4Gazm ends the 90s with a dose of Orange County female punk
The 1990s Southern California scene was a snarling melting pot of punk bands and diverse rebel rousers. The female punk scene became just as strong a statement as anything else coming out of the Los Angeles haze. 4Gazm may have arrived at the party later than many of their colleagues; i.e., L7, Joan Jett, Hole, and The Muffs. But they equally packed a punch and should be recognized for their efforts.
Formed in Orange County toward the later half of the 1990s, the group’s music was a kind of protest against the Los Angeles sleaze. A middle finger to those who felt they had absolute power, these women rose above the Hollywood-drenched, big record label metropolis and created songs with ferocity.
Brazen and uncensored, the band released Here Kitty Kitty (Vegas Records) in 1999, Leaning into the album release, they performed, unsuccessfully, on an episode of the revitalized Gong Show. 4Gazm were not trailblazers, yet they empowered fans on a personal level. It’s what notched their existence in the West Coast punk scene. To catch them live in the moment was witnessing intelligent song crafting and catchy punk hooks.
4Gazm on The Gong Show
Digesting Pamela’s throat punch vocals reminds me a lot of Poly Styrene’s social stance, just not as artsy as X-Ray Spex. Pamela created songs to be deliberate—listen to “Addiction” (the harmonies feel like a revivalist moment) or “Not My Choice.” Their ethical and psychological blueprints are so straightforward that you cannot convolute meaning.
4GAZM—”Not My Choice”
Relationship struggles, identity struggles, LGBTQ ralliers (“Dirty Thoughts” focuses on same-sex relationships and its humanistic struggles), and full-frontal attacks on society, 4Gazm dismisses the cartoonish antics of a band like The Cramps while adapting some of their principles. Pamela sings with enough versatility to be competitive while the band braces for punk rock impact. The sneers are complimentary.
If Here Kitty Kitty came out years prior, it would have made a bigger impact. But they did not and fell to obscurity.