Kamala and the Karnivores - Girl Band [reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Kamala and the Karnivores

Girl Band [reissue] (2017)

1986'd Music industries

Although they have but a solitary 7-inch to their name, Kamala and the Karnivores have maintained a certain reverence. Involved in the 924 Gilman scene from the venue’s inception, the band, in a way, existed as a perfect representation of the area’s ethos and style.

Their only release, the Girl Band 7-inch, walks the fine line between pop and punk- a combination that today might be as common as air, but then, was a fairly radical combination and one that would be utilized by many Gilman bands across the decades. “Love Like Murder” exhibits this trait perfectly. A driving number, the song borrows the popish musicality of Blondie and adds a sharper edge, somewhat reminiscent of the Avengers. While the band pulls from both the pop and punk spectrum, it’s quite clever how both sides come off as completely genuine. Whereas many punk bands may have seen the contrast as an either/or scenario, K and the Ks find the similarity between the two, not the differences. It doesn’t hurt that there’s an allusion to homicide in the track, either- see also the wonderfully ambiguous and gently-creepy track “Black Thumb.”

And perhaps somewhat similar to Blondie, the band isn’t afraid to look at social-politics at the hyper personal scale. The tracks here might be about relationships- both romantic and social- but the band doesn’t come across as maudlin- rather, there’s a certain assertiveness and wounded honesty here that you really don’t find too often in punk rock, or most other genres for that fact. The reason that this band has maintained a certain veneration is simply because, they hit all the right marks when it comes to making an intelligent, but catchy punk record. There’s a love of pop music here, but it’s supported by a little darkness, a lot of intelligence, and even more intelligence.

The 2017 reissue of this record does it justice, no doubt. The sleeve is a sturdy, reproduction of the original and the record itself is on crisp heavy vinyl. The sound has been remastered and is sharper and has more clarity than ever, really bringing out the masterful melodies and slick tricks the band pulls on the release. It also comes with a download which includes a crucial bonus track. It’s about time for this record to be readily available again and this reissue nails it. Recommended.