“Now It’s The Women’s Turn” Mixtape
September 16, 2010 § 3 Comments
Title borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard, which I just finished re-reading. So I’m posting a quick little mix of lady singers in various incarnations, although, my selection was fairly limited due to most of my music still sitting on an iPod that has a collection that went with my old computer when it keeled over. As a result, this is just from stuff I have on my new computer. Things missing, that I can think of offhand: Garbage (anybody that knows me, is aware that I love Shirley Manson’s voice), Beth Orton, Emm Gryner, Stereolab, a lot of britpop, various dreampop bands and pretty much all 60s girl groups. There’s countless more of course, but, let’s talk about what is here.
Actually, let me indulge first in discussing the content and background. Basically, I used to hate female singers… loathed. This was when I was quite young, when the majority of my musical knowledge was derived from dance pop radio (Britney Spears, Spice Girls ect.) and whatever my sister used to blast in her bedroom, which was mostly groups with male singers. So all I really thought girls sounded like, with few exceptions, was that sort of whiny vocal styling of bad varieties of bubblegum, or women who like to display their massive range in every song by hitting every note needlessly a la Mariah Carey, or well…Cher (who we all know is actually a man). Even once I discovered that of course all women don’t sound shrill, whiny or the same, I still hadn’t really found the female sound I really, really liked, which led to me having mixed feelings about becoming a singer myself. (Actually, I ‘learned’–or whatever you want to call it–to sing by practicing along with male singers.) So, long story, long, I’ve reconciled my prejudices against my sex as singers by discovering good singers, and some good bad singers. Enjoy.
Tracklisting (you’ll note two of the songs have some male vocals too, but they aren’t necessarily leads)
1. Une Berceuse pour Clive by The Liminanas Ironically, this song has very sparse singing and is mostly instrumental, but, it’s my favourite of what little sampling I’ve heard from this band. French speaking-sort-of-singing is one of my favourite styles.
2. Laika by Damon and Naomi Sixty-six percent of Galaxie 500, maintains that slow, contemplative style of the defunct band. Back in 1992, this album got only a little attention, but it’s beautiful with a lot of dreamy, clear singing and minor chords.
3. Foggy Eyes by Beat Happening Most people associate Calvin Johnson with Beat Happening as the singer, but Heather Lewis, I think, was quite underrated as a singer. She can’t really sing well in terms of what you might call technique, but her style fits with the DIY aesthetic of Beat Happening. It’s also an incredibly catchy song.
4. Brite Futures by Dum Dum Girls A newbie influenced by a lot of good oldies, I love the rough straightforward vocals, coupled with fuzzy production. My favourite song off of Blissed Out. While it certainly has similarities to other staples of indie and twee, this song is still very modern and up to date sounding and that’s the standout quality.
5. Whitechapel by The Vaselines Off the new album, I was disappointed when I noted that Frances doesn’t have really any song where she is featured as the lead, and even here I’d say it’s more shared lead. I love her voice, it’s sweet and a bit femme fatale in a naive sounding way. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about sex and sound so innocent, while still wry. I wouldn’t say this is a prime example of that, but just generally speaking of The Vaselines’ discography.
6. Shoulder by The School So, at first I kind of hated The School. I found the singing to be too sugary sweet and sometimes I still cringe a little, but if you’re in the mood for that it’s actually cool 60s inspired pop, by people that sound like fans in the most endearing fashion.
7. We Can’t Be Friends by Black Tambourine Probably where Dum Dum Girls get most of their inspiration from in terms of sound and vocal stylings. Anyway, Black Tambourine just sounds more badass, with a lot of great high soprano harmonies mixed with a wall of fuzzy guitar, and really loud high bass guitar that provides more melody than the guitar actually.
8. Le Chat Du Cafe Des Artistes by Charlotte Gainsbourg On the other end of the spectrum as far as mixing and production goes when compared to the previous track on this mix, Gainsbourg’s singing is right up front in the mix. Her voice is low and seductive, almost talking. It feels like she’s whispering in your ears.
9. Lazy Line Painter Jane by Belle & Sebastian Of course I had to include something by Belle & Sebastian, given Stuart’s obsession with girls singing. Here’s an early example of shared vocal parts. His singing is completely overpowered by guest singer, Monica Queen.
10. The End by Liechtenstein This funnily enough isn’t the final track of my mix, but another all-girl band hailing from Sweden obviously influenced by 80s and 90s all-girl bands. It’s a very pretty lo-fi ballad with great harmonies, with simple melody. It has a timeless quality.
11. The Void by The Raincoats An example of girls who can’t sing or really play violin well, sounding like an awesome incarnation of ladies’ post-punk, proving that it’s possible to be just as good as the guys. The music is cleverly a combination of musical limitation, with raw attitude, and yet, it’s smart too.
12. Why Am I So Lonely? by Chin Chin I honestly, don’t know very much about Chin Chin. They’re just a fun 80s all-girl band, and this particular song urges sing-alongs. It’s feminine, macho and intelligent all at the same time, while maintaining the spirit of punk-pop. It never dissolves into crappy pop-punk styles akin to The Donnas, for example.