Originally created as an experimental 1998 lo-fi solo project between her tenures in Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, the Julie Ruin is the brainchild of singer, songwriter, and feminist punk icon Kathleen Hanna. After re-launching the venture as a band in 2010, Hanna and her co-conspirators delivered their brash group debut, Run Fast, in 2013. While it bore a resemblance to Julie Ruin's first incarnation, it also seemed to borrow from the snarling punk of Bikini Kill and the electroclash indie of Le Tigre. As brazen and provocative as it was, it was also not without a sense of fun. The same can be said about their 2016 follow-up, Hit Reset, a 13-track sonic blast that, in spite of containing some of Hanna's most personal material, is a wonderfully enthralling listen. While Hanna serves as ringleader and frontwoman, this is very much a gang record with a spiky, rhythmic interplay and a collaborative feel that, at times, recalls a more spastic B-52s. Bassist Kathi Wilcox (also of Bikini Kill) and drummer Carmine Covelli drive the train, churning out quirky rhythms and setting the table for charismatic keyboardist Kenny Mellman and guitarist Sara Landeau, who never crowd the songs. Hanna's willfully eccentric vocals arrive in choppy bellows, half-spoken incantations, or sweet melodies, often within the same song. There is no shortage of highlights, from the dark, fuzzy punk of "I Decide" to the weird, spunky pop of "Planet You," which bears the motivational chorus of "start a Kickstarter for your heart!" Other standouts like "Hello Trust No One" and "Time Is Up" also cast a spell with their spastic, otherworldly pop. As far as follow-ups go, the Julie Ruin have hit their mark squarely with this oddly hooky, and totally unique, release.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo