Queencore: First L.A., Next, The World

Hit Bargain

Hit Bargain

Self-Released, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie                                                      Hit Bargain cover

The debut EP from L.A. Band, Hit Bargain is a bash, from beginning to end. It starts off with a powerful, enticing tune, “The Circuits That Cannot Be Cut”, a song that really pulls you in and doesn’t let go, for the whole 18 minutes of this EP. This song is supposed to be a sort of re-working of the Bruce Willis vehicle, Die Hard, reshaped into a wry social commentary on gun and police violence. Bruce Willis is their shaman, because he channels the “everyman”, the average, bottled-up, frustrated white guy in an ever-changing urban jungle, where things are not only becoming less and less familiar for him, which, really shouldn’t be a problem for anyone who’s well-adjusted enough, but it’s also foretells an ominous, out-of-control future that may or may not already be here. The ones who stand up and say “I can’t take it anymore -I’m gonna do something about it, dammit”, represent those who stand to be counted among those rare heroes who come forward when needed or called (or both).

In another call-to-arms, in a way, many of Hit Bargain’s songs shine an awareness on their feminist anthems, aimed at their listeners.

Besides being a great epitome of L.A. Indie rock that’s been tearing it up over the past 10 years, Hit Bargain also brings forth a new sort of sub-sub genre: “Queencore”: the intersection of Queer, Queening and Hardcore. Make no mistake, though, Hit Bargain are as much a part of LA’s underground indie scene as they are an answer to it.

Comprising Hit Bargain are Nora Singh, vocals; Mike Barron, guitar and vocals; Anton Hochheim on drums; and Mike Stoltz on bass. Both Nora and Mike really give those vocal chords of theirs a workout! Their music, in a little way, harkens back to those good ol’ days of the early ’80s L.A. Hardcore scene, a la Black Flag and the whole SST catalog but there is also more of a modern pathos to it, one that is exciting and full of great slogan-chanting, anthem-igniting, as well as the really cool saxophone squonk, heard on the last tune, “Queening”.

Other great songs that stand out in these 18 minutes of fast, loose, dangerous-sounding and wild, are “Songs for Fainting”, “Cheap Death”, “Major System” and “No Body”, which are all of the songs – you really can’t leave anything out in such a short album; they all go together, seamlessly, in a feverish pitch that, by the end of “Queening”, which must be their “call to arms”, your head is spinning and you either have to find some more like-minded stuff to listen to, play Hit Bargain again or, if you have to, switch to something of a chill-out nature and decompress.

All in all – great stuff. Seeing Hit Bargain live would definitely be an experience! I suppose, though, unless they have a number of still-unrecorded tunes which they could play, we might have to wait for a full-length CD to come out, before they hit the circuit. But, to get ready for that, get yourself a copy of Hit Bargain and get set to meet Queencore. Currently, Hit Bargain are without a label. They did this EP DIY, but, who knows, they may be playing an opening slot for another band or something and, next thing you know – they’re recording for a decent indie label (no corporate people need come by). See you at their show. -KM.


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