Y Pants

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Y Pants
Origin New York City
Genres No Wave, Art rock, Post-punk
Years active 1979–1982
Labels 99 Records, Neutral Records
Associated acts Glenn Branca, Theoretical Girls
Notable instruments
Ukulele, Toy piano

Y Pants were an all-female No Wave band from New York City active from 1979 to 1982. The trio, made up of photographer/musician Barbara Ess, visual artist Virginia Piersol, and filmmaker Gail Vachon, developed a unique sound via their acoustic toy instrumentation of toy piano, ukulele and a paper-headed Mickey Mouse drum kit, augmented by electric bass guitar, Casio keyboards and various low-tech effects.[1]

Y Pants' feminist poetics and toy instrumentation made them a hit in Manhattans's art gallery scene, while their No Wave clout brought them to be regulars at punk rock venues like CBGB's. In 1980 Glenn Branca recorded their debut 4-song EP for the now legendary 99 Records, followed by a full-length LP two years later. Lyrically, most of the Y-Pants' material covered the off-kilter aspects of relationships, with explorations into the perils of laundry ("Favorite Sweater"), materialism ("We Have Everything"), patriarchy ("That's The Way Boys Are"), and a reworking of Bertolt Brecht's "Barbara's Song" from Threepenny Opera. Musically they've been compared to their British post-punk contemporaries The Raincoats for their overlapping vocal choruses and kitchen-sinkish approach to sound, rhythm and composition.

Novelist and critic Lynne Tillman wrote the lyrics for the band's song "Obvious."[1]

Y-Pants disbanded shortly after the release of their album, reportedly reuniting each year on the various band members' birthdays.[2] Barbara Ess remained musically active throughout the 1980s, frequently contributing tracks to Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine and collaborating with Peggy Ahwesh on 2001's Radio Guitar for the Ecstatic Peace! label.


  • 4-song EP (99 Records, 1980)
  • Beat It Down LP (Neutral Records, 1982)
  • "Magnetic Attraction" (song recorded in 1980 and released in 1988 on Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine No. 21: "Audio By Visual Artists"')
  • Y Pants CD (Periodic Document, 1998, collects all of the above recordings)


  1. ^ a b Water, Seth. "Dusted Reviews: Y Pants". Dusted Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Ess, Barbara (1998). Y Pants CD Liner Notes. Periodic Document. 

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