Monday, 28 December 2009

Pictorial | The Awe Kids

by Little Miss B & Rachel, 26th Dec 2009...

Last week, brilliant photographer and wonderful new contributor Rachel and I popped down to Shoreditch to see The Awe Kids play... Feast your eyes.


Elspeth



The Awe Kids: Jon, Elspeth & James


Elspeth

A full review will be running in the New Year. For gig and tour dates, click here.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Song Of The Week | The Pretenders

by Little Miss B, 25th Dec 2009...


2000 Miles

Happy Holidays my lovelies: we hope you have a bleedin' brilliant festive season, and we'll see you all in the New Year!

From all the girls...

x




The Breeders
Betty And The Werewolves 
Kate Bush 
Sleater-Kinney

Monday, 21 December 2009

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Review | An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump

by Little Miss B, 15th Dec 2009...


An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump EP Launch | Buy A Life
 

The Victoria, Mile End, Thurs 10th Dec.
Support by Veronica Falls and Battant.

With a line-up like this, the launch of An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump's EP Buy A Life was always going to be a good night. However, I didn't bank on it being quite SO good. Playing at the brilliant The Victoria in Mile End, a dreary Thursday night was transformed into sheer brilliance at the hands of three phenomenal bands.




East London based electroclash trio Battant churn out dark, moody, synth inspired punk, reminiscent of bands such as Joy Division and Ladytron. Fronted by Chloe Raunet, with Joel Dever and Tim Fairplay playing back up, this band are a surprising live treat. I've heard their music before, but have never seen them on stage, and I'm pleased to say my expectations were well surpassed.
 

Chloe has a presence rarely found in such young frontwomen, made all the more appealing by her fiercely androgynous look, plain white vest and suspendered jeans. Obvious vocal comparisons would be to Ari Up and Siouxsie Soux, but Chloe's lack of vocal dramatics maintain the authenticity of this performance. This is not aping: Battant are very much their own band. Couple this with the interesting polarity of natural ease, and slightly awkward stage antics and you are rendered hopelessly in awe.
 

Unfortunately, a few songs sounded quite similar but there's certainly enough here to get excited about. 'Kevin 1989' and 'Radio Rod' are little gems, and genuinely make me keen to find out what this band will do next. Battant released album 'No Head' in May 09 and have officially become my new musical obsession. Expect to see a lot more about them across the pages of The Girls Are...





If you have never seen Veronica Falls play then I COMMAND and DEMAND that you rectify this epic fail immediately. Imagine pure joy, personified, holding instruments, and you might come close to imagining this band. Veronica Falls are Patrick, James, Marion and lead singer Roxanne, and on this night were pure frackin brilliance. Akin to such shoegaze and C86 bands as Comet Gain and Black Tambourine, this foursome were blissful to behold: Marion on bass, barely moving, eyes down, Roxanne's exuberance on vox, James with his guitar up around his chin and Patrick pounding the drums, every single song was pure perfection.

The boys' harmonies, layered with Roxanne's slightly eerie vocals made for an atmospheric set, with songs 'Beechy Head' and 'Found Love In A Graveyard' pleasing the attentive crowd. As always with Veronica Falls, each song (although not flawless) is just as brilliant as the one that follows. Without a doubt, these guys are one of the best bands around. The January show with The Vivian Girls is going to be incredible. Gush gush gush. Veronica Falls are due to play at tomorrow at Barden's Boudoir on Kingsland Road with Male Bonding, Golden Grrls and Teen Sheikhs.




Photograph courtesy of Layla Smethurst...

If you have ever visited this site before, you will have garnered just how much I adore An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump. They are not indie, they are not punk: they nestle somewhere in the middle. A wonderfully dark place, with Lydia Lunch, Richard Kern, and Kenneth Anger as neighbours. With their distorted bass, intense reverb, gut-wrenching vocals and short songs, these three girls manage to capture the essence of many of the 80's goth bands, whilst thoroughly making it their own.

On this night, they blew me away (unsurprisingly).

They are one of the most hypnotic bands you will ever see: you literally cannot tear your eyes away. Smouldering, insanely hot, and just so effortlessly cool, the Experiment girls OWN the stage. All multi-instrumentalists, their set is fluid, with each girl taking turns on bass, vocals and drums. Visuals aside, being in the same room as these ladies playing is akin to being suffocated with noise. You cannot watch idly. You cannot have a conversation with the guy standing to your right (why would you want to when these girls are on stage??) You are forced into aural submission and when it's this lot making the noise, it's a pretty great place to be.

Their cover of Sonic Youth 's '100%' was received with cheers from the audience, and personal favourite 'Lights Out' was the standout track of the evening. X-Bird's vocals were akin to someone smacking you in the face, reaching into your torso and pulling your still-beating heart out, and showing it to you. In a nice way. One cannot help being utterly floored by this band. D-Bird really shines when drumming: head down, arms in the air. C-Bird really comes into her own on bass, hair swinging in her face. Outstanding.

You can buy Buy A Life here, and I recommend you do with urgency. Your life is incomplete without it.


www.myspace.com/battantbattant
www.myspace.com/veronicafallshard
www.myspace.com/anexperimentonabirdintheairpump



To read more reviews by Little Miss B, click below:
Spinnerette 
Laura Marling 
L*dyGarden

Introducing | The Awe Kids

by Little Miss B, 16th Dec 2009...



As the ever-wise Sheryl Crow once said, "a change will do you good". A change is as good as a rest, if it ain't broke don't.... Ok, so that last one went a little bit off track. My point is, that sometimes all a person or a project needs is a bit of a change for its true potential to come to fruition.

The Awe Kids are a prime example of this: originally forming in early 2009, lead singer and founding member Elspeth became unhappy with the direction the band was taking. Cue a complete overhaul leading to the recruitment of members James (keys), Jon (guitar) and Dave (drums).
Having only been together since October 09 they have already played Oxjam Brixton Takeover and more recently had their track played at Club NME London.

Although only early days, this 'electro-pop' four piece possess a quiet confidence that assures the listener they are destined for great things. However, the self-identified electro-pop tag is a little misleading. There is a moodyness to their songs that far outreaches 'pop' bands. Dark, atmospheric tracks like The Pressure and Stuck In London are almost reminiscent of Bronski Beat (without the falsetto vox). Frontwoman Elspeth's fascinating voice regularly swings between sweet and girly, and booming, dramatic baritone. There is far more to this band, than merely electro-pop. They are not yet a slick, tight unit, and they have bumps to iron out in their songwriting, but this only adds to their charm. This is a band you can believe in. This is a band whose success you will encourage with no reservation. This is a band who you can bump into in the pub and they will have a chat with you. No pretense, no ego. Swell.

Head down to The Macbeth on Sunday night to check them out:






The Awe Kids are currently busy preparing new material before beginning to tour in the New Year.


Head over to Myspace to check out their tracks:

http://www.myspace.com/theawekids



To read more Introductions by Little Miss B, click below:
PENS
Billy The Kid
Minnie Birch
Selah Sue

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

I Really Need You Tonight | Ultimate Power Ballads

by Little Miss B, 14th Dec 2009...

This one goes out to my big sister, Miss Ali B: karaoke wizard and awesome human being.

One of my biggest pleasures in life is karaoke. Not the posturing, 'well how unexpected of you to say so, I never noticed I had such an astounding voice' kind. Lord no. Rather, the eyes-closed, fist-clenched 'I'm going to lose my voice in the morning and make a right willy of myself in the process' type. There's nothing more gleeful than singing loudly, singing badly and not giving a darn who sees.

Now, everyone has their own personal karaoke staples. Dusty Springfield, The Righteous Brothers, Girls Aloud (you know who you are)... For me, nothing beats a power ballad. A song so powerful it can physically hurt you. A song so moving, there's just no holding back the tears. A song so epic, that is destroys the need to appear 'cool' and renders the listener at the mercy of raw, back-combed hair, guitar-shredding emotion.

So when my darling sister suggested we all troupe to Ultimate Power for my birthday celebration, I came pretty close to an excitement induced coronary. Hand on somewhat weakened heart, I can genuinely say that I have never had a funner time at a club night. Mass microphoneless karaoke/air-guitar championship/phenomenal cheese fest, Ultimate Power combines the requisite components that make karaoke the awesomest thing a human being can do; permission to belt out every song some with serious welly, space to dance, no judgement whatsoever, and a playlist containing nothing but cheesy delights.

*swoon*

The next day, whilst nursing my epic hangover, I got to thinking about what makes a good power ballad, and by my zillionth cup of tea, I'd nailed it. The joy of power ballads is that they are not meant to be listened to. They are meant to be performed. They are meant to be FELT. A good power ballad has a key change. A good power ballad provides ample opportunity for power grabs, air guitar solos and genuine belting. A good power ballad should literally bring you to your knees.

Because I love you all so dearly, I've put together my top 5 lady-made power ballads. So close your eyes, plant your feet hip-width apart, clench that fist, and sing it like you mean it.

5. The Pretenders | I'll Stand By You





4. The Bangles | Eternal Flame





3. Roxette | Listen To Your Heart





2. Alannah Myles | Black Velvet







1. Bonnie Tyler | Total Eclipse Of The Heart



To read more Top 5's by Little Miss B, click below:



Cover Songs
Bands I Miss The Most
Guilty Pleasure | The 90's

Monday, 14 December 2009

Read All About It | Album Extravaganza

by Little Miss B, 14th Dec 2009...

Oh, it's a bleedin good time for new albums! Over the past few weeks, many a good'un has been released...



Comanechi | Crime of Love

East London duo and The Girls Are favourites Comanechi released their debut album Crime of Love on 7th Dec. Expect: screechy, scratchy vox, stroppy guitar & drums. Buy it here.

Myspace.
Morningwood | Diamonds and Studs

Pop-rock outfit and Little Miss B's guilty pleasure Morningwood released sophomore album Diamonds and Studs on Oct 27th. Expect: unapoligetically catchy pop, vocal sex. Buy it here.

Myspace.
Tegan and Sara | Sainthood

Everyone's favourite twins Tegan and Sara released their sixth album Sainthood on Oct 27th. Expect: the unexpected - the twins get synthy. Buy it here.


Myspace.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Conversational | Cold In Berlin

by Little Miss B, 8th Dec 2009...





When approaching the end of the year, I tend to get my Nostradamus-on and feel somewhat prophetic. Previous insights have included the sense that I would drink an awful lot during 2009, the knowledge that eventually, the mere existence of The Saturday's would make me want to remove my own eyeballs and lastly the exact time and date of Michael Jackson's death. (That last part is not true). I am rarely wrong and therefore, I feel wholly confident and assured in the prediction I am about to make for 2010: Cold In Berlin are going to take over the world.

Be it my ungenerous nature, my innate snobbery or perhaps merely my aural impairment, but it is rare that I come across a 'new' band that genuinely excites me. A band that I can get creepy and fan-girl about. A band that gets better with each listen. Enter Cold In Berlin...

Previously Death Cigarettes, the band met as students in York and have been gigging in London for the past two years. They've been gathering steam and have recently garnered some great press and industry interest. Quite right too. Having just released double A-side Destruction/What Went Wrong on label 2076, I caught up with frontwoman Maya to find out more...


Thanks for talking to us Maya. Congratulations on the launch - What Went Wrong might just be my favourite song in the world at the moment.

M: Thank you. Most people (radio included) have preferred Destruction, but What Went Wrong is more 'me' I guess.


You were Death Cigarettes, you're now Cold in Berlin: a band's name is an integral part of their identity, especially after having garnered positive press, industry recognition and a solid following. How has the transition between names played out?

M: It has been weird. We have had so much positive response to the name change: it still feels a little strange. We were DC for a long time, but I don't think we lost any fans or anything. I think everyone was just a bit like 'well now they can get on making music'. No confusion over affiliation with a product (all be it a great and honest product) and so no confusion about whether we are endorsing cigarettes. Just good honest noise.


You've mentioned in a previous interview that Cold in Berlin feels more personal than Death Cigarettes: what's the story behind the new name?

M: DC feels so young now, we were very young when we started writing. I had been Maya 'Cigarettes' for long enough. We all felt a bit like that; like our music was different now, like we are different. Our response to life has always been through our music so it was just a natural part of growing up as a band together.

We weighed the positives with the negatives and got down to writing a list; we each brought a list to the group and we heartlessly voted yes or no. Any name with the full four votes, which wasn't many, were then on the final list; it was quite pragmatic but still hard to go through.

The actual name came from a story I had shared with Adam Foster from our label 2076 about a trip I had taken with Ad (the guitarist) to Berlin. We had been so skint and it was so cold. We were literally 'cold in Berlin'. It was one of the best breaks ever; the bleak frozen city as a back drop to our hungover days shuffling between museums and shops to stay warm. Budgeting how many coffee stops we could make until the venues opened and we could see a band and start dancing again. I have always had a quite romanticised view of cities with such an emotive history; Berlin, Prague etc. They seem full of art and music but quiet and modest, without any of the brashness you can find in London or New York.



Courtesy of WildBlanket photograpy.

Being one half of the songwriting team for The Backlash, I'm always interested in how other people write. Describe your songwriting process.

M: We write pretty much every song collaboratively. We all have very very different influences so we can always bring something different. I feel so lucky to be part of such an organic process. Sometimes if it feels good we can jam for hours, or weeks or months. When we have finally finished it might go into a set and we see how it feels live. Other times it comes very quickly and feels great so we just grab the moment and shove it in the set.


I'm also a vocalist, and often manage to really rag my voice: you go hell for leather when playing live. How do you keep your vox in shape?

M: I try to take care of my voice but I am quite lazy. I try not to eat much dairy and only have one or two (if I am really tired) cups of coffee a day. Plenty of chamomile tea, hot water with lemon and ginger so there is no milk and during the days I try and rest my voice as much as possible; but obviously you have to talk. I don't always get time to warm up- but if you look after your voice well or occasionally lose you voice, you should always warm up really. Also: steam. Hot, hot showers in a steamy bath room if there is not time for an actual 'steam', works pretty well. There are all kind of professional tips: how you stand, hold the mic etc. that can help but I often get carried away and forget them!


As the only lady in a band with boys, do you feel women are under-represented in the music industry? What importance, if any, does your gender play in your identity as a performer?

M: I think gender plays a massive part in every ones sense of self. The fact that I am a woman doesn't mean it has more or less of a role but maybe it means I am more aware of being 'different' as the music industry still seems to rely upon archaic gender stereotypes to sell music and make money.

Women aren't under-represented in the music industry or in most parts of culture; you can see our impact in literature, film, art and music. It is whether that representation of us is true or not that concerns me. I am not convinced that the playing field has been totally levelled. I am not convinced that I, as a woman, have had experiences that would let me say, honestly, I am proud of what a women can achieve when she plays by the rules. Fuck the rules.

I
 just want to make noise; real noise, not airbrushed, dressed up, made-up, 'feminine' noise but heartfelt, emotive, loud female lead noise. Noise that is as powerful and strong as any male noise, not prancy or fucking ladylike.



Courtesy of WildBlanket photograpy.

You've had a busy year: Artrocker appear to be a little bit in love with you, Courtney Love has said she has a girl crush on you, you've changed your name, and now you're launching your singles. In an ideal world, where would you be in a year's time?

M:
Hopefully the album will be out. Its tentatively due in May, and we'll be playing lots of places we've not been before.


And now, some questions we ask everyone...


Describe your sound in 5 words...
M: Raucous, dark, loud, impassioned, fearless.


What are your guilty musical pleasures?
M:
Starship, Footloose, you know, all the greats.


What the world needs now is....
M:
Just more Cold In Berlin, that's it really.


What's next?
M: Well, the second single is out (or is it the first since the name change?) on 2076. The third single will be out sometime late March or early April. Followed by the Album in May if everything goes to plan. It is quite exciting.


You are headlining your dream, all-star tour: who would your tour mates be?
M: I would love to tour with Electric Wizard, Patti Smith, Hefner, Spiritualized, Zu, John Cooper Clarke and The Band. I think that would be pretty good.


Cold In Berlin: Total Fear (Micron63 remix)




Cold In Berlin are due to play Proud Galleries in Camden on 16th Dec.

www.myspace.com/coldinberlin



To read more interviews by Little Miss B, click below:

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Read All About It | Vivian Girls and Veronica Falls

by Little Miss B, 9th Dec 2009...



January can be a gloomy month: the post Crimble anti-climax, the time of broken resolutions, self-loathing and excess winter-weight... Of course, this only applies to people who have not heard about the Vivian Girls show at The Hoxton Bar & Grill on 26th January! With support from the wonderful Veronica Falls, this is a helluva way to end the month.





Buy tickets here.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Read All About It | An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump

by Little Miss B...




Buy A Life Launch Party

Don't forget to stop by the Victoria in Mile End this Thursday 10th December for the An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump EP launch: free entry all night, with support by the brilliant Veronica Falls. Promises to be frackin brilliant!

We'll be reviewing the show here at The Girls Are... so keep your eyes peeled.

Buy A Life EP available through Rough Trade here.


Monday, 7 December 2009

Song of the Week | Betty and the Werewolves

by Little Miss B, 7th Dec 2009...

Euston Station

It's my birthday today, so in actual fact you should all be buying ME gifts... Lucky for you, I am a giving sort. From me to you, Betty and the Werewolves. Enjoy.




To hear more SOTW selections by Little Miss B, click below:

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Girls Are... Sleepy

by Little Miss B, 4th Dec 2009...

L*dyGarden, Wed 2nd December, Lock Tavern, Camden.

I'm getting old. Going out on a school night is a thing of the past, belonging to the days when I had a quiff, clear skin and nowt to worry about besides remembering to turn up to tutorials and paying my £400 a month rent. *sigh*

But in the name of lady-support (am not referring to brassieres) I decided to pop along to L*dyGarden this dreary Wed night. I'm currently taking antibiotics, so was not planning on drinking; I'd stay to watch the band, listen to some tunes and be on my merry way by eleven o'clock. Except of course, I got hideously drunk and stayed out til 8am. Oops.

It was, however, completely worth it. Anywhere that plays Kate Bush and Le Tigre within a few hours of walking through the door will always get my vote.
Hosted by three ladies so fit it hurts a bit to look at them, this was destined to be an effortlessly 'cool' affair.

Band Chapter24 were brilliant, turning the heads of every person in the room. The stage being the size of a shoebox, it was difficult to get a sense of what they are normally like live, but it was thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. Catchy songs, enigmatic vox, a whirling dervish of a frontwoman, I would definitely reccomend this band to a friend.


Some parts of the night, however, were less fun. The venue was very very small (upstairs at Lock Tavern) which was fine for a first night, but had the smoking balcony not been there, it definitely would have been a bit sardiney.
I can only see this night going from strength to strength, and with that needs to come a bit more space. It's great that the place was so packed, but should I have wanted to throw some shapes, it would have proved troublesome. It was difficult enough trying to walk from one side of the room to the other (that said, the alcohol might have had something to do with this).

My main criticism
would be that there just wasn't ENOUGH lady music: bring your vaginas and if you don't have one, you can find one here. But you might have to look quite hard to find it. I've got to be honest. I think London has been crying out for something like this, and I was a little disappointed that more wasn't made of the lady part. A female frontwoman and three female DJ's doesn't quite necessitate so much attention to be drawn to vagina's. I understand that exclusively playing lady music might limit one's audience, but I do feel that if you say you are going to do something, you should do it properly.

"Now is the time for guts and guile"...

A little more conviction in the theme wouldn't have gone amiss. It also would have been great if more bands had played (although from what I understand, the other band pulled out so I can't really criticise. Shit, after all, does happen).

All this aside, waking up at lunchtime the next day, feeling as though one might die from alcohol poisoning, and finding one's spectacles secreted under the beautiful giant sleeping next to you, generally tends to mean one has had a pretty good time. Which I did: a really bloody good time. The Witches of Eastwick played some hella good music, the band were a nice surprise and best of all, it's FREE to get in... Next time, come down and shake your groove thang.

But remember kids. Don't drink whilst taking antibiotics.
Is foolish. Very very foolish. 


To read other reviews by Little Miss B, click below:
Laura Marling
Spinnerette

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

My New Favourite Band | The Hysterical Injury

by Little Miss B, 1st Dec 2009...

Editors note - I have invented a new feature purely for the purpose of gushing about this band. I could not write a 'regular' piece on them. I have no objectivity, whatsoever. *smitten*

I cannot believe I've only just had my mole-like eyes opened to this genius. It seems impossible that a mere month ago, I did not have The Hysterical Injury in my life. How did I survive? What was the source of all my joy? What song did I play on repeat to the point of causing loved ones, peers and neighbours to weep desperately, to beg for peace, to collapse from 'hysterical' ear bleeding?

I have one man to thank for introducing me to my true love.

Robert Phoenix: inspired artist, professional encourager and bearded delight. (Incidentally, Robert was the also the chap that handed me the book, and said the words that ultimately made me quit my soul-wrecking job in telly in order to pursue scribing. He's a bit good).

The Hysterical Injury are Annie Gardiner and Lee Stone. Formed in 2007, they parted ways with third member Robert Jackson in September of 2008. They tour a lot in Bath and Brizzle, but seem to be intent on depriving London Town of their wonder. Let us stalk until they mend their ways yes? YES? Brill.





www.myspace.com/thehystericalinjury

The Girls Are going to L*dyGarden...

by Little Miss B, 1st Dec 2009...




When setting up The Girls Are, I envisaged our online community one day evolving from a virtual to a physical space. Gig nights, club nights, lady gatherings... For there is a distinct sparcity of lady-musical gatherings in London Town. This is still firmly a part of the plan, but imagine my surprise and JOY when coming across L*dyGarden, a new night to be hosted in Camden on Wed 2nd Dec! Tomorrow, for all of y'all who don't have a calender. Providing a "leg up for female fronted bands, performers and DJs in the London music scene", L*dyGarden is hosted by terror-trio The Witches of Eastwick and promises to be a right good'un. "Expect a heady combination of riot grrl, rockabilly, rock n roll, powerpop and party classics", not to mention live band action from Chapter24 ('Like the Slits playing psychedelic rock' according to NME). More L*dyGarden events will follow, and we at The Girls Are intend to keep you in the lady loop.

My girls and I will be attending.
Get your girls and come down too.

Remember: bring your vaginas... if you don't have one, you can find one there.


Lock Tavern, 35 Chalk Farm Road, Camden. 8pm - 12.

The Girls Are Podcast No. 1

by Little Miss B, 1st December 2009...

The wonderful Dee from An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump is our very first The Girls Are podcast host, and we are mighty pleased to welcome her to the fold. Download half an hour of pure aural pleasure:
thegirlsarepodcast.mp3 


The Girls Are Podcast No. 1

Fever Ray - If I Had A Heart
Mika Miko - Take Hold
Lydia Lunch - Spooky
The Shermans - Dumbhead
Dum Dum Girls - Ship of Love
Mazzy Star - Ghost Highway
Blue On Blue - See You In Day
Camera Obscura - Eighties Fan
Theoretical Girl - O Holy Night

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Song of the Week | The Breeders


Cannonball

I've got the flu. The rotten stinking flu, accompanied by an infection of the chestal area, and I am feeling very bloody sorry for myself. So I shall cheer my spirits with one of my favourite songs from my favourite bands. The Deals, oh how I heart you...




To hear more SOTW selections by Little Miss B, click below:

Penny Lane Has Got A Lot To Answer For...

by Steph, 29th Nov 2009...


My friends have already heard this mini-tale now turned into an article, mainly due to the fact I regale in telling it.

It all starts with my big sister Olivia, who used to live in LA. She worked as a model and Laker Girl, enjoying a totally fabulous blonde hair, tanned skin life or so I thought. I am ten years her junior and was only a teenager then. Any lifestyle in the Santa Monica sunshine would have appeared glamorous and fabulous to me.

So, during a rather poignant West Coast visit, big sis give me a piece of advice that has stuck to my conscious ever since, "Steph, promise me you'll never date a musician. Musicians go on tour and fuck groupies."

The hard line; in your face little one! Or so I thought. Some hot, musically gifted band member had broken her fragile heart and she wanted to save her little sister from a similar future hardship.

Unsurprisingly, the sentiment later extended to actors. In this case, a Beverley Hills 90210 alum with a serious narcs habit. Then of course artists; she still cringes if she stumbles upon his name in the paper and equally laughs at the lengths he goes to shock. And finally photographers (she came to 'protect' me when I did a shoot with him in later years).

Interestingly, the message has obviously stayed with me because I have never had a relationship with a musician. I've been on a date with one or two, but never had a serious tie to any and I'm sure this is because somewhere in my psyche, there was a little Liv tap, tap, tapping on my synapse; "walk away from the guitarist. He may be hot, but he'll go on tour and..." "Walk away from the drummer! For all you know he's got a wife and three kids in NYC." Needless to say, lead singers never even had a look in, with or without Liv's advice, I'm not that stupid!

And that's where my article is going, the women who are happy not knowing or simply don't care; Pro Hoes, Band Rats, Groupies, Band Chicks, Fan Girls, Band Whores, Star Fuckers, Snuff Queens and the most famous of all, Band Aids. Oh please. Let's turn this on it's head and look at the ladies who are so willing to offer themselves on a sweaty dressing room platter.

I've done a bit of research (God bless the Internet), to extend my understanding and have discovered a rather disturbing underlying epidemic. Do you realise there are groupie websites? Groupie forums dedicated to discussing tactics on how to get noticed, getting backstage and the like. Even Rolling Stone magazine dedicated an edition to them in 1969 entitled; Groupies: The Girls of Rock. A celebration of the groupie. It's an interesting title in terms of female genre representation, but I'll get back to that.


These days it seems there's a new breed of groupie, an elite. The lady bait has got better. The caliber of clunge has got a bit more 'celebrity'. A rather beautiful young lady presenter, model, actress, photographer or a clever filly multitasking all of the above with a penchant for all things band boy. The serial band boy girlfriend. The more famous ones tend to date the front man. FACT!



What's the draw, though? Is it the talent? Or the creativity? The buzz of the occasional fan stopping them in the street asking for a picture? Sweaty pheromones? On the flip side, the band members could be likened to a lady's accessory. Instead of handbag envy, they get to parade their boyfriend and dangle his status. Instead of a look screaming 'my Sergio Rossi boots are so much hotter than your Office rip offs', it's become 'my boyfriend is so much cooler than yours.' The scene backstage at festivals is hilarious; it's like boyfriend trump cards. Front man beats bassist, but lead guitarist of a 'super' band beats pretty much everyone else and so on.

Are these women our generation's women of rock? I don't think so! Groupies and serial daters aren't what they used to be. Looking back at Pamela Des Barres, The Plaster Casters, Jenny Dean and Emeretta Marks, their roles weren't simply as gratuitous sex objects, but far more. They were substitute wives, washing clothes, making sure their tour husband ate properly and it goes without saying, provided the sexual wares, too. It stands to reason that lots of wives join band tours now. It's not uncommon to see the kids running around at sound check. How times have changed...





In Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, author John Shepherd touches on the subject of groupies with an interesting take on the scene; "a lot of groupie identity and activity had to do with female support and most importantly, competition".

This of course, is a given. Every human has a competitive streak, to varying degree. Though taking it further, we're all aware of the groupie heyday being the 60's and 70's. The era of male super group tours. In fact, Shepherd and Sheryl Garratt, a certified and heavily experienced groupie, believe this groupie phenomenon to be closely linked with the secondary role of women during that era."It is best understood in terms of the lack of opportunity for women in 1960's rock culture. With so few role models to follow, to fantasize about being on stage as a female performer may be almost a contradiction in terms. Instead, most of us dreamt of being a pop star's girlfriend; fame and recognition by proxy." Shepherd questioned whether or not, given time and with more women performing on stage, the attitude of 'I can't be on stage, so I'll get as close as I can and date the guy on stage instead', might change. I'm on the fence, Sheppy-boy.

Admittedly, Continuum was written in the early 80's, but can groupies still be summed up as women lacking talent or simply lacking the courage and conviction to follow their dreams, willing to supplement fame and recognition by association? Even now there are wives and girlfriends of band members who are guilty of this... Sad, isn't it. Can we really say it's moved on?

Having said all that, there are some fantastic band girlfriends and wives; genuinely wonderful women and they're the ones who are safe. Their men don't cheat. Why would they? The women they've been blessed with are beautiful, funny, friendly and most of the time very smart cookies. They know the risk they take in their men, but there's obviously something worth doing it for. Love. It gets us all in the end.




So if we can take something from this, I look up to the women of rock, the ones who created a female noise and did it for themselves, without having to suck a lead singers cock in the process. They fought for their dreams and talent. The trailblazers; Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, Diana Ross, Janis Ian, Pat Benatar, Alannah Myles, Patti, Dolly, Dusty, Gloria, Joni, Karen, Stevie and Tammy. We owe you big time, ladies. So if you're a girl, are you simply going to kneel down to get a slivered glimpse of the fame and creativity you crave or are you going to forge it for yourself?

And always remember; never date a musician. They go on tour and fuck groupies. 



To read more articles by Steph, click below:
Ipod God



Girls in the Garage | The Case of Char Vinnedge and the Luv’d Ones

by Sini, 29th Nov 2009...

The Wikipedia entry for garage rock defines it as a ‘raw form of rock and roll that was first popular in the United States and Canada from about 1963 to about 1967’. Nevertheless, garage rock was not a recognised genre in the 1960s, and the term only came into being in the 1970s. The style had been evolving within regional US scenes since the late 1950s, but the triumphant appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 and the consequent British Invasion marked a huge increase in the number of bands. The stereotypical garage band comprised of amateurish but enthusiastic youngsters who rehearsed in their parents’ garage (hence the name). The groups did their best to imitate the sound and approaches of their British idols, but frequently ended up with a rawer, more urgent sound and songs that reflected their own, often very adolescent, concerns. Significantly, the garage rockers’ ‘Do It Yourself’ attitude towards music-making anticipated the ideals of 1970s punk – anyone could play an instrument, and more even importantly, anyone could be in a band.

The DIY aesthetic mainly inspired teenage boys to pick up instruments and attempt world domination. However, there were several all-women bands that were well-known live attractions within their regional scenes in the 60s – Detroit’s the Pleasure Seekers (remembered for being Suzi Quatro’s first band), Chicago’s the Daughters of Eve and Minnesota’s the Continental Co-ets to name a few. Unfortunately, these bands are not properly recognised in the garage rock canon, and girl combos are still today a rarity on garage compilations (with the exception of Romulan Records’ Girls in the Garage series). A good example of this exclusion can be found on Rhino’s 1998 box-set Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968. Although a staggering 118 tracks are included, the box-set features the talents of four women (three vocalists and one session bass player; no all-female bands)!


The Luv’d Ones were an all-female American garage rock band in the 1960s – this makes them, already by definition, a true rarity. However, they were not a novelty act playing on the ‘gimmick’ of being girls with guitars (which was how all-women bands were frequently seen at the time), but a musical force that had to be taken seriously. Active between the years of 1965 and 1968, the band featured the considerable talents of Char Vinnedge (vocals, lead guitar) with Chris Vinnedge (bass), Mary Gallagher (rhythm guitar) and Faith Orem (drums). Char was the undisputed leader of the gang; not only did she sing lead vocals, play lead guitar and write the original songs, but also took care of their equipment, bookings and artwork, and even drove the van when required. The Luv’d Ones were signed to Dunwich Records, but they never got to make an album – only seven songs were released in the 1960s. Their recorded output (three singles and previously unissued demos) was released as Truth Gotta Stand by Sundazed in the late 1990s.

The band’s repertoire consisted of covers of popular songs with some originals added to the mix (this is in line with most garage bands’ repertoires during the period). What set them apart from other groups – except for their obvious ladyism! – were Char’s moody and dark, but melodic originals. From the Beatlesque ‘Yeah, I’m Feeling Fine’ to the bittersweet ‘Dance Kid Dance’ (‘Dance kid dance, have your fun, winter is coming, summer’s gone…’) the Luv’d Ones sound like no other band. Char had a habit of tuning her Gibson SG down a full step, which played a huge part in why the group’s music has frequently been described as ‘dark’, ‘gloomy’ or even ‘haunting’. In addition, Char’s preference for minor keys, her lead vocals (she usually sings in her lower register and hardly ever uses any expressive singing techniques) and the accompanying harmonies contribute to the ‘darkness’ often heard in the music. Compared to most garage rock from the period which often celebrated directionless teenage angst and partying, the Luv’d Ones sound rather grown-up. In fact, even though Char had started playing the piano as a child, she only learned to play the guitar and formed the Luv’d Ones in her early 20s – the stereotypical garage performer is considerably younger.




In addition to the unusual sound, the Luv’d Ones had something else going for them too: Char Vinnedge was a true guitar hero at a time when female guitarists were an extremely rare breed. This lady was very accomplished on her instrument (just listen to those fuzz guitar solos!), and she was always tinkering with her equipment, looking for new sounds. The last song on Truth Gotta Stand, the psychedelia-influenced ‘Your Mind Is’ with its screeching Hendrixque guitar solo was an indication of things to come: after the Luv’d Ones disbanded, Char went onto play with Billy Cox (of the Band of Gypsys fame) on 1971’s Nitro Function. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any information on what happened to her between the early 70s and her premature death in 1998. I assume that if she had actively been making music, it would have been at least mentioned somewhere. What happened?

The Luv’d Ones were not only a great girl band; they were a great band, full stop. Nevertheless, I am not surprised by the fact that they did not ‘make it’ – the world was not ready for an all-female group like the Luv’d Ones in the 1960s – but I do wonder why they are still a mere footnote in the history of garage rock.





Monday, 23 November 2009

Happy Birthday!



Our lovely contributor Jane Bradley had a birthday on Saturday, and we just wanted to wish her a happy weekend full of cake and celebrations and lots and lots of alcohol.

Bisous bisous.

From the girls at The Girls Are...

x

Thursday, 19 November 2009

I heart... Eilen Jewell

by Kim, 19th Nov 2009...



Eilen Jewell occupies a complex mis-mashed space between americana, alt country, jazz, blues and singer/songwriter and a million genres in between. Sounds terrible, huh ? The first time I tried to describe it to someone I watched their face contort at trying to imagine what in the hell that could sound like. Strange thing is, it’s not terrible. In the slightest. It’s intoxicating, beautiful, soulful, and the kind of music that you slip inside like an already occupied bed - and have listened to twice before you even know it.

Eilen cut her performance teeth busking on Venice Beach early this decade, before heading back to her native Boston and becoming a part of the city’s folk community. She has to date recorded one self released, two studio albums and one with her gospel side project The Sacred Shakers (you really should check our their rendition of John The Revelator, it certainly puts one Mr Billy Childish’s version into perspective).

The music she makes draws from so many different influences, it’s not firmly entrenched in any one scene and therefore is the definition of accessible.

Her first solo studio offering 2007's Letters from Sinners & Saints was my introduction to her and I fell for it in a big way. Coming on like some kind of prohibition era sultry songstress her honey dipper vocals purr through the songs. She’s either the female Greg Dulli, or the woman who would prove to be his match. The record oozes with booze and men and turning bad after being wronged. It’s uber-cinematic and wouldn’t feel out of place as the soundtrack to a Tennesse Williams play or even some vintage David Lynch. Stand out tracks include Too Hot to Sleep and High Shelf Booze. One play and you’ll be hooked.

Her second studio album, this years Sea of Tears ditches the fiddle playing prevalent on her earlier works and replaces it with an altogether more rock and roll edge. Suddenly you can hear The Animals, The Byrds and a whole lot of Rockabilly thrown in the mix. Her cover of Shakin’ All Over is the sexiest damn rock’n’roll song you will ever hear.

She’s currently mid way through an epic US tour with no UK dates in sight: pick up a copy of her record (both are available on emusic) and join me in writing her embarrassingly fangirl-ish emails begging her to come visit.





http://eilenjewell.com/
http://www.emusic.com/artist/Eilen-Jewell-MP3-Download/11829318.html
http://www.last.fm/music/Eilen+Jewell

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Conversational | iMMa

by Little Miss B, 18th Nov 2009...

To know me is to know my inability to fib, to know my scorn of sycophants. I don't do polite for polite sake when it comes to opining on any given subject. Rude: never. Honest: always. So, I'll be honest folks. iMMa should not be my cup of tea. I tend to gravitate towards a more low-fi sound, a more low-fi aesthetic. Skunk Anansie, Garbage et al have never been my bag - that's not to say I think they are crap. It's just not my thing.

So, when I went to see iMMa play live last week, I expected to leave the show nonchalant. Nonplussed. Apathetic. Well holy shitola: imagine my surprise when I turned out to be... impressed. First of all, this girl has a VOICE. I can only describe her vocal as utterly flawless. (Jealous). Secondly, she has an on-stage presence that is so natural, so genuine that one cannot help but be engaged. Lastly, this unfeasibly lovely young lady has a refreshing and enormously endearing level of self-belief and determination that manages to never appear arrogant or earnest. Personal musical taste aside, one cannot argue with how incredibly, ridiculously, stupendously talented this girl is. If this genre of music IS your kind of thing, then iMMa is basically your wet dream. Metaphorically of course. Here at The Girls Are, we always applaud those who have sufficient knackers to DO rather than merely talk about. I spoke to iMMa to find out more...










iMMa - thanks for talking to The Girls Are....
Is this all you've ever wanted to do?



i: Hey! No, when I was younger I wanted to be a ballet dancer, then a horse racing jockey and then at the ripe age of 16 decided that singing was what I wanted to do more than anything! But it took me a while to figure out what genre - as I loved so many different styles!




You've had a busy year touring as Mika's backing singer - how does it feel to concentrate on your own material again?


i: I love singing with Mika and playing to his amazing audiences, but there is something really special about singing something that comes from you. I love my music and I love my boys in the band and get a really raw feel with us all playing our hearts out. I miss writing, since being on the road with Mika, I haven't written as much as I would like to, but whenever lyrics pop into my head I write them down on whatever is handy (generally after a long flight, when I'm going slightly delirious).




You still write and play with ex-band member Jonas Jalhay and yet iMMa is very much your project: do you feel more comfortable being out there 'on your own' or do you miss being part of a 'band'?


i: It's weird being a "solo" artist since I play with a band on stage and we all hang out together, so from that aspect it still feels very much like a band. The first time I really noticed the difference was on my first photo shoot. It was so strange to be doing shots without the guys, I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious. When you're in a band you feel invincible, there's a real camaraderie, but on your own you have to muster up that feeling, which can sometimes be tricky!! But am settling into it a lot more now!




Describe your songwriting process.


i: Well it kind of depends on the song, but generally myself, Jonas or Kate (KillaK, another girl I write with) come up with a riff or line and we jam round ideas together, until we have the final song. Writing is a deeply personal process for me, it's strange; I will sing on a stage in front of countless people and be fine, but when it comes to writing I am still very insecure about it. Tears generally make an appearance, but I get through it! After it's done I am not overly critical and I sit with the song and rarely change it. (Although I have been known to completely re-write the lyrics of a song twenty minutes before recording them (God Send - track 8 on album)!!)




Everything you are currently doing is self-funded: do you feel this affords you more freedom as an artist?


i: Yes and no. In one aspect you have more freedom since you are your own boss and you get the final say and complete creative control, but on the other hand life does take over and you need to earn a living, pay bills, rent, feed your shopping habit........cough cough... and pay for your album, rehearsals, gigs, flights, etc....Whereas if you have a label behind you, they give you an advance so that you don't have to work and can purely become, "the artiste", at the expense, usually, of some creative control.I have loved seeing my project develop. My manager Laura and I have learnt so much on the way as we have done literally everything ourselves. From writing the songs in a room to seeing it on Spotify, you really feel like you have achieved something. It's a great feeling and I wouldn't change it for the world!






You've said that your performances are a genuine reaction to how you're feeling in the moment: in an era rife with hyper-styled and considered artists, do you feel there is a need to get back to basics in terms of performance?

i: No I don't, I think that performance has evolved and you may get super styled pop artists that have been choreographed to the nines, but you also get those gutsy raw performers too. I think people pay good money to see acts, they wanna see a show and if great singers or certain manufactured artists are not natural performers, then why not turn to choreographed moves and props? At the moment the music industry relies heavily on live performances for income, the element of performance has never been so important.
Personally I prefer seeing something more real. When you see an artist totally stripped of all props and choreography, it makes them more human. I don't think there is anything more beautiful than seeing somebody in a state of raw emotion.


You have a very distinctive vocal: at times you can sound like a blues artist, at others you remind me of Kate Bush. Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?

i: My musical influences vary; when I grew up I listened to Carly Simon - I love her great low range and her song writing is magical, it really paints a picture. I listened a lot to The Beatles and the big Soul singers like Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan. Later on in life I had and still have huge respect for Skin from Skunk Anansie. Her vocal strength is amazing and I think I developed my big range by singing along to Skunk songs!


Given the recent influx of male indie bands, and female pop stars, where do you see yourself fitting into the current musical landscape?

i: I am neither indie nor pop and I think the market that I am trying to slot into is smaller and more underground and, as a result, more unpredictable. Having said that, music is constantly evolving and there is plenty of space for a female rock artist to create her own niche.


Do you feel women are under-represented in the music industry? What importance, if any, does your gender play in your identity as a performer?

i: There are more and more strong female artists now than ever before in the music industry, whether it be in terms of their performance, production or every aspect of their career. I don't think women nowadays have to compromise artistically as much as they may have done in the past. Personally I don't feel restricted as a woman on stage and I don't feel the need to use my sexuality to appeal to the audience. At the end of the day I am on stage to perform my music - I don't think too much about the rest!!


And now for some questions we ask everyone....

Which current bands do you rate?
5 artists/bands I rate - so tricky......
Biffy Clyro, Regina Spektor, Skunk Anansie, Queens of the Stone Age, Amy Studt.

Describe your sound in 5 words...
Strong, Vulnerable, Melodic, Honest, ROCKIN!!

What are your guilty musical pleasures?
Definitely Disney - O my God, I love Disney, whenever I'm feeling down put on a Disney song get a kazoo and play them - I'm telling you..... AMAZING!! Fuck Prozac; Disney songs and a kazoo is all you need!!!

What the world needs now is....
More iMMa.....obviously........ or er....World Peace?

What's next?
Sell more albums. Write more songs. Record songs. Play my little heart out. Sell more albums. Write more songs. Record songs. Play my little heart out. Sell more albums. Write more songs. Record songs. Play my little heart out.

You are headlining your dream, all-star tour: who would your tourmates be?
Skunk Anansie, Sevendust, Biffy Clyro, Marylin Manson.



video

Poison Eyes filmed at Brighton Concorde 2 back in April 2009.


Poision Eyes features on iMMa's debut album 'The Clue's in the Title' which is available through iTunes and her two websites:


To read more interviews by Little Miss B, click below:
An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump
Cold In Berlin