After being called out by both my wife and my brother for the dismal near-absence of female artists throughout my mixes last year, I dedicate this first quarterly of the year to women musicians. Over the past three months, I attacked my admittedly untrained and regretfully disinterested ear for female-led music with a sort of immersion therapy. I played every new track that popped up on music blogs, tuned in when KEXP championed an artist, and followed one or two rabbit holes in search of songs by women that resonate with my sonic interests, challenge my faulty, subconscious misconceptions, and open the door to musical gender reconciliation. I’m pleased to report that the exploration was a great personal success. Read along with the song annotations for more about what I discovered along the way.
- Pedestrian At Best | Courtney Barnett
Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit | 2015
Courtney Barnett really hits the whole female musician that a male can enjoy nail right on the head. Passionate, yet indifferent. Funny, and still a little mean. Approachable, but a little smarter than you and that bugs you, you idiot.
- Monstro | Downtown Boys
Monstro – Single | 2015
The scream speak intro followed by the powerful sax honks sets up quite the anticipation. The lyrics say a little something about the young female condition. So, there’s that bit of education for me, too.
- Joke | Chastity Belt
Time to Go Home | 2015
When I saw “Time to Go Home” be released earlier this year, I knew I had something of interest to pay attention to. This band is cool, and “Joke” stands out with its heart pumping beat, angular guitar solos, and tough ass vocals. Very cool, indeed. Women can swagger and make me want to BE them. Don’t be afraid.
- Love Trap | Soko (feat. Ariel Pink)
My Dreams Dictate My Reality | 2015
Here is a song I’ve been waiting for since his failures with “weirdo misogyny” last year. http://flavorwire.com/470303/maced-by-a-feminist-the-retro-weirdo-misogyny-of-ariel-pink The spoken exchange between Ariel and Soko in the middle there pretty much sums up my relationship with his music.
- Miss Understanding | Lolina
RELAXIN’ with Lolina | 2015
At first blush, this song seems to just be waiting to be house remixed. But it somehow manages to fulfill the promises of its sparse anticipation in subtle ways.
- Shaky Leg | Marie Davidson
Perte d’identité | 2014
And then there’s Marie Davidson. Not so subtle. Sorta like Grace Jones. I can get down with a little male objectification, even if it comes with a little disdain.
- Nature’s Candy | THEESatisfaction
EarthEE | 2015
It’d be just silly if I didn’t include a little THEESatisfaction on this mix. I have to admit that upon first hearing about the coming of EarthEE, I felt disinterested. The songs would come on the radio, and I just wouldn’t tune in. I’m thankful for the effort I made to give this group its due. It paid off.
- That Battle Is Over | Jenny Hval
Apocalypse, Girl | 2015
As a demonstration of the limit of my knowledge of female led music, My first reaction to hearing this tune was that it sounded like Joni Mitchell. Of course, I promptly discovered that Jenny would prefer folks not to make that comparison. More smart lyrics about being female. The double tracked vocals are utilized just perfectly.
- Paying | Sarah Bethe Nelson
Fast Moving Clouds | 2015
I think I like this because it sounds a bit like Cass McCombs. The rainy cymbals have something to do with it. Or maybe it’s because it sounds a bit like a ’80s arena rock ballad.
- Shade | North Highlands
North Highlands | 2015
Here is a really good option for a Girls episode tune. I mean that in the best possible way.
- Your Good Fortune | Mavis Staples
Your Good Fortune | 2015
New Mavis is teaching all these young bluesy boys a few things about how to sing.
- Talkin’ Like You (Two Tall Mountains) | Connie Converse
How Sad, How Lonely | 2009
I don’t recall how many clicks away from what it took me before I found Connie Converse, but it really could by anything because once I heard her music I forgot about everything that came before.