Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Girls and Boys

What the hell happened to the rock?

So I'm sitting there last night, glazing over in front of GoTV (our MTV), and it's all whiny boys singing within the lines, thinking inside the box. Vampire Weekend (channeling the Feelies), Tocotronic (aping Bryan Ferry, sort of) and Girls (conjuring up the ghost of Evan Dando, for gawd's sake!)--who gives a rat's ass?! It doesn't seem to matter where they're from--Austria, the US or England--a creeping suckieness has attacked all the dudes with guitars.

The only video and song I liked was Florence + the Machine's "You've Got the Love." It's pretty retro too, but at least she's got the voice. A leggy "hottie," hanging off of a giant glittering moon and belting out an old fashioned disco anthem. And I mean, belting it way out. She sings like she can't keep that big voice inside her for one minute more.

There's a trend here. I haven't heard a male band or singer that I cared about in forever. All the new music I've really liked in the last two years is made by women. Cat Power, Amy Winehouse, LaRoux, Lady GaGa, etc. etc.

In short,

Boys with Attitude and Three Chords--0
Women with Guts and Ideas--5


C N Heidelberg said...

I'm convinced this is gender-related. Almost all the new music I've heard from women is meh, meh, meh. I've even listened to Florence & the Machine. I can't get into it! It seems like all the old standby women I loved so much in the 90s have gotten a little bland, and everyone new is just rehashing them (and getting love for it only because they are new on the scene, not because the ideas are new). I don't seem to be having the same problem with the guys. Is it because I'm a woman??

Note: this is not 100%, I really liked Micachu and Taken By Trees this year, for example - but it's seriously outweighed by guy-based stuff.

pat said...

Well I don't know Micachu and Taken By Trees, but as you can see from my list, I've taken a shine to pretty mega-selling female artists, too, with the exception of maybe Cat Power. It could be I'm just fossilized and missing the better but more obscure boy bands. Who do you like?

C N Heidelberg said...

I think the thing is that men are not being any more original or less whiny than women, but when there's a whiny/kinda-bland male-voiced song I may be more willing to give it a shot because I prefer the sound of the male voice - and the equivalent song by a woman I might just write off too fast. (I don't know if this is the case I'm just thinking about it because I don't know why, and I find it interesting that you are opposite!)
You know WAY more about music than me so I don't know if I'm in any position to make recommendations! When I was telling my husband about the gist of your post, the first thing he said was, "What about Vampire Weekend? They have some really interesting melodies and not much else out right now sounds like them." Hahah.... should have just read him the post first. ;) From newer things I like them, Yeasayer, Gogol Bordello, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Jukebox the Ghost, The National... argh, some of these are whiny... I tend to hang around in the novelty/cute/folky/electronic-ish corners of the room and I'm not sure if I can recommend anything that really rocks. :/

pat said...

Animal Collective I saw once and liked, Gogol Bordello too. Haven't heard the others though. You may be right--beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. The other thing is that most of these women I'm liking are not rock. So maybe it's guitars I'm sick of. I don't know if I know more about music than you, but I have seen about ten thousand eight hundred and thirty two live rock shows, so I'm pretty unimpressed with many things three chords. I'll try to check out some of the boys you mention-thanks!

cliff1976 said...

I'd like to vouch for the coolness of The Bird and the Bee. I had "Again and Again" in my collection (from somewhere) already, but C N Heidelberg called my attention to the group with her recommendation of "Love Letter to Japan." I can't thank her enough for that.

It's a girl-boy duo comprised of one part Geggy Tah and one part daughter-of-Little-Feat-founder.

It's not your usual alt-pop kind of sound - watery layers of Greg Kurstin's keyboards (lots of Rhodes-sounding ones, which I like a lot) backing Inara George's smooth, warm, rich vocal tones, which remind me a bit of what Dido might sound like, if her songs didn't all make me sleepy or sad.

Start with "Diamond Dave" for a retrospective treat; it's there that Kurstin and George's reported common love of jazz standards (apparently what brought them together as an act) manifests itself in a wistful tongue-in-cheek ode to your favorite Van Halen front man and mine.

It's not all fun-and-games in every song, but it is all great music to this beholder's ear. This music works best in your headphones because of the layering.

ken pope said...

Hey Pat, nice to find you (or be found, actually).

Yr right--there's a dearth of boys with guitars. I just checked the mess of cds in the living room and the ladies are rockin' it harder than the guys. The Micachu record was prolly my fave of last year. Very early Rough Trade sounding. If you want some feisty country pumpkins, Those Darlins are great. Also Nissenenmondai (Krautrock + no wave done by 3 Japanese girls. What's not to love?)

I'm not so crazy about Flo and the Machine, though I did see her live and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. The xx (Young Marble Giants 2010) did a nice cover/remix of one of her songs.

On the guy-rock tip, I'd be remiss in not mentioning Heavy Trash, featuring our own Jon Spencer. "Midnight Soul Serenade" was also one of my faves of last year (and I'd think that even if we weren't lovers. I mean friends, really, FRIENDS!!). Also Grinderman....

pat said...

Hi Ken!
Okay, well you've given me a lot to check out. I'm not sure I love Florence either, just that video for "You've Got the Love" is pretty great on a Monday morning when you're dragging.
Sorry your cat scratched you, BTW. Maybe he's just clumsy?

ken said...

If yr lookin for some rockin ladies, here you go. A 12-cd (!!) project by some nut from SF of female fronted punk bands from 1977-89. All downloadable and free free free. Thank goddess for the crazy people in this world.