If there was ever a time for the riot grrrl music scene to come back, 2018 is it. Rainbow Reservoir’s debut album Channel Hanna is just what the third-wave doctor ordered. A direct nod to a key cornerstone of riot grrrl legend Kathleen Hanna, this new record challenges us to channel our inner Hannas to take on the inequalities of campaigns like Brexit and Make America Great Again. While this album doesn’t directly cover the politics of today, there are subtle nods to modern day culture that can be interpreted as a direct action against the toxic patriarchy that has reached its boiling point over the last few years. Rainbow Reservoir is fighting back with this unabashedly forward album that is a welcome voice in such a charged and divided world.
This three piece band hailing from Oxford has enough energy in their sound to carry us through this 12 track album in a little over a half an hour, though the duration seems significantly longer. With as many layers packed in as possible, it’s easy to hear something new with each listen. Rainbow Reservoir is coy and snarky, lead singer Angela Space twisting and turning her rhymes into intricate and sometimes comical stories while her fellow bandmates Ian Hargest and Zahara Tehrani thrash through their instruments with fierce intensity. “Creepy Kissing–Gold Star Girl” is a titillating combination of irony and sexual revolution. There’s an umph to Rainbow Reservoir that doesn’t just come from their rip-roaring guitar licks or heavy bass and crashing drums. This is a band with a lot of soul and a lot to say. They are fuzzy and fruitful, holding their cards close to their chest while simultaneously showing their hand.
Channel Hanna lives up to the hype of channeling riot grrrl garage rock in the 21st century. It’s hard to escape the genuine enthusiasm Rainbow Reservoir cooks up from the very beginning of the album, the catchy stuttering of “Brenda” sticking like gum to the bottom of a favorite pair of Converse shoes. This feeling of angst and rebellion comes through the entire album, crafting a landscape so desperately needed back on the mainstream radar. Rainbow Reservoir’s brand of rock is unapologetic and fun, a call to action laced in wooly beats and bops that remain both fresh and important.