Tag Archives: Mary Bell

Biggest Ups: Over 40 Artists Share Their Favorite Albums of 2017


Bandcamp artists pick their favorite albums of the year.

One of the features on Bandcamp Daily that generates the greatest amount of enthusiasm is Big Ups. The concept is simple: we ask artists who used Bandcamp to recommend their favorite Bandcamp discoveries. So, in honor of our Best of 2017 coverage, we decided to take Big Ups and super-size it. Here, more than 40 artists to tell us their favorite albums of the year.

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The Best Albums of 2017: #80 – 61


We’ll be revealing the full list, 20 albums at a time, this whole week.

Last year, the Bandcamp Daily staff put together our first “Best Albums of the Year List,” 100 albums we felt defined 2016 for us. At the time I remember thinking, “This is tough, but it will probably get easier as the years go on.” Now, one year later, I’m realizing that I was wrong. The truth is, the world of Bandcamp is enormous, and it contains artists from all over the world, in every conceivable genre (including a few who exist in genres of their own invention), and at every stage of their career. The fact of the matter is, any list like this is going to fall short because, on Bandcamp, there is always more to discover. Right now, there’s probably someone in their bedroom in Buenos Aires, making a record on their computer that is going to end up on next year’s list. So as comprehensive as we’ve tried to make this list, we realize that, even at 100 albums, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available. The albums that made this list, though, were the ones that stayed with us long after they were released—the ones we returned to again and again and found their pleasures undimmed, and their songs still rewarding.

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The Paris Punk Family Tree


Gomme. Photos by Harald Hutter.

“Do you know about the six degrees of separation theory?” says Victoria Arfi, a member of two Parisian punk bands, P.M.S. and Mary Bell. “In Paris, especially in the punk scene, it’s more like one degree.” If you spend any length of time talking to Parisian punk bands, soon enough, you may find yourself reaching for a bar napkin so you can start sketching out the complicated connections within the scene’s sprawling family tree.

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Meet Mary Bell, A Parisian Punk Band Named After a Very Young Serial Killer 

Mary Bell

Mary Bell by Emeric Gauquere

Mary Bell is a Parisian punk band named after a British serial killer from the ‘60s, inspired by (mostly American) hardcore and grunge bands from the ‘90s. Their music sounds like something you’d get if the heaviest of grunge bands got together with feminist Riot Grrl punk bands to form a supergroup: Imagine, say, Kathleen Hanna on vocals with Buzz Osborne (of the Melvins) on guitar.

“Oh my God, I love you for mentioning the Melvins,” says lead guitarist Victoria Arfi during a Skype call from her apartment in northeastern Paris, a few blocks away from their next gig at Point Ephemere. “They are one of my favorite bands ever. I’ve seen them eight or nine times.”

“You can’t see them from here,” bassist Tristan Bardre chimes in, “but there are Melvins posters all over this apartment.”

“I’m a huge fan of Buzz Osborne’s sound,” Arfi continues. “On this record, we wanted to get something very heavy.” To achieve that heavy sound—Bardre and Arfi—who often complete one another’s sentences, deliberately layer their instruments on top of each other, then add lots of distortion, making it difficult to distinguish guitar from bass and vice versa.

The band takes its name from Mary Bell, who strangled two little boys to death when she was 10 years old. The band is fascinated with serial killers—there are many in France, says Bardre (the band’s home page on Bandcamp reads: “We are angry children. We want to kill you.”). Arfi says she discovered the Mary Bell case in John Waters’ book Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters. “What we liked was that she was a child herself,” Arfi says. “She was very young, she had endured a lot of hardships in her very early life.” Continue reading

Album of the Day, Mary Bell, “Mary Bell”

At the midpoint of Mary Bell’s self-titled debut LP, we hear a high-pitched scream from frontwoman Alice Carlier. She informs the listener that she’s done dealing with the constraints men put on her: “I can be pretty/I can be carefree/I can be anything I want to be/I don’t care what you think about me.” As Carlier breathes the final words of the song “Trash Tongue,” everything pulls back so that we can hear each instrument in relief: the grueling basslines from Tristan Bardré, the fabulously sludgy rock guitar work of Victoria Arfi, and Gaïlla Montanier’s anchored drumming. In the song’s last gasp, feedback enters and the track cuts out abruptly.

Mary Bell is a feminist punk band that’s part of a Parisian scene currently being pulled in radically different directions. On one hand, you have the old guard—metalheads and crust punks clinging to tradition; on the other, you have hardcore teens from the banlieue who play their music because they need their voices to be heard. And then you have Mary Bell, named for the convicted “child killer” of the 1960s, an 11-year-old British girl who killed two young boys “solely for the pleasure and excitement of killing.” A sense of “misandrist” rage is at the core of their music, as well as a chaotic sensibility—play with fire, destroy all men.

“I Hate You” is fast and loud, Carlier articulating the urge to kill, over and over again, her timbre not unlike a French Allison Wolfe. “Sink Sigh Drown” and “Jonas’ Swirl” are two of the most guitar-focused tracks on the album, halfway between the ’90s grunge template established by the likes of Babes in Toyland and L7 and the cool energy of contemporaries like NOTS or Death Valley Girls. Mary Bell is like a Charles Burns graphic novel: it’s pulpy, energetic, and it will make you fear for your life.

Sophie Kemp