I don’t feel like I stop often enough in the course of this project to thank you all for the positivity and support you wonderful folks give me every day. When I decided to start the Ladyist, it seemed like such a small, personal choice that I honestly hadn’t considered how people would respond to it. Instead, I’ve been flabbergasted by the almost entirely positive response, not to mention the huge amount of articles, videos, songs and other suggestions you’ve sent me. It’s really wonderful to know that this decision wasn’t a silly one, that there are heaps of other people who understand and are keen to support this solipsistic little adventure.
In that spirit, then, I’d like to share some of the great recommendations that have come my way. I’ve always suspected that my friends are blessed with good taste (i.e. taste that corresponds to my own), and these last two months have done nothing but confirm that theory. So here, in an entirely haphazard order, is some of the brilliant music you’ve helped me find.
Spotlight Kid – A Minor Character
Music savant (and, I hear, nifty game designer) Alex put me onto this, linking me to their Bandcamp. I had bought the album before preceding track, ‘Sugar Pills’, could finish, but ‘A Minor Character’ is the song I keep coming back to. Truly, it was laser-targeted: the dream-pop allure of Pains of Being Pure at Heart wrapped in sweet sweet shoegaze synths straight off M83’s Saturdays=Youth was a mix I was never going to resist, but Katty Heath’s soft coo lends the chorus kiss-off “you are such a/minor character in my life” such a casual edge that it somehow bites extra hard. You don’t even begin to matter, no matter how much you think you should. It’s the highlight of a very strong album; I’ve listened to Ten Thousand Hours for approximately as long as its title suggests in the past few weeks, with no signs of slowing down now. Once you hear that deeply satisfying moment in the chorus where the distortion kicks in at *just* the right moment, you’ll know why.
The Doubleclicks – Lasers and Feelings
If you have an instinctive, irrational hate for funny musicians, I suggest you move onto the next entry (and maybe, while you’re at it, reconsider your prejudice). Equally, if the idea of a two-women folk duo whose main instruments are ukulele and cello distresses you, move right along.
If you’re still here, welcome – you’re probably one of three people who’ll make it this far. Everyone else stinks, and it’s their loss. Sure, they’re incredibly dorky and earnest, but those are the exact qualities that make the Doubleclicks so endearing. They own their nerdiness with irresistible confidence, and do so while singing harmonies and dropping sharp little wordplays in every few lines. And seriously, how is it that I’ve waited this long to hear a love song to a supervillain?
Lucas, polymath nerd who knows stuff, put me onto the Doubleclicks, along with another billion or so things. I’ve only just begun to put a dent in the pile of comics he lent me.
Joanna Gruesome – Lemonade Grrl
I think Ben was the first person I know to be smitten with Joanna Gruesome, and I have learned that that is always a strong indicator of quality. Part of the appeal was the childish play on the name of another much-loved musician, Joanna Newsom; I am nothing if not a sucker for puns. The rest of the appeal, though, and the reason they appear on this list, it the sometimes sweet, sometimes savage twee pop that’s all over Weird Sister. Like Los Campesinos, there’s a wild, noisy energy to Joanna Gruesome, all feedback and cooed girl-boy harmonies, with the occasional temper tantrum breakdown (apparently the band formed in an anger management class, which is a damned cool backstory even if it turns out to be fiction). Alanna Gruesome (or Alanna McArdle, before the band Ramonesed themselves) can make you bark along with lyrics like “I dream of pulling out your teeth”, giddy with catharsis, then have you properly swooning when she sings, “it’s such a pleasure to touch your skin”. Those hard right-turns from sweet melody to shouting that keeps Weird Sister exciting the whole way through, listen after listen.
Ani DiFranco – 32 Flavors
Firstly, I only spell it without the ‘u’ because it’s a song title; secondly, I’m a little scared to admit that I knew virtually no Ani before Catriona made me this wonderful Spotify playlist (Brocklesnitch, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry). I mean, I’d listen to ‘Untouchable Face’ a bunch of times, but that was mainly down to the indisputable thrill of hearing the word ‘fuck’ in a song chorus when you’re an impressionable age (I remained impressionable well after I should’ve grown out of it). Since then, though, I didn’t give Ani much attention – the album covers have dated in that way particular to records from the late 90s, and I’m guilty of judging her music on that basis.
She hit me doubly hard, then, when I finally did revisit her as part of Treemie’s playlist. Listening as I ate breakfast one morning, I froze when ’32 Flavors’ cut through the pre-caffeine fog and struck me (this experience was so notable that I’ve resorted to mixed metaphors to explain it).
I still can’t quite identify what it is about ’32 Flavours’ that makes it so compelling, but I’m content to keep playing it on the off chance that I might make sense of that. I’ve listened to Canon a few times since then, and though nothing else has had such an instant impact, I’ll happily explore if there’s more like this to be found.
Perfect Pussy – Driver
‘Big Stars’ is one of the more sedate tracks on Say Yes To Love; I would’ve preferred to share ‘Driver’ or ‘Bells’ as a better indicator, but even Google’s SafeSearch function struggles when one of the key phrases of your search is ‘Perfect Pussy’ [edit: I gave up working from an iPad so I could embed from Spotify, which ruins an otherwise perfectly good opening sentence that I’m too precious to discard]. The band is cacophonous, a squall of feedback and blown-out drums that might overwhelm Meredith Graves if she weren’t such a commanding presence. She fights to be heard over the furious bashing and fuzz, gasping every breath and standing tall with every word she sings. It’s electrifying, and oddly uplifting. Jack can recommend me more like this any time she likes.
I don’t have the space to list every single one of the wonderful recommendations you lot have given me, and you wouldn’t have time to read it. I am, however, a bottomless pit where music is concerned, and as such am always in need of more suggestions. If you know any Ladyist music that you think I’d love, feel free to tell me! Comments are always welcome here. Otherwise, send a tweet (@aLadyist), a message on Facebook, or an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and enlighten me.
Alanna from Joanna Gruesome and Meredith from Perfect Pussy contributed to a fascinating article on being the only woman in a band. It was in response to a kinda tone-deaf piece by another musician, but the insights they and others have into that lifestyle are worth reading. Find it here.