Every month here at Bitch, I round up my favorite just-released songs and albums. Here are nine hot tunes for Februrary's frigid times.
1. ABSTRACT RANDOM - "TALK A LOTTA SHIT"
In "well-named band" news, Toronto-based feminist hip-hop-dub group Abstract Random (above) recently landed on my radar and we're on board with their funky, entirely-DIY cache of music and videos. The group, comprised of singers Jamilah Malika and Ayo Leilani and producer Sun Sun, has opened for perennial Bitch favorites THEESatisfaction, which is a match made in feminist hip-hop heaven, and releases new songs and videos often on their website and social media. Their latest is "Black Helicopter," but my favorite so far is the street harassment hollaback anthem "Talk A Lotta Shit," below.
2. LAKE STREET DIVE- BAD SELF PORTRAITS
The quartet Lake Street Dive won our online editor over last summer at Pickathon, running on the engine of Rachael Price's full-throated, room-filling vocals and the soulful instrumentation of bassist Bridget Kearney. Guitar/trumpet (!!) player Mike Olson and drummer Mike Calabrese fill out the unadorned, back-to-basics band. Price's voice lands directly in a sweet spot: she sounds familiar, even on first listen, but is clearly not imitating any one influence. With a voice as arresting as hers, this band is about maximum impact in minimum packaging. Whether they're playing jazz, indie rock, or gospel-inspired barn burners, their latest album, Bad Self Portraits, is 40 minutes of instant musical gratification.
3. JUNIORE - "CHRISTINE"
Juniore is a reverb-drenched Parisian electropop outfit led by singer Anna Jean, whose melancholy voice pairs unnervingly (and deliciously) with the upbeat and driving 60s-esque music on display on the band's debut 7", which came out late last year. Watch for a full-length from Juniore later in 2014!
4. TACOCAT - NVM
The best way I can express my excitement about this Seattle garage rock band is to say that their menstruation-centric song "Crimson Wave" (which recently landed on our period-themed mixtape) is only ONE of the reasons I love them. The group is known for clever lyrics and remarkably skillful musicianship, among many other charms. Not many bands can be greater than the sum of their period songs, y'all. Tacocat's new album NVM, is out February 25th.
5. PEGGY SUE - CHOIR OF ECHOES
The moody, twangy, heart-tugging harmonies of British indie rockers Peggy Sue resonate with people who are prone to feeeeeelings. Every aching, American Southwest-flavored Peggy Sue record garners more big-name attention than the last, and Choir of Echoes out this week, is no exception. Singer/guitarists Katy Young and Rosa Slade and drummer Olly Joyce are ever more sophisticated musicians as they grow, and are now touring with the likes of First Aid Kit, Mumford & Sons, and Jack White. IN FACT, they're on tour for the month of February, so see what the fuss is about in a city near you!
6. LOWELL - "CLOUD 69"
Where to start with Toronto singer and producer Lowell? With the album art for her EP, I Killed Sara V., out February 25th? With her Heathers-style press photos, complete with cheerleading outfits and the trappings of mayhem? Or with "Cloud 69," the EP's growling, peppy, swagger-filled, and distinctly queer indictment of "bad boys?" Yes, let's start there. Listen below: you've got three inutes and 43 seconds to figure out whether she's coming onto you or plotting your demise. Whatever she's doing, I like it, and I want 12 songs just like it on a full-length as soon as possible, thanks.
7. NENEH CHERRY - BLANK PROJECT
Calling Swedish producer, DJ, rapper, and singer Neneh Cherry's new album Blank Project is a misnomer; as a musical offering, it's full to the brim. Cherry, who hasn't released an album of new material in 16 years, chose to minimize the instrumentation on Blank Project, which adds to the impression that she has a lot to say after a long silence. Her voice is straightforward, slipping between talking and singing, both of which she does with frank emotional intensity. Look out for a collaboration with Cherry's fellow Swede (and gender-conformity-envelope-pushing provacateur) Robyn, which is a high-water mark on Blank Project and provides a delicious, multi-generational cross-section of electropop today. Sign us up for any revolution with those two at the helm. Here's the title track from Blank Project, below.
8. denitia and sene. - HIS AND HERS
Gobsmacked is as good a word as any for my reaction to the "trip.fall" video by New York duo denitia and sene., in collaboration with art collective BKLYN1834. The pair make haunting, bedroom-ready R&B with an electronic edge, and the stripped-down live video for "trip.fall." In the gorgeous, creative video, denitia sings from the shower of a hotel room while Sene provides minimalist instrumentation on a xylophone from the bed. It's also a bit cheeky—wait for the reality-check at the end of the video. HIS AND HERS is out on vinyl February 11th.
9. SLOTHRUST - "CROCKPOT"
The guitars are crunchy and the lyrics are irreverent, but there is nothing throwaway about Slothrust's grungey garage rock. Lead singer Leah Wellbaum has a made-for-mosh-pit-shout-along voice, and the lyrics to "Crockpot," the first single off of this month's Of Course You Do, provide nonstop ins for the socially awkward and alienated to commiserate ("Don't shake hands with the lonely kids cause I hear that shit's contagious"). Slothrust, who are on tour for much of 2014, are a perfect reminder of the power grunge music has to reach common ground glossier genres wouldn't be caught dead in. But who ever needed gloss? I hear that shit's contagious.
In last month's new music roundup: Our favorite feminist music finds of 2013.
Katie Presley writes about books and music, tweets about everything else, and lives in Austin, Texas.