Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
They say that they're influenced by the Virgin Mary Mother of God and tequila, but it's hard going trying to hear any of that Virgin Mary in the music of Bridgeport, Connecticut's Saint Bernadette. It's mostly tequila. There's a lot of whiskey in there as well. It's about getting buried under the amber suds of whatever's on tap and it's about sticking around to find out what the consequences for it all are going to be around closing time and getting back home, for whatever or what isn't waiting for them. Led by the piss and vinegar-filled frontwoman in Meredith DiMenna, the group brings it big and charging with every song, throwing back a shot or two of the stiff drink with every chorus. She tosses her hair, wears those short skirts and long, knee-high boots whenever she feels like it and dishes out the trouble. She doesn't take any shit and the people she sings about don't either. Though it's not entirely focused on women's empowerment, the issues arise frequently in Saint Bernadette songs, never striking much of a balance or waffling in any sort of gray area. DiMenna is ready to slice. She's ready to take her boots quick and sharply to all of the groins of any offending men, sending them packing, needing ice and a doctor. She's authoritative and forceful in the way she sings. It's a mix between the ballsy of Janis Joplin and the ballsy of Grace Potter, achieving a different and new flavor of ballsy that achieves something that blurs the lines between old-school and progressive, take no shit heat. The women in these songs are not going to put up with any abuse. They are going to make skulls crack. They aren't going to fumble, choke or sit on any of their words or feelings. They're going to air them and they're going to air them loudly and with a little kiss of death in their voice. She sings about battered wives and how they've come to the point of no return. They may have shut up about all of the fists and the kicks and the mental attacks in the past, but they're finally standing up for themselves now. You feel like DiMenna has forced them to do so. She sings, "Another family hiding/Another table set/A buffet of second chances/Here's the last chance you get/I take off my dark sunglasses/And if I count to three now/Then I'd better see your ass just run like hell away from me," in "Over The Line." She's always sounding like a strong woman, one who knows exactly where she needs to get to and Saint Bernadette issues these credos with a blast of bluesy, Detroit garage rock and roll. You always sense that there's another dude in line to get a verbal undressing, as she reminds us that "there's nowhere safe for a modern girl." It's a thread she picks up on in a cover of Sleater-Kinney's "Entertain," where guys use nostalgia as a whore, tapping it over and over again to make themselves look and seem better than they are. She sings, "You come around looking all 1984/Whatcha searchin' for in 1984?" And then she burns the dude's face off with an impassioned howl of disapproval. The band follows.