“Fake punk girl band” Crush Fund crush gender fundamentalism (and your eardrums) on New Fixation EP

Words by Jason Lee; Cover photo by Malena Lloyd

I don’t know who you think I am
I don’t like the way you’re looking at me
I don’t know what’s going through your head
I didn’t dress this way for you IT’S FOR ME!
“Unwanted Attention” by Crush Fund

At risk of being just another jerk with a personal agenda giving unwanted attention to a trio of fiercely queer trans-punk riotous girls—namely Wendy Kya, Nora Knox, and July Brow who together make up the band known as Crush Fund—we figure the best place to start when it comes to reviewing the band’s hotly anticipated new EP, New Fixation (Blixworld Records, released on 4/4/24) upon which we’ve been totally fixated lately seeing as the record’s a veritable musical slush fund of CRUSHING IT is to go to the source itself…

Posed photo against graffitied wall: Malena Lloyd; Band photo against white backdrop by Pat Plush

…namely the band’s own Bandcamp page on which they self-describe as a “fake punk girl band,” a phrase that thumbs its nose at traditionalists and essentialists of all stripes like all those who take issue with “fake girls” for upending the assumed immutability of gender and the “eternal feminine” especially (wassup, Simone de Beauvoir) and all those who take issue with “fake punks” for challenging the rigid authenticity politics of punk in general which can be nearly as hidebound as gender essentialism plus if punk rock’s really all about challenging the status quo well there’s nothing more “punk rock” than challenging punk rock’s own orthodoxy itself by openly identifying as a poseur

…a paradox Crush Fund don’t shy away from but rather embrace in touting their own “fakeness” however tongue-in-cheekily, nevermind that the original meaning of punk was equivalent to “queer” nor that the original meaning of queer was equivalent to “fake” all as a means of delegitimizing LGBTQ+ identities but hey this ain’t no etymology lesson, -the larger point being that it’s cool seeing a current band take up the mantle of Poly Styrene/X-Ray Spex and their subversion of being a “real” woman or a “real” punk by standard patriarchal standards…

…instead gleefully declaring, “I am a poseur…and I don’t care,” sung from the POV of a brace-faced, mixed-race, barely-out-of-her-teens young woman from a Brixton council estate with a penchant for day-go clothing (the antithesis of the black leather jacket) who didn’t exactly fit that year’s model nevermind this year’s model of angry young white men to which Poly Styrene (RIP) famously replied “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” thus becoming an iconic punk pioneer to this day (go figure) with Crush Fund likewise highlighting the performativity of gender as part of the larger queer punk revolution sweeping the nation or maybe just NYC lately by tapping into punk’s queer roots thus assuring the revolution’s just as accessible to sissies as cisgenders

…granted “sissies” who sound as if they could kick your ass into next week seeing as New Fixation is the most life-affirmingly brutal record we’ve heard in quite some time which in a mere eleven minutes steamrolls the senses with a wall-of-sound howl like a feral creature let out of its cage for the first time in ages stalking its prey but with some traces of old school girl-group cheerleader chant-type vocals in there too like if The Crystals went punk and flipped the gender of their notorious 1962 Goffin & King anti-hit “(S)he Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)” and performed it on American Bandstand as Ronnie Spector pistol-whipped Phil Spector with his own pistol purely for the amusement of the live viewing public…

…like on the EP’s opening track “Womanhood” which contrasts the bondage of normative ladylike behavior (“to be a woman is to be small / not short or weak / but cramped”) with the promised freedom to inhabit a new identity no matter how illusory the promiser’s intent (“I was told I could be anything / I wanted to be / could I really be that free?”) set against a galloping beat and big dollops of distorted guitar and vocals with the paradoxical nature of modern womanhood reflected in the narrow, confined melodic/harmonic range (barely moving beyond one note at times) set again the pile-driving, anarchic, spilling over its boundaries musical textures…

….and then there’s the pit-churning fury of New Fixation‘s next song “Tender is the Night” about “an illicit tryst in the park that quickly dissolves to reveal it is a masturbatory fantasy” (too perfect a description not to quote here) which again celebrates the power of the pose and of pure imagination like “a liquid languid stupor wash[ing] over” one’s conscious mind so powerfully that it re-shapes external reality like a and why wouldn’t everyone wanna aspire to this “queer Walter Mitty” level of self-determination…

…leading next into the in the red refrain of “Unwanted Attention” which requests, nay demands, that you get off the band’s collective girl-dick (paraphrasing!) with one of the heaviest may downright frightening parts of the entire EP depending on your constitution coming at the refrain at 1:17 and then again later with the trio pouring their molten sonic fury directly into your earholes before transitioning into a brief dream sequence transition called “Thoughts” and finally riding off into the sunset with “W.W.Y.D.” (and no “Y” doesn’t stand for Yahweh) with its herky-jerky, queer-metered groove something like The Gossip on a blind date with Death Grips playing a set of Devo covers lest anyone doubt Crush Fund’s dance-punk credentials…

…all of which captured with startling fidelity to Crush Fund’s crushing live sets assuming you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience the band at some local dive bar Purgatory drenched in blood, sweat, and beers with the trio teetering on the brink of chaos but never quite falling all the way over the edge (it’s rare to hear such a raw, pulverizing sound captured on wax without sanding down the edges) and BTW the New Fixation was recorded, produced, and engineered by Crush Fund’s own guitarist/co-vocalist Wendy Kya alongside Olive Faber (Sunflower Bean) at the latter’s Long Island studio and in the former’s bedroom with mastering provided by Violette Furton and assistant engineering on several tracks by fellow compatriots Pop Music Fever Dream’s Nicole Harwayne with one track (“Unwanted Attention”) produced by Marissa Paternoster at Lakehouse Recording Studios

Photo (L): Truly Sin —- Photo (C): Eli a.k.a. sissymoth Photo (R): Pat Plush

…and that’s about as real as it gets for a band of trans-punk “poseurs” up against reactionary forces seeking to constrain freedom of choice in affirming one’s own gender identity with even the Vatican getting into the act recently in declaring “sex change operations” (their words) to be a grave threat to human dignity on par with poverty, human trafficking, and TikTok dance routines nevermind the threat posed by “gender theory” and its non-binary queen Judith Butler whose landmark 1990 treatise Gender Trouble stated that “perhaps this construct called ‘sex’ is as culturally constructed as gender” as confirmed in the intervening years by biologists who “increasingly argue that a binary view of human sex is overly simplistic, and that sex should be viewed as a spectrum rather than a dichotomy in terms of anatomical, hormonal, and even cellular sex” so if you’re looking for a new fixation we suggest putting on the new Crush Fund record and faking it ’til you make it, baby…



Womanhood, Tender is the Night-
Recording Engineered by Olive Faber & Wendy Kya 
Assistant Record Engineer: Nicole Harwayne 
Mixed by Wendy Kya 
Mastered by Violette Furton 
Recorded at Olive’s studio in Long Island, New York, and Wendy Kya’s bedroom 

Unwanted Attention
Produced by Marissa Paternoster and Recorded by Eric Bennette & Paternoster at Lakehouse Recording Studios 
Writing Credits: 
Womanhood, Tender is the Night, Unwanted Attention: 
Nora Knox: Lyrics, Vocals, Drums 
Wendy Kya: Vocals, Guitar 
July Brown: Bass 

Wendy Kya; Monologue sampled from Sarah Zedig (@letstalkaboutstuff) 

Wendy Kya: Lyrics, Vocals, Guitar, Bass 
Nora Knox: Lyrics, Vocals, Drums 

Crush Fund is Wendy Kya, Nora Knox, and July Brown 

Special Thanks
Jaqueline Codiga, Ekko Astral, Anita Velveeta <3 

Blixworld Records 005

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