Thursday, January 28, 2010
These days there is an amazing amount of music being made by girls, whether it be girl-fronted bands or all-female acts. I'm not complaining. I'm glad that a larger number of women have begun to produce music, a lot of it quality music.
This year, we have a ton of new releases to look forward to. Some of those include:
Girls at Dawn, Coasting, & Best Coast, following on the heels of Vivian Girls, but better.
Sharon Van Etten, who is the female voice heard on the remarkable Anters Hospice.
Dark Dark Dark. Accordians & pianos, oh my.
Warpaint, the quintessential L.A. women who deliver the catchy hooks.
Charlotte Gainsbourg, who collaborates with Beck on IRM.
Others? Hesta Prynn, Basia Bulat and a ton more.
The much anticipated Beach House album is out and receiving glowing reviews. I've only heard it a couple of times, but I can tell it is going to be one to remember.
July Flame, the latest by Laura Veirs, may be her best yet.
Joanna Newsom is coming out with Have One On Me, a triple album opus out on February 23rd. Drag City was streaming "'81," but seemed to have removed it.
Last year was a banner year for women in music with excellent releases by Metric, Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Tegan and Sara, Camera Obscura, Bat For Lashes, The xx, St. Vincent and Thao.
2010 will reinforce the notion/eliminate stereotypes. Gurls rock!
Friday, January 22, 2010
The question remains: What moves you, as an individual, apart from all the "lists"? Best of 2009?
Listen. Love. Repeat.
Listen. Love. Repeat.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Last night I had the pleasure of checking out Invisible Inks at the venerable Chain Drive in Austin. The band features Paula Smith on guitar and vocals, Deb Norris on bass, Justin Bankston on guitar, and Brian DiFrank on drums. The members have been in many bands in the past, including One Fifth Griffith, Winslow, Karate Cowgirl, and Midori Umi. With soaring harmonies, dreamy guitar riffs, and solid rhythms, The Inks songs transfixed the crowd. I was especially pleased to hear them perform one of my all-time favorite One Fifth Griffith songs "Super Soon."
They are definitely worth checking out. Check out their Myspace page here.
Next up, we had Gretchen Phillips and her all-star dance band, featuring Amy Cook on guitar and a tall bald man dancing in his skivvies and panty hose. Fun times. I would've liked to have seen Gretchen wail on the guitar instead of staying behind the keys most of the time, but it was fun. As usual, the bartenders at the Chain Drive were super sweet. They usually have some fun events going on during SXSW that you should drop in on if you're in town.
Monday, January 18, 2010
This was our first show and Lori and I were nervous as hell. I still wasn't sure about the current band moniker, Wigwax. We couldn't decide on a name for the band and had reluctantly decided on that one a few days before. I guess it was better than our former name, Crackhouse Mistress. I surveyed the packed room with some trepidation. Michael was there holding court with his bevy of fag hags. They smoked and laughed, somehow managing to not spill a drop from their lipstick-smeared martini glasses. Kim was there, looking luminous as ever, her black hair glimmering in the lamplight. She smiled in my direction, increasing my nervousness tenfold.
Jeannie Linguine stood in the doorway by the kitchen. She was sporting her customary blue bandana and denim overalls. I lived with Jeannie in her immaculate duplex in the up-and-coming Paseo Arts District. "Up-and-coming" usually denotes a formerly cracked-out part of town that still hasn't quite shaken the crack out. Just a few days earlier, a scraggly, toothless woman had screamed at me in my driveway when I informed her that I didn't have any cash.
"Well, Fuck you then!" she yelled.
I was surprised by the high-pitched, little girl like timbre of her voice. Beneath her grizzled exterior lurked a woman barely older than me. But these days, drugs and hard living had taken their toll. She looked like a cross between Courtney Love and Iggy Pop.
Luckily, Iggy Courtney wasn't in attendance this evening. Just the usual crowd of people that we hung out with in the dive bars and dance clubs that defined our Oklahoma City existence. These bars, with names like Angles and the Hi Lo, were smoke-shrouded shrines for bored twenty-somethings like ourselves.
I felt itchy. Was it my nerves or my shirt? The shirt I was wearing looked like it had once been part of a big, green seventies shag rug. After all, this was the nineties and retro was in, especially the disco seventies kind. My hair, newly shorn and dyed bright orange, offered a splendid contrast to the green shirt. I bristled as the air from the blasting fan tickled my neck, swirling about my head in little mini dust devils. My guitar felt like Silly Putty in my grasp. What were the chords to that song again? Lori looked over at me and nodded, a cue to start. I swallowed another swig of my beer and took a deep breath.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
2010. Twenty Ten. Two Thousand and Ten. We are embarking on a new year and a new decade. Already, there are tons of new releases that I'm super excited about. And.......South by Southwest is right around the corner and it's looking to be another stellar year for the festival.
I have been digging the new track "The High Road" from Broken Bells, a collaboration between James Mercer of the Shins and prolific producer Danger Mouse. You can check it out here on their website. Their self-titled album drops on March 9th.
I love the new Vampire Weekend Contra, as well as the brilliant new album July Flame by Laura Veirs. I'm curious to hear Peter Gabriel's new all-cover album Scratch my Back (out 2/15), featuring versions of songs by Bon Iver, Radiohead, Elbow, Arcade Fire and others.
Some other early 2010 releases that I'm looking forward to:
Midlake - The Courage of Others (feb. 1st)
Spoon - Transference (jan. 26th)
Yeasayer - Old Blood (feb. 9th)
Beach House - Teen Dream (jan. 26th)
Charlotte Gainsbourg & Beck - IRM (jan. 26th)
Rogue Wave - Permalight (march 2nd)
Also out this year: Miles Kurosky (0f Beulah), Menomena, Dr. Dog, School of Seven Bells, LCD Soundsystem, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Cat Power and a million others!
Plus, Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel has been showing up on the radar lately, appearing on the Chris Knox tribute album. You can check out Stereogum's article on that for more information and a sneak peek at the track. I hope this means he will be ending his long hibernation period and start making some music this year. Fingers crossed!
I'm pressed against the barricades amidst a surging sway of bodies. The crowd is chanting "Die! Die! Die!" I'm loving every squished, sweaty moment of it. My newly acquired Metallica tour T shirt sticks to my skin. My best friend Jackie looks over at me approvingly, her mane of black hair thrashing back and forth, her hand proudly molded into a devil sign above her head. I duck to avoid the occasional foot or hand as crowd surfers navigate the sea of sweaty metal heads. It's 1988 and I am sixteen.
Last night, twenty-plus years after that monumental concert, I was driving home and skimming through the unimpressive sea of Austin radio stations when I came across the opening riff of "Fade to Black" by Metallica. Hell yes! I thought. As I drummed out the rhythm on the steering wheel, singing at the top of my lungs "Life it seems to fade away - drifting further every day," floods of memories came rushing forward.
I spent a painstaking amount of time learning that song note for note, rewinding the tape to listen to an elusive part over and over again. Is that an A minor or an A Major? What the hell is Kirk Hammett doing there? I debuted my masterpiece in front of my friend Jackie and a pair of incredulous neighborhood boys who were convinced that a girl couldn't shred. I showed them!
The first time that I ever heard the song was at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. My boyfriend and I had driven three hours from Oklahoma to see the Monsters of Rock Festival, the penultimate rock extravaganza starring Van Halen, Dokken, The Scorpions, Metallica and Kingdom Come. Remember Kingdom Come? They were a Led Zeppelin carbon copy band that featured Jason Bonham, the son of late Led Zep drummer John Bonham, on drums.
I had heard of Metallica, but hadn't really listened to much of their music. When they started, I left my boyfriend in our nosebleed seats in the stands to get a better look. I wanted to be where the action was in the crowd gathered around the stage, and he wanted to sit comfortably with his Coors Light and wait for Van Hagar to take the stage. I was making my way down through the crowd when I heard this sweetly beautiful riff emanating from the massive speakers. I muscled my way through the mass of people, mostly men, who were singing every word. Why had I never heard this song?
When I asked a black clad man with stringy hair the name of the song he looked at me like I was a complete moron. "It's 'Fade to Black'," he sneered. "Only the best song ever written."
After that experience, I bought all three Metallica albums and submerged myself in their music. Soon after that, my friends and I formed a shitty little garage band whose repertoire consisted mainly of Metallica covers. My love affair lasted through the infamous "Black Album." After that, grunge hit the airwaves and Metallica's newer music just didn't do it for me. To this day, I still get goose bumps when I hear "Master of Puppets" or "Fade to Black," and I still have the urge to bang my head to "Am I Evil" or "Creeping Death."