters by peppering precedent into these album’s contempo narratives.

Considered separately, not a whole lot connects The Primitives to the short and bruising noise rock-HC merger “Motel 6” by Oaklanders Replica, but heard together they complement each other in one big punk-inspired continuum; by extension, the Typical Girls series is starting to remind me as much of the early ’90s Kill Rock Stars comps as it is Wanna Buy a Bridge? And yet, with elements of distinctiveness, as “No Bridge Unburned” by San Francisco’s Primary leans into the more trad melodic rock side of early ‘80s punk descended stuff.

The proceedings enter the homestretch with the needling and stinging guitar of “Bell is Ringing” by Japan’s C-3’s (who seem to have connections to Volume Three’s Unskilled Lab), and then swings over to Spain for the classic amp snarl of Decraneo’s “Siento.” A self-titled track from Oakland’s Neon is a delectable example of squealing and ranting art-punk, while “Skyless” from their San Fran neighbors Cruel Summer closes Volume Four with an indie-pop and shoegaze blend that nods in the direction of Sonic Youth.

Are there some lesser cuts sprinkled amongst these thirty-two? Sure, but nothing here even gets close to the vicinity of bad, and for thematic compilations that’s about the highest praise I can think of. For punk fans unfamiliar with the Typical Girls experience, it’s advisable to jump right in here and then grab the prior two installments, the better to not fall too far behind; Emotional Response’s admirable endeavor shows no signs of slowing down.

Typical Girls Volume Three
A-

Typical Girls Volume Four
A-

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