Before hardcore injected testosterone into its bloodstream, punk was more open to female expression than the cock-rock world it fought against. Good thing, because otherwise we might never have heard the Avengers. Behind blonde bulldog Penelope Houston, the San Francisco quartet dubbed 1977 the "Summer of Hate" and recorded a stack of American punk classics, prefiguring the star-spangled disgust of hardcore but in more melodic, '77 terms. Of course, the band fell apart within a year or two. But after a long folk-pop career, Houston joined original guitarist Greg Ingraham in 1999 for a new album and the occasional tour. Once they were the best band in America not named the Ramones now the Avengers are the best '70s punk band alive.
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