Archive for the ‘rock criticism’ Category

By Simone Stenfors

Best live concerts/gigs:

1) Bad Manners

2) The Sonics

3) The Urban Voodoo Machine

4) The Jim Jones Revue

5) Rebel Yell

6) Girlschool

7) Autorama

8) The Glitterati

9) The Helacopters

10) The Delinquents

My Top CD’s:

1) Sixx A.M., The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack

2) The Barbarellatones, The Devil’s Dildo

3) London Egg, In The Beginning

4) The Jim Jones Revue, The Jim Jones Revue

And my tip for 2009 is:

The Ruby Friedman Orchestra
from Los Angeles.

Simone Stenfors is a writer, photographer, and muse on the London music scene. She is currently writing a memoir.


Best Gay Lady Albums

By Trish Bendix

Jennifer O’Connor, Here With Me
Folk rock with the focus on her guitar, JOC sings about her relationship with her girlfriend, and even puts her on the cover. The video for the title track is adorable – also starring her girlfriend. Someone is in love.

An Horse, Rearrange Beds
Australian duo with lesbian singer Kate Cooper, AKA Sara Quin’s new favorite band. Mine too. Dare I say, like Tegan and Sara’s brand of charming indie pop but better?

Sia, Some People Have Real Problems
Another Aussie but with some ridiculous pipes. She has as much quirk in her as she does soul, which is an interesting mix, especially on songs about her leaving her BF because he was on drugs. No gay-type songs about her new love JD yet, but I’m holding out hope for 2009.

Joan as Police Woman, To Survive
Bisexual chanteuse that’s still kind of under the radar; still prefaced in every review with “dated Jeff Buckley, played behind Rufus and Antony.” Still ruling on several instruments, including the viola.

Amanda Palmer, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
Will anyone care that the Dresden Dolls broke up as long as Amanda Palmer is still making music? Highly unlikely. This album is proof that she is/was the creative mind behind the operation. (Extra points for St. Vincent cameo.)

Yo Majesty , Futuristically Speaking…
Shunda K and Jwl B are apparently on the outs right now, which is the saddest news since their debut full-length was hot. It’s nice to dance to music about making eyes at chicks without it being blatantly misogynistic.

Kaki King, Dreaming of Revenge
I’m so glad Kaki broke up with someone to write this record. Serious points to whomever inspired her to want to be “pulled out alive.” Glad she’s keeping up with the lyrics and vocals because her writing is just as pleasant as her playing.

Missy Higgins, On A Clear Night
Australia = musical mecca of totally gay women. Missy Higgins gave Grey’s Anatomy a boner, and this album was originally released a few years ago. Ahead of the times, this Aussie.

Ponytail, Ice Cream Spiritual Serious heart attack having. So good, so spastic, so refreshing. Molly Siegel owns Yoko Ono. Art rock for people who hate the term art rock.

Hercules and Love Affair, Hercules and Love Affair
My favorite song is “Athene,” sung by lesbo Kim Ann Foxman (who is, by definition a stone cold fox). The whole CD, though, is contemporary disco that is so queer, even straight people like it. They get all hypnotized by the hip electronicness of it all.

New Bloods, The Secret Life
Rumor is they are breaking up. I will not have it, because this PDX trio is punk riot grrrl modern and I am feeling it. I wanted to see them in a cage match with Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and some other Disney bitch. Raven Symone?

Bound Stems, The Family Afloat
A gay lady among men in this Chicago-band, Janie Porche is so obviously a dyke when she’s singing on this record. I might be able to tell it from her instrument playing, too, but I am too busy thinking how gay she is when she’s singing a duet. More Janie, B.S.!

The Organ, Thieves EP
Fucking teases. Way to release a post-humous EP that is amazing melodramatic Smiths-esque indie rock. You’re dead to me. (Your own fault.)

Thalia Zedek, Liars and Prayers
I find Thalia kind of scary, which is why reading her lyrics makes me want to cry. Her husky voice is perfect for her guitar-playing, though, which is pretty inaccessible. She’s the antithesis of any other lesbian singer-songwriter ever.

Tracy Chapman, Our Bright Future
I don’t know all the lyrics to “Fast Car.” I am an anomaly. But I also think Tracy’s genre-mixing on Our Bright Future is interesting, even though it’s been done before. Still, she brings something to the country-tinged tracks and the Broadway-infused rhythms on the song, “I Had It All.” I didn’t hate it.

By Carrie Waite

Best Albums:

Beck, Odelay (Re-issue w/ Bonus Disc)
The Black Keys, Attack & Release
Calexico, Carried To Dust
The Dirtbombs, We Have You Surrounded
Dr.Dog, Fate
Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
Flight of the Concords, Flight of the Concords
Have Gun Will Travel, Casting Shadows Tall As Giants
The Magnetic Fields, Distortion
Rebekah Pulley, Back to Boogaloo
Will Quinlan & the Diviners, Navasota
Sun Kil Moon, April
Lucinda Williams, Little Honey
Wye Oak, If Children

By Nikki Navarro, guitarist, Giddy-Up, Helicopter!

Top Albums (in no particular order):

1. The DodosVisiter
2. Land of TalkSome Are Lakes
3. Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes
4. Ra Ra RiotThe Rhumb Line
5. Wolf ParadeAt Mount Zoomer
6. Des ArkWXDU Volume Two
7. Mount Eerie, Julie Doiron and Fred Squire Lost Wisdom
8. MirahThe Old Days Feeling
9. DeerhunterMicro Castle
10. First Aid KitDrunken Trees

Top Concerts:

1. Sunset Rubdown @ Empty Bottle (Chicago)
2. The Breeders @ SXSW
3. The Dodos @ SXSW
4. Ra Ra Riot @ SXSW
5. Black Mountain @ SXSW

Top Singles:

1. Land of Talk “Some Are Lakes”
2. Ra Ra Riot “Ghost Under Rocks”
3. Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal”
4. Beyonce “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
5. Rihanna “Disturbia”
6. Estelle & Kanye West “American Boy”

By Deborah Frost

Lists are for pedants to make and for –I don’t know what you can even call anyone who actually reads them– a SUB-pedant?

If this is what editors are still ordering to be served up in daily or any other kind of publications, NO fucking WONDER they’re all hurting, if not going directly out of business. Who wants and/or needs this crap?

The only lists that should be allowed should be grocery and to-do ones. And frankly, I think the grocery list of Joe the Plumber woud be a million times more interesting than any combination of recording artistes — whether as mass as Britney or as esoteric as any smartypants can dream up just for the sake of someone thinking they actually LIKE this shit (and maybe they do, but I usually don’t want to hear it and neither do most listeners over the age of two who are perfectly capable of making up their own minds) — printed out by any rock critic in the world today or in history. And I’m talkin bout writers who once ACTUALLY had SOMETHING 2 say.

By Gina Vivinetto

Top Albums (in alphabetical order):

1. Deerhunter, Microcastle
2. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
3. French Kicks, Swimming
4. The Last Shadow Puppets, The Age of Understatement
5. Ra Ra Riot, The Rhumb Line
6. Santogold, Santogold
7. Wolf Parade, At Mount Zoomer
8. Wye Oak, If Children

Best singles:
1. M.I.A. “Paper Planes”
2. Santogold “Lights Out”
3. Rihanna, “Don’t Stop The Music”
4. whatever singles the Black Kids released

Best reissue to DVD:


Actually, it’s never been on DVD before and this is why it took me nearly three decades to see it: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, a great little dramedy about the exploitation that goes on in both the media and the music industry. Best line: When teen age rock star Corrine Burns (as played by a 16-year-old Diane Lane) snarls, “I think every citizen should be given an electric guitar on her 16th birthday.” Another plus: great feature characters played by Fee Waybill of The Tubes, Paul Cook and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols and Paul Simonon of The Clash.

Most interesting people:

Barack Obama: I can’t believe a black guy won.
Rachel Maddow: I can’t believe a lesbian hosts an MSNBC show.
Lindsay Lohan: I can’t believe a starlet came out of the closet.
Sarah Palin: I can’t believe this imbecile ran for VP.

By Cathy Wos

I was born a Soulless Media Whore. I was weaned on TV and Music is my Therapy.
One day I decided to use my powers for good not evil and I became a librarian.
Last year I moved to Seattle and I was like a kid in a candy store when it came to live music. When you live in Florida, most bands don’t make the extra trek down south.
It is hard to say no to a live show, but my money and schedule can only permit so much. I’ve attended Bumbershoot twice and love it. There are criticisms about the festival becoming too mainstream and expensive, but seriously I think the pros outweigh the cons. Some of my favorite moments at Bumbershoot are the unexpected, like the intimate show by John Wesley Harding in 2007 or Sherman Alexie’s performance and the tribute to Hall and Oates by Ellen Forney in 2008:

So here’s my Top 5 Concerts for 2008:

5. Old 97s
I saw the Old 97s twice this year – once at the Showbox and again at Bumbershoot.
I love this band. I don’t care how self-absorbed Rhett Miller is or how disillusioned.
Unlucky in love? You’re gorgeous, rich, famous AND married to a super model.
Yet, somehow I always buy it.

4. The Wedding Present
Considering that David Gedge lived in Seattle for a spell, I anticipated a bigger crowd for this gig at Neumos. Granted it was a Tuesday night (what I consider the “Hipster Day of Rest”) but there were probably only a hundred people at this show. Seriously? Is Seattle so jaded by the live music scene? Luckily for me, The Wedding Present wasn’t and put on a phenomenal show. Gedge takes it all in self-deprecating stride. When I remarked on how my friend saw him in Tallahassee he joked that he must of been the only one. Someone please tell me why this band hasn’t gotten their due.

2. Gogol Bordello
The gypsy punk band was the highlight of my Bumbershoot 2007 experience, so I had to check them out when they headlined at the Showbox Sodo. They did not disappoint with 2 hours of non-stop music and spectacle.

2. The Dodos
Fellow Sweaty Bitch Julie Garisto clued me into this San Fransisco band after she saw them in Portland. I had had a chance to see them at the Capitol Block party and they were phenomenal. They are so tight and really just a breath of fresh air. My only complaint? That they couldn’t play longer.

1. Jaguar Love
Jaguar Love consists of former members from Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves. I was able to catch them live at a secret show right before their European tour. It had the feel of seeing a high school band play in your grandmother’s living room, yet it was so loud and intense that I couldn’t hear for days and I waxing poetically about them for weeks. It was hands down the best show I’ve seen in Seattle so far. Look for these guys when they tour the States. I expect nothing less than World Domination.


Best Albums:

1. The Dodos, Visiter
If this decade were good for anything, it was for inspiring musicians to strip down and make much of little. Here’s a duo and a half (well, third member, Joe Haener, just became official) that create hypnotic and passionate pop with finger-picking guitar, fast tribal-like beats and ingenious twists, such as the tambourine taped to drummer Logan Kroeber’s foot. What’s more, Meric Long’s singing sounds timelessly great, I mean really great – a signature appeal also for band No.’s 2 and 3 on my list – hopefully signaling the demise of the mumbling indie rocker. San Francisco’s the Dodos, around since 2005, make folky rock and create an old-meets-new vibe that not only get your toes tapping, but they reach into your guts and heart and give them a long, hard tug too. “Primitive” and “visceral” get tossed around a lot, but if you take these qualities and combine them with the melodic sweep of Paul Simon or the Finn brothers, you’ll find yourself saddled with the unique and underrated genius of the Dodos.

2. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
Sparklingly catchy and timeless pop, vocals you can sing along to. Every song sounds like a radio hit. That doesn’t happen often.

3. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
Not since the Beach Boys has a band harmonized so wondrously.

4. Throw Me the Statue, Moonbeams
I might be the only writer putting this plucky young band from Seattle on my list, but like Bobby Brown says, “That’s my prerogative.” TMTS combines the eccentric charm of early new wave, especially Talking Heads, and gloms on keyboards and strummy acoustics. The result is dark, light and swirly – a stunning contrast of moods and sounds.

5. She and Him, Vol. 1
My favorite male vocalist of nowadays, M. Ward, teams up with Hollywood sweetheart Zooey Deschanel for a duet masterpiece. I especially like their cover of the Beatles’ “Should Have Known Better.”

6. N.E.R.D., Seeing Sounds
This is way beyond the conventions of hip-hop and R&B. Pharrell and Co. give us a fun and funky amalgamation that doesn’t lose its soul and integrity in the translation.

7. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
The all-out rock, balladeer charm and glam luster of early ’70s Bowie on a high-tech 21st century platform – Robo Ziggy!

8. The Breeders, Mountain Battles
I love how Kim Deal’s voice has gotten rougher and raspier. It just adds to the raw mystique of the Breeders, a band that’s always had a knowing attitude while not taking itself too seriously to be weird. Theirs is a righteously cool evolution, and this album is proof.

9. TV on the Radio, Dear Science
Soulful, bizarre, topical, danceable. A super record from one of this decade’s supergroups.

10. Wolf Parade, At Mount Zoomer
Wolf Parade seemed like another fancy, esoteric Canadian band at one time but has won me over with its soulful, gutsy rock, sweetened by indelible melodies and intelligent lyrics.

11. The Delta Spirit, Ode to Sunshine
12. The Helio Sequence, Keep Your Eyes Ahead
13. The Old 97s, Blame it On Gravity
14. Lykke Li, Youth Novels
15. Dr. Dog, Fate
16. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges
17. Centro-matic/South San Gabriel, Dual Hawks
18. Flight of the Conchords, Flight of the Conchords
19. R.E.M., Accelerate
20. Duffy, Rockferry

On my list to check out further:

I’m thinking that if I had more time with these, the results could possibly skew a bit:
Common: Universal Mind Control; Q-Tip: The Renaissance; Thurston Moore: Sensitive/Lethal; The Rosebuds: Life Like; Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago; Beach House: Devotion; Langhorne Slim: Langhorne Slim; and Okkervil River: The Stand-Ins.

10 favorite singles:

The Dodos “Fools”
Flo-Rida “Low”
Fonzworth Bentley feat. Kanye and Andre “Everybody (Don’t Stop)”
Lykke Li “I’m Good, I’m Gone”
Throw Me the Statue “Lolita”
Common feat. Pharrell “Universal Mind Control”
People C’mon “The Delta Spirit”
The Breeders “Bang On”
M83 “Kim and Jessie”
Pictures and Sound “It’s You”

By Carla DeSantis

It’s December and thanks to bloggers and the free subscription my mother has somehow ended up getting from Rolling Stone, I’ve been looking over what I’ve missed this year on the annual “best of the year” lists.

Since ROCKRGRL’s demise at the end of ’05, I work at home and have musically become a bit of a hermit. I thought that maybe perusing these “best of” lists from friends and colleagues in-the-know would introduce me to music I might have missed and enlighten me to what’s going on outside the wheels in my head.

Anyhow, I’m looking at all these lists from all these people with very eclectic tastes and can’t help thinking: What happened to the rock? You know, the stuff that has been horrifying parents for generations.

Duffy and Fleet Foxes and Coldplay are fine, I guess, but their music has all the angst of a lullaby. Did angst go out of style when I wasn’t looking? How can this qualify as rock?

The current crop of buzz bands sound like rejects from the Lilith Fair tour. And I’m talking about the guys. Everything sounds like Jewel circa 1994. (And I hate Jewel.)

I know I risk sounding like one of those doddering elderly people waxing nostalgic about the good old days. Fair enough. But what I’ve always loved about rock is the raw power and emotion behind it. I need edge. And I don’t mean the guy from U2.

I just can’t believe that with the internet offering a world of variety, the baby-voiced singers on iPod commercials and television processed American Cheese Idols are the best we’ve got.

All I want is one artist, one song, that will make me excited about listening to music again. Despite her demons, Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black is the last album that really did it for me. And I love Adele’s “Cold Shoulder” (produced by Winehouse’s producer, Mark Ronson) but the rest of the album is just sort of…eh.

So please, tastemakers, just find me the one artist that I will still love ten years from now. That’s all I ask. In the meantime, I think I’ll go back to my regularly scheduled hibernation until it’s safe to scare my parents again. Especially since Rolling Stone is after my mom to subscribe.

Carla Desantis is the former editor of ROCKRGRL.

Tittyshakers: Home of the Sleazy Sound is where you’ll find everything you need to know about the saucy 1950s jazz music that women in old movies always disrobed to.


In the author’s words:

“The roots of tittyshaker can be traced back to 50’s America where in major cities through to backwater shacks and pit-stop bars the juke box would be wailing out sleazy, lo-down and dirty rock n’ roll or equally gritty Jazz music to provide the rhythm for a neighbourhood girl to get up on stage to entertain the locals by performing a striptease, commonly she would only go down to her lingerie, the emphasis was on the dance and the tease.”

Yes, the site has a history of the genre – and pictures of naked women! Go!

Here are links to two recent interviews with rock critic, musician, and Sweaty Bitch contributor Deborah Frost:


The first is Deborah’s spotlight interview in the “Women Who Rock” section of Life, Words, Rock ‘N’ Roll and the second is a recent chat with Blizz of Rock where Deborah’s band the Brain Surgeons were chosen as Artist of the Week!

Congrats, Deborah. We’re throwing up devil horns in your honor.

By Deborah Frost

Yesterday, Saudi Arabia, today Santa Monica!

You know what no one really wants to say– the subtext of all this mishegoss, if you will– is that there IS no news that is fit to print! It would probably make more sense– from the business cost-effective side, anyway– for the Times to shut down all the printing presses (they’re so un-GREEN, anyway) & they can sell the spots where recycled paper would ordinarily stack up before being shipped to China to all the unsold Mercedes (not to mention private jets) that desperately need parking, they can bring back all reporters from places you get blown up or shot at (which no one likes, anyway– and as it is, you have a better chance at looking at the big johnsons in some locker room than going where it’s too dangerous to actually report any story) and put them all to work as salespeople when they turn that big Renzo Piano building into a nice showroom for the Isaac Mizrahi signature handbags and other chazerai they’re so busy selling!

As for me, MY new career is going to be as a LIFE COACH giving seminars to writers (of course the music critics will all get first dibs, given my own special bias and old times’ sake)
teaching and re-training them with necessary life skills–like how chic French ladies might prefer knots tied in their Mizrahi designer scarves!! I may also have a sideline as a business consultant if I don’t give away all of my great ideas for free right here this minute — like, as soon as those orange bags that, from the insert the other day which I was so PRIVILEGED to see, given that I may eventually be the last remaining girl in New York to still have that rag delivered to my doorstep (nostalgia being high up there among my many hobbies)…Anyway, when that LIMITED edition of 600 is snapped up or carted directly off to Costco-if not the sidewalk of Times Sq– they should call up Tommy Hilfiger and/or Ralph–they can probably give them all a nice break on ad pages, too-in return for all the free crap– and have them translate THEIR visions, or whatever it is they have when they approve the designs people who can actually draw then have whipped up in 3rd world factories into Times-logo’d chatchkys.

Frankly, I’m DYING to know what a NY Times— or Village Voice, for that matter– designer perfume might possibly smell like– and if there is ANY justice in the world, I will hopefully be able to spritz some on myself and/or my loved ones in time 4 Xmas!!

Legendary rock music critic Deborah Frost is the leader of the Brain Surgeons.

Flush the word turds, babe

Posted: November 25, 2008 by ginavivinetto in music, rock criticism


Eleven years ago, I landed a fun job as a copy editor for an alt-newsweekly.

It was at that fun little indie paper, which later became an un-fun corporate-owned paper, that I began writing about music.

When I was a newbie, the music editor at the time farmed out CD reviews. He was very confident in his abilities and had no qualms about making my words sound like his. To make matters worse, he pigeonholed me as the “middle of the road indie-alternative girl” — basically, I was stuck reviewing the boring bands no one else wanted to tackle.

I will say that he helped me tighten up my writing and expand my knowledge base, but he also instilled very annoying music critic-ese that make me feel uncomfortable with myself. It was almost like I had to shower after a deadline sometimes.

I internalized his voice. I started using words like “conjured.” I still catch myself using that stupid word. It’s so Goth-geeky. Really, now. “conjure.” It reeks of stale patchouli and Wiccan B.O.

So, the goal is to establish a Word Turd Fund. We’d set up a PayPal account, and if you as a music writer — whether you’re blogging or submitting a full-length feature to Magnet — catch yourself using certain forbidden foppish, obtuse and hackneyed words or constructions, you should have to contribute to the Word Turd Fund.

A music review should read like a recommendation from your fun-as-shit, smart-as-shit and well-meaning friend.

Playing CAPTCHA with folks’ heads ain’t no way to go about it, and we’re going to start getting our laxatives out fortwith … wait, is that one? Oops, I let a squeaker out.

Here’s a start:

Invoke: Like “conjure,” this word should never be used unless you’re joking about demons or John Edward.

Fuck your verbose anecdotal lead: Who are you impressing with that story about an old bluesman who took a piss next to Johnny Cash? Who, huh? If we wanted a history lesson, we’d watch American Experience on PBS. Most people don’t want to read the first bit of opinion four paragraphs in. We have munchies waiting in the fridge, and they aren’t going to microwave themselves!

Everyone’s been introduced: So, please, for the love of Jesus Lizard, stop telling us about the time so and so meets so and so. Saying T-Rex meets T-Pain meets Tammy Wynette doesn’t say a whole hell a lot about a band’s true artistic vision. It’s a lazy shortcut … though I’m suddenly intrigued by my fictitious construct. … Anyway, regardless, this is a hard one, I know. We’ve all been guilty of it, but *breathe* reword.

Conjunctive-itis: Please stop with the fancy coordinating conjunctions like “hence,” “thusly” and other linkage hooha.

TRANS-rendered: People really get bored with using practical bread-and-butter verbs, so they will employ a nifty action word implying change or movement. Often, those words begin with the prefix “Trans” — like “transcend” or “transport.” I just read “transmute.” What the fuck. I’m not really sure what that means. I can kinda guess. … Is that a three-way involving the speech-impaired?

By Gina Vivinetto

Carrie Brownstein, former guitarist for Sleater-Kinney, reviewed Wii Music for Slate, deciding, ultimately, that the game falls short. Carrie writes:

“(T)he game doesn’t go far enough; despite exalting creativity, you still feel more like an audience member than a band member—on the sidelines, watching yourself on-screen, where it seems like you’re having more fun. The game shows you a fantastical sonic world but falls short of letting you invent your own.”

Yeah, but this is from someone who’s used to doing this:


Carrie previously reviewed Rock Band for the site, deciding it, too, was lame.

I don’t know. I think the trick with games like Wii Music and Rock Band is to suck at music in real life. If you can’t play decent guitar, you’re satisfied just making noise along to Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.” Right? Although my musical ineptitude IRL translates to my game play. The one and only time I played Rock Band, I was in a department store trying out the demo game. As soon as I started, two little kids, brother and sister, came up and watched me. I was not good. They seemed embarrassed for me. When I was finished, I turned to walk away and the little girl said, “Nice try.” Did I detect sarcasm? I had no idea I still had the capacity to be intimidated by children.

I’m sure some of the other Sweaty Bitches, with all their musical prowess, can let me know if Wii Music is less fun than actual “axe-weildin.'” Anyone?

How about you?

Get ready for Sweaty

Posted: November 25, 2008 by ginavivinetto in gender stuff, music, rock criticism

Hello and welcome. On behalf of the Sweaty Bitches of Rock ‘N’ Roll (SBORR), we thank you for choosing our fun, decidedly non-academic forum to peruse. We know you could pick any blog and you chose us. For that we say, “Mazel tov!”

We intend to have good times here. We’re also going to pitch fits, have bitch sessions, and ridicule people.

You can join in on the hijinks by leaving comments.