Rooted in San Francisco but now in the South Bay, Neighborhood Brats have a pre-Reagan, post-neutron bomb, hardcore sound that's raw and bloody enough to make a Go-Go's cover sound like a 10 car pile-up on the 405 freeway.
]Their cover of “Lust to Love,” along with their new four-track EP Total Dementia (Dirtnap Records), was recorded at the original Death Row Records in Tarzana. Neighborhood Brats guitarist and chief architect George Rager, who grew up listening to equal parts gangsta' rap and hardcore punk, presided over the mixing board where Tupac Shakur recorded All Eyez On Me.
“Looking around the studio, I knew there was a lot of shit that went down here,” says Rager. But when he roped in his friend Jenny Angelillo as frontwoman in 2009, the Neighborhood Brats were born.
Before meeting George, Angelillo briefly lived on the rooftop of Al's Bar – one of the original West Coast punk clubs. Still a teenager, Angelillo's vocals sounded a little bit like Avenger's frontwoman Penelope Houston.
But she gained notoriety for her live performances; her intense eyes, coupled with spastic dance moves that left her body bruised and battered, conjures the wild juxtaposition of Kathleen Hanna working a violent aerobic session to Jane Fonda. This is the sort of behavior that resulted in Angelillo using tampons to absorb the blood from a broken nose – the result of a direct face-plant during last year's Awesome Fest.
Rager is less a showman, but his buzzsaw-sounding Gibson guitar on Total Dementia produces a rapid-fire sound that harkens back to Greg Ginn's ferocity on Black Flag's eponymous debut EP Nervous Breakdown.
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The EP's title track tells the story of a Bay Area hippie waking up on a park bench, dazed and confused, yet coherent enough to ask for exact change: “Just give me a quarter / I need 37 cents / I got your garbage bag on as clothes.”
The song recreates a dystopian nightmare based in S.F., where Jenny and George first formed Neighborhood Brats, honing their sound before returning to L.A. and recruiting drummer Kirk Podell.
With a West Coast tour just announced for the spring, and a new bass player forming their blistering rhythm section, the Neighborhood Brats seem poised to create their own hardcore legacy.