Grandmas House – ‘Who Am I’

By Ian Kenworthy

You might remember the stories but this Grandmas House isn’t where you’d find a twee old lady in flannelette; instead a wolf lurks inside. It’s the perfect name for the punk trio Yasmin Berndt, Poppy Dodgson and Zoe Zinsmeister. They’re unashamedly queer, opinionated and – yes – riot grrrl.

When they’re not playing alongside bands like Idles or on their own headlining tours, they’re carving out their own sound; noisy punk propelled by a bass and drum groove with clever vocal interplay. It’s shouty and biting but not unwelcoming and might remind you of a band like Screaming Females or the upcoming Panic Shack! – who are also signed to Brace Yourself Records (maybe they’re onto something). Their second EP ‘Who Am I’ collects the three recent singles and cheekily, it’s just the ‘Desire’ EP appended with the title track, so let’s talk about that song first. ‘Who Am I’ mixes a bouncing ungainly riff with a deep and raspy vocal part, making for an ugly but effective song. Plus there’s a huge breakdown which gives it a wicked punch, especially given how the guitar licks and riffs underneath the pounding rhythms. It’s a great addition to band’s oeuvre and this set.

As for the previously released songs, each has its own feel making for a sultry and delicious cacophony. The stripped-back sound is simple and effective and the trio have a good ear for a hook, heavily relying on the interplay between them to give the songs a rich dynamic. This is notable on ‘Desire’ where the opening staggers in like a tardy first date. Ungainly and awkward it settles into a leery tale of longing before erupting into a noisy chorus. Its mix of emotions and conflicting feelings is very much the band’s calling card and the refrain of “her eyes on you” may start out dripping with suggestiveness but becomes creepy, then oppressive, then downright angry. It’s a fascinating and a clever use of the band’s different styles – especially as the upbeat chorus shifts to a raucous climax. In the context, it feels like an assault.

‘How Does It Feel?’ is unashamedly a pop song, bringing to mind 80’s sensations The Bangles as its powerful intro rings out. After repeating the title like a mantra, it plunges into an agitated final chorus, displaying its canny songwriting by giving the listener the answer to the question it has been posing all along. ‘Body’ on the other hand might have a big hooky chorus, but is all about contrast and shifts from spoken words to a light yell then to deeper crooning. If you’re wondering about the band’s claims of being politically charged, you’ll hear it when they start singing “You don’t recognise the bodies in the water” because they’re big on oomph, not subtlety.

Energetic, propulsive and with a streak of wickedness, the ‘Who Am I’ EP might be crammed with thirsty energy but it’s the smaller moments and interplay between the vocalists that make this stand out.

IAN KENWORTHY

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