by Kyle Cochrun
“We’re organic goddess rock at its motherf—ing finest.”
That’s Bridget Reckless describing her band The Super Babes, a two-girl rock outfit from Youngstown whose first EP, We Are the Super Babes, consists of forthright, stripped-to-basics songs that combine grit-toned guitars with party-time rhythms.
Bridget plays guitar and Ann Rock plays drums. Both sing, often opting for a call-and-response vocal dynamic that mirrors their side-by-side stage setup and egalitarian songwriting process.
Subjects range from detailing a cutesy crush to condemning a lying, heartbreaking, time-wasting boy. Sounds range from loud and fast to loud and not-as-fast. With the exception of the seven-minute-long garage-rock stomper “My Riposte” (which picks up speed and intensity along the way), these are lull-free pop tunes that got places to be.
The girls sport an image to fit: matching all-black t-shirts, stockings and pink sunglasses, some skater-friendly footwear, plus a mala necklace for Ann and a metal chain necklace for Bridget. Each ticket for their Sept. 14 EP release party at Youngstown Skate included free skate rental for the evening. Before their set, the duo wheeled around the rink in a big roller-skate-mobile while throwing their hands in the air to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.”
Between their bash-and-rip live numbers at a show in Kenmore’s Rialto Theater, the women talked over each other with the frenzied pep of two buddies hosting a hangout sesh with the audience. They were surprised to have quickly developed a fan base in Akron and were even more surprised to make the list for the 2019 Porchrokr Festival after playing only a few shows in the city. The band performed an exuberant set on the driveway of a home on Weber Ave., a venue befitting their garage-rock aesthetic.
“We want to empower and inspire people,” said Ann, not having to mention that this involves forming their concerts into fun-first rave-ups.
It shouldn’t surprise, then, that the Super Babes’ studio recordings are strongest when they’re playing said fun-first rave-ups. “Crushing Hard,” the opening track on We Are the Super Babes, is the EP’s most direct statement, a hooky, uptempo singalong that cuts out before two and a half-minutes and retains impressive replay-ability.
On punk-flavored, fuzz-packed numbers like “Say It and Say” and “Lies and Lullabies,” Bridget’s roots as an acoustic singer/songwriter of the coffeehouse variety are scrubbed beyond recognition.
One might expect that over the years Ann and Bridget have worn down their vinyl copies of Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out and Bratmobile’s Ladies, Women and Girls, riot grrrl classics that would seem like obvious inspirations for their sound and lyrics. Au contraire, neither Super Babe has ever heard of Bratmobile, and they admit to being perplexed when fans compare them to Sleater-Kinney, who neither of them listen to. Bridget was raised on 60s soul and pop music while Ann grew up listening to 70s classic rock. When the band formed in 2015, they played covers of pop-radio hits on bar patios for easy money, with sets including Jason Derulo, Lady Gaga and “What If God Was One of Us?”
“It just started to crush our souls,” Ann said of their cover-band days.
The duo began crafting originals, and We Are the Super Babes consists of what Bridget deems “the best of the best” from their live set. Every song on the EP was recorded live, without overdubs, so they could harness the energy of their shows.
The session, which was engineered by Gary Rhamy at Youngstown’s Peppermint Recording Studio, was recorded in just four hours. Some songs were finished on the first take. As a result, We Are the Super Babes maintains a unified sound and is brimming with spontaneity. It’s rare for a band to sound this confident during their first-ever recording session, and even rarer for a band to outdo their live show in the studio, both of which the Super Babes pull off here.
“When you’re from Youngstown, you’re gonna fight for your dream and, if you don’t get there, you’re gonna die trying,” said Ann, who left Youngstown for London in her twenties. She returned to find her childhood home, and other places that were important to her, demolished.
“Anything that ever proved I existed is gone. That’s why it was important for me to make this album, ‘cause it’s something that’ll last forever.”
The Super Babes are convinced that their ethos is grounded in their rust-belt origins, that their sound has been molded from years spent playing for hard-to-win-over Youngstown bar crowds. Here’s to hoping the girls hold tight to their levity and their spunk, and that as their songcraft grows, so do their crowds.
Kyle Cochrun is a writer and turntablist from Akron, Ohio. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.