Girl Trouble, Hit It or Quit It (out now, K Records and Sub Pop, subpop.com)
Tacoma has made countless contributions to the Northwest’s history, culture, and punch lines—from the famed aroma to Ted Bundy. Musically, we have the City of Destiny to thank for Bing Crosby, Neko Case, Jerry Cantrell, and the Sonics, to name just a few. But for a sound that defines the perpetual underdog city to the south, we need look no further than one band with one distinctive lo-fi garage-rock sound. Back in 1988, before grunge was a household term and Seattle had covered the world in flannel, shirtless lead singer KP Kendall, madman guitarist Kahuna, back-beat drummer Bon Von Wheelie, and mysterious bassist Dale Phillips gave birth to Girl Trouble’s debut LP, Hit It or Quit It, a co-release from K Records and Sub Pop. While Girl Trouble never saw the success some of its contemporaries did—much like the town the band has so proudly claimed for three decades—the record is a gritty, quintessentially Tacoman masterpiece that still holds a place in rock annals, and not just because it was Sub Pop’s first full-length LP. Now, a quarter-century later, it’s being re-released by K and Sub Pop, a nod to the past for an endearing record that’s, surprisingly, just as searing as the moment it was pressed. Opening with “Wrecking Ball,” careening into “Hot Monkey Love” and “Riverbed,” and riding a Northwest surf-rock wave through “Where’s the Loser,” Hit It or Quit It—recorded mostly live, and probably produced for the price of a case of Oly—captures a band at its finest and a town at its truest. Bonus tracks “White Lightning” and “Shakin’ All Over” only sweeten the deal for music buffs. Thirty years after their first show, Girl Trouble may not be famous and may still practice in the same shed, but there’s no denying the indelible mark these Tacomans made on Northwest music history. Respect.