Category: women who kick ass

New Video: Toronto’s jackie Releases a Hilarious Send Up of Gangster and Action Movies for Anthemic “Lifetime in a Touch”

Currently comprised of Winnipeg-born founding members Jackie Mohr and Marc Girardin with Max Trefler, the Toronto-based electro pop/electro rock act jackie can trace their origins to the formation and breakup of Mohr’s and Girardin’s previous band — The Mohrs, an act that shared stages with the likes of Soundgarden, Jane’s Addiction and The Glorious Sons.

In 2012, Mohr and Girardin relocated to Toronto, where they met Trefler and released a rock-based effort through Light Organ Records before a radical change in sonic direction necessitated a rename. “We changed our sound on this new EP, replacing bass with analog synth, and went back to having just us three as the core of the project,” the band’s Jackie Mohr explains in an email. “After a few year hiatus we’ve come back as ‘jackie’. More aware of where we want to take our place in music.”

Interestingly, the band’s transformation was partially fueled by Mohr’s experiences as a woman in a male-dominated landscape. “I’ve never had a problem holding my own in this industry, or with men, but it really does make you question why there’s so little female presence,” Mohr points out.

“When I was promoting my first single, my radio team told my management it was going to be very difficult getting ‘a female on rock radio.’ I don’t think I’ve ever hated a comment more. I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now,” Mohr continues. “I think it’s time for a new narrative. This is especially important in the LGBTQ community. Heteronormative relationships are only a small part of what’s out there, and how people love one another. Other communities need to be represented as well. I remember on my debut album I worried about saying ‘her’ or ‘she‘ as a lyric because people would class me as a ‘gay artist’. This sort of thing is important for sure, and I am a gay woman, but it’s not all I am, and I never wanted that to be the focal point of my/our music, or my musical career. The band, our music, and myself are much more than that. Music is for everyone.”

“We write songs for the everyday radio listener, and the guitar nerd,” Mohr, who owns a 1962 Silverstone 1423 nicknamed Monicka Del Toro adds. “Maybe writing good music will be more important than Instagram followers again someday.”

Interestingly, the Canadian trio’s latest single, the Hawksley Workman-produced “Lifetime in a Touch” finds the band crafting pop-leaning track that’s simultaneously a club banger and an arena rock anthem, complete with a driving groove, synth arpeggios reminiscent of Stevie Nicks‘ “Stand Back,” a scorching guitar solo and Mohr’s earnest, pop belter vocals. It’s the sort of rousingly anthemic song that you can envision sweaty young people shouting along to in a dark club — but the real reason it works is that it’s rooted in real, lived-in, deeply universal experiences. As the trio explain, the song is “essentially a song about heartbreak, but it’s told through a positive outlook The lyrics in the verses represent the past lover that engulfed and controlled you, while the chorus reminds you that there’s more to life than lovers.”

Directed by Dominika Monicka and Ryan Faist, the recently released video for “Lifetime in a Touch” is a hilarious send up of Office Space, gangster movies and action movies as it features the bandmebers in an abandoned shipyard. Throughout the bulk of the video, the band are in an old Honda four door spinning in infinite donuts. But we also see the band rocking out to the song, and eventually busting shit up — because why not? Perhaps in some way, the video reminds the viewer that love can be a wild and tumultuous ride. 

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Flora Hibberd is a rapidly rising London-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter — and with the release of “The Absentee” and “In Violence” off her recently released J.C. Wright–produced debut EP, The Absentee, the London-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter, who cites Nick Cave, Joan Baez and Jacques Brel among others, has already had her early work described as “intelligent and measured . . ” and her songs “deeply rooted in the timeless lyricism of Dylan and Cohen.”

Interestingly, as Hibberd says in press notes. “‘The songs of this EP emerged over months and years, and were refined in bars, apartments and on the streets. ‘The Absentee’ was written fifty metres below the English Channel, three years ago. ‘In Violence’ was written in 2017 in the garden of the Musée Rodin. Their influences are too many to name; random encounters with poetry, art, music and language in all its forms have bled into my writing in ways of which I am often unaware. They are about real people and real events. But they are also about impossible people, and impossible events. My hope is that they find you here, on the blurred edge between reality and dreams, in the half-awake place where the familiar merges with the unknown.”

“As Long as There Is Night,” the EP’s latest single is a gorgeous song centered around a spectral arrangement of shimmering and soaring strings, strummed acoustic guitar and Hibberd’s mesmerizing vocals. And while clearly drawing from a timeless folk tradition, “As Long as There Is Night” manages to simultaneously evoke a lingering and bittersweet fever dream and an aching longing for those things, places you can never get back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve written quite a bit about the  Los Angeles, CA-based indie pop project and JOVM mainstays Oddnesse over the past couple of years — and as you may recall, the act, which features core duo, singer/songwriter Rebeca Arango and producer Grey Goon has received attention from this site and elsewhere for crafting infectious, hook-driven material centered around dark and heavy grooves. But with each successive single, the do has managed to subtly expand upon the sound that captured this site and the rest of the blogosphere.

Interestingly, the duo’s latest single “Lover’s Calling” continues a run of hooky, synth-driven tracks, centered around atmospheric synth arpeggios, blasts of shimmering guitars, Arango’s plaintive vocals and a chugging rhythm — and while seemingly drawing from 80s New Wave and pop, the song is actually about a deeply personal yet universal, lived-in experience. “I was restless when I wrote this song,” Rebeca Arango says in press notes. “Change was inevitable, but I was afraid to act. I imagined all sorts of destructive consequences—hurt feelings, loss of status, judgement, stability—none of them real. In avoidance, I went numb for a while. Then one night came a full moon, a new experience, a new flirtation. It was just enough of a taste, of a fuller, deeper, mountaintop connection, to remind me that I still had life in me and something better was waiting. So I stopped clinging and let the cards fall. Because no one wants to be on their death bed wondering “what if?”

 

 

 

 

Eva Lawitts is a New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who has been both a session and touring musician for the likes of Vagabon and Princess Nokia — and she’s also known as one-half of the production and engineering team at
Brooklyn-based Wonderpark Studios.
Lawitts’ recording project Stimmerman finds the New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer stepping out into the limelight as a solo artist — and as a musical force to be reckoned with. Her Stimmerman full-length debut Goofballs is slated for release at the end of the year, and as Lawitts explains in press notes,  “the album is more or less about loss and survivor’s guilt: it’s a meditation on a friend’s fatal overdose at a young age through that lens. Side A of the album focuses on looking back at the environment in which our friendship started — pressures imposed on chidden to be successful, growing up too fast in all the wrong ways, and the often debauched nature of our great and terrible adolescence here in Brooklyn. Side B centers me more as an unreliable narrator, and features songs about grief and culpability in a close friend’s death, some of which are, I believe, misguided.”
“The name ‘Goofballs’ is twofold,” Lawitts continues. “I think this album recaptures some of the sense of humor my other projects have had that the first Stimmerman EP lacked, and of course, there is the drug allusion — ‘Goofballs’ meaning barbiturates or any cocktail thereof.” 
Now, as you may recall, earlier this month I wrote about album single “It Shows.” Centered around a classic, grunge rock song structure — alternating quiet verses and loud choruses — the song features enormous, arena rock friendly power chords, thunderous drumming and howled vocals. And while bearing a resemblance to Bleach-era Nirvana, PJ Harvey and others, the song evoked the uneasy internal struggle of its narrator, a character, who simultaneously strikes out against themselves and others, to no avail or satisfaction. Interestingly, the album’s third and latest single “Dentist vs. Pharmacist” is centered around a expansive, mind-altering arrangement that vacillates between dense and explosive math rock in which the listener is pummeled by thunderous drumming, muscular power chords and howled lyrics, shoegazey dream pop and experimental jazz. But at its core is a seething frustration that comes from being pinned in and forced to be and accept things you can never do.
“I wrote this song directly after having lunch with a friend fm one who went to middle school (Mark Twain) and high school (Laguardia) with me,” Lawitts explained in an interview with Audiofemme,” and it was directly influenced (stolen? I don’t know) by a conversation we had about this kind of half-joke about modern Russian fatalism, which was that so many of the kids we went to middle school with were raised with only two possible tracts they could follow into adulthood — they could become a dentist or they could become a pharmacist. This is the highest achievement you could attain. This was the gleaming dream of our Russian and Jewish cohorts of yesteryear. We were being silly about it, but within that silliness are many real wounds about the expectations of our own parents, their parents, and an examination of how we can possibly honor the sacrifices made by our families while still attempting to function in a world that is basically incalculably different than anything they could have possibly conceived of when they made those sacrifices. Fuck! And also I just wanted to scream.”

 

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit about the rapidly rising Brighton, UK-based indie rock band Thyla. The act can trace its origins back to when its founding trio — Millie Duthie, Danny Southwell and Dan Hole — met while attending college. Bonding over shared musical interests, the band’s founding trio started writing material together. But with the addition of Mitch Dutch, the band began to reimagine their sound and aesthetic, centered around a general distaste of what they felt was the stale and boring state of the British recording industry.

Interestingly, during that same period of time, the members of Thyla have helped establish and cement their hometown’s reputation for production a music scene that features some of England’s hottest emerging acts — while playing shows with the likes of Dream WifeLuxury DeathMatt Maltese, YonakaHusky Loops and Lazy Day. They’ve also shared bills with  Sunflower Bean, INHEAVEN and Fickle Friends while being spotlighted alongside Pale Waves, Nilüfer Yanya, and Sorry in NME‘s 100 Essential Acts for 2018.

They’ve continued on the remarkable momentum of last year with their debut EP What’s On Your Mind, which was released earlier this year to reviews from Pitchfork, Stereogum, NME, The Line of Best Fit and Dork. The EP also received airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6, Radio X and KCRW. Building upon a growing national and international profile, the band has spent a portion of this year on the road opening for Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever, played attention-grabbing sets at The Great Escape, Live At Leeds and Hit The North. And adding to a massive year for the band, they also went on their first national UK tour, which included their biggest show to date, at  London’s Electrowerkz.

And while it’s been an extraordinarily busy year for the band, they’ve managed to work on new material, which will compose their highly-anticipated sophomore EP slated for release early next year. Now, as you may recall, last month, I wrote about the EP’s first, official single, the boldly ambitious “Two Sense,” a single centered around a rousingly anthemic, arena rock friendly hook, explosive power chords, thunderous drumming, earnest vocals and a slick, modern production that emphasizes a band that has grown more confident and self-assured. But along with that the song, featured a purposeful and defiant message about claiming your right to self-determination.

The EP’s second and latest single “Lenox Hill” continues in the same sonic vein as its immediate predecessor, as it features a driving groove, shimmering and angular guitar lines and a rousing hook. And while continuing a run of remarkably self-assured and ambitious songs — it may arguably be the most personal song they’ve written in some time, as it’s an honest and triumphant coming-of-age story that touches upon finding oneself again to figure out where you need to be and need to go.

Lenox Hill is the hospital I was born in, with the track inspired by my early years as a kid living in New York City. It’s an honest and emotional coming-of-age tale,” the band’s Millie Duthie explains in press notes. “Life can take so many turns and you can forget where you came from and what makes you you. The important stuff like family can get set aside in the pursuit of whatever it is that drives you. ‘Lenox Hill’ is about realising you’re lost and deciding to go back to your roots to find the way again.” 

Marika Wittmar is an emerging Swedish singer/songwriter, whose work is inspired by folk, world music, blues jazz, 70s prog rock and Buddhist meditation and female mythology. Her debut EP, Underneath Your Hands was recorded at Gothenburg-based Grammofonstudion earlier this year and the effort, which was reportedly inspired by Wittmar’s life, nature and folklore.

The EP’s latest single is the atmospheric and brooding “Ghosts.” Centered around twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitar lines, a soaring hook and Wittmar’s gorgeous vocals, the track possess a mesmerizing quality reminiscent of Kate BushTales of Us-era Goldfrapp, Melanie De Biasio and Portishead.

 

 

 

November will be a rather busy month: I was just in Syracuse for a wedding — and in 10 days I’ll be in Montreal for the M for Montreal Festival. So I’ll be doing the best I can while on the road with posts. But in the meantime, let’s get back to the work at hand: Kyshona Armstrong is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, who writes and records under the mononym Kyshona. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter can trace the origins of her musical career to her day job as a music therapist. Initially writing some of her first songs with her patients — the students and inmates under her care, Armstrong felt the need to write independently and find her own creative voice. This endeavor led her to Nashville’s songwriting scene — and since then, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter has learned how to balance her music career with her passion to heal the hurting.

The Nashville-based singer/songwriter’s latest album, the Andrija Tokic-produced Listen is slated for a February 28, 2020 release. Recorded at Tokic’s studio, The Bomb ShelterListen finds Armstrong pairing a sound that effortlessly meshes roots, country soul, country, soul, roots music, rock, R&B and folk with lyrics specifically meant to do two things: uplift the marginalized and to bring awareness of the plight of the marginalized to the masses.

Co-written with her brother Kelvin Armstrong, Listen‘s latest single “Fear” is a strutting, swampy and slow-burning  12 bar blues centered around Armstrong’s effortlessly soulful, powerhouse vocals, twinkling keys, strummed acoustic guitar, blasts of shimmering slide guitar and an enormous hook — and while being both radio friendly and carefully crafted, the song features an overwhelmingly positive and uplifting message.

“Fear is that boogieman that sits quietly in the corner of our minds that can paralyze us the moment confidence enters the picture,” the Nashville-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Rather than listen to that voice that’s telling you why change isn’t possible, call it out. Recognize the fear and move past it. It’s just another wall to be knocked down. We can’t let fear rule our every move. Fear is what has kept us so divided.”

 

 

With the release of her debut Down at the Root, Part 1, the Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  Nana Adjoa began to receive attention across the European Union for an easy-going, 70s radio-like soulful sound reminiscent of Bill Withers and others. The Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter can trace the origins of her musical career to  being accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she would study jazz  — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. er/“We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, the Ghanian singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside of the school environment. Adjoa quickly began to realize that pursing a solo career was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a backing band and started record her original songs (which resulted in Down at the Root, Part 1 and Down at the Root, Part 2).

Several months have passed since I’ve last written about Adjoa — and as it turns out, she’s been busy working on new material that is slated for a release some time over the course of 2020. But in the meantime, Adjoa’s latest single finds her tackling the legendary Ghanian-born and-based singer/songwriter, composer, bandleader, arranger and guitarist Ebo Taylor’s “Love and Death.”

Adjoa’s take on Taylor’s “Love and Death” retains the original’s melody while being centered around an atmospheric and shimmering production and arrangement featuring a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats, twinkling keys, African polyrhythms, shimmering, angular burst of guitar — and most important, Adjoa’s easy-going yet expressive vocals.  Subtly recalling, Omega La La-era Rubblebucket, Adjoa’s take on Taylor’s “Love and Death” is imbued with the ache of inconsolable loss, while revealing an artist, who is adventurously pushing her sound in new directions.