Saturday, August 27, 2016

Music News: August 27th, 2016

The New Yorker reminds us that nostalgia is what really drives the music industry these days.

There is an all lady tribute to Devo called We Are Not Men. Thank you universe.

I spy a lot of old friends in this traveling photography exhibit curated by Mark Beener called Still Screaming. It also reminds me that the world of punk and hardcore through the '90s was a lot of dudes but glad to see Toko from The Van Pelt and Arabella from Jejune among the images.

Apple doesn't no jack. Industry talk says the new iPhone won't support the typical headphone jack. Music fans have yet another reason to be frustrated with a brand that feels less cutting edge and more like a dying cult these days. And if you don't believe me, here is reminder that iTunes turned 13 and "it is still awful".

Two bad ass ladies of color in punk from two different generations talk over tacos.This short film with Michelle from Spitboy and Christine of Try the Pie is tremendous.

Pitchfork schools us on the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

We continue to have a sexual assault problem at music festivals but what exactly are we doing about it?

We can always use a reminder that Pylon is one of the best bands to ever come out of Athens, GA. Don't worry, even R.E.M. and the B-52s agree.

Did you know there is a book that compiles every film that includes punks or new wavers? It exists and it is called Destroy All Movies. The celebration of the 40th anniversary of punk also carries on in London. While we are talking the U.K., hero status, Poly Styrene. Lastly the Amy Winehouse foundation opened up Amy's House, a 16- person home for women recovering from drugs and alcohol.

I know they are cute but you really, really should not buy a Crosley turntable if you care about fidelity or your records. Keep them away from your record collection at all cost!

Turn your favorite ticketstub into a swank doormat.

The great news is 29 private sector companies including Apple and Facebook have signed a pledge to commit themselves to helping close the gender pay gap for their employees. The bad news is that this is still an issue at all. Thanks guys?

Backyard report, my friend and favorite local DJ Sara Gossett talks Richmond in giving us the perfect "staycation"  via a wonderful Anna Goldfarb piece on Kitchn.

Our band recently played a benefit in Philly to help end rape culture. In between bands Kevin from Mercury Girls DJ'ed and at no point during the day was I ever disappointed. He has been kind enough to post his entire set (links for every song!) which is seriously a must check out for fans of girl groups spanning the past 60 years from all over the world.  

Inspired by the pages of fashion magazines, self taught artist Helen Rae who now at age 77 is both deaf and non verbal, had her fist solo art show. Not only did all of her detailed colored pencil pieces sell out immediately, she has become an outsider art sensation and with good reason. Up next, a show in Paris.

Hey! You! This is a reminder that you can be a mother and still be a successful artist.

Touring as a musician with a chronic disease is exhausting but it allow you to channel pain and frustration in important ways. Rachel Browne of Field Mouse shares her personal experience.

Folk music's answer to Billie Holiday; get to know Karen Dalton.

Australia's feminist music convention LISTEN returns in October.

UMG doesn't like Apple after another one of their artists (Frank Ocean) has worked out an exclusive deal that limits digital sales and marketing with a larger group of partners, the stuff that big businesses don't appreciate when they have heavily invested in them. UMG has decided to ban the practice of exclusive streaming which seems ironic since they were the ones who love giving major chains like Best Buy or Target exclusives in the physical world of CDs.

Beverly Watkins is a 77 year old Blues guitar player that says slowing down is not an option.

This is a half fast but well meaning collection of NYC venues/clubs that no longer exist in a photo form was a nice trip down memory lane regardless.

Speaking of Frank Ocean, could visual album releases be music's newest format?

Copyright violations are the flesh eating bacteria of the music industry with sites like YouTube (tech companies) acting as the filthy germ spreaders.

Ending with this beautiful Santigold video, a collab with Kara Walker.






Friday, August 19, 2016

Feminist Friday Music News: August 19th, 2016

There are a lot of disturbing yet fascinating perceived notions about women that simply are not true. These "truisms" are all wrong yet they are still setting us back in the world, from art to our careers. And no, Yoko did not break up The Beatles.

There is another brilliant record on Sister Polygon Records. Check out Post Pink from Baltimore.

Carol Kaye is among the most important American bass players. Discogs wrote a little piece on the most sought after records she plays on. And speaking of Discogs, they have a crowdfunding type idea for getting rare records repressed. It seems like a licensing nightmare to me so good luck with that.

Shaun White is best know for his snowboarding and skateboarding skills but he also plays in a band and is facing a lawsuit from an ex member for sexual harassment.

Light in the Attic is doing a series of reissues for the French painter/poet/post punker/painter Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Quietus wrote a really nice overview on all of her diverse and many talents.

Another long time record store closes down, this time Disc Exchange after 20 years of serving the Knoxville music community. What does it take for an indie record store to survive these days anyway? Weird, I would have guessed being independently wealthy was the answer.

Women are kicking ass in the Olympics this year so let's celebrate with a mix of brilliant feminist music from Brazil.

The band Fea is Latina punk at its finest.

I recently worked on an Alice Bag interview and spent a lot of time with her new album that is heavily inspired by '60s Girl Groups so this article about new bands influenced by this style couldn't be timed any better for me. I saw Midnight Snaxxx play a few years ago at Goner Fest and really loved them so while I don't know the other groups in this article, I stand by that band 100%.


So how do we stop sexual assault from happening at music festivals. It starts with education says David Huggins.

The problem with being a record nerd who is given a list like the story of feminist punk in 33 songs is I can't stop thinking about what I would change about it. In fairness though, this list is pretty darn great.

Oh boy! Another music industry race to the bottom. There are some important lessons to be learned in the demise of a sync music company in Chicago.

An old co-worker of mine Glenn Peoples wrote this piece about music marketing and the heart of the point really surprised me. Did you know that an artist's voice + new music = a serious click through rate?

Making music can be one of the most empowering and self confidence building tools in the world. A London engineering and design company is working on creating musical instruments for people with physical disabilities that may have otherwise been excluded from the gift of making music.

And in the name of a flashback Friday, check out Snatch, an obscure female punk duo from the late '70s.


Friday, August 12, 2016

The Rise, The Fall, and the Rise : Brix Smith-Start : A Book and My Heart Rate



WARNING! BOOK PLOT SPOILERS !

Fame. What's the point? It doesn't last. It doesn't guarantee money or respect. For every fan there is a reactionary hater. Being famous to some still means nothing to many others. It takes normal people and turns them into reclusive weirdos whose worlds are built around the machine that is trying to keep their fame alive for as long as possible. Their reality is ironically a false universe of people who mostly want to steal their light or ride their coattails. Strangers offer gifts that are actually disguised marketing schemes so businesses can align themselves with their aura of cool. When the fame bubble bursts (and it almost always does) these poor people are thrown back into the real world only to discover they are damaged goods with few real friends and zero real life skills. There is often no career plan B so next follows a depressing scramble to pay bills and rebuild a "normal" life. Fame. What a fucking terrible idea.

I would have said Brix Smith Start would agree but her story is an American marvel that has spread to other continents. She is a cat with 9 lives. She was born into a world of affluence, her rock and roll limelight timed out within a decade and yet she found her way back into the spotlight again in the most surprising of ways.

Some people don't seek fame, they are born with what I call shiny penny syndrome. People want to pick them up and stash them in their pocket. They glow from within like a jack o'lantern and people are naturally attracted to them. They stand out in a crowded room. People lean in when they speak just to be closer to their breath. They are catalysts to people's imaginations and desires. It is maddening to those who try to seek out that sort of magical existence because they discover it isn't something you can create or buy. Cool is a genetic freak accident only further fueled by money, style, and talent. Brix is one of those people. Like a moth to a flame, fame finds her.

Brix Smith-Start's story is the perfect balance of American dreams and nightmares. Her grandfather entered the country as an immigrant and amassed a fortune in California through hard work and innovation. A sun soaked and decadent life for his family was to follow. Financial privilege afforded her one of a kind opportunities (horses, Friar's club brunches, Beverly Hills shopping, housekeepers) but tied into that cost was also an abusive father eventually cut from her life, feeling like a causality of divorce with parents split between two states, and a revolving door of caregivers. An eating disorder complicated her already tense childhood. Huge things would be on the horizon for Brix but again good came along with the bad. Her teenage years brought drugs, sex, an introduction to the world of fashion, exotic travel, but also there was also brutal sexual assault. An elite college experience included a vampire bite that caused a serious infection (no really!) a bloody concussion, and an unwanted pregnancy. At this point we are only at the halfway through the book now and like a car crash you can't look away from, in walks Mark E Smith, the leader (AKA dictator) of The Fall. Here is a man that has dedicated most of his adult life to being a living, breathing, seething artist. One part drunk, one part poetic wrecking ball.

Each new chapter of The Rise, The Fall, and the Rise encourages me to curse. I have found myself wincing while muttering FUCK! or SHIT! The intensity and wildness of the first portion of the book is matched, no, surpassed by the second half. Her life gets stranger - something that seems nearly impossible. Overnight she goes from a fan of The Fall with minimal band experience to being not only a member of the band but living in England and married to Mark in a whirlwind that keeps swirling for much of the '80s.

Brix's entire story in wholly unbelievable and she articulates it in a manner that is like catnip to the curious. You will find yourself wondering how one person can fall (pun intended) into this many crazy situations. They seem to seek her out unlike the reality stars of today who fake drama and jump start headlines. There are endless run-ins and brushes with fame from fairytale royalty to the hard to pin down je ne sais quoi icons of hip usually associated with the likes of Lou Reed and Nico. From the ashes of a dead-end she rises time and time again. Her story is one of perseverance, survival, spirituality, and surreal luck.



Out of the hundreds of jaw dropping moments recreated in this book, one small paragraph still haunts me. Brix played on and helped write some of the most memorable and popular Fall albums yet she has never seen one cent of royalties from any of those records. When Mark E Smith walked out on her as a cheating husband, he also cheated her of rightful compensation. Yes, plenty of dirt dished in regards to their relationship in and out of the band but I think what is most surprisingly is her ability to forgive him and still see the good when most people in her shoes would have bludgeoned him to death with them.

A weaker individual would have come apart at the seams after the 10th bottoming out but Brix's star shine doesn't fade; she pops back to life like a trick candle whose flame can't be extinguished. She reappears in new bands, builds new career paths, becomes romantically entangled with a series of larger than life characters, and eventually ricochets back stronger than ever on UK television. I didn't know what to expect from this book but once I recovered from the shock of a world class roller coaster ride, I was left with hope and comfort. No life is perfect.We each cope in strange and wonderful ways to get by. It is reminder that around the corner isn't just more disaster or doom but occasionally things of true marvel, joy, and beauty. Just as easily as we can let others own us, we can take back our lives and make the impossible happen.

This books comes highly recommended and I have made you a playlist (18 plus hours!) of all the music she discusses in the book in chapter order.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Feminist Friday for the Week of July 25th, 2016

Jes Skolnik wrote a great guide to pitching publications in the digital/ social media world.

Hey New Zealand friends, here is your opportunity to own 300 boomboxes. Check out this ridiculously awesome slice of music history. The seller won't split up the collection so be prepared to make some room for them all.

Photos of DC's Girls Rock! showcase taken by Farrah Skeiky are heartwarming and inspirational.

Fader recently spotlighted 7 queer bands from the U.K. worthy of your attention. I already knew I LOVED Shopping but that Cruising video!

Say what you will about Kickstarter (haters gonna hate), these numbers tell us that they are making a positive impact on the creative community. With Molly Neuman Hernandez (Bratmobile, The Peechees) at the helm of their music division, I would expect nothing less.

Backyard report: local Richmond, VA record label Grave Mistake has a new Earth Girls (Chicago) release coming August 12th. The Le Sigh debuted a new track this week; prepare for some quality Pop on 11. In other local news, RVA Magazine featured Samantha Brodek, a pen and ink artist whose macabre work has appeared on many an album cover or band shirt.

Meet Sarah Robbins from Alright/Faye/ Self Aware Records. Charlotte, NC is my new favorite and this lady is one of the main reasons why.

I have worked at records stores on and off for more than two decades. You wouldn't believe the things customers say and do within the walls of the shop. Luckily a record store clerk has written them all down and is willing to share. Anyone who has worked retail will appreciate these tales.

Kelley Deal from The Breeders is making scarves. It looks like she already sold out so you better bookmark this page because winter is coming.

Did you know women are winning the symphony chair game? More than 50% of the chairs in the top American 250 orchestras are filled by women.

Imagine putting your heart and soul into making music only to have it hijacked by someone like Donald Trump for the Republican party. These musicians say enough is enough.

Could this be the end of  the vinyl boom? Duh.

Scotland has a music festival called Pandora where women were the primary focus.

This exhibition of Japanese portable record players appeals to me on every level.

Awe yeah! Another interview with the Latina DJ crew Chulita Vinyl Club.

The Indietracks festival is this weekend (Saint Etienne, The Aislers Set, The Spook School, Comet Gain) is also fundraising for Sarcoma UK, a charity Camera Obscura's Carey Lander was involved in before she passed of this cancer last year. If you aren't able to make it to the festival, you can still donate to the cause. 

This Chicago group of women in music are creating their own safe spaces. Los Angeles also has a version of this, meet PLAG (play like a girl). This is a growing trend and I love it.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Angela Owens, Girls Rock, and an Accidental Backyard Report

Boston music photographer Angela Owens has owned my Facebook feed this week; a welcome change from people yelling at each other about politics. Everyone I know is obsessing on this series of photos she took at a recent show (more like a fest) in Boston that reminds me of the old youth crew photos from CBGBs, only this time the bands and crowd are predominantly ladies. This was a benefit for Girls Rock Boston and it wins the award for the best thing I have seen all month.

Before you scroll down any farther, seriously check out her photos first. Get to know the photographer in this interview.

This also doubles as a backyard report because as it turns out, a lot of these bands are from my hometown of Richmond, VA.



There are a ton of videos to check out via the event page. Watch them all here



It got me wondering who all these bands in the photos were, so I have compiled all the links here:

LEATHER DADDY (Boston)


FIREWALKER  (Boston)


DAME  (Boston)



RINGER  (Richmond)


KOMMUNION (Richmond)


NOSEBLEED (Richmond)


METER FEEDER (Hadley, MA)


IRON CAGES (DC)


RARE FORM - I can't find much on this band so if anyone has a link, please send it to me.



CROSSFIRE (Boston) 

 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Feminist Friday: A Weekly Round Up for July 15, 2016

Talent and beauty can't coexist according to so many male journalists. Seriously, when will women be written about as artists and not highly sexualized dolls?

And speaking of annoying press habits, how about a story on Juggalos being the new Ravers and the LA Weekly that needs to be proven by showing pictures of scantily clad women. Try harder LA Weekly.

Do all female event lineups actually help or hurt our cause since it stresses our gender over the art we make?

Grace Jones is replacing M.IA. as the Afropunk London headliner.

Public service announcement: There are "professionals" trying to use LinkedIn like Tinder. Check out when a "nice website for nice people" turns into shark infested waters.

As electronic music enters classrooms a a way to teach children about music making, what does this mean for the future of this genre in 10 or so years? I can't wait to find out.

Kenny and I are still mourning the end of our record label this year but I love reading about a couple who run one of my favorite American record labels currently, Trouble In Mind.

It is really hard to be your best at anything (music or otherwise) when our health and female bodies are grossly stigmatized and unserved. Girls also tend to be more anxiety prone, why is that?

Michelle Obama and Missy Elliott rocking out in a car with James Corden is the BEST THING I HAVE SEEN OR HEARD ALL WEEK.

Backyard report, get to know one of my favorite local musicians (that velvet voice!) and a fabulous feminist to boot Julie Karr. Also Sisterhood of Hip Hop season 3 includes an artist we booked at Richmond's Fall Line Fest, Audra the Rapper (from DC/ Virginia Beach)

And in things that have made my friend's week, I think The Julie Ruin covering Courtney Barnett is the best thing they have heard or seen all week.

In other riot grrrl news, you can wear a piece of its history - via an Ebay auction right now.

One more piece of grrrl news, you can help fund a film on this very subject, all 25 years of it.

My fluff piece of the week, play a record in a whole new way - like a guitar.

Gillian McCain talks Please Kill Me twenty years later.

Her story (IE women in music) is an important party of punk's HIStory. Viv Albertine to the rescue!

Goth at 40 is a nice reminder that age is a stupid thing and music we love is forever.

A Friday Flashback to Containe, a band that included Fontaine Toups from Versus and at one point Georgia from YLT on drums.

What could be more important to music fans than a scientific discovery that could reverse hearing loss?

Sharon Jones discusses the fight of her life (fuck cancer!) and isn't willing to give up hope via the Soul Sisters podcast.

Don't know anything about the Fluxus art movement? I have a remedy for that. Spoiler, it involves women doing amazing things in art, including graphic design, performance pieces, and sound.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

On the Stereo: Astrobal, Terry, Angry Angles, Foxtales Brigade, Minor Victories, As Ondas

French producer/drummer Emmanuel Mario’s debut solo project includes special guests, most notably, Laetitia Sadier. RIYL: Stereolab completists, Francophiles, early 2000s indietronica, Morr Records, Moon Safaris, New Age Kama Sutra, rom-prog Favorite Track: Ma Recontre 


Melbourne, Australia’s band family tree is more of a skyward beanstalk situation between Total Control, Dicker Diver, and UV Race to name just a few. RIYL: Thunder  from down under, indie RnR royalty, percussive vocals that shadow guitar lines, monotone melodies, controlled angst, those who know the “C” word carries a different meaning outside of the United States, saxophones that don’t wear out their welcome, and Television Personalities – now with more estrogen! Favorite Track: Moscow on the Thames




Angry Angles – S/T - Goner Records
In the early 2000s Alix Brown was Jay Reatard’s better half in and out of the band during a period of time most fans consider Jay’s musical golden age (Lost Sounds – Blood Visions). This 17-song collection of singles and rarities is a melancholy reminder that what once was will never be again but damn it was great while they lasted. RIYL: Couples who rock(ed), Southern gothic Devo, miniature guitar solos,  one of the best screams in the business, a lot of fucking attitude, proactive Oblivions fans, a Memphis barbequed Georgia peach, Dixie Pink Flag.  Favorite Track:  You Fell In



Foxtails Brigade – S/T - OIM Records
Orchestrated Grimm’s fairy tales steer us clear of the California beaches proving there is fun without sun. RIYL: Wars Without Frontiers, dreams of Kate Bush, bloodlines crossed with comedy and horror, strings on tippy toe, Lashes with bats, sunglasses at night, and Newsom understudies Favorite Track: No Fate
This isn’t your Mom’s shoegaze! Oh wait, yes it is. If you tell me you love the music made by the “super-group” featuring Mogwai, Slowdive, and Editors, I will assume you have a heart condition that does not allow you to enjoy anything too wild or overstimulating. The creative community also needs to build a support group for musicians who are interested in collaborating with Mark Kozelek in an effort to talk them off that ledge. DON’T DO IT! RIYL: Long naps under warm blankets, tamed animals, mild cheeses, the shallow end of the pool, speed limits, bare feet on plush carpets, 120 Minutes, David Lynch mediations, new releases with an old fashioned big budget recording budget, those later period Jesus and Mary Chain records you have been meaning to revisit, the 50 fans who still look forward to the musings of Mark Kozelek, and compression socks. Favorite Song: Cogs



Melancholy pop made by members of Shopping, Dog Legs, and Wachi Wachi that maybe have just perfected the art of slacker post-punk. RIYL:  Slow jog tempos, minimalism, español, those who follow the repetition is the key philosophy, twee temperaments, Teen Beat Records adjacent, and a Factory Records 45 played on 33. Favorite Track: Natural