By: Alex M.
Hey there, y’all. I hope 2014 has been treating you well. I have some exciting and unsurprising news for you: women have continued to make rad music. There is so much rad music that I’m going to write a whole column detailing the latest and greatest hits from the woman innovating and changing the music game as we know it.
Cibo Matto- Hotel Valentine ( 2014)
For Fans of: Camera Obscura, Bonde Do Role, and The Dirty Projectors
Cibo Matto is confidently cutesy without sacrificing a single moment of musical chops. For those of you unfamiliar with their work: The band was founded by two Japanese expatriates, Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori, in 1994. They were famed for scoring the soundtrack to many ‘90s iconic TV scenes, like the second season of Buffy the Vampire slayer. The band re-formed recently after its 2002 breakup and released Hotel Valentine this year on Valentine’s Day. The band is currently composed of its founders and drummer Yuko Araki, but has also previously included Sean Lennon, Timo Ellis, and Duma Love. Honda and Hatori are creative powerhouses, and have a prolific backlog of work.
Hotel Valentine is like a really unsettling Black Kids CD, remixed with Bossa Nova and all heard while you are pretty turnt at an outdoor party. It’s also eerily reminiscent of the ‘90s. Track “Empty Pool” belongs on the Romeo x Juliet soundtrack, and a lot of the vibe is very moody Luscious Jackson.
I don’t know dude, this CD puts me in a weird place but I like it. It’s for when you’re staying in on a weekend night making art and maybe have smoked too many cigarettes, but you’re painting some stuff anyway. Hotel Valentine’s vibe is music that exists on the liminal side right after you left the party. You don’t know if it’s really happening or if it’s ever happened but you’re still standing there listening to these nice ladies talk about ghosts in elevators.
Musically, the CD is a Bossa Nova tropical psych rock kaleidoscope. Cibo Matto acknowledges that the songs make up a narrative about a love haunted hotel, but insist the real narrative of this piece is Honda and Hatori’s enduring friendship. This sort of valuation of female friendship can be seen in “10th Floor Ghost Girl,” which is filled with upbeat clever wordplay and idolizing of the titular character. The song “Housekeeping” is an awesome nod to the hiphop and avant garde roots of Cibo Matto, and is reminiscent of Yelle and Bondo Do Role. It is also places housekeepers in a position of power and control, which is a refreshing change from domestic workers usually being the butt of media jokes or entirely erased.
The narrators of Cibo Matto’s songs are undeniably empowered confident women, and stay above the Bossa Nova flavored hip hop rapids that Hotel Valentine puts down.
Cayetana- Hot Dad Calendar (2014)
For Fans of: P.S. Eliot, Waxahatchee, Sleater-Kinney, and going house shows
Cayetana is composed of three rad girls who grew up with riot grrl and Philly Punk. Their music is heartbreakingly earnest and has raw vocals accompanied by polished guitars. This single is for people tired of only white straight boys singing emo.
Founded in 2011 by rockers Kelly Olsen, Allegra Anka, and Augusta Koch, Cayetana’s latest single “Hot Dad Calendar” is basically all anyone could ask for in the new wave of emo bands coming out today. It reminds me a lot of South Florida punk, and that’s always a good thing. It’s an intimate CD that feels like talking to an awesome empowered friend.
Mean Creek- My Madeline (2014)
For Fans of : The World is a Beautiful Place and I am Afraid to Die, Mission of Burma, Tullycraft, and Bush
Pleeeeasssse go buy Mean Creek’s new album when it comes out in April. Mean Creek is perfect. They’re athematic guitar gods, and also make some of the only music I feel like I’d be okay with being the soundtrack to me falling in love.
Mean Creek is some “best friends making music together” from Boston that have been compared to (among other things) “Death Cab for Cutie if they recruited a female vocalist.”
They cite their inspiration from bands like the The Lemonheads and Mission of Burma, and seriously: it shows in the best way possible. If the zeitgeist of the Pixies and Sonic Youth could be instilled in any band, Mean Creek would be the top contender. Their lead female singer and guitarist Aurore Ounjian also has supernatural vocals.
So essentially: their new single “My Madeline” is perfect and listening to it renders you in that moment perfect as well.
Yuna- Nocturnal (2013)
For Fans of: Duffy, Adele, any pop song ever
Yunalis Mat Zara’ai, better known as Yuna, is a stupendous indie pop singer. Her CD features gender neutral love songs like “Bravest Everything,” and plenty of catchy songs that feature her assured and resolute voice in addition to empowering lyrics. True, her 2013 album Nocturnal does hit all the stereotypical feminist clichés, but here’s the thing: You don’t even notice because you’re so busy dancing. Her bouncy feminist anthem “Rescue”? Listened to it 10 times today.
Yuna’s CD is brilliant because it channels feminist rhetoric while being undeniably universally appealing. Her music is as equally acceptable for your 12 year old niece as it is your southern conservative mother. I typically use that phrase as a backhanded compliment, but in this case I whole heartedly mean it. Yuna channels soul and smoke, a little bit of Kerli and childhood schoolyard chants to make one hell of a CD.
Samantha Cain- Kid Face (2013)
For Fans of: Neko Case, Jack White, and Delta Rae
I have such a crush on Samantha Cain’s straight out of the backwaters fire and brimstone songs. I have such a crush on her. I have such a crush on Kid Face’s artwork. I am most definitely infatuated with everything surrounding this album.
Cain was raised in rural Oklahoma, and channels this childhood into folk and country songs that seem impossibly light and luminous while still carrying the weight of the world on their backs. Cain’s music is a balancing act between intricate plucking and her bell clear voice, with both in equal harmony with each other. Her work is haunting and makes sense out of the chaos that faces southern feminists each day.
Find out more at her official website