Listening to What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, the sixth studio album from real-life Manic Pixie Dream Girl Regina Spektor, is a pretty philosophical experience. Spektor has done a lot of changing. Her music has changed, her career has changed (read: exploded), her audience has changed (read: used to be some people, is now ALL OF THE PEOPLE). But she's also done a fair amount of staying exactly the same. This isn't going to be a wistful post from a longtime fan, bemoaning the loss of an indie darling to the riptide of the mainstream. I promise. But Cheap Seats, as it turns out, are where you get the best view of the big picture.
JD Samson is certainly no stranger to Bitch; a significant voice in the Riot Grrrl movement, and a more than prominent queer and feminist icon, it only makes sense to let you know what she's up to this summer. Last week, while attempting to figure out exactly what to write for this post (because leaving you with just a list of tour dates would be boring), a dear friend deemed me a "JD Samson connoisseur." While I gladly accepted this title, there's definitely a bit of a difference between knowing a lot about someone and having a mild obsession* with (read: giant crush on) that person, and you can probably guess where I stand within this spectrum of connoisseurship. Though, with this giant crush, comes a great deal of respect and admiration for JD as both an artist and an activist.
Kat Edmonson makes warm, hand-holding love songs that hearken back to smoky 1940s lounges or swinging 1960s girl groups, with simple lyrics and arrangements that keep her message accessible and sweet. And now that it's almost summer, the breezy, throwback pop which makes up Edmonson's sophomore album Way Down Low is exactly what the doctor ordered. Read after the jump for an interview with Austin native Edmonson on music, writing, champagne, and birth doulas (!!).
Does anyone else organize their iTunes by season? Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell is the artist that got me started doing it, as no single album reminds me more of summer than her 2010 folk opera Hadestown. It's drenched in sunlight, warm voices, young love, and, as Kristin mentioned in her Preacher's Daughter series, a feminist perspective on Greek tragedy. Her latest album, Young Man in America, is spring; all births and unfoldings and discoveries, and an occasional dip back into winter dark. Point being, Mitchell is a songwriter for all seasons, one of young American folk music's best, and she's getting better and better.
Ani DiFranco has taken a lot of sides in her decades-long career. She has also famously refused to take sides, and, undeniably, looked at many things from both sides. Her new studio album ¿Which Side Are You On?, released today, is both a personal State of the Union address from the iconic folksinger, and an appeal to her listeners and the larger world to decide and declare where each of us stands in a world that's begging for champions.
The Last Names is a pretty new band, and as such they don't have much music beyond a pleasant EP that makes me think their upcoming album, Wilderness, will also be pleasant. What they do have, though, is the 52 Covers Project.
PrOphecy Sun is a multimedia performance artist, mother of four cats, and master of the green Line 6 delay pedal. Beginning her music and sound practice with Vancouver-based anarcha-feminist group,Her Jazz Noise Collective, over the last two years Sun has been diving into new collaborations and looking out from the pages of local arts and culture magazines as a result. In addition to her soundscape-y solo project, prOphecy sun, she plays in six other bands, one of which is the new-wave inspired Tyranahorse, winning second place this month at Shindig, Vancouver's annual underground music competition. When not in band practice seven nights a week, Sun plays giant games of street hopscotch, contorts her body into tiny cupboards, planks grocery check-out counters and sews feline figurines out of found material. Catch up if you can, PrOphecy Sun is an artist in a windstorm of ambition and all its accompanying forward motion.