Friday, 11 July 2014

The Holy Trinity of Modern Feminity in Rock

Rock and Roll has constanly been plagued by machonigy and idiocrasy (Sometimes the same thing). It isn't unusual inside Rock to have Males who flaunt their (In my view) (non-existent) sexuality. The genre is a male dominated field, although many of rock's greatest songs are inspired by women.

The male genre however, has had frequent notable talented females who have outshone their male counterparts. However during a lot of the past they have been forced to depend on male colleagues, such as Debby Harry's dependance on the band (Blondie), Stevie Nick's dependance on Lindsay Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac, even Patti Smith the godmother of punk had a dependance on male songwriters.
Blondie; One of many female fronted 70s bands.

However this trend has been bucked recently, while rock's status as "Alive" may be dubious in the modern climate, many female's independently strive to keep it alive, and this post will be about three of those females who rare managing to create remarkable new sounds in their own respective genres.

Before I start however, i would like to clarify that thee are many talented modern women in music so here is a quick list of many of them who could have easily had a place in this post : Alison Krauss,  Bella Hardy, Boy, Courtney Barnett, Dum Dum Girls, EMA, First Aid Kit, Hello Saferide, Jo Harman, Joanna Newsom, Lissie, Plastiscines, Samantha Fish,  Smoke Fairies and Warpaint.

St Vincent

Perhaps the freshest brightest light in the modern music scene is St Vincent (Or Annie Clark to her Mum & Dad). She is arguably the first person who has successfully meshed pop and rock together into such a weird commercial way since Nirvana, although her sound is far closer to the Talking Heads in my mind.  



She credits both of those as some of her biggest musical influence, and fortunately for her both of those artists have accepted her. As she performed with Nirvana at the Rock and Roll hall of fame, and has released a album and toured with Talking Heads frontman David Bryne. 

Like the other artists that I will mention St Vincent is one of the few contemporary acts who could have been successful in any time period since rock's formation, and only her gender could have limited her success in Rock's foundation days. However fortunately enough for us we have her for our own.

The One, The Only Saint Vinny. 

This year St Vincent has recently started conquering the mainstream media, her album St Vincent did well in the charts, and spawned several successful singles, however in my opinion the album was a bit over-produced, and generally her songs sound far better when performed live than on album, although, that would make them pretty spectacular. Another factor of St Vincent that may not be apparent to the untrained eye/ear is that she is a amazing guitarist, and is one of the finest guitarist around at the moment. 

If this is the first you've ever heard of St Vincent then here is my essential guide to her music. 

Essential album: Stange Mercy (2011) 
Essential Song: Cruel (2011) 
Most Like: Talking Heads, Bjork, Nirvana (Kind Of)



Joanna Shaw Taylor


Joanne Shaw Taylor (born 1986) is one of the many aspiring young musicians active in the blues scene over here in Britain. However she is not just "one" of the musicians, she is THE musician of the moment within the blues scene.

Born and raised in Birmingham, UK, her first introduction into the blues was through legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan and albert King. She herself became involved in the music industry at the age of 16 when DAve Stewart (Of the Eurythmics) invited her to join his supergroup D.U.P (no i've never heard them either. 

It wasn't long before her talent and skill caught the eyes and attention for he music industry with her debut album "White Sugar" released in 2009 gaining attention throughout the devoted blues fanatic fan base. This album, is Joanne's current best album in my opinion as it is arguably the best blues album of the 2000s and it is not only me who believes this. She was given "Best British Female Vocalist" in the 2010 blues music awards. Her second album gave her the "Best British Female Vocalist" again and "Songwriter of the year" for her song "Same As It Ever Was". 

She finally gained public recognition in 2012 albeit for only a very short time when she performed alongside Annie Lenox for the Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace. Despite a malfunction of her fuzz phase pedal during the performance, she managed to pull off possibly the biggest event of her career so far in front of 12,000 people excluding people watching/listenign outside of designated areas and on TV. Almost as if a consolation for her pedal failure, Stevie Wonder (Yes, Sir Duke) praised her guitar work saying how her loved her "Clean, bluesly, understated tone". 

Something that i have not yet mentioned is her phenomenal guitar work. She is without a doubt my favourite modern guitarist and she is my favourite female guitarist of all time, and i'm not saying this just to suck up to Joanne (Although…). Also i'm not the only person who believes she is a incredible guitarist as she is often on lists throughout the internet about fantastic female guitarist and modern blues guitarists.

She also has a album out this year so…. get out your wallet?

Essential Album: Almost Always Never (2012)
Essential Song: Just Another Word (2009)
Most Like: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, Bonnie Rait





Laura Marling


The younger and most critically acclaimed of the trinity is the folk queen Laura Marling. Many of you may be aware of her for her youth and repeated successes in the public. However just because she is ridiculously successful in the public does not mean that she is a sellout nor a pop artist.



She is arguably one of the most neurotic modern musicians with holding one of the most fancy/weird gigs of the recent era. Her albums are held to critical acclaim and she has yet to release a bad album. She came out of the nu-folk London scene (the only good thing out of it in many people mind), and reminds people (who were blessed with a better era of music) of a younger, almost as good Joni Mitchell and considering that she's only 24 she may yet overtake her, despite how unfathomable that is.


So next time you're sat around wondering  "Who's the best modern folk artist?", don't think Mumford and bums. Don't think the Decemberists, think Laura Marling and hope just hope that there are more Laura Marlings hiding round the next hypothetical corner.

Essential album: I Speak Because I Can (2010)
Essential Song: Goodbye England When Covered In Snow (2010)
Most Like: Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Janis Ian


Friday, 4 July 2014

Jack White In Hammersmith

In the future people will remark that Rock and Roll was a art form perfected by scruffy youths who upon perfecting their art became known as Rock Stars, the latest and potential last Rock Star is Jack White.

I'm certain we all know his music, he created the rawest blues and combined Led Zeppelin with Son House, with MC5 and then added a violin (in his latest album). White may be a eccentric know for his obsessions with the colour blue, the number three and his constant exclamations that Meg White is his sister, whereas she was his wife.



The White Stripes are possibly the most iconic rock group of the 2000s with only indie rock artists possibly rivalling him (Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Wilco). His deformed mutated Blues captured the people in 2001 with "White Blood Cells" (One of my top 100 personal albums) and in 2003 "Elephant" confirmed his place in the rock canon (as has his various escapades and collaborations with classic rock artists such as Neil young, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. When you consider that the Keith and Mick were 39 (or 40) when Undercover came out (One of the worse classic rock failures of the 80s), and when you consider that Bob Dylan was 39 when 'Saved' was released, it is easy to see that when rock musicians turn 39 it is a common theme that they do not produce fine pieces of work to rival their earlier pieces. Jack White may not have created the best album of his career in Lazaretto, but he has released a solid album, which until yesterday i would have thought was full of stagnated boring songs. Yesterday at the Hammersmith Apollo, I discovered that Jack White is the last great rock star, I discovered that he is the last rocksmith and I discovered Lazaretto (A word for medical quarantine) .



The gig felt alive and was the most exhausting (mentally and physically) gig that I've ever been too. The songs continued a barrage of rock, and the crowd chorused back every word while maintaining perhaps the most righteous mosh pit in existence and White among all of this watched back in glee at the crowds response to newer songs. The stand out songs remain the ones you'd imagine Steady As She Goes, Hello Operator, Ball and Biscuit, Hotel Yorba and The Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground. Is this gig going to be looked back on in history as a catalyst moment when rock changed and when rock arose from its ashes to become great again with White sat as the necromancer in this situation? Unlikely but i'm ending this here to get out my guitar and to start working on my song about medical quarantine to rival Lazaretto.