Jo Stafford did it for women in 1952, Winifred Atwell for black people (and female instrumentalists) in 1954, yet some sixty years later arguably we’ve still never had a queer person at number one in the charts. Mainstream music, like mainstream culture generally, has often sidelined those who don’t fit into, “their neat little plan.” Thankfully, alternative music has often been considerably more accepting.
It may in some ways have been hyper-masculine at its birth, yet punk was always a natural place for any community considered outside of the norm. It was therefore a natural home for the birth of Queercore. Back in the 1980’s, acts like Big Boys and The Dicks were openly gay and wonderfully outspoken, while from the anarchist movement emerged DIY-zines that stepped away from the rigid boundaries of straight and gay, into more nuanced and fluid identities.
Queercore’s existence arrived prior to Riot Grrrl, and eventually became almost a parallel movement, both genres promoting ideas that being anything other than a cis-man shouldn’t be a boundary to loud guitar music. Both genres tried to eschew the idea that your taste in music should be defined by your gender or your sexuality. The blurring of the lines was not necessarily good news in everyone’s eyes, 1990’s queercore pioneers Team Dresch questioned whether the scene did enough to acknknowledge queercore; “because Riot Grrrl doesn’t include Queercore, it usurps it. It erases it.”
Elsewhere, the 1990’s saw some queercore acts becoming close, or at least closer, to the mainstream, with Pansy Division touring the U.S. in support of Greenday noted as a landmark moment for the genre. With the coming of the new century and a gradual thawing of gender rigidity, queercore began to lose some of it’s identity and arguably birthed even more interesting queer, if not specifically queercore acts, with the likes of Hidden Cameras, Limp Wrist and Gay For Jonny Depp all making waves.
In recent years the UK’s DIY-scene has become a burgeoning place for noisy queer musicians, with bands like Shopping, ONSIND and Colour Me Wednesday all walking in the footsteps of the queercore movement and pushing it forward into new and exciting places.
Wolf Girl are a noisy pop four-piece based out of the fertile South London DIY scene. Combining crunching distorted guitars and powerful, driving rhythms with hook-laden melodic pop, their music explores themes of sexuality, gender identity and anxiety. They first burst onto the scene with 2014’s EP Mama’s Boy on the much missed Soft Power Records, before releasing their self-deprecatingly titled debut album, We Tried, on Odd Box Records in 2016.
Featuring members of Suggested Friends and The Whooperups, the band have toured extensively, sharing their “riot grrrl-doo-wop heartbreakers” to receptive audiences across the country. This Friday we’re teaming up with Scared To Dance to put on the band at The Victoria in Dalston, and it’s FREE, so come down and hear new material from their as-yet-untitled album set for release at some point in 2018.
Today, Wolf Girl are getting all in the summer spirit with their mixtape of Queer Summer Jams featuring the likes of Christine & The Queens, Snail Mail & Charmpit.
1. Snail Mail – Heatwave
Healey – I’ve been a big Snail Mail fan for a while but there’s something about this track that’s made me play it to an obnoxious level. Maybe it’s because I heard it just as the weather got really nice or perhaps it’s because being hopelessly heartbroken during a heatwave is very much my vibe. I also can’t really comprehend how an 18 year old wrote a song this perfect with that sick guitar riff and also she did all the hockey stunts in the video (!!!??).
2. That Dog. – Long Island
Healey – I only discovered That Dog. over this winter and I’ve spent every day since craving a summer road trip where I can listen to ‘Retreat from The Sun’ in the back seat of a car (because I’m too gay to drive). Every track on that album is so well crafted but I keep going back to this one. The line ‘By definition, a crush must hurt and they do’ is just constantly in my head.
3. Carly Rae Jepsen – Cut to the Feeling
Healey – No music can make me feel the same way Carly Rae Jepson’s music makes me feel (expect maybe ABBA). I spent an entire summer just listening to E.MO.TION on repeat and if you don’t like pop music then I cannot relate to you in any way and I think you maybe don’t understand true joy. This track is everything I want a summer banger to be and an embarrassing number of people have seen me uncontrollably dad dance to it at sweaty queer club nights.
4. B-52’s – 52 Girls
Healey – The B-52’s are the ultimate summer band in my opinion. Every song was meant to be played on the beach and they make me want to fill my wardrobe with nothing but hawaiian shirts.
5. Pansy Division – Surrender Your Clothing
Carl – Pansy Division’s songs are often of a higher octane, lyrically silly, and very OTT. Surrender Your Clothing directs that energy into something still high camp but much more romantic and laid back. Soft rock/’60s pop pastiche perfect for laying in the grass to.
6. Nana Grizol – Black Box
Carl – Theo Hilton has such a way with words. These ones express nostalgia, nature, love, loss, and trying not to let life overwhelm you. Blackbox has a perfect driving beat and bassline, and when the horns and keyboards turn up to punctuate it everything just soars.
7. Charmpit – Vacation
Christabel- Any time I hear this song or think of Charmpit I am transported to California or I’m cruising down the motorway to a service station to eat fries (this is because I had the honour of touring the UK with them).
8. Christine and the Queens – Girlfriend
Christabel – This is the most recent track from Christine and it’s the most groovy and synth laden track so far. Perfect for throwing your best shapes in the hope of attracting the attention of your crush/es. Summer is gonna be lit when their album comes out.
9. All Girl Summer Fun Band – Dreamy You
Carl – Fab twee pop band featuring a Softie and a Thermal. All bouncy guitars and jaunty keyboard lines. All their music is perfect for warm weather, and their name comes from one them wanting to start a band specifically as something fun to do over the summer (which is an idea I’d recommend!).
10. High Dive – Coffee and Ice Water
Carl – I think this is my favourite song off that High Dive album. I’m not sure I know a lot by Ginger Alford’s other band Good Luck, which is something I should probably rectify, but her contributions to High Dive since joining them have made some of my favourite songs. I listened to this on headphones a lot when it came out in summer of 2015 so always associate it with walking on a hot day. Even when in the second verse it switches from thinking about a past summer to the autumn of the same year, it still conjures up images of a humid September.
Click HERE for more information on Wolf Girl.