Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Five Bands to Fall In Love With

Written by Jesse Sposato
 Active Image Would you believe me if I told you I didn’t have to dig or even poke around to find all-female musicians for this list? I might not believe me either, but in fact, with each pick, I fell in love—band first, girl factor second. There are so many amazing lady bands, singers, and rappers out there today that you don’t even have to search to discover them.
Would you believe me if I told you I didn’t have to dig or even poke around to find all-female musicians for this list? I might not believe me either, but in fact, with each pick, I fell in love—band first, girl factor second. There are so many amazing lady bands, singers, and rappers out there today that you don’t even have to search to discover them.

That being said, this list is most likely comprised of some bands you’ve heard of before, and some you haven’t. I’m not trying to shock you with the new hippest thing. I’m not even trying to predict the future by dubbing these bands the upcoming number one best sellers or top hits. I just want to tell you about a few bands that are majorly on my radar right now, warming my heart, tingling my ears, and keeping me inspired.

I Am the West
With a name like Lovers and an album cover with a woman shooting a psychic rainbow out from her head, and on the back, repetitive pictures of a gay hunk acting all cas in a field of green grass, well, what is there not to like? No, really. And then my very favorite past time, lyric sheets! I didn’t even know people knew about these anymore, let alone included them in their records, but what a treat these were to discover.

I already liked the lyrics I could easily make out just from listening, but once I got to closely examine the poetry of leading lady and songwriter Carolyn Berk, I was totally hooked, maybe even a little obsessed. It’s lines like “And I forget who’s looking out for me” in “Igloos for Ojos” that make you sigh and feel like, “Ahh, what it is to be human.”

Portland-based Lovers aren’t a new band either, though they are fresh on my radar. I Am The West, recorded with musicians Kerby Ferris and Emily Kingan and due out April 28, is the band’s fourth full-length release. And it rules. It’s sad and sappy in all the best ways, and if emo wasn’t already a word associated with a thousand weird things and boys, then I would call it “emo” as well.

There are dreamy songs you can slow dance to like “I Am What I Don’t Know” (“I am what I don’t know/I am sorry though.”), and songs that are somewhere in between mystery and a little bit of pain lightened up by energizing drum pickups like “I Have Been the Moon.” Not to mention tunes with bite like “How the Story Ends” and “Let’s Stay Lost.” Love it.

An Horse
Rearrange Beds
Okay, to be honest, when I first heard An Horse’s debut album Rearrange Beds, I felt like the lead singer, Kate Cooper—half of the Australian duo complete with Damon Cox—had kind of an annoying voice, and that the music was even a bit “themey,” like what might be the soundtrack to the football victory scene in the high school homecoming movie or something…

But then, I found myself dancing violently in my room as if I were Amy Szalinski from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in that embarrassing scene where her neighbor catches her dancing by herself with the broom.

After dancing came getting the lyrics stuck in my head, then learning the words, humming them without realizing it, and then missing the songs when I wasn’t home.

And I’m such a sucker for references that relate in any way whatsoever to my high school self. So when on the opening track, “Camp Out,” Cooper sings the line “Like that good Hole album, I can live through this, I can live through worse,” I can’t help but silently cheer in my head feeling a pang of nostalgia mixed with old school appreciation. Cheers to An Horse for turning a nonbeliever into a loyal fan.

The Camel's Back
Psapp is so strange, but in a way I have really come to admire. From the UK, they’re the kind of band I just didn’t get at first. When I obsessively and subconsciously tried to fit their sound into a little musical pocket I already understood, and then couldn’t, I was tempted to throw my hands up like, oh well. But then…I listened.

On “Part Like Waves,” Galia Durant and Carim Clasmann take me to a tropical island I never even knew I wanted to go to. They feather me with sweet melodies while dropping musical grapes into my mouth and whipping up ginger smoothies spiked with delicious rum and rare instruments. And then they do the same on “Fickle Ghost.” I mean, that’s what it feels like anyway.

Sometimes I hear a slight hint of other bands in their songs—their self-titled track, “The Camel’s Back,” is reminiscent of Portishead—and when I listen to “Marshrat,” I can’t help but think they might like to be friends with Zach Condon from Beirut, or maybe they already are judging by the similarities in their music. But mostly, they’re just doing their own thing in their own awesome way. Want to know their secret? They sometimes play with toys! From egg slicers and water pipes to Brunhilde, the famous mechanical chicken, Psapp has got “off the mark” down.

To top it all off, they have supported Deerhoof in London, and Carim has worked in the studio with industrial favorites Einsturzende Neubauten and Die Toten Hosen, giving them indie cred. And Galia runs a craft night where she racks up the points in crafty cred. One of a kind musicians and ultra-crafty folk…kind of hard to beat.

Yo! Majesty
Futuristically Speaking...Never Be Afraid
Yo! Majesty’s most recent release from late last year, Futuristically Speaking...Never Be Afraid, really is coming at you from the future and encouraging you not to be afraid, not even a little, tiny bit. Not afraid of speaking your mind, screaming out loud, or stirring up some controversy. Rapper LaShunda Flowers and singer Jewel Baynham, aka Shunda K and Jwl B, make up this Floridian duo. They are known for being Christian, for being lesbians, and for their frequent toplessness. And they make no apologies for any of it.

The first song on this album, “F*cked Up” really highlights the vulgarity of Yo! Majesty, not to mention the contradictions they illustrate. They go from belting “You can knock out my teeth/I don’t give a fuck” to “I can’t stand the way you look/But I like the way you fuck me” on a song about being infatuated with someone and equally despising them at the same time. Subtleties are key here.

In “Never Be Afraid,” this very phrase is on loop like it’s the band’s mantra…or better yet, until it becomes your own mantra and you find yourself repeating it over and over again without thinking, like you’re Franny Glass from Franny and Zooey.

I think the coolest part about Yo! Majesty is how they manage to bust out catchy melodies that are both beautiful and full of anger. If their fist-pumping intensity doesn’t get you revved up for a dance party or a girl fight (jk), I don’t know what would.

The Vibrarians
Red Light b/w Modern Walker & The Woods (single)
Out on K Records, this EP may only be three songs long, but it really packs a punch…or maybe a slow jab dipped in spooky and then coated in reverb. If you close your eyes and listen to only thirty seconds of the Vibrarian’s music, you won’t have trouble guessing this trio of ladies—Leah Cipolla, Carly Epstein, and Sixx—is from Olympia. They are so Olympia.

Their 7” sounds like it was recorded in the bathroom, maybe even in the shower (this is a compliment, I’ve purposefully gone for the bathroom/basement sound with my own music) but it was actually recorded at Dub Narcotic Studio with Calvin Johnson as part of the International Pop Underground series of 7” 45 rpm vinyl records. It defines lo-fi and brings you back to the 90s when riot grrrl music was so plentiful it practically grew from trees in cities like Olympia and Portland.

On their MySpace page, the Vibrarians describe their music as garage and psychedelic, which sounds like a strange combo but kind of hits the nail on the head. Their sound has the eeriness of ghost whispers, and this homemade quality that’s truly inspiring and all too rare these days, like a zine comes to life in the form of music. If you loved Bratmobile, The Frumpies, and Excuse 17 as much as I did, you are sure to fall for the Vibrarians, part of Olympia’s new generation.

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