Thursday, October 6, 2011

You've Come a Long Way, Baby--- Women in Music

That's right, sports fans, it's once again time for my cyclical "Music You're Missing" rant and you know how much fun we have with that.  Let's see, awhile ago we had our dog-themed videos (mainly to offset the incredibly huge number of cat videos--- sorry, folks, but they will always be nothing but dog food on the hoof as far as I'm concerned) and before that, videos with a bacterial flair.  The high school reunion one was fun (when you look in the mirror every day, you really don't know how much you're changing, do you?) and how can we forget the Tribute to War post proving that war, too, can be fun.  This time around, we give the nod to Women in Music, which would be Women in Rock, but what the hell is that anymore?  The genres have been gut shot and the music all over the walls and who better to prove it than the artists we'll look at here.  See, I'm old enough to remember when women were a minor segment of the music biz (now, don't go getting your knickers in a knot--- I'm trying to make a point here), a very small percentage of the gate, to use the biz's own terminology.  Thank the gods that those days are gone.  Today, I cannot even imagine a world in which artists of any gender, shape, size, color, nationality, smell, or mental persuasion are not given their just due.  The question is, how much are they due?  Here's your chance to find out.  Here are ten over-the-top exceptional female artists who are struggling somewhat to be heard.  You tell me what you think they're worth.  I think they're priceless.

HANNAH MILLER--- O Black River

Hannah Miller is new to me.  I have no idea why.  This is her fifth release and she obviously has fans somewhere, but I had somehow missed her completely until I stumbled across her sampler on Noise Trade.  Every time I come across a musician this talented with a lengthy musical past, I wonder how I missed them and what more I could be doing to spread the word.  I should not be finding Miller on the fifth try.  I should have found her at the beginning.  Regardless, she has a new mini-LP (six tracks) from which the song in this video was taken and what can I say?  It's a monster.  We should be hearing plenty more from her.


Ah, Sydney.  The girl with the unique voice and the ability to write to it.  I don't believe I've heard an album more creative than her last, The Colorful.  She pulled out all the stops, utilizing toys and work tools and God knows what else to put together an album which after hundreds of listens still amazes me.  I have been awaiting her new album for what seems like years and it is finally just around the corner (hopefully, a winter release).  Titled Bell Choir Coast, it may not be the hurricane of creativity that was The Colorful, but if this song is any indication, it won't have to be.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Sydney Wayser.....

STAR ANNA--- Alone In This Together

Star Anna hails from Ellensburg, Washington, former home of The Screaming Trees and King Krab and now home to The Putters and The 667s.  Her voice is a rubber band slightly stretched, her songs a potpourri of the personal.  Alone In This Together is both title of this song and her new album, released by the prestigious Local 638 record label.  The song is a look inward.  The album is a step forward.  We'll be hearing much more from her, I am sure.

SKYE PAIGE--- Paint the Town Red

I have this friend who lives in Charleston, South Carolina and he's always digging up local and regional music treasures for me to hear.    Through him, I have been turned on to the likes of Th' Legendary Shack Shakers and Southern Culture On the Skids and The Shaniqua Brown--- all excellent, all hot, all on the edge.  Well, he's done it again.  You may not have to have a sense of humor to enjoy Skye Paige, but it sure helps.  I've seen the live videos and all it does is make me want to see her live, period.  She's a trip.  But you be the judge.


I have been following Sarah White for a number of years now and have yet to be disappointed.  She began her musical life solo and with bands, put together Sarah White and the Pearls, went solo again and has just recently reformed the Pearls.  She is a Charlottesville staple for a reason.  Here is the latest video.  Watch and learn.

DEVON SPROULE--- Warning Bell Cycle

Don't ask me what this video is.  I asked Devon once and she started to explain, but she is a busy, busy person and has more important things to do than answer my inane questions.  Like make music.  You know how people sank their money into AT&T and General Electric and IBM and made a fortune?  I'm putting mine on Devon Sproule.  You can ignore her all you want right now, but in ten or twenty years you will be able to deny her no longer.  She is a musical force all her own.  If you don't think so, listen to Don't Hurry For Heaven or, better yet, her latest, I Love You, Go Easy.  Here is a semi-preview of the new albumThis was evidently meant to be part one of four.  I have no idea where the other three are, but we can hope.  Here is Part One of "The Warning Bell Cycle".  Enjoy.

I know that this is not a Devon Sproule video but I have to show you what a great person is Devon.  While on a long flight, she pulled out her laptop and put together this video of a song by Shaun Cromwell on whose album she sang but whom she had never met.  It is a great song, a great duet.  It is a tribute that Devon did it.  You should watch it.

I found Simone Stevens via Fiery Blue's Paul Marsteller.  Marsteller was just beginning to work with Stevens and Gabe Rhodes on what would be Fiery Blue's first album.  He contacted me, asking if I would give the tracks a listen and critique them, as it were.  No critique necessary.  I immediately got the pop sensitivity of the songs, the behind-the-genre feel.  More than that, I got an introduction to Stevens who, it turns out, has a musical life all her own.  This, from her Right On Time album, should be explanatuon enough.

ZOE MUTH & THE LOST HIGH ROLLERS--- Before the Night Is Gone

I am not a huge fan of country music though I don't mind a pick and a grin now and then.  It has to be clean, fresh and exciting to get my attention.  Sometimes, fun will do.  More than anything, it has to be good and the formula pap Nashville is cranking out these days just isn't.  Not to me.  I will say this again just as I have a million times--- a trenchcoat and a naugahyde cowboy hat do not good country music make.  Zoe Muth, my fine feathered friends, wears neither a trenchcoat nor a naugahyde anything, but she and her cohorts The Lost High Rollers play as clean and refreshing a country as I've heard since the fifties and sixties.  I love this girl's voice and the way she writes and presents her songs.  Nothing fancy here, just honest, great (yes, I said great!) music.  Those who have seen this video before are excused until the next video, though I have no idea why they would want to be.  This is as good as country music gets.

GILEAH TAYLOR---  The Light Princess

Gileah Taylor and I have been musical acquaintances for years.   She is one of a number of Contemporary Christian artists (erm, religious rockers, for those who don't understand the term) who pretty much live in their own little world but for the few who have broken into the secular, such as The Newsboys and Switchfoot.  I have friends who wouldn't listen to religious rock on a bet.  Without even betting, they lose.  Some of the best rock I've heard over the years has come from the religious side and Gileah plays some of the best of that.  I tried to find a video of a song from her latest release, a double EP titled A Crooked Line/What Kind of Fool, which I believe are available individually.  It's a  killer.  I have settled for a song from her previous album, one she did with The Ghost Train.  But there is no drop in quality, trust me.  Gileah delivers the goods here, just as she always has.

LAURIE BIAGINI---  Head In the Sand

I won't say I saved the best for last but I do know that I saved the fun for last.  Laurie Biagini, hailing from Vancouver B.C., proves that you don't need 1960 and a stretch of California beach to make good music.  A handful of years ago, she was a ninety pound weakling getting sand kicked in her face by supermodels in bikinis.  Today, she eats sand for breakfast.  Here's a little surf-oriented rock  from her impending A Go-Go Girl In a Modern World album.  Cue Frankie and Annette.

Truth be told, I could pluck gems like this from the Net all week long and not even scratch the surface.  Today is a far cry from the days of The Singing Nun and Dorothy Collins (you know--- The Hit Parade?  God, I must be older than I thought).  Women are taking their rightful place on the stage, some of them kicking guys' asses all over it, in fact.  They have come into their own, if there is a their there.  No if's when it comes to the music, though.  They have, indeed, come a long way.  A long, long, long way.