First of all, welcome to The Sun Also Rises: A music blog for my thoughts and musings on music old and new. To kick things off with a bang I’d like to write about what I found to be last year’s most exciting band: Warpaint
Okay. I’m going to come out and say it. There have arguably been no decent girl group rock bands. EVER. Sorry Courtney Love, I just don’t like Hole.
Seriously, try and think of one decent girl group rock band. One. Go on. Try it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying that there have been no decent women in music. Quite the contrary, artists such as PJ Harvey, Nina Simone, Cat Power, Patti Smith etc. have produced some of the most fantastic pieces of music. But no matter how I try I cannot think of a single girl group that I have felt were worth listening to. For all the thousands of all male bands there appear to be no all female contenders. It just seems that women in music work best as solo artists where their visions can take free rein or as front women of mixed sex bands e.g. Chrissie Hyndes, Debbie Harry, Alison Mosshart.
Given my stated opinions on girl bands you can imagine my apprehension when giving Warpaint a listen after hearing about this rising girl band that would soon be touring the UK. And given my aforementioned apprehension you can imagine my surprise upon discovering that not only do Warpaint not suck, they create the most amazingly idiosyncratic music I’ve heard in the last year.
Occupying a far musical left field like Queens of the Stone Age, Warpaint’s music draws on influences and creates a unique music that shuns traditional song structure in favour of pure creative freedom. The notion of a song which has no clear verse, chorus or bridge that deviates periodically does sound disjointed and schizophrenic, but in the case of Warpaint’s music it seems so natural that I can only describe it as melodically unique.
Anchored by the weaving musical telepathy between childhood friends and guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, the songs are given to fly with the independent spirits of Jenny Lee Lindberg’s pulsing hypnotic bass and Stella Mozgawa’s joyfully cascading drums. Emily has said, “We write from beginning to end in a linear fashion. We don’t say, Okay, here’s a verse, here’s a chorus, another verse… We usually start jamming on an idea, then it feels like it’s time to change, so we’ll write the next part, and then the third part might be completely different, and the fourth. We might never repeat any of them again, but it feels like it’s a natural progression from beginning to end. But also, Theresa and I have each brought complete songs in. There’s no formula, and that’s what’s kept it interesting.”
Such focus on artistic freedom was evident early on their 2008 debut EP “Exquisite Corpse” and on their full length album “The Fool”, released last year on Rough Trade, it is clear that their songwriting has blossomed in much the same manner as their creative philosophy suggests. The band has described the album as the older sister of “Exquisite Corpse” and this seems like a natural term to describe the progression between albums: Older, more sophisticated, but ultimately a different beast entirely.
Warpaint are not successful in spite of girl band mediocrity, but simply on terms all of their own. As Emily has stated, “Nobody in this band has to prove anything about being a woman in rock. You just have to let go of your ego, and really experiment”
Never a truer word.
“The Fool” is available in record stores now.
EDIT: I just remembered Shonen Knife. They’re decent