On her new album Sister Dynamite, L.A. punk icon Alice Bag confronts some of the most pervasive problems troubling the world today: unchecked privilege and willful ignorance, systemic inequality and fragile masculinity. Her third solo effort and first release for In The Red Records, the album also offers an unbridled celebration of community and the undeniable power in embracing one’s own truth. In her impassioned push for freedom of all kinds, Bag endlessly transmits a raw and exhilarating energy, ultimately transforming each song into a much-needed antidote to numbness or despair.
The follow-up to 2018’s Blueprint—named one of the best albums of the year by NPR Music—Sister Dynamite marks a thrilling return to the full-throttle punk that Bag pioneered with her legendary first-wave punk band, The Bags. With its breakneck velocity and galvanizing melodies, the album’s kinetic sound was partly inspired by Bag’s work in producing the latest record by Chicana punk band Fea. “All their songs are rockers, and it made me want to make an album that’s upbeat all the way through,” she says.
To achieve that force-of-nature intensity, Bag teamed up with her core group of musicians, including guitarist Sharif Dumani and bassist David O. Jones. Co-produced by Bag and her longtime collaborator Lysa Flores (who plays rhythm guitar and sings backing vocals on several songs), Sister Dynamite finds Candace P.K. Hansen and Rikki “Styxx” Watson trading off on drums, each lending her distinct musicality to the album’s potent rhythms.
Throughout Sister Dynamite, Bag reveals her incredible ability to turn nuanced political statement into impossibly catchy punk songs. Raised in East Los Angeles, she first discovered her facility with the grammar of punk upon co-founding The Bags as a teenager in the late ’70s (an endeavor that saw her featured in Penelope Spheeris’s seminal punk documentary, The Decline Of Western Civilization). Along with playing in a series of groundbreaking bands over the years (including Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres), Bag has devoted much of the past few decades to her work as an educator, activist, feminist archivist, and author of two acclaimed books: her 2011 memoir Violence Girl (now required reading in gender and musicology courses throughout the country) and 2015’s Pipe Bomb For The Soul (a self-published title based on her experiences volunteering in post-revolutionary Nicaragua).