I’d love to be able to share the whole background of Seattle’s Chinas Comidas with you, but I’m not the person to tell that story. Because I’d never even heard of them until a month or so ago when I ran across THIS incredible band history over at the blog page for Seattle’s Jive Time Records. There’s more there than I could ever tell you, including interviews, so go check it out. They have a lot of other great stuff on their blog as well.
The short story is female poet and performer leaves her home in NYC, heads out west, and eventually ends up in a couple of bands in Seattle – first Red Dress, then Chinas Comidas, the latter of which was also one of her nom de guerres. There was one mind-blowing gem hidden away in that Jive Time bio, though, and that’s that one of the early drummers for Chinas Comidas was Eldon Hoke, better know as El Duce of The Mentors. The thought of someone from The Mentors being in a sort of art punk band fronted by a female poet is enough to short circuit some of the synapses in my brain.
The Jive Time article led me to Discogs, where I ordered this recent limited edition (of 400) compilation of the band’s material that includes ten studio and two live tracks (including a live cover of The Sonics‘ “The Witch”). Right from the start I’m captivated by Cynthia Genser’s vocals – she sounds like a rawer version of Chrissie Hynde, her low New-York-accented voice adding texture and punctuation to the words. Punk in attitude, musically Chinas Comidas’ songs are pretty straight-ahead rock; it’s only Genser’s singing that truly pushes the envelope. (♠) But don’t think that’s intended as a criticism, because it’s not; these recordings are rock solid and have plenty of emotion. If you haven’t heard Chinas Cornidas before, you should definitely give them a listen.
(♠) That being said, “For The Rich” is pure punk rock.