It’s almost summer around these parts, which means two parts mellow, sunny windows-down tunes and one part Summertime Sadness (thanks Lana). Our mix of new music out this month reflects that balance. We’ve got some wistful melancholia on here, some powerful ruminations on the gender binary, some thrashing riot grrrl, and a world premiere of some punky satire by alt-Americana singer Meghann Wright. Happy Summer, y’all!
1. WORLD PREMIERE: Meghann Wright - “Cocaine”
There are almost too many things to like about Meghann Wright to list in one place, but I’ll try. She is the founder of NYC-area organization The City and The Heart, which supports and showcases unsigned female musicians, in addition to being a musician herself. She’s got a growl, a whisper, and a sense of humor. She’s a snarky, smart, catchy songwriter, and she’s got a point to make. All of this and more is immediately apparent on “Cocaine,” which we have the exclusive premiere of here on the Bitch blog. Meghann has this to say about the punk-leaning, lady-centric track:
“Cocaine” is a satirical examination of what humans do when they are feeling lousy. We are all guilty of exploiting negativity in search of answers and “good feels” only to find that what we are trying to escape is still right where we left it when we sober up on the bathroom floor. Most of my music is a reflection of the human condition. It’s my intention to create music to which people can relate - hopefully they get something positive out of it, and feel less alone. It’s important to remember we are all connected and we can’t thrive without helping each other. One of the reasons I founded The City & The Heart for independent female singer / songwriters in NY. That organization and my new EP are my first baby steps toward working for a better world through music and community. After all, we’re all just ghosts driving meat-coated skeletons made of stardust, amiright?
Meghann, I was already a fan of your music, your lyrics, your organization, and your excellent and effective use of the word “motherfucking,” but you REALLY had me at “meat-coated skeletons made of stardust.”
2. Woman’s Hour - “Conversations”
English quartet Woman’s Hour was a hot ticket at SXSW this year, as their mysterious, beautiful videos reveal very little about the band, but imply a group with a keen aesthetic eye and the slight possibility of jumping gymnasts as part of the live show. I could only crane my neck over the massive lines every time I tried to see them, and so am left to build my fandom on said videos, and the promise of Woman’s Hour’s first full-length record, Conversations, out July 14th on Secretly Canadian. If it’s full of the same swooning pop as the eponymous first single, I am 100 percent in.
3. Tiny Ruins - Brightly Painted One
The first 20 seconds of “Ballad of the Hanging Parcel,” the second single from Tiny Ruins’ second album Brightly Painted One, could have been a “One of These Things First” B-side, if Nick Drake were sometimes a young woman from New Zealand. Tiny Ruins, the project of Auckland-based singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbright, taps into the same melancholy the Nick Drake did: her is deeply sad, observant, and poetic. “Ballad of the Hanging Parcel” warms up, to become a slow, porchlit-summer-night kind of song. It’s a quiet, beautiful song from a band that’s growing (Fullbright has added two musicians to the roster since her first album), but losing none of its intimacy.
4. Broken Twin - “Glimpse of a Time”
The summertime sadness continues with “Glimpse of a Time,” an aching heartbreak ballad from Majke Vass Romme, the auteur of Danish band Broken Twin. The video is as stark and compelling as the song; all glimpses and shadows dancing. I can’t think of a better way to remember lost love than in those terms. Broken Twins’ debut album, May, came out this month on ANTI.
5. The Coathangers - “Follow Me”
Turn that wistful sigh into a grimace with Atlanta punk foursome The Coathangers! Recall, if you will, that this band won my heartwhen I walked into their 2012 SXSW set for the last song, which they ended by screaming “WE’RE THE COATHANGERS AND I HATE MY DAD!” Hard to top though that moment, but the group is out to try with a new album, Suck My Shirt, released in March on Suicide Squeeze. The video for its first single, “Follow Me,” finds Atlanta heavy metal band Mastodons donning wings and nail polish and lip synching, and proving, happily, that these women rock hard.
6. Meshell Ndegeocello - “Conviction”
Meshell Ndegeocello albums are worth waiting for not only because they don’t happen terribly often and because they’re bound to be stellar. Each of her projects is so different from all the others. The singer and electric bassist has got the creative version of itchy feet is—she’s always incorporating new influences, styles, and whims as they come to her. “Conviction,” off of her latest album, Comet, Come To Me (out June 3rd), is jazzy, bluesy, poppy, alternative, and rock n’ roll as only she can play it. I’m looking forward to the new album, which will give us 50 new adjectives to use on a single artist on a single recording.
7. Kristeen Young - The Knife Shift
If Sleater Kinney and Kate Bush had a strobe-lit dance party, it would create the propulsive, unstoppable sound of pianist Kristeen Young. She’s been making music since 1997, made bold, unnerving fashion statements years before Lady Gaga wrapped herself in meat, and is unabashedly reading “Cunt” in this promo video for her new album, out last month. EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT SENTENCE IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THAT SENTENCE. Whet your appetite on the teaser, and then stream the whole LP here.
8. Haunted Hearts - “Up is Up (But So Is Down)
Married couple DeeDee Penny and Brandon Welchez (of Dum Dum Girls) formed Haunted Hearts and staged a fashion-and-lipstick showdown in the video for their sparkly, psychedelic latest single, “Up is Up (But So Is Down).” The music is trippy fun, the makeup is flawless, the sunglasses are MEGA-ENVIABLE, the dancers (a NYC-based drag collective called Chez Deep) are mod and fabulous, and the shiny silver stage is shiny and silver. This is exactly the right music for the summer months, and just the pair to funk up yr expectations of hetero married folks. GODSPEED, HAUNTED HEARTS.
9. Priests - Bodies and Control and Money and Power
DC-based punk band Priests channel Bikini Kill full-throttle on their impeccably-named new album Bodies and Control and Money and Power, which could just have easily been the title of a book on gender theory as a rock record. It’s a mouthful of a title, but the band more than earns its weight; the album’s first single, “Doctor,” is a rageful, inquisition about bodily autonomy, self-validation, and confronting the fallacies of authority with eyes wide open. Anthemic and impossible to ignore, just as riot grrrls should be.
10. King avriel - “Freedom”
King avriel recently changed her name from Avriel to King avriel, and released this stunning track, “Freedom,” to “symbolize the destruction of rigid gender binaries,” as she says, as well as her name change. Accompanying the track, she posted a letter about its meaning on her tumblr, incorporating theory (hint: there are FOOTNOTES), personal experience, and poetry. The letter is a game-changer, and a powerful testimonial about the pressures of binary-based thinking. How good her music is is almost beside the point, but did I mention her voice is smooth and ethereal and her beats are moody and seamless and haunting? New favorite.
Katie Presley writes about books and music, and tweets (@loveismaroon) about everything else. She lives in Austin.