For one thing, you can tell just by looking at her that she's an odd duck. She is prone, for instance, to wearing poof-y shouldered '80s jackets and things with polka dots. She claims to have intentionally gained weight because, as she put it in a recent Guardian article, "I don't want to be 'pretty'. I don't aspire to be like the Pussycat Dolls…I want to be an artist who people can believe in."
But it's Blay's songs that really do it. The twentysomething British songwriter goes by the name thecocknbullkid, and she has created her own musical world, one filled with equal parts quirky soul-pop (Macy Gray-ish), zingy synth-pop (Yaz-ish), and lo-fi computer zings (Midnight-Star-ish).
Let's face it. Male musicians (and some female ones) have been writing songs about their female muses ever since the first teenybopper swooned for some nerd holding a guitar. The girl's-name-for-a-title song is an important part of the pop music aesthetic, and one that I personally love. A song that is a straight-up ode to a woman I'll never meet has always held a certain mystique for me, as it lets me speculate about who she is and what her relationship with the musician is really like. So today I bring you nine songs written about nine ladies: The I Call Your Name BitchTapes.
Last month, a 26-year-old woman known only on her site as Eva began posting video blogs about the way people treat her. Her reactions are displayed in the writing that accompanies the videos, there is barely any dialogue to the videos and rarely is Eva herself shown in them. Eva has Cerebral Palsy, she cannot speak and she gets around in a power wheelchair. Mounted to her wheelchair is a video camera, which says is always recording, that captures some rather disappointing interactions that she has with people who either ignore her entirely or patronize her to the point of frustration. While her reactions are not always evident in the videos themselves, the paragraphs she writes get her point across loud and clear.
I can't add much to Annalee's farewell
to Brill Building great Ellie Greenwich, who died this week at age 68.
(Ann Powers of the L.A. Times also has an excellent appreciation of
Greenwich's life and legacy here.)
But as a devotee of the girl-group sound and the history of the
songwriting women behind it (seriously, rent Allison Anders's film Grace of My Heart,
whose fictional central songwriter, Denise Waverly—neé Edna Buxton—was
based on Brill Building women like Greenwich, Carole King, and Cynthia
Weill), I've spent the past few days revisiting her classics. Here are
Ellie Greenwich, October 23, 1940 – August 26, 2009
American singer, songwriter, and producer Ellie Greenwich died yesterday of a heart attack. Greenwich was best known for writing and co-writing such girl group classics as "Be My Baby" (The Ronettes), "Da Doo Ron Ron" (The Crystals), "Leader of the Pack" (The Shangri-Las), "River Deep, Mountain High" (Ike & Tina Turner), and many others. Greenwich and Jeff Barry, her former husband and writing partner, had 17 singles in the pop charts of 1964.
On their 2006 release Zombie Terrorist, Partyline declared, "we're scared of zombies, not terrorists" and "yeah I had a mother, she taught me to want more than that". Yes please. Formed in Washington DC in 2004 by Allison Wolfe of the iconic Bratmobile, Angela Melkisethian and Crystal Bradley, Partyline has a sound reminiscent of riot-grrrl era call and response lady punk. Party, apparently, is tied to the actual act of partying and also to the political connotations of the word, which sums up the aesthetic of the music. You will dance while being educated, end of story. The ladies literally just finished up a tour with Portland, OR rockers Shebeast and just around the corner is an East Coast Tour with Noisy Pig. Watch a video and become a fan after the jump!
Covers are one thing--artists re-interpreting the work of other for homage to irony and everything in between. Standards, I feel, are something else. Beyond the ability of musical reproduction, jazz standards are meant to be continually interpreted and stylized, with little rules outside of a fakebook, plus they seem to stand the test of time--hokey or cliche lyrics that really never seem to get old. Here are some of my favorite female vocalists singing some standards! Playlist after the jump and have a good weekend!