Oy, trying to pick today’s top spot is like playing “Who Would You Do” between Sofia Vergara and Hope Solo. (I realize everyone has their own taste in women so please feel free to insert two of your own favorites into my analogy.) Due to there not being enough hours in the day and not having advanced previews of all of the albums, I hope you will forgive me if some of these reviews are a bit on the skimpy side or I send something directly to the honorable mentions. I mean no harm, I just need to be able to sleep and maybe eat something once in a while. A few of the albums will be included in tomorrow’s Weekly Women to Listen to post, including Alex Winston and Jenn Mierau. Deal? On with the show!
Wild Flag — Wild Flag (Merge)
The first album from this fierce supergroup (comprised of Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss, Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole) fills a big hole in my heart that appeared just after the disbanding of Sleater-Kinney. Now, I’m sure these ladies won’t be psyched on what I’m about to say but if I don’t say it, the elephant in the room is going to sit on my throat: I don’t think I can fully separate Wild Flag from Sleater-Kinney just yet. The guitar licks and the overpowering Brownstein-voice and Weiss-drumming of it all makes it seem like a more poppy SK album that got made while Corin Tucker was on vacation. Even the harmonies are oddly similar. The thing is, I love it and, selfishly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
St. Vincent — Strange Mercy (Beggars Group)
There is absolutely nothing ordinary about singer Annie Clark. First of all, she has one of the most striking naturally beautiful faces I’ve ever seen. When you hear her singing and the blend of organic and inorganic elements used in her songs, it’s almost impossible for me to picture her as the one behind it.
Judging by the lead track, “Chloe In The Afternoon,” Clark has been spending a lot of time with some old Portishead and Beth Gibbons records. For new listeners, this may be an album you’ll need to take a while to get into — mostly because you are libel to get whiplash from diving in too quickly. For past fans and those of you brave enough to throw caution to the wind, I’m finding a huge payoff. Strange Mercy is raw, powerful and I’m about to play the hell out of it.
Katy B — Katy On A Mission (Columbia)
Oh Katy B, let me count the ways in which I love you. I’ve been waiting for this album to drop for what seems like ages. There is something so simple in the way she sings and when she chants, “Ooooh does it make you feel good,” on the opener, “Power On Me,” I can’t help but think, “Yes, yes it does make me feel good — even if I haven’t let you finish your sentence.” Not all artists can successfully pull off an R&B, dub, deep house mixture but she makes it seem effortless. So far the remixes I’ve heard of her songs are varied and ridiculously good. The one below is like whoa.
Blondie — Panic of Girls (Five Seven Music)
Let me tell you a little something about Debbie Harry: I saw her in concert a couple years ago and she not only gave an incredible performance, she also looked smokin’ hot and her fashion sense was fresh as hell! OK, now to some news I didn’t want to share: I love Blondie but this album just doesn’t do it for me. I can appreciate some of the Caribbean elements she kept (think “The Tide is High”), but there’s nothing to give the songs that extra umph. The one standout is track 7, “Words in My Mouth,” when she sounds unpolished, authentic and willing to branch out. Regardless, Blondie, and Ms. Harry in particular, will always be badass.
Mates of State — Mountaintops (Barsuk)
The seventh album from husband/wife duo Mates of State is my favorite so far. Album opener “Palomino” is a fun indie-pop power jam that begs to close out an outdoor summer music festival like Pitchfork or Coachella. What follows is a sound so large, you’d expect it would take the supergroup power of Broken Social Scene or The New Pornographers to create. The only regret I might have for this release is that it came at the end of the summer instead of the beginning where it fits so perfectly. Stream the album over at Rolling Stone.
Ladytron — Gravity The Seducer (Nettwerk Productions)
The dark, synthed-out foursome continues to entertain me and, in all honesty, I cannot figure out what makes their sound so continuously appealing from one song to the next. I mean seriously, most of their songs from album to album end up sounding very similar and the singing is rather monotonous as well. Regardless of these qualities that should make me run away and never look back, I get drawn in as though the electronic sirens were luring me into 47 minutes of bliss. Not to get all Seinfield, but really, whaaaat’s the deal? Stream the album at Spinner.
The Pack A.D. — Unpersons (Mint Records)
(I apologize for the following tangent in advance.)
An Open Letter to Everybody Who Keeps Telling Me These Two Aren’t Gay:
I realize that fashion does not always dictate gender or sexuality, nor do I care who these ladies share a bed with. But I ask you seriously for the purpose of getting everyone’s gaydar set to the right frequencies: How are we supposed to not get our hopes up when they seem to be channeling Shane and Mikey on bro’s night out?
Am I right, or am I dead on? </endrant>
Now for the important part: the music. I am obsessed with these two and their ability to rock my face off with heavy guitar, bangin’ drums and a voice that seems to sexily reverberate off of itself. Last year I spent almost the entire summer running to we kill computers. I guess my diet and exercise regimen starts tomorrow.
Melissa Ferrick — Still Right Here (MPress Records)
Out singer-songwriter Melissa Ferrick has been a part of my life for almost thirteen years now — which is bizarre to think about. Hailing from Boston, going to her shows as a college student usually meant seeing a lot of cute queer girls — all of whom I was too shy to speak to.
It’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down and listened to her music (except maybe her song “Drive,” for obvious reasons). In the past 10 years her sound has grown from a one-woman acoustic show to what sounds like a full band and some added special guests. Fans of her previous work will undoubtedly enjoy her still being right here. Stream this puppy over at Spinner.
Honorable Mentions: Doris Day, Basia, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Marling, A.A. Bondy, Big Harp, Blitzen Trapper, Dan Deacon, Arabrot, Girls, Grouplove, Kevin Devine, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, The Kooks, Malajube, Mason Jennings, Memoryhouse, Milagres, Neon Indian, The Raincoats, Saves The Day, Tom Vek, Toro Y Moi, Toddla T and Wolves Like Us.
That’s all for this week (or at least for this post). Check back tomorrow when I tackle a couple acts I missed today and bring you a few other new ladies to put in your ears. Until then, follow me on Twitter or feel free to PM me on here with love or hate mail.