PLAYING THE BAY: Oakland’s Skip the Needle Are Done Holding Anything Back

photo by Irene Young.

As Bay Area music industry veterans, the four members of Skip the Needle have run the gamut through the bullshit and, according to the lead single from their newest full-length project, they ain’t never going back.

“We Ain’t Never Going Back” is the title track from Skip the Needle’s forthcoming full-length album, out tomorrow on Bandcamp, and it serves as veritable tour through the band’s frustrations, verging on pure cathartic rage. The song begins with a crunchy riff before bassist Vicki Randal catapults her way into the song with a “Sabotage”-worthy scream. Speaking of the Beastie Boys, the song actually does remind me of “Fight For Your Right,” but the shit-kicking teenage boy rebellion of that party classic is replaced by some very real sentiment on the power of resistance and anger.

Not that the shit-kicking isn’t there. For the song’s chorus, all four members (who will, according to the band’s website, rotate lead vocals on the full-length) join in, screaming NO! in response to some unanswered question — or possible demand — for their reticence.

Do what the cops say/don’t talk, don’t think, don’t fight, don’t feel! serves as the pre-chorus, leading us to a final we ain’t never going back call-and-response punctuated by the very old-school rock posturing of the band, seen in full glory in a video of their performance at the El Rio bar in San Francisco. As drummer Kofy Brown snarls into the mic and guitarist Shelley Doty whips her dreads in tandem with the beat, guitarist Katie Cash tips her chin to the sky before exchanging a look with Randal, a millisecond of pause before they gather the energy to end the thing on Randal’s backbend, clapping and cheering more for each other than for themselves.`

Their self-titled debut EP, also their last major release, came out in 2014. A brief listen shows, unsurprisingly, a much softer, occasionally restrained rock offering. But the tumult of the past five years has stripped away the patience of the best of us, and Skip the Needle is clearly ready to let their new full-on instrumentals and vocal delivery work as a one-two punch, upping the strength and passion of their political lyrics.

I liked the song on first listen, but it took that grainy video for me to appreciate it fully. You can feel the women’s ease — with each other, with the crowd —and if anything compels you to check out the album, let it be the pure satisfaction of watching those historically forced out of traditional rock spaces — women in general, and black women in particular — supporting each other in their anger and their joy.

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