Friday, December 5, 2008

29. Sons and Daughters - Gilt Complex, Vivian Girls - Where Do You Run to?

Okay, I'm cheating... sorry, but I am connecting these songs due to some personal musical growth that I've achieved over the past year so bear with me.

I'll admit it... for years and I guess now to some extent, I was a vocal misogynist. I held female vocalists to an insanely high standard and did some serious player hating. I rejected Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I spurned Chrissy Hynde, I turned a deaf ear to Patti Smith, unless the female singer in question was a soul singer, country singer, or Jenny Lewis I had no interest. Maybe it was the rah rah, "I am woman hear me roar" feminism of mid to late 90s girl rock that turned me off. Hell it could have even been the infamous "Dirty Dozen/Catorce Horrible" project of 2001-2005 that some (all three) of my readers are so familiar with. Whatever it was I just couldn't dig on girls trying to rock. I even, and this is part of the 12-step program I think, skipped past most Kim Gordon tracks on Sonic Youth albums.

Something changed this year though and I'm not sure what it was exactly. Maybe I finally recovered from the Dirty Dozen, maybe it was the Dusty Springfield album that I listened to on repeat for weeks, I just don't know. All I know is that these two tracks represent two of my favorite albums of the year and they both feature girls, in the immortal words of Wu-Tang, bringing the motherfuckin' RUCKUS.

In the first track, Scottish New Wave act Sons and Daughters reel you in with an ominous first 25 seconds that gets the head bobbing with a driving Meg White style rhythm and a guitar riff that almost seems to be heralding the arrival of some kind of supervillain. This creates the perfect background for that great pogo jump inspiring effect that European concerts have mastered (or so I'm told) while maintaining a nice Blondie-esque simmer of aggression without boiling over into straight forward punk. Lyrically, the song decries modern avarice (even using this vastly underrated 12th grade vocabulary word not once but twice!) and portends the downfall of those obsessed with such material pursuits. By far the highlight of this track though is the howling of lead vocalist Adele Bethel as the song draws to a close... it's almost an oracle.

In the second track, the Brooklyn (SHOCKING!) trio the Vivian Girls do their best Ronettes on Ambien impression and kick ass in the process. Remember what Jack White did for Loretta Lynn on Van Lear Rose? Now imagine The Supremes getting the same guest producer treatment from the Jesus and Mary Chain and you can kind of grasp what the Vivian Girls have going on in Where Do You Run to? The girls', (get a load of these names... I think I want to marry them and I haven't even seen them) Cassie Ramone, Kickball Katy, and Ali Koehler, breathy harmonies are irresistible and the Ringo-esque rhythms of drummer Frankie Rose (now behind the kit for the Crystal Stilts) bring the whole package together.

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