Quaaludes - Are the Winners Always Losers? [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Are the Winners Always Losers? [7-inch] (2016)

Jonny Cat

Quaaludes are a bay area punk band that celebrate both classic punk and its cousin, the less concrete post-punk. Their second EP, Are the Winners Always Losers?, with its mouthful title and ambiguity, feels like the progeny of Poison Girls and the band similarly dedicates itself to intellectualism delivered with a serrated edge.

Opener “Call You Up” is rooted in a classic punk-Stooges stomp while vocalist Aimee rants and screams, sometimes playing harmony to the music and sometimes playing cacophony. Her changing position makes the song invigorating- at all times, the song seems that it’s about to lash out in any number of directions, but somehow, it holds itself together.

Similarly, Aimee flips back and forth between having a direct message and ominous imagery. “Call You Up” seems to be open to multiple interpretations. But, “Incoming Liberation” is a direct attack against body shaming, in any form. With any band making a political message, there’s always the threat that the band will seem like they are reciting doctrine simply because they like the way the message sounds, not because they have put genuine thought into the message itself.

That’s not the case here. The entire band is so vibrant, and so blunt when it is appropriate to be blunt, that this release features someone opening her heart and that soulful message happens to be similar to the one in the national discussion right now.

Closing track “Touch My Yoko Ono Organ” is more in the post-punk vein, with the band wandering back and forth between classic song structure and aggressive noise. It’s an interesting use of “Yoko Ono” herself as a symbol of sexual politics, and perhaps equally interesting, the band, with use of that symbol alone, connect the bridge between Ono’s avant-garde dispatches and anarcho-punk sound clashes. I hasn’t noticed it before, but here Aimee sounds like Ono and Eve Libertine at the same time.

Quaaludes have a few releases to their name at this point, and not only have they established an identity, but they’ve also shown that they’re not chained to any one facet of that identity. This is a band with a real sense of depth and style. It is definitely time for a full length.