“Usually when you see females in movies, they feel like they have these metallic structures around them, they are caged by male energy.”
Bjork said that, and at all times we should listen to Bjork!
Women are, quite rightly, angry! Men earn, on average, 9.6% more than women. Only 22% of members of the House Of Commons are women, and over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year, that’s over 1% of women, and it’s over 400,000 too many!
From social injustice has always stemmed great art. The beat poets of the 1950’s from Ginsberg to Kerouac, were without exception, rebelling against something. Sexual liberation from the conventional norm, liberation from the world of censorship, a freedom to take illicit drugs. They created poetry and literature that reflected their anger at the world in which they found themselves that no longer reflected their values and ethics.
The early days of Punk stemmed from an anger at both the sentimental bombast of prog rock that dominated the 1970’s, and the political establishment, be it the anarchistic approach of the “No Future” calling Sex Pistols, or the “radical leftist utopianism” (Wikipedia’s words not ours) of Crass. Punk was built around the idea summed up by Joe Strummer “punk rock is meant to be our freedom. We’re meant to be able to do what we want to do” and they certainly did!
So what shape will the injustice of the future take? Where will the anger brewing up in women everywhere come out, and in what musical form?
Last week we were privileged to witness two front-women who may well embody this energy. Meredith Graves, lead singer of Perfect Pussy, is exactly the sort of role-model every parent should be proud to have their children looking up to. Opinionated, articulate, intelligent and never afraid of taking a stand, Meredith stands up against injustice in all it’s form. She strides the stage, confidently screaming out her lyrics, a perfect figure head, with the confidence to make a point and enjoy the adulation that comes with making a stand.
If Meredith is a woman to be admired, a slick front-woman, playing with a ludicrously tight band making a mighty racket behind her, Alanna McArdle, lead-singer of Joanna Gruesome, is an all together different character. If Meredith stalks the stage confident, enjoying the admiration, Alanna comes across more introverted, more serious, almost seemingly nervous, all her mannerisms come across as a sign of how much she cares, like any great performer, there’s a sense that she’s giving everything she has up on the stage. The bands music is a series of contrasts, her vocal soaring from a roaring punk-yelp, to a far more tuneful, melodic tone, her bandmates going from punk-bombast, to an, admittedly heavy, take on indie-pop.
That the pair have been cast as Feminist-Super Heroes on their upcoming split 7″ is entirely fitting, because there’s is a fight that goes on. Women in the music industry, and particularly alternative music are making fascinating records, putting on amazing shows and proving themselves more than worthy of a place on rock’s upper table. From Sharon Van Etten to PJ Harvey, The Wharves to September Girls, Angel Olsen to St.Vincent, women are making much of the most exciting music around, it’s time the industry and society stood up and took notice of the fact.
September Girls are a 5-piece, consisting of Paula (Bass/Vocals), Caoimhe (Guitar/Vocals), Lauren (Keys/Vocals), Jessie (Guitar/Vocals) and Sarah (Drums).
The band are inspired by a huge variety of acts from My Bloody Valentine to The Velvet Underground via Phil Spector. Their music has been described as “reverb soaked noise-pop” which makes a lot of sense, and more poetically as “sounds from a transistor radio abandoned in a rural cinema” which makes very little sense at all! Distorted layers of vocals sit atop scuzzy guitars, wailing organs and meaty pounding drums, giving them a sound somewhere between Motown girl bands, riot grrrl and wall of sound loving shoe-gaze.
The band are from Dublin, and as far as I’m aware they’re the first Irish band we’ve ever featured on the blog, so they best be honoured! Dublin is home to such musical luminaries as U2, Westlife and B*Witched, but don’t worry there are good ones too! My Bloody Valentine for starters, and rumour is John Grant‘s guest vocalist is from there too, Sinead O’Connor I think they call her.
The band formed in September (of course!) 2011. After releasing a series of singles on various independent labels they signed up with Fortuna Pop and put out their debut album, Cursing The Sea, in January this year. Following a great deal of critical acclaim and a series of festival slots this summer, they’re set to release a brand new EP, Veneer, on November 24th. The EP will see them tread the well worn path of releasing on Fortuna Pop in the UK and Kanine Records in the US, a match made in heaven.
Frantic, hazy and claustrophobic, their superb new EP instantly immerses the listener into the dark and murky waters of sound, at complete odds to their almost playground sing-song choruses and frankly beautiful vocal harmonies. Melatonin in particular sounds like the sort of song the twins from the shining would write if they grew up listening to Yes! Elsewhere on Black Oil, the spoken word vocal recalls, much missed Yorkshire-types The Long Blondes. It all adds up to a thrilling racket, perfectly walking the line between a riotous noise and a perfectly formed pop-song.
Some might find the vocal delivery a touch too coy and knowing, but we’re grasping at straws here, the EP is excellent and their dark-take on a pop song is going to have something to love for almost everyone!
September Girls EP, Veneer, is out on Fortuna Pop (UK) & Kanine Records (US) on November 24th.
Perfect Pussy & Joanna Gruesome’s split 7″ and associated comic book also comes out on Fortuna Pop on November 24th. Joanna Gruesome play a 3-day residency at Power Lunches in London, starting January 8th.