Sunday, 27 September 2009

Read All About It | Tegan and Sara

Little Miss B, 27th September 2009...

The Girls Are... favourites Tegan and Sara are due to release eagerly awaited new album 'Sainthood' on Oct 27th, and have kindly provided the web world with a sneak preview of cover artwork and track listings. In addition to the album, T&S are releasing their first ever set of books chronicling a year in their lives. The books are titled ON, IN and AT and will only be available for purchase with the pre-order of Sainthood

Not only that, Quin fans, but the ladies themselves are due to play the O2 Shepherds Bush Arena on Fri 13th November. Hurrah!

See below for ticket info.

Introducing | Billy The Kid

Little Miss B, 27th September 2009...

If you are as yet unacquainted with the sheer brilliance that is Billy The Kid, then I am gloriously pleased to make this introduction. If you are a smarty pants, know-it-all and all this is old news, then I can only commend you on your fantastic taste and suggest we both give ourselves an almighty pat on the back for being in the know.

Billy the Kid (nee Billy Pettinger) is a bit of an idol for me. Not only does she write beautiful music and have a heart-wrenchingly exquisite voice but moreover she is a pro-active, altruistic many-fingered/many-pied wizard. Being a benevolent bunch with a philanthropic agenda, we at The Girls Are… applaud anybody who gives others the chance to benefit from their musical expertise.

Billy has been crafting her own music since the wee age of 12 and also happens to be a multi-instrumentalist. Playing the piano, guitar, drums and harmonica, it seems only fitting that at just 18, Billy got some friends together and formed a band: Billy the Kid and the Lost Boys. Over the years this band evolved into a collective operating under the motto “Kids in Bands Helping Kids in Bands”. Not content with having a burgeoning career as a recording artist, Billy also sits at the helm of the “Lost Cause” empire, encompassing Lost Records (now housing 9 acts and 12 releases), the Lostice which functions as a booking and promotions office, the Lost Bus, and more recently the Lost Youth Music Society.

A bit good non?

Am on a personal mission to get this young lady to hop across the pond and put some music in our London ears. Join me in a bit of casual stalking.

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

The Great Debate | La Roux

Little Miss B, 27th September 2009...

Leisurely flicking through The Guide on Saturday morning, I was disappointed to stumble across yet another damning review of Elly Jackson. Is it just me, or does this girl receive an unnecessary level of criticism?

Firstly, it is worth pointing out that La Roux are a duo. For those who are linguistically challenged, this means there are TWO people in this band. I hate hate hate that only one of them gets vilified, and for the rubbishest of reasons.

Journo Alex Macpherson opines "Her staggering ignorance is rivaled only by her lack of talent: the woman cannot sing".

Much of the debate surrounding the lovely little ginge concerns her ability (or lack thereof) to actually sing. Not to mention the flack she receives all over YouTube for being 'just so ugly'. Ummm, has anyone taken a look at Thom York recently? When did having a good face have anything to do with musical prowess? Now, I'm certainly not saying La Roux are up there with Radiohead, but crikey moses - cut the girl some slack.

(Editors note - the above statement has nothing to do with Little Miss B’s enormously biased, ardent admiration of all people ginge).

I will concede that often, in interviews, Elly Jackson can come across as.... a tad spoiled. Brattish even. A bit of a misery. But, so what? There are a million artists out there, who let's be honest, are complete schmo's in interviews. I could mention Chris Martin for example. Arrogant, ungracious twat. Jeez louise, look at Lily Allen. The crap that has fallen out of her mouth over the years… But does this really have anything to do with someone’s ability to make music?

So, nonsense arguments aside - let's look at the real issue here. Can Elly sing? Well, yes. Yes she can. She often sings in falsetto, which is not to everyone's taste, but yes she can sing. She sings 80's inspired synth pop, which is not to everyone's taste, but yes she can sing. She sometimes falters on a few notes when singing live (who doesn't?), but yes, she can sing.

As a vocalist myself, I get a tiny bit irked at the notion that if you do not sing like Mariah Carey, Beyonce or any of the banal chart nonsense pervading the airwaves these days, that you cannot sing. That if your voice is a little different, you cannot sing. Ok, Elly Jackson does not have the strongest voice in the world. Fair enough. Does she claim to? Nope, don't think she does. The criticism she receives for her ability to perform live is harsh at best. I can show you many, MANY examples of brilliant artists such as Juliette Lewis, Beth Ditto and Karen O sounding abominably bad live. Flat as a pancake.

Take a good look at the seemingly endless list of indie bands we have been subjected to over the past few years - how many of their front men can actually sing? On another note, let's look at Pele from The Hives. The man cannot sing. He is, however, a fantastic and charismatic front man. His strutting and hysterical vocals are pitch perfect for the kind of band he fronts. Elly sings for a very stylised, 80's inspired, synth pop duo. Does her pared down, slightly spoilt and melancholic demeanour suit this? Absolutely. Does her voice suit the songs? Without a doubt. Are the songs La Roux are making any good? As synthy pop goes, damn straight they are.

So let’s move on eh?

Song of the Week | Rainer Maria

Little Miss B, 27 September 2009....

Ears Ring

This week at The Girls Are... the order of business has been crafting musical genius. Writing notes and lyrics of epic stature. Which has got me thinking about just who has influenced me most - I'm not just talking about musicians I like, but who has influenced my approach to writing? Or, to put it another way, who am I very jealous of and wish I were as good as?

Rainer Maria + Ears Ring = Happy Days (and v.annoyed neighours who have been subjected to repeat of same song for approx. 14 hours now).

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

To cover or not to cover, that is the question...

Little Miss B, 27th September 2009...

With recording mere weeks away, The Backlash have been battling with a tough decision: which cover track do we spend time and money laying down? Mulling over the pro’s and con’s of many a chanson, I have gotten to thinking: what makes a good cover song? Many would say there’s no real science to it. A track is either good, or it’s not.

For me however, the ‘science’ boils down to two fundamentals: firstly, the relationship to the original (almost unrecognisably different right the way through to exact copy), and secondly, whether the personality of the band is present on the track. Not wanting to come over all X-Factor judge, but have the band/artist made it their own? If you distil it down further, what appeals to me most in a cover song is if the track sounds like a cover, or in fact sounds like a brilliant song in its own right.

One song that almost made my top 5 was The Pretenders' I go to Sleep. Although The Kinks’ original is great, The Pretenders took that song and OWNED it. It eclipses the original. Another example of this would be Valerie by the Ronson & Winehouse. Crappy and slightly annoying song by the Zutons turned into a right good’un by adding some horns and big ole vox. Both these cover versions sound like brilliant songs in their own right, forget the original.

So, here are my top 5 cover songs by lady music-mongers. This is not a definitive list by any means, merely a taster. Tracks that just missed the cut include Letters to Cleo – I Want You to Want Me, Save Ferris – Come on Eileen, Blondie – I’m Gonna Love You Too, and Dollymixture – Baby, It’s You.

5. No Doubt: It's My Life

4. The Be Good Tanyas: When Doves Cry

3. The Raincoats: Lola

2. The Gossip: Careless Whisper

1. Thee Headcoatees: Ca Plane Pour Moi

To read more Top 5's by Little Miss B, click below:
Bands I Miss The Most

Monday, 21 September 2009

Song of the Week | Charlotte Hatherley

Little Miss B, 21 September 2009

I'd like to start by expressing my deepest regret to my darling wife Trickey. I never meant to hurt you. She means nothing to me. I was thinking of you the whole time.

I just couldn't resist temptation.

So people, though shrouded in shame and terrorised by guilt, I'd like you to please your ears and eyes with "White". Just don't tell the wife.

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

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Girls Are.... Wanted?!

Dee James, 21 Septmber 2009

I was scouring the web for a beautiful new band to be a part of, when I spotted The Girls Are…

I was suddenly aware of my aggravated inner chatter, but this site had now given me a clue how to put my mind at ease. Moments ago, my afternoon lull had been rudely interrupted, when I discovered the shocking news that a girl I know ‘Jill’ had just bought a shiny new guitar, and she was beaming about it.

Why did this irk me so much? A post-purchase glow is well expected under these circumstances, but I couldn’t even pretend to be on side to celebrate this event. Was it a classic case of the green eyed monster?

Ha, no.

The fact was, this pretty, cherry red acoustic was now in the hands of my friend who… doesn't like female musicians! (Why are you not more shocked?)

In previous conversation, Jill has stated without shame, that when it comes to women (in guitar based music especially) she is NOT a fan. She dislikes their songs; their sound, their lyrics and she will not acknowledge any of the time, energy, passion or skill that go into being a muso.

When I question her about this she back peddles, (only about a millimetre), to account for the fact that she likes Kate Perry, because, “She dresses nice and has nice hair”. (Oh good, glad to see we cleared that up then). “So, why have you bought a guitar?”

It would be ignorant of course, for me to pretend that Jill is the first and only (would-be) girl guitarist to discriminate against her own kind. Chrissy Hynde and Juliana Hatfield, are two great artists both guilty of this. At some stage in their careers these women have publicly aired their disdain for girls’ guitar playing/credibility. (Juliana apparently changed her mind when she saw Veruca Salt play).

It seems strange to me then, why anyone who felt like that would pick up their axe in the first place?

Here are these creative people, who spend valuable time developing their craft, reaching a level of skill and achievement, success and popularity. Then at some peak, they announce, that their entire half of the human race is incapable of reaching the same mastery of artistic expression.

Why do members of our own gender tell the world that they can’t play music? And how does your sex dictate your ability to be musical?

Courtney Love has said, “Nobody wants my job” and I completely understand why. Being a girl in rock and metal music is like being in the army. We are standing in the front line for harsh criticism, and being that the kind of music we make is ‘hard’, we are just supposed to take it.

Rock is a male dominated genre. Yet there are NO guys out there saying, “Guys can’t play guitar.” Why would they?

Despite our rock playing grrl-neighbours saying girls can’t play guitar (on behalf of us all), I really don’t think that this is an issue based on girls’ guitar virtuosity at all. So how do we account for this girl-specific gender discrimination?

If there are SO MANY women in the world, (we account for more than half the population), of course we may feel in competition with one another. We are ALL creative people with a desire to speak and to be ourselves, and sometimes who we are is not widely accepted or appreciated, even by our own families. Men can be astronauts or postmen or musicians or whatever they want. We get to be female musicians, post-women, female astronauts.

But therein lays the beauty of it. Biologically, emotionally, intellectually, women are different to men. But we are also individuals. We all have varying views and we all want to live our lives in whichever way feels right for us which may be very different to one another.

A Chinese proverb goes ‘Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are’. Being yourself is effortless. Being yourself only happens when pretences die.

There should be NO competition when we realise that we are unique. And that we all have something to give to the world. Our diversity brings us joy in creative expression, including when we work together. No one wants to hear a band play the same part of the same song, over and over again, (or we’d just go to their rehearsals instead of to gigs) Where would the excitement be in that?

The people that inspire us most, are usually the ones who are just being themselves.
The world would be missing something special without those contributions from women like Anne Frank. Joni Mitchell. Nina Simone. (...please continue the list according to your own personal taste)

So in spite of the cattiness I have encountered from my fellow female musicians over the years, I continue to support women in music. I make an effort to find out who the girl behind the make-up is. It makes me happy if we can exchange our views and stories, and keep each other entertained while the rest of the world tires of trying to drag us down.

It is important to me, to us, that there is a place we can go, where The Girls Are wanted.

To read more articles by Dee James, click below:

Amy Studt

The 'New' Mentalists

Steph Hamill, 21 Septmeber 2009

Performing with iPhone apps is nothing new, but gizmos, gadgets, whatchamacallits, doodahs, thingamajigs and iPhones, whatever you like to call them, they're part of music's future. You may have heard of an all girl band championing this digital age movement. Their name, The Mentalists. I'm sure you've seen the reviews, videos and interviews on The Guardian and Telegraph websites, alongside a plethora of technology based sites and blogs.

Impressively, The Mentalists have already played Glastonbury, supported Kate Nash, Babyshambles and The Automatic. In fact, the buzz around them at the 2009 Meffy Awards was pretty cool. Geeks love hot girls playing with gadgets; a fact Stuff magazine's cover can confirm. However, their musical cover of MGMT's 'Kids' in March this year was a groundbreaking moment for musical aficionados and iPhone geeks alike.

By using their iPhones instead of regular instruments, they made headline news. Shrewdly, they filmed the performance in an office with great lighting and intrigued office staff, thus creating a crowd. Many people watching the released video on YouTube thought the band had performed at a press conference. So far was the reach of the video, Sony even passed it on to MGMT and they loved it, apparently. Clever musical geek girls! Just don't call them the 'new' Spice Girls... They don't like it.

Post digital assault of their MGMT Kids 'gig', downloads of the iTunes App Store's Ocarina, Retro Synth, miniSynth and DigiDrummer Lite soared. A band idea primarily born from the difficulty of lugging a Korg to gigs, they're keen to quash any thoughts that they're a gimmick only band. In every interview I've read or watched, The Mentalists constantly remind that they began their musical journey as a punk rock band of tight and talented musicians.

In fact, digging a little deeper I learned the band are no strangers to gimmicks... Remember their 'blink and miss it' involvement and exposure through T4 Unsigned, hosted by Jo Whiley, Lily Allen and Alex James of Blur fame? Whilst Lily and Alex thought they were fantastic musicians, Miss Whiley wasn't particularly taken and to be honest, watching the show, neither was I. Yes, I understand they're named after a Victorian stage magician troupe, but they're musicians, not a circus act. Interestingly enough, they calm it down when they perform with iPhones; their moments of success.

However, the band has seen a big shift of late and the new dynamic may ensure the performance aesthetic alters. The Mentalists are now three, instead of the original four who met through the classified ads of the NME. The 'New' Mentalists currently stands as two original members and a new member, with the bass player stepping up to become vocal lead. Keeping up?

Despite their success at a couple of French festivals, their self released song, 'Don't Know What To Do With You' was a little disappointing, aside from the wicked bass riff. They even tried out being an exclusively battery powered band, made up of portable mini keys and the like. Essentially, it wasn't much more than a glorified acoustic session, with a new label for the digital era. Yawn. The next stage for the band was covering Estelle's 'American Boy' on their iPhones and filmed, with a little editing and uploaded to YouTube, attempting to keep the gimmick momentum going perhaps? Post 'Kids' cover, it just didn't cut the mustard.

I'm no cynic though, these girls are onto something, but I don't think they've got the polish or cool factor to carry off the iPhone band title. I'm genuinely sorry to say it, but the concept would work better on a foursome of hipster girls more likely hanging out at the Old Blue Last and gracing Vice's Do's pages. Sad to say I know, but the girls in The New Mentalists are gifted musicians; they should stick to what they're really very good at. Let's hope the line up shuffle calms them down and helps refine their performance skills. Props on getting the digital inches though; I wouldn't be writing about The (New) Mentalists without them.

The New Mentalists are playing Proud on October 1st. I'm hoping they are going to show us they're embracing their early 70's, rock influenced undercurrent and going to focus on the music and not the stage theatrics. Girl Power!

To read more articles by Steph, click below:
Penny Lane

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Girls Are... Wanted

Little Miss B, 02 Sept 2009...

As you may have noticed, on the right hand side of the screen, we have a 'Wanted' section.

Think of this as a noticeboard: a place to post adverts for band members wanted, equipment swaps, club night listings and all manner of other frivolity. Just email me your advert and I will post it immediately.

Come, sell your wares.
Just don't sell your selves.

No porn-bots and unseemly behaviour thanks ever so much.
My mum reads this.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Song of the Week | The Selecter

Little Miss B, 1 September 2009...

On My Radio

Well bugger me sideways, this week has been heavy.
After months of blissful chaos, it has been life-laundry time here at The Girls Are...

Filing, tidying, purging and reminiscing.

Under my metaphorical bed, amidst dust bunnies and 'secret' lady objects, I stumbled across letters from loves lost, photographs of a tiny-sized me, and (rejoice) mountains of music from when I was a girl....

What better way to cheer ones spirits than a bag of fizzy peaches and a spot of Pauline Black?

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