Band of the month –
The Menstrual Cramps
The Menstrual Cramps 2019, PHOTO CREDS: Cheri Clouds
While March may have seen musical outlets get hysterical over female artists in honour of International Women’s Day, April (and every other month of the year) is showering us with yet more feminist tracks to wrap your ears around… because surprisingly enough women make music all year round! Who’d have thought it…
Jokes slightly aside, this April The Menstrual Cramps take the band of the month slot, which suits their monthly-gift referring name as seamlessly as a pair of small knickers under tight trousers.
Founded in a Bristolian bedroom belonging to guitarist Cooper, after frontwoman Emilia came home fuelled by her anger against the social demand for women to be hairless. From there the Menstrual Cramps was born and so was their first single ‘My Bush Ain’t Your Business’. Now living in London, these rebel girls are made up of members Cooper Rose, Emilia Elfrida, Beth White, Robyn Jenner and AJ Mudrock, who are on a musical crusade attacking all things discriminating, prejudice and just utterly outraging.
While their early years may not have been defined by neatly trimmed timings and perfectly polished execution, what prevailed was their DIY drive that lives in the heart of every punk – which sees being flawless non-essential in comparison to the message that you communicate. As the band have matured and evolved since 2017, now officially a five-piece in 2019, this still seems to be The Menstrual Cramps mantra with a sprinkling of concrete stylings.
Their first musical undercut to the scumbags of the nation came in the form of their first album We’re Not Ovaryacting. Filled with powerfully witty puns the album takes a hard look at the laughable social norms imposed on women and men alike, the hypocrisies of the Tory regime and socio-economic struggles of the regular folk at the hands of the taxman. Intermingling off-beat rhythms and furiously sardonic lyricism, The Menstrual Cramps debut album was a 10-track feminist masterpiece that carries the torch for female garage bands such as Bikini Kill, Thee Headcoatees and The Delmonas while flashing you a pair of tits for their own amusement. And while the album cover might suggest that The Menstrual Cramps are an all-female Cramps tribute band, what you’ll find is something completely nuanced but just as mutinous and scathing.
That’s right with their first album these women demanded that you forget “tits out for the boys” and instead shout “fuck your conformity” because it’s time to “free the nipple and free the bush”. Unsurprisingly, their sound is every bit woman, soft when they want to be with bedroom style recordings that you’d expect to hear from DIY girl bands like the Marine Girls while at the same time sharp as a punk-shank ready to ‘Cull The Tories’ and take chunks out of the patriarchy one track at a time; embracing the soft fur of femininity and fury that comes from being female. They are so intersectional and mad at the world they’ve even got the environment covered, aptly named ‘Frack You’ of course.
With “politics on the brain” and outrage running through their veins, The Menstrual Cramps aren’t afraid of making waves with their sound and especially their visuals. Even their first music video for ‘My Bush Ain’t Your Business’ was ironically taken down by YouTube following complaints that a song about women’s choice to display their body showed images of female nipples. You can now find the soooo controversial video on Vimeo and has since racked up a plump 24k hits, so yeah “fuck you misogyny.”
Dropping only in the summer of last year, their second album Free Bleedin’ sledgehammered its way through music industry’s glass ceiling with feminist angst and an unapologetically comedic hand-full of salt. Packed with a punch, Free Bleedin’ is both fun and to be feared: with album art taking the piss out of cheesy indie boy bands, The Menstrual Cramps once again fire much-needed shots at the gender hierarchy in the musical sphere and all that around it. This time around, The Menstrual Cramps – then as a foursome – didn’t beat around the bush about taboo topics such as female lust for both boys and girls, going sexual on tinder with a “roadman heart”, female masturbation and even doing it mutually with your friend.
But they didn’t stop there, staying true to their anarchistic roots The Menstrual Cramps also critiqued the rest with ‘Boycott the Lot’ – an anthem against capitalist consumer culture and the legislation that forces the hand of many and gratifies the few. Their track ‘Idols’ also covers the rejection of false prophets who take the form of artists and creative legends, snatching the pedestals from underneath the likes of John Lennon, Kate Bush, Harvey Weinstein and Woody Allen in a call to arms “to scrutinise their trivial lives”. The album ends with a satisfying re-do of their first single, titled ‘Bush’ which plays the ‘My Bush Ain’t Your Business’ faster and fuller showing off their natural progression.
Dousing the riot grrrl flame with a tank full of petrol, The Menstrual Cramps are part of the new era of female musicians giving women, men and everyone outside or in-between a fresh taste of feminist punk heritage with a delicious relevance to its social backdrop. In their exploration and expression of punk attitude, the now fivesome amalgamate sensuality with smut, prohibition with protest, and indignation with action. In 2019 artists like this not only display the eternal power of punk when mixed with politics but also gives us hope that change is coming at the same breakneck speed as The Menstrual Cramps’ riffs.
This month sees The Menstrual Cramps take to the road showing off their wears and undoubtedly a nipple or two… April will certainly be an exciting month and sees them play alongside fellow fierce females such as Amyl and The Sniffers, Peach Club, Bitch Theme and a bunch more. Follow their flow and let them fill your ears with heavy hooks, irregular beats and mostly dirty lyricism because I reckon you’ll be spotting The Menstrual Cramps for a long while yet.
Track them here:
Listen to them here:
Words by Aimee Williams-Maynard