But I'm going to have to take a general "y'all" to task on something that I've never really felt like addressing before (because I am impatient and easily bored), and I want you to listen, and really think about it. Does it go to the depths of the feminine, beyond The Feminine Mystique, beyond The Second Sex, beyond Eve, before and beyond being? Probably. But for the sake of simplicity, let's keep it in the now. We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams. Here. Now.
I don't keep up much with modern music, which might surprise you, and is probably stupid, considering what I do for a living. But what can I say. I listen to the same 2 crates of records I've listened to my whole life. I just like 'em. Some new ones might sneak in there (like this hot new Greg Cartwright fellow...) but for the most part, I only hear about new bands from Andrew Marlin who does my hair at Purple Circle on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles; my older sister, who doesn't know what Pitchfork or NME are, but comes by new music all the same; and by the bands I tour with, out there, on the road. And some of those bands... wait for it... have females in them. And I don't want to alarm anyone, but... hang on... some of those bands have males in them, too... hang on a second... so that's... I mean -- barring the obviously complicated and nebulous definitions of gender -- that's everyone, ain't it? Boys and girls? Yep, I think that's everyone.
So here's the thing that I've noticed -- possibly you've noticed, too -- but finding the whole double standard/glass ceiling thing REALLY boring, I prefer to look at facts. And the fact is, many critical reviews of bands with females in them start with the artist BEING female as a point of critique in and of itself. And it's often such a glaringly sexist jumping-off point, that it just betrays either lazy journalism, or literal, actual disdain for the ladies.
You know I can't abide lazy journalism, but I can understand not liking female artists, for one reason or another. Maybe you don't like the female voice as a vocal sound. I can understand that. I totally get in moods where I'm like "UGH I do NOT want to hear a chick voice right now"; sometimes I want Carl Perkins and not Patsy Cline, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I also understand some female musicians rubbing you the wrong way in that their performing construct is somewhat put-on, falsified to present more male, which they are not, which can be disconcerting, because it is uncomfortable to watch or listen to someone who is trying to be something they're not. I feel this way sometimes (sometimes...) about female shredders, but that is only because I find shredding to be kind of a dudular impulse in terms of an approach to guitar: this is my opinion, and has only been enforced by years of touring and playing with some of these women. However, if shredding comes naturally to a musician -- male or female -- that is beautiful and awesome and please go on with yourself.
But whatever the reason, I really have to ask all you journalists and critics to dismantle this built-in approach wherein your critique of an artist hinges on their being female. It is exhausting, and it is frustrating, to have to sit through endless and banal observations on the simple fact that we're girls. No doikes. That's not really a review. And you don't have to constantly draw other female comparisons, either. Possibly because there are fewer women in music than there are men, most of my personal influences are male. And I think that's pretty apparent sometimes, personally, I mean, I will call out my song "Beggars" as trying to copy "Sweet Jane" by the Velvet Underground (written by Lou Reed), or my "Soft Focus" totally wanting to be "Dirt" by the Stooges. Granted, I don't come close to those classics, but the reference is there, and the references are guys, not girls.
And in general -- I hope you can surmise -- I am not talking about (what I consider to be) hackneyed references to female artists of yore; I actually love when journalists and/or critics hear/infer influences I'd never consider, I think that's interesting most of the time, and ALSO totally your job; dig, elevate, expose, educate, blow our minds! The obvious is for the common man! I mean take, for example, a modern three-piece all-female rock/punk/garage band. My mind goes to Thee Headcoatees first (this is my mind, I'm just saying), then maybe to the classic '60s Ronettes-type of jamz (RIP Ellie Greenberg!) and that will influence my perception of the current artist. I think a lot of people work this way. And it is fine, and probably correct, considering time, invention and development, some more time, some more evolution, etc.
What I do not understand is the common practice of journalists and critics insisting on the need to draw unnecessary (and often totally abstract and unfounded) parallels from one current female group to another, just for the sake of the commonality of the vag factor. To me (feel free to argue with me) the Dum Dum Girls are not Those Darlins are not The Ettes are not Jessica Lea Mayfield are not Vivian Girls are not The Black Belles are not Best Coast. We can agree on that. And these artists are all my friends, I'm pretty sure we've all toured together at some point or another, and I do remember griping about "chick bills" where promoters will book a night at their venue with three chick bands and call it compatible. Let me tell you, a Melissa Ferrick-esuqe solo acoustic opener does not segue sonically into a Sabbath-heavy punk band into a screeching death metal band, just because the voices in the microphones and the hands on the instruments happen to be female. What would you think if you heard that bill with all dudes? Kind of a "wtf?" right? Why is it so rare to see comparisons drawn (and bills built, for that matter) that actually make sense?
This is particularly grating when the "being female" part has absolutely no corollary with the "being male" part. I have never read a review where it read "male vocalist Jeffy Widenstorm..." or "male bassist Mark Jeppers..." Somehow, that is not interesting reading, is it? Or (because it is indeed a male dominated industry) it just goes without saying that everyone is a male, unless they are specifically NOT male, in that they are female. Is it just that simple? Is it just numbers and averages? Probably. But you can't just call statistics. Things inform statistics. Remember that. But my beef (ha) is this: it's always acceptable journalistic fodder to add words to a review by qualifying the "female" aspect of an artist's genetic makeup, but never for the "male". And this isn't even to do with adjectives like a "girlish" girl voice, or a "manly" man growl. It's the nouns. Where's my Elements of Style, CHET! Where is my Elements of Style? What's it called when a word can be both an adjective and a noun? Like Male. Like female. <Marge Simpson "hmmmmmmmmm...">
Why do journalists and critics so seldom compare female artists to their more apt male counterparts/influences/
My favorite movies are A Fish Called Wanda, Soapdish, French Kiss, and Die Allseitig reduzierte Personlichkeit,