I've been listening to Courtney Barnett nonstop all summer. Her hazy alt-rock and clever, rambly lyrics make for the perfect soundtrack on a lazy, hot day. The best thing about Barnett's music is her songwriting, with tracks that take on everything from panic attacks to masturbating. Oh, and did I mention that she shreds?
After seeing Barnett at Pickathon earlier this month, I had the chance to talk with the Melbourne-based artist about her label, her vegetable garden, and the best female musicians in Australia.
Let's start by saying this: Calling a year "good for women in music" is fairly ridiculous. What that phrase translates to is usually more like "I can name three lady songs from this year!" or "Beyoncé made an album this year!"
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. Read below the jump for what was on the feminist music boilerplate in November!
Now that Lilith Fair is done toting five-dollar lattes in the name of commercialized feminism, and MichFest is busy denying claims of discrimination, this summer is the chance to get to know lesser-known feminist music festivals that are thriving across the country.
Top 40 music seems to be undergoing a sea change lately. Cher has a feminist song on the radio and in the club. Neko Case is Top 40 music seems to be undergoing a sea change lately. Cher has a feminist song on the radio and in the club. Neko Case is taking gender identity straight to task. Frank Ocean and Macklemore are topping the charts with songs that carve space for queer-friendly voices in the machismo-drenched worlds of R&B and hip-hop. Ann Powers at NPR declared 2013 "Country Music's Year of the Woman," and Jewly Hight at the Nashville Scene pointed out a similar trend last year, of female artists whose sounds still fit the country genre, but whose lyrics and personae push the boundaries of country femininity.
All of this points to something big: It's been a good year for not only women in music, but feminism in music.
Although it's often used as a stand-in for elevator music, bossa nova really doesn't deserve the square reputation it's somehow acquired. When it began, it was actually considered cool and bohemian (bossa nova literally translates to "new trend"). If you've never listened, it's time to give bossa nova another try, and what better way than to check out the many great ladies of bossa nova past and present? It's super '60s, the perfect soundtrack to your Mad Men kick and ideal mellow end-of-summer music. This mix can only provide a small sampling of the bossa that's out there, but it's enough for you to temporarily pretend you're lounging on the beaches of Brazil, wearing a retro swimsuit and sipping a daiquiri.
It took me two showers to wash off the dirt from Portland-based roots music festival Pickathon last weekend, but I'm still basking in the glow of new music discoveries. Some of my faves after the jump, with links to band websites and performances...
Girls Rock Camp summer showcase season is back! Since 2001 in Portland, OR, Girls Rock Camps have been empowering girls and women through music creation in cities and towns across North America and Europe, with a total of 37 camps in the international GRC network, Girls Rock Camp Alliance. GRC Summer Camp is a week-long program where girls and women ages 8-18 learn a new instrument, form bands, and collaborate to create an original song performed live complete with screaming fans and camper-designed band t-shirts. This BitchTapes is a sampling of songs written and performed by campers from Girls Rock Camps across North America and Europe. Check out a camp showcase this summer at a GRC near you!