If there’s one piece of good news for me in these current times it’s that my eldest daughter, who is studying for her M.A. in Gender and Women’s Studies has had to return home. Upon reading my previous posts and playlists she commented, “All a bit male orientated don’t you think?”. So, to correct this fault, and in attempt to, in some way redress the gender imbalance in the music industry and to placate my daughter, this episode of Your Shrunken Head is going to be very female-centric.
A word of warning, this edition comes with a ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker. There’s a bit of industrial language from the get-go!
What better place to start than with garage-pop punk sound of Dream Wife and their most recent release Sports!. In 2018, Dream Wife were included in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of ‘The 13 Best Things We Saw’. In an industry skewed with a 95%-5% gender divide Dream Wife managed the impressive feat of completing their latest album So When You Gonna (due for release on 3.7.20), with an all female recording and production team.
Singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Liz Lawrence is someone I’ve only recently discovered. She may not be new to you as has previously toured with big hitters, Bombay Bicycle Club. Her latest single single California Screaming seems a bit of a departure from her earlier work, more challenging and evocative. The breathy vocals and lingering chords are reminiscent of some of Anna Calvi’s work.
Hailing from The Wirral, guitarist and singer Louisa Roach is the beating heart of She Drew The Gun. Something For The Pain comes from their 2018 album Revolution of Mind but with it’s understated vocals, distinctive guitars, and swirling organ sounds, it could easily be mistaken for some long lost 60’s classic.
Brit-pop in a lot of people’s memories was all about Oasis and Blur, but it can also be seen as a bit of a high-water mark for female-led indie guitar music. Bands like Elastica, Sleeper, Lush and Echobelly were all at the vanguard of the movement, if you want to call it that. Still fronted by Sonya Madan, Echobelly are one of a number of the Brit-pop bands who have reformed. I could have picked a couple of their more up-beat songs to go in to this playlist, but instead plumped for the song they were recently closing their live sets with, the more dramatic Dark Therapy.
What if Jilted John met up with Altered Images, got in a female lecture to speak the vocals, and then came up with a song about about illness, pets, death, family, and sexual activities in a Travelodge? Well wonder no more, because thanks to Florence Shaw and the other members of London-based Dry Cleaning, we have the answer in Goodnight.
Let’s face it, we’re not going to be going to any festivals this year. If you went to any last summer then you may have been lucky enough to come across Sheffield’s ebullient The Seamonsters. Purveyors of synth-pop with attitude, The Seamonsters sound has been described as ‘Lemonade for the soul’ – Jack Wood, Radio X. Lost and Found starts like early Depeche Mode, quickly changes to anthem mode, and changes again once the vocals from Naomi Mann enter.
Like a decent Premier League football team (remember them?) All We Are have been assembled from players brought in from Ireland, Brazil and Scandinavia, but put together on Merseyside. The Scandinavian element comes from bass player and vocalist Guro Gikling, who met fellow band members Richard O’Flynn and Luis Santos at Liverpool’s talent conveyor belt, LIPA. You may have heard their latest song, Bad Advice, quite a lot if you listen to Radio 6 Music as it’s made it on to their current B playlist. Check out the video for this song too, it’s really clever.
Chester residents, Rach Williams, Jess Branney, and Carleia ‘Balla’ Barbenta are collectively known by the catchy title of Peaness. Apparently they came up with name for a laugh, hoping to come up with something better at a later date, but it just stuck. Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning ‘Change for the good’, and the song is a representation of the bands wishes for the future of the planet. What could be a more appropriate sentiment at this moment in time, and what better way to express theses feelings than in a piece of melodic indie-pop?
When you can count Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine as one of your fans, you must be doing something right. Delila Paz and Edgey Pirez, The Last Internationale should be over here from the US at the moment, but hopefully their UK gigs will be rearranged for better times. I could have chosen any song by this band and there would be an outstanding vocal from Paz in it, but I’ve gone for Wanted Man from the 2014 Album We Will Reign. If you can get tickets for the rearranged gigs, do it. This band are awesome live, you don’t so much feel like your watching a band as being an integral part of an event.
For obvious reasons our house band Half Man Half Biscuit have been given the week off. Instead we finish off with a slice of pure C60, jangle-joy from Bristol based The Flatmates with I Could Be In Heaven. The band split up in 1989, but Martin Whitehead got the band back together in 2013, with Lisa Bouvier taking over lead vocals, replacing original singer Debbie Haynes who features here on this classic.
Until next time, take care of each other.