Ten New Feminist Songs for Winter
This month's new music roundup is heavy on the dance music—consider it a DIY antidote to the gray sky and wintery weather. We've got music from Ghana, Berlin, Portland, Brooklyn, the UK, and the tippy-tippy top of Cape Cod. Plus, we've got guitars and remixes and cow hearts to boot.
1. The Julie Ruin - "Right Home" (YACHT Remix)
Yes, you read that right. West Coast superduo YACHT collaborated with Kathleen Hanna's new band The Julie Ruin and came out with this upbeat, dance-punk remix version of "Right Home." It's not too good to be true. It's real, and it's here, and it belongs to the world! THANK YOU, UNIVERSE.
2. Wiyaala - "Make Me Dance"
I promise this song is not appearing on this list purely because of its line about "feeling the heat," which is wishful thinking for the next several months. It's here because Ghana native Noella Wiyaala's fluffy, Whitney Houston-esque lyrics and peppy, cheesy EDM backing track are, simply put, irresistible. Speaking of irresistible, here is what Wiyaala told Africa on the Blog about what feminism means to her right now:
Here in Ghana, we want to embrace change and modernisation. And it is happening fast. But that can conflict with some of our traditional views... For me right now, feminism means encouraging young girls into completing their education so that they themselves can be the ones that make the choices in their lives... With my high profile, especially in the North of Ghana, I do sometimes get to speak out in the media to support the education of girls. I think this is a responsibility that goes with my career as an artist. I think as I get older, I may have more to say about this.
Unlike most of the young women with whom our air waves are saturated, Wiyaala applies the parameters of feminism to her surroundings, instead of distancing herself from the movement and deeming it unnecessary, constricting, or disconnected. She's also comfortable acknowledging that she's young and has to live a little more to figure out how politics and identity fit into her life. If the next wave of global feminism starts with cheesy dance music and an androgynous, intelligent pop star at the helm, pretty much SIGN ME RIGHT UP. Watch the original version of "Make Me Dance" below, or grab a copy of the Remixes EP in early December!
3. FEMME - "Heartbeat"
The video for "Heartbeat," the second single released this year by UK singer and producer Laura Bettinson, who performs as FEMME, plays like a string of outtakes from Sofia Coppola's version of Marie Antoinette. Bettinson's young, peppy vocals and the track's liquid electro-pop bounce form the soundtrack for a series of spotlit scenes drenched in pink hair, lacy underthings, and bold fashion accoutrements. This is pop with an avant-garde edge, and Bettinson is responsible for all of it: writing, recording, producing, directing, and shooting. The video is all decadence, but FEMME's lyrics are relatable, and her commentary on the gendered aftermath of a failed relationship is clever and true. Adele smashed plates and lit things on fire; FEMME dressed up with her girlfriends and tossed around a cow heart. BREAKUPS, amirite?
4. Oh My Goodness - Oh My Goodness EP REMIXES
The title "multi-instrumentalist" comes in several shades. There's the Sufjan Stevens variety, wherein a person has actually mastered every major instrument; there's the Shook Twins variety, in which life for the person or band involved seems like one giant French salon-style musical orgy, and everyone plays everything beautifully, and all the instruments are handmade or vintage; and there's the Oh My Goodness track, which I find to be the most accessible. OMG, comprised of Maine natives and current Brooklynites Therese Workman and Tyler Wood, both play several instruments, but their eyes are tuned to experimentation over mastery. OMG's self-titled EP was released earlier this year, but this month they put out an album of remixes which push their funky, futuristic electro-pop out of pop and squarely into electro. A standout track is "Not Lying," remixed by Elliot Krimsky, which features what sounds like a wedding toast as an effect, and highlights the alienation and angst of the original lyrics with dischordant, reverb-heavy washes of sound. It's harder to pinpoint multi-instrumentalism in a band on an album of remixes, but OMG's knack for exploration is intact, and their selections for REMIXES are themselves an instrument well-played.
5. Marisa Anderson - Mercury
On the flip side of the multi-instrumentalist genre is the musician who defines and is defined by a single instrument (or, in this case, a family of closely related instruments). Portland guitarist Marisa Anderson, whose foundational book Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls was reviewed by Bitch in our Winter 2009 issue, is a different musical animal altogether. She records in single takes, doesn't use lyrics, features no electronic layering or looping, and made an entire album (her first, no less) of in-studio improvisations. Her second album, Mercury, came out in June but just made its way to us now—a fittingly peripatetic journey from an artist who spent 15 years walking across the United States. Anderson's playing is deeply emotional and sounds on its first listen like a perfectly preserved artifact of American musical history. Blues, jazz, American Primitive, country, rock—if a guitar can play it, Anderson can tell the story.
6. Parkington Sisters - "In the Pines"
When last we heard from Wellfleet, MA quartet the Parkington Sisters, they were singing their sweet, folksy harmonies to us in a church in Austin. These days, eerie is the new sweet, and the ladies are singing decidedly unholy murder ballads in the forest. But the harmonies remain, and in fact have grown stronger and more arresting in the interim.
7. Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas - Demons EP
Detroit singer Jessica Hernandez describes her latest album as "the perfect soundtrack to drive around to on those creepy fall overcast days." Her soulful, swooping voice, and the Deltas' reliance on Tu Fawning-esque, carnival-ready trombone from the opening notes of the album's first track, do fit the season and its macabre undertones perfectly. Hernandez has one of those voices that early 20something female singers occasionally get landed with; the kind with an ingrained chip on its shoulder and the whole of life in its rearview mirror. But Jessica and the Deltas are far from done living, and the energy behind her performance on this EP makes clear that her voice isn't world-weary, it's purely powerful.
8. AVAN LAVA - "So F*kt Up"
This haunting breakup track by Brooklyn rave-pop outfit AVAN LAVA just came out this week. Trippy dime-stop beats lend swagger to lead singer TC Hennes' vocals, which are all vulnerable falsetto. Watch the party-gone-wrong video here, or listen below.
9. Take Berlin - Lionize EP
Another early December release is Lionize, the new EP by acoustic singer-songrwriters Take Berlin. One of the magical things of the modern world is that music this intimate can be made by band members on different continents: Yvonne Ambrée lives in Berlin and Jesse Barnes lives in Brooklyn. But together, the pair weave intricate, quiet harmonies into their timeless tracks, which utilize old found instruments and minimal production. This is the kind of music apartment-dwellers wish their building-mates would make, singing sweetly into their computers late at night. Take Berlin just wrapped up their first US tour in November, but keep an eye out for a stateside return in 2014. Hear the first single from Lionize, "Vermona," which tells the true story of a young German girl whose mother escapes from East Germany to West in the trunk of a car, below.
10. Poliça - Remixes
Electronica phenom Poliça released a stellar second album, Shulamith, in October, and has been leaking remixes of new and old material in the month since. Noisetrade released a free sampler, but my favorite is this one, from Doomtree's Paper Tiger, which jolts the sexy "Chain My Name" with club energy and bounce, and gives singer Channy Leaneagh's voice even more space to bloom than the original.
What have you been listening to this month? Let us know in the comments!
MORE NEW MUSIC! Read more monthly feminist music picks from Bitch.
Katie Presley tweets about music, football, food, feminism, and whatever else happens in life. Follow along @loveismaroon.
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