Chills run down my spine when Amy Ray sings: "Our father's house/
It's a house of regrets/ With rooms we can't sleep in/ And jokes I
don't get," on the impassioned lamentation "On Your Honor." Depicting
perfectly what it feels like to be a girl, Amy Ray & The Butchies'
contribution to Home Alive's second benefit compilation, Flying
Sidekick, captures that sense of abandonment, disrespect and
injustice at which we women have come to shrug our shoulders in
It's also a song that tells the story behind Home Alive, a nonprofit,
Seattle-based organization designed to empower women against
violence, and raise awareness surrounding it. Formed in response to
the rape and murder of musician Mia Zapata, Home Alive offers
self-defense, safety-awareness and consciousness-raising classes to
promote positive change within the community.
Passion such as that displayed by Ray drives like a life force
through all 17 tracks across the album's many musical genres
and endows the compilation with the power to affect, impress
Amid stand-out songs by well-known indie rock and punk acts as The
Need, The Gossip, The Makers, Zen Guerrilla and Dead Moon, Flying
Sidekick's best songs, I think, are by lesser-knowns. Lesliwood's
"This Is What We Get," for example a heated, raw and explosive
track that shifts from sensuous whispers to angry shouts: "We've got
the right to remain silent you know/ We've got the right to have our
body image sold/ We've got the right to be afraid/ And you say this
is what we get for ever trying to make things change .../ This is what
we get for ever trying to equally exist."
Far more optimistic and uplifting is Carrie Akre's "Wishing You
Well." Led by Akre's strong, sweet gospel-style singing, this is an
infectious and passionate piano-driven R&B song.
And then there's Carissa's Wierd's delicate, acoustic "Where Are You
Now." Featuring male and female voices, the track has a Velvet
Underground-ish feel in its jangly tambourine, low, thumping drums
and dark, sad sentiment.
Finally, Sanford Arms' Lush-influenced, ethereal "Orange" feels
spacey, full and textured. Combining the moody effects of drum
machine and keyboard with the acoustic guitar and shaky, soft vocals,
the song is quite moving.
Equally excellent in a less surprising way, songs by the better known
artists are not your typical average, ho-hum compilation fodder. The
Gossip's "I Want It (To Write)" is gritty, dirty and badass, while
The Makers' "Tattoo for Julie" is soft, mushy and lovely. Zen
Guerrilla's "Crickets and the Sickle" is great back-roads,
ear-tickling country far less bluesy than their typical tunes.
The Need's "Frayed Ends of Sanity" is straight-ahead metal, complete
with loud, grinding, scratching guitar riffs.
Flying Sidekick is the perfect record for when you've no idea
what you're in the mood for it's got a little bit of
everything. But one thing each artist holds in common here is a
passion for a good cause. Because, as Ray sings, "Now you're on your
honor to be on my side/ Surely there are some things that won't be
denied ... put away your hate, put away your hate."