The Venn Diagram where hip-hop and feminism overlap can sometimes be a tough and laughable one to draw, but I assure you it exists; I’m walking, talking, droppin’-it-like-it’s-hot proof of a feminist into and supportive of hip-hop. Mainstream rap programming can oft paint a picture of rap as misogynistic, violent, and nearly sociopathic in its tendency to treat women as objects instead of people, but the movement overall is much more than mainstream rap, obviously. And even as women are beginning to crest the popular waves more and more (as much as you may despise the tenets upheld by Nicki, Iggy, or Azealia, them being a part of the conversation is still a big step forward), there continue to be amazing MCs beginning the trudge from obscurity with skill and panache that just happen to also be women.
A lot of great stuff has been written about women and feminism in hip-hop, and while I make increased exposure and promotion for women in this genre a goal of mine, I can’t pretend to be a scholar. If you’d like to investigate this issue further, I highly recommend you head down to Monkeywrench Books and pick up The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop – And Why It Mattersby Tricia Rose and When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminest Breaks It Downby Joan Morgan.
:DJ Vadim And Sarah Jones – Your Revolution: A radio station that played the vocal from this track was fined in 2001 by the FCC for her Your Revolution dis poem and they later reversed their ruling of the piece as indecent because they acknowledged ”the most graphic phrase (‘six foot blow job machine’) was not repeated.” Moreover: “We take cognizance of the fact presented in this record that Ms. Jones has been asked to perform the song at high school assemblies.” FUCK THE FCC.
:Built To Spill – Never Be The Same: This track is no Living Zoo (hear that stellar single here), but it’s easy on the ears and worthy of your time. Untethered Moon is due April 18 via Warner Bros. See the band at Stubb’s on May 19.
:Crying – Patriot: Crying grabbed my attention with this song and the way that it sounds like Rush slathered with playful riffs and indie pop sensibilities. It’s weird but infectious. Get this track now over at their Bandcamp page.
:Griz – For The Love (Featuring Talib Kweli): I adore this track! Griz’s arrangement is as fantastic and enjoyable as anything I’ve come across in 2015. In fact, it’s so great I often get lost in it and totally whiff on paying any sort of attention to Talib Kweli. Say It Loud will be released on March 31 via All Good Records.
:No Joy – Everything New: No Joy have readied their third full length, and this entrancing number is the first single off of it. I recommend slapping on a solid pair of headphones before you hit play. More Faithful is due out June 9 via Mexican Summer.
:Inheaven – Regeneration: “I don’t want to pull you down/I just want to fuck around” This swirling slice of indie rock is impressive, and Inheaven are now a band I firmly have my eye on. Regeneration will be released on May 5 via B3SCI/AMF Records.
On March 26, 2012 Phil Ajjarapu flew off an Austin highway overpass from his motorbike, survived against all odds, and committed his life to music. When he was raising money to make his album in 2013, he shared “I remember being in the hospital thinking that I need to make this album, even if no one bothered hearing it, even if it didn’t mean anything to anyone but me. If I had died without making it, that would have been the one thing I really regretted, and I couldn’t stand the thought of dying with regrets.”
This is a worthy event highlighting some top notch local talent along with benefiting the work of the Austin Music Foundation, which provides education and outreach programs for the local music community. There is a $10 suggested donation each night. $15 gets you a wristband for both nights.
Yesterday the great Mas Ysa delivered a new tune. I was hoping it meant an EP or LP would soon arrive, but it was actually put out to celebrate him hitting the road. Boo! Well, maybe not, but that’s only because the song is so goddamn fantastic. Seriously, I can’t stop listening to it, and I fully believe that you’re going to really dig it. Talk about enthralling stuff. Enjoy.
:Black Milk – I Guess: Black Milk recently released this infectious track in an effort to make sure you know that he’s now out on tour So, do him a solid and give it good listen, then see if he’s coming to a town near you.
:Wire – Split Your Ends: Here’s the latest rather sharp single to be released off of Wire’s upcoming album. Maybe it’s time for all of us to get legit excited about the LP. The band’s self titled effort is due out April 21 via Pinkflag.
:Blur – There Are Too Many Of Us: I initially found this new one from Blur to be a little lacking, but it’s grown on me. The arrangement is fantastic, and Damon Albarn’s vocals are oddly entrancing. The Magic Whip is due out April 27.
:Zero 7 – 400 Blows: This Zero 7 track has been lodged in my head for the last few days. It’s really well crafted and deserving of any dedicated headphone-time you’re willing to spend with it. Look for EP 3 April 13 via Make Records.
:James Murphy – We Used To Dance: If SXSW turned you into a mumbling burnout, then this spacious instrumental track should help bring you back. On another note, I love it when James Murphy dials things back. The While We’re Young soundtrack is due out March 24 via Milan Records.
It’s that time of year again. It’s a time when a flurry of complicated haircuts, free energy drinks and former members of Das Racist pour in to Austin for a music festival that is located in the Lone Star State.
There are a lot of talented dance groups, party rock bands, etc coming to town but let’s pay tribute to some of those coming to the festival who could be best be interpreted as the purveyors of sad bastard music. This is not the easiest list to compile because there is a convention center full of musicians from all over the world and this week they are all going to be sad when they can’t get into the secret show where Robert Durst from the Jinx raps with Drake, but let’s take a crack at it. Let’s listen to the sounds of people’s relationships falling apart through the computer speakers shall we?
:Angel Olsen – unfucktheworld: Last year’s Jagjaguar release Burn Your Fire for No Witness is full of lament and lonely feels but my favorite is this here bare-your-soul jam. “If all the trouble in my heart would only mend …” YES! The whole album was recorded to make you feel alone. It’s sparse and through studio magic (with wizard producer John Congelton behind the knobs) let’s you into Olsen’s tragedy. By definition: unfucking the world would imply a sensation of promise … but she’s the only one now. so there is no hope for happiness. She is a rock, she is a gritty and beautiful island.
:Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener: Seeing Barnett live is a whole different experience than listening to the record. It’s more lush and upbeat as demonstrated in this Australian’s recent Fun Fun Fun Fest performance. This song is the ultimate slacker, panic attack, asthma anthem. It creates a jangly, stream of consciousness picture of a case of the Mondays gone very wrong. Ack.
:Noveller – Into The Dunes: Instrumental soundscapes of verdant guitar, droney atmosphere all from six strings and a ton of weirdo pedals. Love it. The way Godspeed You Black Emperor taught a generation about Canadian post-rock, Noveller teaches us about accessible noise and will serve as a gateway into more extreme sub genres of soft murmers and thundering peaks. No need for a gnarly beard or a Yoko Ono shirt to get in to this wall of sound. This is for those ready to graduate beyond St. Vincent and hey, guess what – Noveller has been opening for Annie Clark lately! Perfect pairing! Even though there are not any words and the only direction we’re given in the title is that of going into dunes, I will gladly admit that I project despair onto this blank, ethereal canvas. The glass is half empty!
:Doug Sahm- Faded Love: The legendary Texan is being honored at SXSW this year with a documentary about him as well as a tribute show. I’m SO pleased about this Sahm revival that’s taken place in 2015! About time! This track is his take on a 1950 Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys classic that Doug brought back to life in 1973 and it might be sacrilegious, but I think Sahm’s is the best. Better than Elvis Presley’s and better than Patsy Cline’s. The best. The tinge of groovy tejano goes a long way in his music and the fact that he’s not more widely appreciated is a downright shame. Here’s hoping that SXSW can help raise his profile even more.
:Juan Wauters – She Might Get Shot: This simple little ditty is a tad goofy, but it’s slice of life beauty. Portraying a fragile character saying goodbye inherently creates certifiable sad bastard music again – even in the face of goofiness. Not even the canned live audience clapping towards the end can change that.
:Drake – Lord Knows: This track is produced by SXSW performing artist Just Blaze and it’s one of his best – of which there are many and provides the thesis statement to what Drake’s all about “I know that showin’ emotion don’t ever mean I’m a pussy/Know that I don’t make music for niggas who don’t get pussy/So those are the ones I count on to diss me or overlook me” That’s right Drizzy – own that sad bastard tendency and feel free to sing about all your sensitive feelings about how it’s lonely to have so many millions and so many pornstars all around you. It’s lonely at the top and Just Blaze’s masterful beat with gospel singers, tight drums and Rick Ross trademark “URGH” makes it all work! YOLO or whatever y’all.
Spring Breakup Forever! Happy SXSW!
Closing note: Watch the trailer for The Doug Sahm Documentary Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove:
Rock has a long history of bands with ludicrous names that write ridiculous songs. I grew up listening to the Dead Milkmen, Dead Kennedys, and Buttholes Surfers. Bands like Diarrhea Planet, Joanna Gruesome, and, of course, Hoobastank, have succeeded them. I am not ashamed of my love of such music. These groups aren’t trying to be the next Radiohead; they just want to have fun. Frankly, rock music (and especially indie music) could benefit from not taking itself so seriously.
One band that fits this fit genre (if you want to call it that) is Mean Jeans. Their songs are short, hilarious blasts of party punk rock. Each Mean Jeans album is catchy and amusing but you probably need to see them live to fully appreciate the greatness of the band. Each show is a sweaty and chaotic affair that will leave you feeling totally enthralled.
So of course I was delighted to receive an unexpected St. Patrick’s Day gift when Mean Jeans released a 20-song collection of singles, compilation tracks, and some covers. I’ve been listening to it a lot and it truly is the band at their very best. The music spans their entire career and it does a great job of encapsulating everything I love about this band. If you enjoy these tracks, I’m sure you’ll love the full compilation.
Local indie rock quintet Carry Illinois will be releasing their new full length, Alabaster, this month. The band is led by lead singer/songwriter Lizzy Lehman and also includes guitarist Darwin Smith, bassist John Winsor, drummer Rudy Villarreal and keyboardist Derek Morris. According to the band’s bio, Lizzy’s musical foundation is firmly rooted in ‘60s and ‘70s folk rock (Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, Carole King). She also cites more contemporary and recent favorites such as Shawn Colvin, Nanci Griffith, Gillian Welch, and Brandi Carlile along with classic pop, Motown, and Americana. This extensive list of artists and sounds clearly influences her songwriting. You can get a glimpse of the band’s sound on Smoke and Medicine and Detroit Snow, which can be found on the new LP.
The band will be holding their album release party on Wednesday, March 25t at Cheer Up Charlie’s with two other local folk influenced bands, The Loblolly Boy and The Deer. This is a FREE show and the first 20 people through the door will receive a ticket to be entered to win a Carry Illinois Prize Pack (which includes Alabaster on vinyl and CD, a sticker, and a button).
More music from Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag is something I’ve been impatiently waiting on, so it was really nice to get a new single from this week. Jump below for the band’s latest riffy, fuzzed-out, infectious creation. Also, I encourage you to join me in trying to catch them at some point during SXSW. I bet they’re a good time live. Enjoy.
:Bully – I Remember: Get ready to want to climb onto Bully’s bandwagon (if you’re not there already, of course). This gem is a fuzz-filled scorcher, and I love it. No word yet on an album, but I assume an official announcement will come soon.
:Male Gaze – Gale Maze: The debut LP from Male Gaze seems to be flying way under the radar, and it shouldn’t be. They’re great. I advise that you take this rad slice of indie rock and share it with everyone. Gale Maze is due out on March 23 via Castle Face.
:BLXPLTN – No Fly List: Over the last year or so BLXPLTN have really become one of my favorite acts in Austin. As you’ll hear in this track, they’re immensely intense and fierce. The band will put out their sophomore full length later this year.
:Ume – Too Big World: Ume’s frontwoman Lauren Larson is on the verge of having a kiddo, so I figured we wouldn’t hear from the band for a while. I was wrong. This track reminds has a Metric-esque sound that I think is great. The Too Big World EP is due out April 7 via Dangerbird Records.
:Tame Impala – Let It Happen: This nearly eight-minuter from Tame Impala immediately slapped a smile on my life. Not only is it rad and groovy as hell, but it officially means a new album from the band will be out at some point later this year. Hooray! See them play at Levitation in May.
:Mikal Cronin – ii) Gold: Mikal Cronin let this one go earlier this week. As is always the case with his material, it’s loaded with the perfect amount of noise, catchy bits and sincere lyrics. Someone get his new album ASAP. MCIII will be released on May 5 via Merge.
:Braids – Taste: Not that I hated the first single (Miniskirt – it’s here) off of Braids’ new album, but I just couldn’t get into it. This track though, it’s a beautifully crafted gem. Raphaelle Standell sounds as good as she ever has here. Deep In The Iris is due out April 28 via Arbutus. See them at Stubb’s (with Purity Ring) on May 23.
When these grey, dreary days start to linger, you want music to match that mood and wrap around you like a blanket. Tapajenga are a band who fit that description. The songs on their 2013 (yes, I’m playing catch up) EP, Months Pass By, are an appropriate soundtrack to a foggy, gloomy weekend. Melancholy strings, hushed piano notes, and soft, soothing vocals come together to provide comfort on sad, wintery days. You can also hear a glimmer of hope and optimism between the sad notes knowing the sunnier days of spring will be here soon. You can catch their next show at Radio Coffee and Beer on March 18 with fellow folk and pop influenced bands, The Deer and Marmalakes.
There’s an enjoyably listless quality to Meat Market’s new single. Where in typical pop songs you might find your catchiness in sugar-sweet pop melodies, cranked to 10 and then blasted on repeat, Meat Market goes the opposite direction – burying a single melodic riff under a current of sludge, and then half-heartedly crooning lyrics over the top of it. On occasion, a brief spell near the end of the song, they rip into some slo-mo type solos, but for the majority of the song it’s just one churning, low-speed riff and stoner vocals. And it’s fantastic. It somehow makes me think of Blink-182, but without the candy sheen they liked to smear all over their brand of pop-punk. Catchy but not obnoxious, not trying to be catchy. Instead, Meat Market finds the right riff (and let me tell you, it’s not a particularly complex one) and mix it with the right blend of low energy singing to create a song that sticks deep down in your grey matter.