Land Trust: Benefit for NEFOC embodies the spirit of mutual aid that guides many punk communities. When Bikini Kill’s 2020 reunion tour was canceled, touring guitarist Erica Dawn Lyle and drum tech Vice Cooler wanted to make themselves useful. But during lockdown, they were isolated in their respective homes on opposite sides of the country—Lyle, a longtime artist, critic, and organizer in the DIY community, was in New York, and Cooler, a photographer, producer, and drummer who’s performed with the likes of Peaches and the Raincoats, was in California. They began trading riffs and beats via file sharing, and eventually invited friends to write lyrics and develop the material into finished songs. The result is a 16-track sampler that sounds like a survey of feminist punk from the past 30 years. The artists are using it to raise money for the Northeast Farmers of Color (NEFOC), a BIPOC-led grassroots organization fighting for land sovereignty.
Most of the heavy hitters contribute flourishes of their signatures style to their songs with Lyle and Cooler: the Linda Lindas add bratitude to the crunchy guitars on “Lost in Thought” (which also features Bikini Kill bassist Kathi Wilcox), Kim Gordon shows up with bored indignation and anxious reverb on “Debt Collector,” and Alice Bag brings her bouncy brand of edutainment to “Soul Fire Farm.” But there are plenty of surprises too. The Raincoats take a deliciously dark turn on the standout instrumental track “AGAVE”: driven by blooming synths and nervous strings, the momentum builds, then crashes like a crushingly elegant wave before the drums march solemnly toward a skittering violin frenzy. On “Immortals,” Brontez Purnell of defunct electroclash group Gravy Train!!!! sings a punky doo-wop number about overlooked people achieving immortality. And bassist Emily Retsas, known for her work with Phoebe Bridgers, joins vocalist Ali Carter of Philly postpunk trio Control Top on “Cracks in the Ceiling,” a whipping, distortion-heavy track that anticipates collapse from above. Not only does Land Trust reveal the stylistic and aesthetic diversity of the scenes that helped forge Lyle and Cooler’s musical sensibilities; it also imagines simple but elegant possibilities for what a collaborative album can be and do. After all, we’re all stronger together.
Erica Dawn Lyle & Vice Cooler’s Land Trust: Benefit For NEFOC is available via Bandcamp.