Australia doesn’t get nearly the amount of credit it deserves for its long-standing punk rock scene. From The Saints and The Birthday Party to the Hard-Ons, while the rest of the world was arguing whether punk rock started in New York or London, the Aussies were busy going about their business churning out one brilliant distortion-laden record after the next.
It should come as little surprise then that another great Australian-based punk band, and a precursor to the Riot Grrrl movement, slipped under the radar in the late 1980s. The Sydney-based Matrimony were influenced by the Stooges, Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Velvet Underground, and Olympia, Washington’s the Beat Happenings, an eclectic-but-solid grouping that was reflected in their own music. Formed in 1988 they only stuck together long enough to record one album, but thankfully it was a hell of a record.
For the uninitiated, Kill Rock Stars have just issued a re-release of their debut/swan song, Kitty Finger. Across 15 songs, the band barrel through a set that is both seemingly confrontational and at times surprisingly mellow, (particularly on a cover of the Scientists’ “Frantic Romantic”). It’s the band’s original songs though that deserve the most attention, like the oddly fun “Lonesome Cowboy,” the lyrically puzzling title track and the addictively fun “Motorbike.”
Though the band quickly imploded after the album’s release, Calvin Johnson co-founder of Beat Happening and K Records found a copy of the record at some point. Scene mate Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill was a fan as well and pushed for their label, Kill Rock Stars to reissue Kitty Finger.
“Every time I listen to the Matrimony record, I get super inspired,” Hanna wrote the group in a letter, “and maybe some other girls will feel the same and start a good band for a fucking change.”