News and reviews of queer women in music.
As recently as the 1990s, it felt like only a handful of gay musicians were out and proud, singing songs we could relate to and see ourselves in. Thankfully as times change, so does the music industry, and queer artists are viable parts of every musical genre. Lesbians are now visible in everything from punk rock to neo-soul to modern country.
Sound Check is AfterEllen.com’s new monthly music column dedicated to looking at lesbian and bi musicians. Each month we’ll take a look at live acts, new recordings and give you a rundown of what’s been making music news lately.
I’ll be writing the column, and just like the rest of AfterEllen.com, I encourage your thoughts and comments. Music is a matter of taste, and this is just mine. I’ve written about it for publications such as The Village Voice, Time Out Chicago, Punk Planet, OurChart.com and of course, AfterEllen.com. So here we go … testing one, two, three.
Khaela Maricich is The Blow, a queer, one-woman electro-pop act from Portland, Ore. On her current tour, she played at small clubs to mostly sold-out crowds that were anxious to hear how the songs from her K Records album Paper Television would translate onstage — especially after she announced it would be the last time she sang these songs live.
Onstage at the Empty Bottle with nothing but a microphone and a water bottle, Khaela nodded to her girlfriend by the sound booth, who pressed "play" on her laptop to start the background tracks. Dressed in white pants and a shirt with the collar flipped and the sleeves rolled up, she grooved solo like a karaoke star who lacked choreography but had a natural, though awkward, rhythm.
But it works for The Blow, whose songs like "Parentheses" are the perfect kind of pop music, with cute and clever choruses such as, "When you’re holding me, we make a pair of parentheses/There’s plenty of space to encase whatever weird way my mind goes, I know I’ll be safe in these arms."
Watch the video for "Parentheses" by The Blow below:
Khaela is BFF with Miranda July, so it’s not a surprise that her show comes off more as performance art than a normal concert. The theme throughout her show was teaching the audience how to write their own songs so that they wouldn’t miss hers, even if the lyrics are about something like a water bottle that never calls you back — odd but enthralling.
Another inspiring solo gal, Jenny Hoyston, played as part of the kick-off of Ladyfest Chicago in October and continues to tour throughout November. Jenny is the vocalist and guitarist of Erase Errata and also plays as Paradise Island. Her newest trio, aptly named Lesbians, is the queerest of them all, but her new album as simply Jenny Hoyston is just as feminist and radical as fans have come to expect, but with a little more romance.
Watch the video for "Motions" by Jenny Hoyston (Paradise Island) below:
Playing songs from her recent release Isle Of (Southern Records)at the loft space Av-Aerie, Jenny was joined by a drummer, but kept all eyes on her with her soulful vocals and small stature. Her indie aesthetic has a folk edge with a throwback to old-school songwriting, and though her set was short (especially for the amount of material she has in her repertoire) it was a rad re-creation of her newest songs.