Album Review – Billy Raygun/Lipstick Homicide: Split LP

Lipstick Homicide (Kate Kane, Rachel Feldman and Lucas Ferguson) have been making a big noise in Iowa City for six years or so, starting out at West High School. If you haven’t seen them play live, then you don’t get out much–and you’ve missed out. Their live sound is an exquisitely textured roar made up of Kate Kane’s slashing guitar, Rachel’s driving bass and Lucas’ frenetic drumming.

The new songs on this Split LP with Billy Raygun aren’t really that different from their previous work, but these recordings capture their live sound better. Rachel & Kate’s singing is stronger and more confident and cuts through the mix without sounding hyped or unnatural. The songs are all high tempo rave-ups that seem to start out fast and speed up out of sheer excitement.

Kate & Rachel’s songwriting is sharply focused on producing hook-filled punk-pop anthems, comparable to (but in my opinion more vital and genuine than) bands like Green Day and Blink 182. But I kinda hate those bands for the craven calculation that goes into their image and unthreatening, radio-friendly sound. Lipstick Homicide might not mind achieving punk-pop stardom, but they’re not going to do anything different to get there. Every song on their side of this record is instantly hummable pop perfection that they rip into like it’s their last night on earth.

Billy Raygun are definitely musically sympatico with Lipstick Homicide, but they seem to come more from the Hüsker Dü school of punk rock. Where the girls write honey-sweet pop melodies, Billy Raygun comes up with more angular dissonant riffs. There is a bit of the Dead Milkmen’s sardonic humor in their writing and vocal delivery. They are a good complement with Lipstick Homicide on this LP, but my heart’s really with the hometown heroes on this one.