I realize that near every music related post I create deals solely with female musicians. You may say, “What’s up with that, Erin? Enough with the chick rock!” And I will say, “Not a chance, man. Not a chance.” I’ve been thinking about the issues of being a female in the male-dominated (music) world, lately. I’ve even had a couple of fellow womyn tell me that at most times they find male songwriters to females because “womyn just sing about themselves,” or “they’re always singing about wanting to belong to someone.” To the first one I’d say that perception carries the same complex and sexist implications as interpreting the works of Frida Kahlo solely through the lens of a biographical lens while ignoring the political and social circumstances surrounding her that also motivated her work. But not getting into that now, all I know is that I’d rather hear a womyn sing about herself and her wants and life than listen to man sing about how he deserves my love so I better give it to him. We are so often (read: have always been) shoved into submission so if a female has the platform to overcome that, I say hell yeah.
With that rant out of the way, I put together a little collection of diverse womyn who make music with different sounds with different motivations and intentions. Some songs build up your self-esteem, others fall into the category of scenarios of idealized love, and others are full of eerie fantastical melodies and lyrics that carry you to another world. Consider it a (very) condensed representation of the wide breadth of female artists that rock the music world today.
So Angel Haze blew me away (and probably everyone else, too, amirite?) with her New York EP in 2012. I honestly think I listened to “Werkin’ Girls” 20 times in a row, at least. Now Dirty Gold, while perhaps not consistently amazing, proves that Angel Haze is a force, and a positive one. Need a boost on a Monday or any day you’re bogged down by some demons? “A Tribe Called Red” is perfect, and after listening to the lyrics, “Nothing can irritate masses like literally showing them stagnance can turn into growth,” and “You gotta make a decision to be the one difference in your life/And turn it around” you’ll (or, at least, I do) be ready to walk outside and kick ass. And if “Crown” doesn’t make you want to dance alone in the kitchen/at the bus stop/literally anywhere we just won’t every understand each other, sorry.
2. Mr. Gnome, Madness in Miniature (2011)
My friend Amy introduced me to this Cleveland based group back in December. She took me to their annual Chicago show at the Beat Kitchen, and, holy crap, you guys have to go she this womyn perform. She is amazingly talented and a total grunge babe. A wife-husband duo, the two make this crazy surrealistic metal-type of music that I cannot really describe in any other way. Her voice is airy at moments, in high contrast with the heavy guitars, and at other points twists into these intense cries. My favorite tracks are “House of Circles” (and the successive “Run For Cover interlude”) and Wolf Girls. But you should really listen to the whole album sequentially to fully appreciate their dynamic sound.
Magalhães is a Brazilian singer-songwriter from Sao Paolo whose latest album, Highly Sensitive, spans multiple genres while maintaining her signature rough folk-ish sound. The opener “You Know You’ve Got” is a seductive, bluesy messy tune that combines the banjo, jangling piano, a catchy hook, and her understated vocals. Whereas “Lonely,” is a soft, vulnerable tune that describes a new, clumsy, but real love. Dreamy and optimistic, I love it. And then to further display her versatile sound, “Sambinha Bom” is something out of a café night scene in a Brazilian film where two’s eyes meet flirtatiously from across the room.
I actually just discovered this album last night, and haven’t had much of a chance to listen to a lot of it, but the spacey electronic sounds with Maria Lindén’s vocals floating above them is enough to put you into a trance for duration of the album. So far I really enjoy “Denial,” because it sounds like an eighties love tune set to a modern electronic beat. Gah, so good. I can’t wait to listen to all of Chiaroschuro more carefully.
Okay, so I know I’ve posted about Angel Olsen before, but her new album just came out so I can’t not include it. Plus she is just a goddess, so, yeah. This album maintains her signature sound, but also expands to fuller sounds with a full band. But no worries, her folk sound and peculiar are still present. “Dance Slow Decades,” “Unfucktheworld,” and “Enemy” are proof of that. I’m going to listen to this on repeat like 100 times, so I suggest you do the same.