Posts Tagged ‘Warpaint’

Cast your mind back, if you will, to 2009. Right from the outset, the last year of the noughties was being dubbed ‘The Year of the Female’; a clutch of young musicians in possession of the X chromosome were being corralled into a makeshift scene, solely because of their gender. Of course, I can’t play the saintly onlooker and chastise my fellow music journos for their laziness – I’m sure I was as guilty of buying into the fuss surrounding acts like Florence & the Machine, La Roux, Little Boots (above) and Lady Gaga, at the time. (Little Boots, by the way, was one of the worst interviewees I’ve ever had the misfortune to have a phone conversation with. Twice.) The thing was, though, that most of those acts were largely pop/electro-pop oriented. Just two years on, however, and the landscape has tilted in favour of musicians with a rockier demeanour.

Look at the BBC’s ‘Sound Of…’ poll, for example; for all intents and purposes, the taste-making list drawn up by UK industry figures is redundant. New music is there to be discovered and recommended, not coldly thrust upon you by a group of anonymous people cherry picking a list of the bands that are being buzzed about most deafeningly. However, some of the female names on this year’s longlist seemed to demonstrate the shift away from pop music. There’s Warpaint, for example, the LA four-piece that channelled the gloom of the much-missed Organ with their excellent debut last year. Esben and the Witch, a female-fronted Brighton trio, so impressed Matador Records that they became the first British band to sign with the label in five years.

Anna Calvi

The Domino Records-signed Anna Calvi is also currently frantically propelling journos and bloggers thesaurus-wards in search of new adjectives to describe her brooding, guitar-led indie-rock. Personally, I don’t really get the fuss – but maybe I need to give the album more time, see her live (she plays Dublin’s Workman’s Club on February 23rd), or just banish the niggling ‘sub-PJ Harvey’ notion clanging around my head every time I listen to ‘Blackout’. But there are worse artists to ape, of course.

Harvey herself also has a new album out on February 11th, by the way. ‘Let England Shake‘ impressed me from the first listen; it’s her first ‘solo’ record since 2007’s stark ‘White Chalk‘, although her frequent collaborators John Parish and Mick Harvey are as omnipresent as ever. It’s a slightly barmy (one track drops in a triumphant fanfare riff at random points) and completely original offering. Harvey doffs her hat to no one.

But what does this supposed shift away from danceable floor-fillers mean? Is it just a case of swings and roundabouts? Do women with guitars wield more influence as ‘serious’ musicians? Have we finally seen the last of Florence ‘I’m 24, really, I am’ Welch‘s many re-releases of ‘Lungs’, or is she waiting to pounce with a fake ID and a follow-up at any second? Will anybody care about Gaga‘s latest wacky stage show if her next album is rubbish? Will La Roux‘s Elly Jackson lose the source of all her powers if she chops off her quiff for album number two? Feck knows. I’m just glad I don’t have to interview Little Boots again.

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There are songs that seem made for certain seasons. As I commented back when Sinead posted about the songs of summer, Tim Buckley’s ‘Buzzin’ Fly’ always makes me think of lazy summer days and smoky summer nights. The legendary 100% Dynamite albums that collect some of the best Jamaican ska, dub and dancehall tracks of the 1960s and ’70s sound best when the sun is splitting the stones. And this summer I found myself listening to Best Coast’s hazy indie-pop and Sleigh Bells’ raucous noise. But as Autumn has, slowly but surely, started to seep its way into this year, I’ve found myself listening to music that seems made for falling leaves, cold, bright skies and woolly blankets. There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to listen to music that’s a little bit melancholy, but still sweet. Recently I’ve been slightly obsessed with the recently released debut album by the British duo Smoke Fairies, which begins with a song called, aptly, ‘Summer Fades’, which is a perfect Autumnal song. You can hear and see a (pretty good) live version here:

My other current musical obsession is the forthcoming debut album from another all-female band, Warpaint, which is absolutely amazing but not exactly jolly. I can’t find any videos for the new stuff, but here’s a typically forlorn yet lovely song from last year’s Exquisite Corpse e.p.

Nor can I stop listening to Danish singer-songwriter and pianist Agnes Obel’s gorgeous debut album, full of Satie-esque piano lines and chord progressions so beautiful and perfect they almost hurt. I have to ration my listens to this album because every time it finishes I want to hear it again.

And as well as those new releases, I’ve also been craving Shirley and Dolly Collins’s legendary early ’70s folk albums, which I tend to listen to a lot during the colder months. The gorgeously spectral Love, Death and the Lady is one of my favourite albums ever. If you like weird old folk music with strangely modern piano arrangements, you will love it.

That said, I’ve also been doing a lot of booty-shaking around the kitchen to the new Mark Ronson album, so it’s all not wistful ladies around here. Sometimes you have to deal with the impending winter of our discontent by dancing like a loon. And ‘Bang Bang Bang’ is pretty much a perfect pop song, if, like me, you love old school hip- hop (Q-Tip!!!!) and electro-pop with minor chords.

What are you listening to this Autumn, and do you find yourself craving different music at different times of the year?

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Warpaint – ‘Elephants’

This morning’s music is brought to you by Warpaint. The LA quartet (Jenny Lee Lindberg, Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman and Stella Mozgaw) play Dublin’s Crawdaddy on October 21st and release their debut album on Rough Trade in the same month. No descriptions, no superlatives. Make up your own mind about –  here’s ‘Elephants’.

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