Sometimes part of what makes a musician so compelling is the story behind them. Were the White Stripes married, or brother and sister? Would Sid have been the character he was without Nancy? Is the girl in the "Cry Me a River" video REALLY supposed to be Britney Spears? (I have strong feelings about this one because I was young and impressionable when Britters and Justin dated and broke up. But that's another post entirely.)
The same is true of Abigail Washburn. Her music is outstanding on its own, but the road she took to fame is too serendipitous not to share.
Is your knowledge of musical theater limited to the Oscar-winning adaptation of Chicago and the latest episode of Glee? Welcome to this week's BitchTapes, a collection of female-led showtunes that are not about
being hopelessly devoted to a man-type character. (Sorry, Eponine.)
Track list, and space to share your own faves, after the jump!
As much as I adore music videos at dance parties, watching choreographed dance moves on a giant screen in public typically does one of two things to me: infuses my limbs with rhythmic possibilities (rare), or yanks the slippery beat from under my dance shoes (less rare). Sometimes if I'm not in a dancing mood (or able to shake it in my current location) watching someone else dance provides a kind of psychic fulfillment. I hope Austra and CocknBullKid's new singles give you just that! Directly after sits a sedentary vogue-free video by Planningtorock. Apart from inviting you to a video dance, this B-Sides provides hope for the swarms of PTR fans who, like myself, have been chewing their nails impatiently for five years on the edge of the dance floor waiting for her sophomore release!
It's taken me more than a decade to come around to Lucinda Williams. When I was in middle school, my dad came suddenly into my room and put a CD in my stereo with no explanation. I set down my alg/trig homework and watched him carefully. He finally said, just before the music started, "Listen to this song, Kate. I've never heard anything so...gripping." And then he sat with his eyes closed until the song was over. And that was the first time I heard Lucinda Williams. I'm not even sure now what the song was, but that's the thing about Williams' music: many of her songs could be the most gripping song my dad (or anyone) has ever heard. I did not agree at the time, but remembered her name in association with her affect on my father. Now, on the event of her 10th studio album being released, I finally get it.
I did some of my growing up on the island of Maui, Hawai'i, but somehow only came to pick up the ukulele seriously when I was 23 and living in Los Angeles. I'm back in Hawai'i for a little while, and am taking every opportunity I can to sit on the beach and strum my uke while my brother the professional chef sears some mahi mahi for dinner. It's raining here, and is supposed to for upwards of a week, but this little instrument brings sunshine and aloha spirit wherever it goes. In looking for new songs to play (ps if you have ideas, leave them in the comments and I'll IOU a Youtube video when I learn it!), I realized that EVERYONE AND THEIR DAD is now playing the ukulele, and Youtube is basically used at this point exclusively for cat videos and people playing ukulele versions of Regina Spektor songs. So I thought this week, in the spirit of these islands I love, I would do a sampling of the best the uke has had to offer in what seems to be a full-blown Ukulele Revolution.
Since roughly half of the US and much of the rest of the northern hemisphere is slushing through the snow and ice right now, we thought it might be nice to revisit a BitchTapes mix from last year in the hopes of warming things up a little. Beach Party, expertly crafted by former Bitch intern Sara Reihani, has just the jams to keep your mood sunny while you're snowed in. So pour yourself a daiquiri and let's hit the beach!
You know when a break-up hurts so much that you think no one else could possibly understand how you feel? Torch songs understand. They feel your pain, and they channel it through the voices of like-minded torch-bearers who can sing much better than you can sing, and who are willing to do it for you. So, with that in mind, here are some of the torch-toting singers who've been feeling my pain recently.
PJ Harvey is no stranger to this blog. She has consistently distanced herself from feminism as such, but our love for her is inescapable. Her music is about independence—from marriage ("The Pocket knife,"), from judgement ("Who the Fuck?")—and her vision for her autonomous career has never faltered in 20 years of music-making. Now she's got a new album, Let England Shake, coming out February 15th, and a short film to be released with EVERY SONG on the album! If you, like me, believe there is no such thing as too much Polly Jean, this is the B-sides for you.