Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Land of Strange Women

Regular EasyTV viewers probably already know of my Kate Bush fetish. What was (and still is) so fresh about her was how she'd created a sonic and visual landscape that was unlike anybody else's, yet was so unmistakably feminine. You felt like you were given a free peek into the female psyche's most intimate and sometimes darkest recesses. You weren't sure you were welcome, but you couldn't look away either.

Many other female artists have since created their very own personal worlds. The 80s were particularly fertile: see Nina Hagen (already discussed in one of our early posts) or Laurie Anderson:

The late 80s brought us many talented singer-songwriters (Suzanne Vega, Heather Nova) but I'd argue that none of them (other than Bjork, of course) had that sonic + visual blend of femininity and strangeness that I'm talking about in this episode. There were however many great female-fronted bands (Sundays, Cranes, Lush, Shelleyan Orphan) but their music was the product of a collaborative creation and as such the songs weren't as indecently revealing. The 90's seemed to be about self-affirmation, but in a more defensive (Sinead O'Connor), aggressive (PJ Harvey, Hole) or openly insecure (Cat Power) way. Now flash forward to the 00's and the 10's, and there's suddenly again plenty more singular female territories to explore. Some I personally stay away (Coco Rosie, Joanna Newsom) but others are definitely my kind of thing, like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or, digging a bit deeper, My Brightest Diamond:

The above is probably one of my favorite songs of the 00's. There's some Jeff Buckley influence in there, but it's still very original.

And nowadays it seems that Canada has become a breeding ground for highly original personalities. There's obviously some ancestry (Joni Mitchell, Mary Margaret O'Hara), but this ain't no folk rock:

Austra's weird videos (weirdios?) are a big part of the overall experience, and so I also strongly recommend you check out "Beat and the Pulse" and "Spellwork".

There's also Grimes, who conjures some Cocteau Twins:

Another very singular work is tUnE-yArDs, a blend of world music and hypnotic loops:

To finish off, something from Glasser to induce some psychedelic dreams: