I’m talking about Rock-&-Roll as sung by charismatic young women accompanied by proficient electric guitar. I dunno if it’s a trend or anything, but I’m hearing a lot of it and I sure like it. Some of the artists are wolves.
Sidebar: Men’s voices? · A dozen years ago I was asking Why does everybody sound like Eddie Vedder? and while I don’t terribly miss those days, I notice that at this point in this century all the interesting voices are women’s, and I wonder when we’ll have some Y-chromosome voices behind the microphones I like to listen to.
Chelsea Wolfe · Wow, it’s a couple of years since I ran across Unknown Rooms, which you can get at Amazon but I didn’t, I got the full-rez bits at BandCamp and you probably should too; unless you burn for the vinyl, which you can get from her own site. It’s awfully good and if you buy it I’m sure you’ll like it, but it’s not really in the spirit of this article because it’s acoustic, and Chelsea is best known for floating her voice in front of a wall of guitar noise, some by herself and some by Aurielle Zeitler (A.K.A. @ghostmarrow).
For example, Abyss (also available in bits from BandCamp and on plastic from ChelseaWolfe.net). Which is hard-ass spooky scary stuff, and I suspect lots of you wouldn’t like it at all. But I sure do and I can’t wait to hear some of it live later this month when she plays my hometown.
Wolf Alice · Somebody pointed me at their Glastonbury 2015 performance on YouTube and I was hooked instantly. But then go and take in the 2014 outing which is every bit as good. I’d drive overnight to see them.
In this case the girl is Ellie Rowsell and the axeman Joff Oddie, but then Ellie plays nifty guitar and Joff sings sometimes.
The performance is good but at the end of the day it has to be about the songs and they’ve got some keepers. The big anthem is Moaning Lisa Smile, which I recently used as an answer to “Why is it you listen to vinyl, anyhow?” and it was a good answer.
The deal is that Ellie isn’t just one singer; she can soar like a folkie and snarl like Joan Jett and then go all Pop-Princess. I’m a fan.
There’s only one recording, My Love is Cool, which I ended up buying from Amazon on vinyl (but all they seem to have now is CD and compressed bits).
The vinyl, an excellent double album with groovy graphics, included a digital-download code, which is no surprise these days, but what was a surprise was that about fifteen seconds after I hit “Buy”, Amazon emailed me saying they had a download for me too. I’m a geek so I suppose I should check to see if these bits and those bits are the same bits.
Anyhow, it’s a totally outstanding record and if you like good singing and good songs and good guitar playing you’ll like it.
In one of the Glastonbury gigs, Joff is all Rock Glam while Ellie is wearing a simple summer dress and then beat-up practical shoes with ankle socks; is that pure rock-&-roll style or what?
The Peach Kings · Guitarist: Steven Dies. Girl (and axewoman): Paige Wood. The quickest way to get the idea would be to hop on over to YouTube and check out Mojo Thunder (NSFW). And then stay at YouTube looking for live cuts, which I did, and liked all the ones I found.
Their marketing keeps saying they’re “sexy and relatable” and, yeah they’re a nice-looking couple, and I guess if “relatable” means “nice straightforward rock songs with major progressions and grabby hooks”, that too.
Anyhow, their only recording is the Mojo Thunder EP, which you can get cheap at their site, but I recommend visiting BandCamp and paying up a bit for the full-rez bits. The title tune will get right under your skin, but all five tracks are going to reward a sit down and a serious listen.
Hey! Rock-&-roll is in good shape!
Comment feed for ongoing:
From: Andy Boyko (Sep 07 2015, at 15:53)
Two more recommendations, aligned with the above :
Wye Oak, a Baltimore duo in which Jenn Wasner sings and plays guitar, both stupendously; on the latest record, she mostly put the guitar aside, for lead bass (in a sort of mic-dropping style). KEXP session gives the idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaEevB7x8Vs -- elegant and precise, but totally Rock.
Marriages, an LA trio (on Sargent House, c.f. Chelsea Wolfe, with whom Marriages has toured) in which Emma Ruth Rundle sings and plays guitar. She has history in Red Sparowes (heavy instrumental rock), and folky solo work, and solo experimental guitar, but Marriages is again Rock, made of equal parts atmosphere and intensity.
From: Mike (Sep 08 2015, at 02:58)
Anna Calvi is well worth a listen also. Both her albums are Mercury Prize nominated, if that holds any sway with you.
From: Brad Smith (Sep 08 2015, at 16:58)
While rock and roll is not my primary musical interest, you might check out Eric Church and Liz Hale singing Church's song: That's Damn Rock and Roll.
CMA Fest 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9IKvut9REc - the full band rendition.
Salt Lake 2015 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtJfa-6o2Go. Eric's entire band and crew were sick, so Eric did this solo with Liz Hale joining mid way.
From: Stuart Dootson (Sep 09 2015, at 09:34)
Nice recommendations - I'm liking both the wolves... Chelsea Wolfe not to be mistaken for Chelsea Wolf (no -e)...
From: Tim (but not THE Tim) (Sep 13 2015, at 16:55)
Try Samantha Fish.