As you may have noticed, there has been a dearth of posts on the blog over the past two weeks. I have been able to get a couple past the bugs of Blogspot, but the majority disappeared or got "frozen" in the blogosphere. Therefore this extended Hits From The Box, which was meant for International Women's Week, got stuck in the mix. Yet we should be celebrating everyone all of the time, right? So here are some female-centric acts that have heated up the airwaves in 2016...
I want to kick off with my favourite of these ten, all great, releases. BREI is the debut release from Dresden trio Brie, a stilted, lurking post-punk pustule, able to create a palpable spark of jaw-clenching tension with so little - infusing space with buzz, and brief wedges of bite - a no-fi Sonic Youth, Electrelane or Raincoats at their most elegantly wasted. It's hard to explain how vitally electrifying this releases is without diving headlong into its languid, lurid waters - I suggest you do so post haste, it's great, once you're in.
Another excellent release is the self-titled LP from Berlin's I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. Besides naming themselves after the Harlan Ellison sci-fi novel (and the great 90s Sierra-esque video game), the quartet have cornered a sound that takes the percolating reverb-in-velvet sonics of The Cure, the whispered musings of Cocteau Twins, the spiked laconics of Thurston Moore, and the sonorous aesthetics that many late 90s/early 00s Aussie indie rock fans can fall in love with and to (listen to the close-out of 'Shadow' and tell me you don't hear Gaslight Radio/Gersey in there). 'Classic Rock Song' is a mix of all these things with some added Dunedin wist spun in. Seriously, this is a great little release, get all over this ASAP.
Fire Talk are responsibly for putting out No Sense, the 7" from NYC's Scully. It's the kind of pepped up throwback garage pop with Shangri-La shadings that has coloured the aural airwaves with impunity over the past decade, with 'Wave' a melodic chimera, playing both as a Burger blast and a psyched out seduction. With a show with current SM faves Bambara next month and named after the greatest FBI agent in television history (in my humble, red-cheeked opinion), Scully promise to be big.
Another 7" ready to be launched, this time from Melbourne miscreants Cable Ties (love this name, guys). They play with the Sharpies branded-iron-and-VB-grenades blunted intensity, a vocal squall that spits from the past (and more inverted vitriol than the likes of The Donnas could ever muster) and broken guitar solos that bleed fury. They just got covered by one of my favourite music outlets, Raven Sings The Blues, so it won't be long before these bad boys are sold out - get on board and get your arms up - it promises to be all out war.
Los Angeles trio L.A. Witch are already working people up into a lather, even before their debut 7" Drive Your Car hit last month. Playing Burger Records lineups and on the Levitation festival, sharing the stage with The Kills... It helps that their proto-punk grind is truly powerful, the sneers real, the garage rock smeared with reverbed grit and grime. It won't be long before you feel yourself bewitched by this band's barbed charms.
Back to Melbourne now and a decidedly shabbier outfit in Lazertits. Their latest EP Aubergine Dreams is a teetering balance of lo-fi garage punk, simple pretty-yet-plaintive vocals that are decidedly ocker and lyrics that bristle with Aussie euphemisms and barbed brio ('Ladies') and are more than happy tipping their hats to their idols ('Shonen Knife'). It's all silly stuff, sounding sweet while holding an abrasive jeer, ready to gleefully off the rails at any moment.
London's Secret Tongues have just been joined by a new member, Sarah Collins, and 'The Winter Curse' is the first taste of this new direction. There is a hint of autumnal Sonic Youth in the terse bassline that lurks in the shadows here. The distorted vocals towards the end, as the guitar gains some grit and bite, reminds me of Not From There-era Heinz Riegler also. There is a lot to like here - I am expecting this to be the first strike of a new level of creativity from this growing outfit.
Another Brit band in Vukovar here. I have to admit - this band has no female members as far as I know - but the female backing vocals that infiltrate 'The Blood Garden', the precursor to their upcoming second album, are so ebullient that they take these guys to another level altogether. The warm buoyancy accompanies the trio from the calm warm glow to the cathartic rollicking outro, almost like a more calibrated, more insular but no less anthemic Joy Formidable here.
Washington four-piece Big Hush have already sold out their tape Who's Smoking Your Spirit? (out through DZ Tapes) which is a real shame as its scuffed and scaly rock is both of the moment and insidious in its immediacy. Fast-paced shoegaze-laced feral fuzz like this never goes out of style here, but the thumping drums halfway through 'Cold Shoulder' before the acrid guitar break towards the end is something else. They are playing a show with Wildhoney and Expert Alterations at the end of the month - a great way for them to mingle with other excellent likeminded individuals and keep the scabrous fun going. Simply cannot wait to hear more from these guys.
Rounding out this mammoth outing is Spanish outfit Juvenilia, a Spanish quintet that like Aliment or Beach Beach before them love fast-paced garage pop and punk, infused with throwback psyche, Flying Nun nous and their own spices. If you can't hear the Feelies in 'Solaris', for example, you must be deaf - but if you don't throw yourself to it with raw abandon and joy, you must be dead. A brilliant 7" from a brilliant band.
Happy International Women's Day, everyone!