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Sunday, 29 May 2011

'What Debsey Did Next': Birdie And The Art Of The Perfect Pop Song!

I cannot claim to be any kind of musicologist as I never properly studied music nor learned to play any instrument(although I did provide drums and percussion for various bands over the years), but one thing that I do pride myself on is an ability to spot a perfect Pop song on first listen.
Now, I realise that my idea of a perfect Pop song may differ greatly from many others including my two ~Streetlamp~ cohorts, but I guess what I mean is that I can immediately recognise songs that will inevitably become part of me and my life on first play. In an earlier Blog about the band The Church, I explained that there are some songs that, to me, are quintessentially 'ME', and yes I do know that comments like that usually end up in Private Eye's 'Pseuds Corner' but I really don't care....there are just some songs that, by their very existence, simply become a part of me.

Obvious examples of these, besides 'Under The Milky Way' by The Church are the rather obvious 'Dog Eat Dog' and 'This Charming Man'(if you don't know who these songs are by then please go and read someone else's Blog!). Both of these songs leapt out at me the first time I heard them and, almost 30 years later on both counts, still never sound stale or over familiar to me. I still get a thrill every time I hear them. You could say the same for 'XOYO' by The Passage, 'Nowhere Girl' by B-Movie, 'Michiko' by The Sultans Of Ping, 'Uptown Top Ranking' by Althea & Donna, and(whisper it) 'Save A Prayer'(cue Griff seething furiously as Duran Duran are mentioned in a ~Streetlamp~ Blog!!).
And the same could definitely be said for 'Let Her Go' by Birdie!

So....what is so good about 'Let Her Go' that elevates it into such hallowed company(and Duran Duran)? It just seems to comply with everything that is vital about the music I love. It has a haunting melody comprised mainly of minor chords which, like the best songs of The Beatles and The Smiths descends as it progresses....always a good thing. It's about painful unrequited love....again, always a crucial ingredient in the best Pop music. It's from a female point of view and delivered in such a honeyed tone that it melts your heart almost immediately. It features a muted trumpet which gives any song a touch of class! And it has little flaws and imperfections which accentuate it's charms manyfold....the electric piano being a little too high in the mix for one, but this just adds to the songs beauty.
Have a listen....

I can't remember where or when exactly I first heard 'Let Her Go' which is both annoying and unusual for me. I know it must have been about 1999 but I don't think I heard it on John Peel or even Radio 1. I have some vague recollection that maybe some Radio 2 DJ had pounced upon and made it his or her Record Of The Week; maybe Mark Radcliffe sitting in for Steve Wright, or maybe on one of Stuart Maconie's night-time shows. I just cannot recall exactly. All I do know is that I was immediately smitten and rushed out to buy it the next day. The single wasn't available anymore but the band's album 'Some Dusty' was, and a fine addition to my collection it became.
12 years on I still love playing this particular track(it's still on my MP3 player as I write) and I still like digging the album out now and again for a spin. But, like so many other records I've written about in these Blogs, for some reason I never investigated any further. 'Some Dusty' is still the only record of theirs that I own. Why? Same old story I guess, either laziness or a fear of destroying the happy memory I have of a particularly special song.

So, Who Were Birdie Exactly?
Well Birdie actually evolved from two of my favourite bands, Dolly Mixture and St Etienne! Vocalist Debsey Wykes had of course been lead singer in the charming Dolly Mixture(think The Slits poppier little sisters!) who had released some fine early 80s Punk-Pop and ended up providing backing on Captain Sensible's solo ventures. After the demise of Dolly Mixture, Debsey was involved in the band Coming Up Roses before joining the St Etienne's live band where she met Paul Kelly with whom she would form Birdie.
~Dolly Mixture~
Anyone who has followed our Blogs should already know that both Dolly Mixture and St Etienne are essential listening, so hopefully you will now add Birdie to that list.

Like I said, I may not know about perfect Pop Songs but I know what I like!


'Some Dusty' can be downloaded here
(This download is not ours so if it does not work it is not our fault. Likewise, should anyone connected with Birdie object to us making it available, please contact us and we will gladly remove it.)

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Gil Scott-Heron - An appreciation

The Streetlamp team were saddened today to hear of the untimely death, yesterday, of poet, author and visionary singer-songwriter Gil Scott-Heron. It was only this March that we featured his acclaimed , and still astonishingly powerful 40 years later, song; The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, in our article on Skuff and The Free Hetherington.
We hoped at the time that we were doing our own little bit to introduce Gil's work to a new generation of listeners who might recognise his genius and go on to be inspired by him, just as we were. Little did we suspect that a mere two months later, Gil would be dead. And yet, here at The Streetlamp, we fervently hope that it doesn't have to be that way, and that in some way he can still live on.
You youngsters who've only heard commercial, sanitised, 'black' US music go and listen to him now; listen to the true voice of black militant activism railing against government and corporate hypocrisy. You, who have only heard the worst of lazy, sexist, cartoon-violent rap music used as a means to make record companies rich; listen now to truly earnest and intellectual, yet uncompromising and raw, street poetry. You, who think that political music can only ever be empty symbolism and that music cannot carry real political power; go and listen to him, really listen, to the messages he gave to us. Listen to the beautiful, sorrowful, passionate anger contained therein and let it fill your soul. You, who think that musicians and performers have to play by the music industry rules in order to get your 'product' in the spotlight; think again, and then go back to your bedrooms, your rehearsal rooms, your garages and prepare to make some noise; a meaningful, fierce and impassioned noise, fit to set the world ablaze. Forty years ago Gil Scott-Heron spoke of the abuse of power by the powerful, the grabbing of resources by the wealthy, the hypocrisy of the media, the lies of politicians; he spoke to you, he's still speaking, and he's urging you to do so too. Listen!


Addendum: The wonder of Gil of course is that he was embraced by both Hip-Hop and the Punks, and virtually any leftist thinker at that.
Why he holds a special place for me is not just that his father Gilbert Heron was the first black footballer to play for Glasgow Celtic(earning the slightly patronising nickname 'The Black Arrow'), but also because back in the mid to late 1980s we used to frequent local Frug-a-gogo beirkeller/discotheque/meat-market McQues in Bannockburn and, amidst the wafts of hairspray, jutting shoulder pads and streaked hair, the DJ would occasionally slip Gil's 'The Bottle' in amongst the endless extended remixes of mid-80s chart prattle.
Twas truly an oasis of beauty in a torrent of stagnant bilge.

R.I.P Gil....and take it away Brother Soul....


Monday, 23 May 2011

Griff says; For the love of days!

I'm going quite mainstream tonight, I hope you'll forgive me. I know that Streetlamp's Ray certainly will, as tonight's music is right up his street; that particular alley being a gentle stretch of dreamy, almost psychedelic, indie-pop with a hushed and intimate female vocal. Think previous Streetlamp favourites of Ray's such as The Innocence Mission, Julia Stone and Syd Lane and you're in the right territory. Tonight's band is Amor de Días, an indie-pop supergroup of sorts, formed by Alasdair MacLean of The Clientele and Lupe Núñez-Fernández of Pipas.

Over the course of the last three years, the duo have pieced together their debut record, Street of the Love of Days, during spare time at evenings and weekends. To get the layered chamber-pop sound they required they have called on the talents of other friendly musicians such as Damon and Naomi (formerly of Galaxie 500) for sessions, and have carefully built up the songs’ clever arrangements with harps, bouzoukis, strings, recorders, and brass. These instruments have been carefully constructed around the core of dual Spanish guitars, rich vocal harmonies, and the dream imagery of their bilingual lyrics. The album was released on Merge Records in the US on 17 May 2011 (13 June for the CD outside the Americas).

Merge Records website describes Street of the Love of Days as:

"a focused, cohesive jewel of chamber pop that reflects a little of Gal Costa and haunting night music, and a large dose of spooky psychedelic folk. But the beautiful harmony that sings throughout the record makes it all their own. At times spare and empty, at times rich with instrumental texture, and at times jazz-tinged and hypnotic, Street of the Love of Days rivals anything either Alasdair or Lupe has recorded before."

Here's the beautiful and dreamy Bunhill Fields, track 3 on the album, and available as a free download:

Amor de Dias - Bunhill Fields by One Thirty BPM

Amor de Días are currently on tour in the US with the aforementioned Damon and Naomi, who themselves have a new album out this month called False Beats and True Hearts, released on their own 20/20/20 imprint. Here's the track Helsinki from that album:

Hope you enjoyed that. If so, it'a worth making a visit to Damon and Naomi's official website where you can pick up several free MP3s from their extensive back catalogue.


Monday, 16 May 2011

Griff says; Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

I hope I'm not coming across as a mere cheerleader for Bad Panda Records, but tonight, as I did just last week 'here', I want to draw your attention to yet another of their free Monday singles, and when you hear it you'll realise why.
This week's song, My Darling Grace, is the debut single from a newly formed trio based in Barcelona, Spain called Berlinist. Bad Panda don't seem to have a lot of information available about them, but a quick look at their Facebook page is quite revealing, as they site their influences as; William S. Burroughs, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Jorge Luis Borges, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Dante Alighieri, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Allen Ginsberg, J. G. Ballard, Jose Saramago and Federico García Lorca. Wow! If they were trying to impress the literature-loving, name-droppers who staff The Streetlamp then they just did so, and some.

But leaving aside the literary influences for a moment, you may well be asking; what do they sound like? Well, the band are currently recording using piano, guitar, glockenspiel, accordion, drums and ukulele. The music they create has a sparse, haunting, melancholic and, on this single, rather eerie, otherwordly quality which makes it perfect night-time listening. They are currently working on their debut album and if it is as good as this debut single then we're in for a real treat. But don't take my word for it. Have a listen below:

Berlinist - My Darling Grace [BadPanda81] by Bad Panda Records

Don't you just love the way those vocals are reverbed to the max? Magnificent!
Thanks again to the lovely people at Bad Panda, as always the MP3 can be freely downloaded from their site. While you're there you can also read a short interview with the band. The Berlinist tumblr site is also worth a visit.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Extracts From ~Hoots Mon, Where's Ma Heid?~ prt1: Malcolm Middleton

My decision on my last Blog not to concentrate on a bunch of unrelated songs, connected only through the fact that they were recorded by Scottish bands or artists, means that I am now liberated to write about some of the songs on their own merit, and in a totally recontextualised manner.
So let's begin with what would have led my piece last week, and let's take a look at the mighty Malcolm Middleton....
Malcolm is, of course, one half of Falkirk legends Arab Strap (the musical half, it could be argued), who I was incredibly fond of but came to rather late.
I first picked up on Arab Strap in 1998, having bought their debut album 'The Weekend Never Starts Around Here' from a second hand record store on the Byres Road in Glasgow. From its opening track on I was completely hooked, and thus began my long-standing love affair with them.
The music and lyrics of Arab Strap's first two albums soundtracked a very important part of my life. Between 1994 and 1998 I hadn't really socialised much, a mixture of OCD related depression coupled with some rather messy relationships had seen me practically withdraw from the outside world, rarely escaping the four walls of my bedroom unless absolutely necessary. However, around April/May 1998 I began to break out of the perpetual gloom and start heading out into the big bad world again. This would lead me to finally meeting the girl I would settle down with, build a home with and get married to. As I have said, Arab Strap were major contributors to the backdrop of this occurrence.
These days I find Arab Strap a fairly difficult listen. Not because their music is bad, but because vocalist Aidan Moffat's lyrics are so emotionally bare and vicious. The fact that they are also delivered in a Central Scotland accent very similar to those of us within the ~Streetlamp~ inflicts even deeper lovelorn wounds.
But Hey!....this isn't a Blog about Arab Strap (although one will surely follow)....this is about what musical coordinator Malcolm Middleton did next, and why it became so important to me.
After the amicable break-up of Arab Strap, Malcolm Middleton was first out of the traps with his quite magnificent, and confusingly titled, debut solo album '5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine'. This is a superb album that both follows a similar musical path to Arab Strap (hardly surprising) but which takes a different lyrical path than that of his previous band mate, with more allegorical and metaphorical musings than the bare heart-on-sleeve ruminations of Aidan.
Stand out track for me was the closing 'Devil And The Angel', possibly the only song in which the words 'pish' and 'shite' are used both correctly and non-offensively. The song deals with an artist's fevered visions and of what path in life and art he should take, cajoled by both a heavenly Angel and the very Devil himself. The song is beautiful, haunting and funny:

Why the song has such a special meaning for me is that, once again, it was an essential ingredient to another major event in my life. When I finally left the ancestral pile that had been my home for my entire life, to say that I was in a very confused and bewildered frame of mind is drastically understating the issue. The wrench of leaving the four walls that had been my sanctuary from my childhood, all through Primary and High School, all through my major early life experiences....first kiss, first sex, first love; and of course all those nights when only a pile of 7" singles would ever do, was all a bit too much for me. I suddenly felt emotionally naked and alone and it would take something very powerful indeed to keep me on an even keel. Thankfully then, this album was released at that very time and became a major part of my life at a point when I could have easily unfurled badly.

The other standout track, for me is opener 'Crappo The Clown' (which is not to say that any of the songs in between aren't any good, the whole album is wonderful):

I love the way that he alludes to his new relationship as a holiday camp, a very badly organised, run down holiday camp, and that he is the holiday Rep and camp entertainer. His very moniker reveals just how badly this relationship is bound to go. My only complaint with this superb track is that maybe it goes on just a little too long at the end, never really saying anything new....but maybe that's the point! Maybe it's a musical metaphor as to how this relationship is going to pan out.

Sometimes you need great slabs of pessimism in both life and art, otherwise we'd all become complacent to the great things about both. Something both Malcolm and Arab Strap keep reminding us through their tear stained, alcohol soaked, raw-as-an-open-sore musical musings.

Our round, Landlord!


Saturday, 14 May 2011

Free Streetlamp T-shirt competition

Hi all, just a short post tonight to remind you all that the competition remains open to win a free Streetlamp t-shirt. You may remember the original competition post 'here'. Of the entries so far recieved, none have come close to capturing in full all of the many and varied Streetlamp cultural references, so there's still a great chance to win. The competition will close at the end of this month.

To take part in the competition, here's what you have to do. Take a long hard look at the picture, above. In true Streetlamp psuedo-intellectual style we have posed our model on top of a random selection of pretentious records and books; some well-known, some obscure; which were influential on The Streetlamp teams cultural development. Your job is to see how many you can recognise. Stick your answers on an e-mail to along with your name, address and t-shirt size (state if you want male or female fit). The person who recognises the greatest number of The Streetlamp's precious cultural artefacts gets a free t-shirt. Simple!
Think it looks kind of hard? Don't worry, here's a clue; the photo contains 23 books, 28 7"singles and 26 12" albums and singles. Still too hard? Ok, to make it really easy, have a look at the pic minus the model, which you can download 'here'.

We look forward to hearing from you. And remember, The Streetlamp would like to continue to build on its strong year one foundations, so if you're in a band, or if you're an outsider artist of any stripe, or if you fancy submitting an article, get in touch.


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Griff says; la Virgen de Seattle (con aves)

Our friends at Bad Panda Records have come up trumps yet again with last Monday's free release (and if you haven't visited Bad Panda yet, or realised that they release a free song every Monday then shame on you!). This release is BadPanda080, the artist is Virgin of the Birds and the song is Let Me Be Your Bride. There, what more do you need to know?

...Oh, OK, Named after a poor English translation of a Salvador Dali painting, Virgin of the Birds is the solo project of Jon Rooney, with occasional help from various folks for live shows and select recordings. The music is very much in the 'Griff Says' mould, i.e. it's a mix of introspective, lo-fi folk and indie-pop, which should thrill the senses and stimulate the mind in equal measure.

Jon formed Virgin of the Birds as an outlet for his songs outside of Morning Spy, a now-slumbering indie pop/rock band he originally formed in San Francisco, California. Virgin of the Birds followed, and was briefly based in Austin, Texas (the happy hunting ground of many a Streetlamp band) before settling in Seattle, Washington. Since 2004, Jon has also managed Abandoned Love Records through which he has released a series of free, download-only EPs. The Abandoned Love website is well worth checking out as, as well as providing downloads to all of Jon's prolific Virgin of the Birds back catalogue, they also release music by other artists; specialising in indie rock, lo fi, dream pop, and instrumental music.

Let Me Be Your Bride has a real 60s pop vibe to it but with the sort of dense lyricism and vocal phrasing that instantly reminds one of Bob Dylan. I think that it's really rather wonderful and hope that you will too. Here's the official video:

Let Me Be Your Bride is the opening track on Banquet Years, a free digital EP released in 2010 and recorded entirely at home by the talented Jon. It can be downloaded 'here'. Numerous Morning Spy MP3s are also available freely 'here'.

That should keep you busy for a while.

Big thanks to Bad Panda.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

~Kitten Wine~#26: Life Without Buildings

I have to confess that this is not the article I sat down to write this evening.

No, my original item, 'humourously' entitled 'Hoots Mon, Where's Ma Heid' was to have been a celebration of some of my favourite songs by Scottish artists. Just a grab-bag of Caledonian alternative and traditional music that would have rounded off one Scotland's most fascinating, and indeed very much historic, weeks.
For you see, all you non-Picts out there, this was the week in which the Scottish National Party scored a gargantuan landslide victory in the local elections, sending a pretty stiff message to Westminster that we really don't want to be ruled by them any more.
As 100% of the ~Streetlamp~ team supported the SNP, this makes us very happy indeed. And so it was that I sat down to share some of my most cherished Scottish songs with you all here tonight....but somehow I got distracted by a lost love. A love that seeped into my life for a very short space of time indeed....and then were gone. A beautiful, vibrant tumescent love that went by the name of Life Without Buildings.
Life Without Buildings could easily be Scotland's greatest 'lost treasure'; a band that shone for one brilliant album(and a live album) and then simply disbanded without rhyme nor reason.
It's pretty safe to say that anyone who came into contact with the wondrous music created by Life Without Buildings were immediately smitten and formed a deep love for the band, a love which remains for many, undiminished.
LWB were formed in Glasgow in 1999, the band comprising mostly of like-minded souls who had met at the Glasgow School Of Art. The line-up of the band was Robert Johnston on guitar, Will Bradley on drums, Chris Evans on bass, and Sue Tompkins who provided the highly individualistic and idiosyncratic vocals.
Signing to Rough Trade affiliated Tugboat Records they released their debut single 'The Leanover':

I first heard 'The Leanover' on a local Radio show back in March of 2000(I apologise for my vagueness but I can't recall the name of the show or what station it was on), and was immediately drawn in by Sue's beguiling phrasing and woozily seductive tones. I tracked the single down almost immediately and practically nailed it to the Dansette.
I can't lie but I was totally seduced by Sue's breathy, crystal clear enunciation, and her curious way of delivering her lyrics in a disjointed, repetitive cut-up style. Coupled with the incredibly tight playing of the band who created a captivating hybrid of Post-Punk with louche Jazz time signatures.
When debut album 'Any Other City' was announced we whooped with joy, wondering "Could a whole album of this divine music REALLY deliver?" And, of course, it did.

'Any Other City' is exactly that! It's like taking a walk through a strange city, like entering into another world where, for 40 minutes or so, you are lost in a tableau of new experiences.
The band could be spiky, as on 'Young Offenders':

Sultry and downright sexy like the beautiful 'Sorrow':

Or simply a fantastic Pop Band as with 'Juno':

Sadly the band split in 2002 with nary an explanation to their heartbroken following. A few years later a live album 'Live At The Annandale Hotel' emerged, showing that the band were as tight and bewitching on stage as they were on record.
Sue Tompkins is now an artist who both paints and does visual performance art and has had exhibitions in both London and Oslo.

Life Without Buildings have remained almost purely a cult band, never quite achieving some great rediscovery which surely awaits them some day. Lazy comparisons might suggest a meeting of The Raincoats with early Altered Images, but for me there's always something a bit more otherworldly and completely unique about them.
If this is your first experience of them, I envy you greatly!



Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Griff says; All aboard the 8-bit data bus

Now, I'm hoping you'll indulge me tonight as, first of all, I want to talk a bit about non-musical art of a most unusual nature. Stick with me though and you'll be pleasantly surprised (and there's some good free music at the end).
My good friend, The Big Chap, is something of a video-gamer and it was he who first introduced the concept of video games as an art-form to me. Initially, I was sceptical, not being fully immersed in that culture I hadn't realised just how much the boundaries had been pushed over the last few years. However, by careful exposure, on his part, to some beautifully crafted and philosphically-rich games I slowly began to realise that video games had developed from the simple 'shooting at badly-rendered alien craft' view that I had formed into something altogether more intellectually satisfying. The clincher, however, probably came a couple of years ago when he and I attended a concert of the entire Royal Scottish National Orchestra providing live on-stage accompaniment to screened video games at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. I've never mentioned this on the blog before, but I'm a huge fan of live orchestras and this particular night was excellent, musically and visually. Shortly after this The Culture Show ran a piece on video games as 'art' and I was able to nod along sagely, claiming that; "Yeah, I've always said that."

Anyway, tonight's artist was a recommendation from The Big Chap and I liked it so much I wanted to share it on The Streetlamp. The artist is Emily Carmichael from New York, USA. A graduate of Harvard University, Emily earned her B.A. with honours in Painting and Literature and continues to distinguish herself as an artist, playwright, and theatre director. In 2006, she entered the MFA film program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and in the past two years has written and directed five narrative short films and an animated short in addition to two short documentaries. In 2008, she founded Kid Can Drive, an independent company committed to the production of creative content across media platforms. It is one of the Kid Can Drive projects that I want to bring to your attention tonight, namely, The Adventures of Ledo and Ix.

The Adventures of Ledo and Ix is a series of animated short films that uses the visual vocabulary of retro video games to explore the human fear of both the unknown and the known. The genius of the concept is that Ledo and Ix are 8-bit fantasy adventurers in the style of the early NES-type video games familiar to so many. However, Ledo and Ix display sentience and a measure of free-will, unlike the automaton-like behaviour of the stock characters they encounter, and after each episodic adventure they muse, wonder, dream and despair. Here's the trailer, for a taste of what to expect:

The Kid Can Drive website describes The Adventures of Ledo and Ix as "a sort of eight-bit tribute to Waiting for Godot", and that, whilst undoubtedly a bold claim to make, is a perfect description. The 8 episodes so far released can all be seen on Penny Arcade TV and I strongly urge you to check it out. I guarantee that you will find yourself thrown into a state of empathy with, and worry for the future of, Ix; who with his winning combination of innocence and growing unease is all humanity reduced to an 8-bit figure. This is a truly wonderful piece of art, please do have a look and let me know what you think.

Now, for some nicely themed music (and some more visual art, now that I've got you in the mood). Firstly, Raquel Meyers is a Spanish video artist, often using low-res graphics to create surreal imagery and eerie atmospheres. She has made video clips and VJ sets for many of the more prominent 8-bit musicians (Glomag, Bubblyfish, Goto80) and also worked with indie, electro and noise acts. Meyers has also worked with print design, installations, and websites. She is perhaps one of the more consistent pixel artists, although she is currently exploring other expressions to create confusion and delight. Check out her website 'here' for more madness. Tonight, I'd like to feature one of her amazing 8-bit videos. This is Dos Policías by Spanish indie-poppers Los Punsetes:

Excellent!You'll be pleased to learn that Los Punsetes have several free MP3s available for download on their page.

Next up is a video by twee, and sweet as candy-floss, Japanese chiptune exponents YMCK. This is J-pop done using the sound chip technology of early computer and video consoles. I find it rather charming. This is their version of La La is Love, a song originally by Thai experimental-pop musician June Somsiri Sangkaew, recording as Bear-Garden:

If you liked that, you can find download links to the entire YMCK back catalogue 'here'.

Finally, director Aaron Novak took the Dealership song, Forest, which the band contrived as a paean to the Nintendo game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and has crafted for it a video of 8-bit inspired fun. The video is a loving homage to early Nintendo game design. It even uses the screen resolution and colour palette of the old NES system. Have a look, and listen, below:

Great song, too. The MP3 of Forest can be freely downloaded on the Dealership website.

Hope that was fun (and thought-provoking too)!


Sunday, 1 May 2011

Where Are You? Let's Be 'Avin' You!!

~Failing to get in touch with our Feminine side~

It seems sadly ironic that in a week where we lost a truly inspirational and confrontational female spirit in Poly Styrene, we should also pay witness to the rise of Kate Middleton whose anorexic body image and ludicrous, farcical, fictional life-goal, i.e. marrying a Prince, could not send out a more risible and belittling message to young British women.

So with that in mind, I felt it only right that we should address the issue of the lack of positive role models for young women within music or indeed culture itself these days, and ask 'Where have all the strong feminist Pop/Rock icons gone?"

Looking back at the ghastly, sexist, misogynist 1970s, it seems only right that, from the original explosion of Punk, strong independent women would arise who simply weren't going to take any of the bullshit dished out by the media, the advertisers and the entertainment industry any more. Women like Poly, Ari Up, Siouxsie Sioux and Pauline Murray (from Penetration) were too much for some to handle, tackling the male dominated media without having to 'glam-up' to do so.
But if Punk gave Women a head start, it was Post-Punk where we would find true Feminist ideals again, not sugar-coated in a layer of tawdry make-up, but drenched in anger, vitriol, piss and vinegar!

The Post-Punk era gave us some of Feminist-Pop's greatest voices; from Lesley Woods of Griff's beloved Au Pairs, Julz Sale of The Delta 5, Eve Libertine and Joy De Vivre from Crass, Honey Bane from The Fatal Microbes, Vi Subversa of the Poison Girls, Zillah from Rubella Ballet, Annie Anxiety, and of course Linder Sterling from Ludus who, it should be noted, was wearing dresses comprised of rotten meat and chicken heads before Lady Gaga was even born, and for far more salient reasons.

You could also throw into the mix Punk singers like Beki Bondage (of Vice Squad) and George Cheex (from Action Pact) as examples of strong female singers not pandering to the Boys Own mentality that hung around rock music like the stink of the Rolling Stones dressing room.

The 1980s, that horrid Me-Generation of Big Hair, False Smiles and Yuppies, gave us precious little as the original Punk and Post Punk bands faded. There was Alison Statton of Young Marble Giants and Weekend, and Jayne Casey of Pink Military/Pink Industry (and allegedly once Morrissey's, seriously!), and of course there was Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth) over in the US.

But it would be in the cultural wasteland that we now call the 1990s that Radical Feminist ideologies would arise. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the world of Riot Grrrl!

Sure, the Riot Grrrl movement was sadly under-represented in the UK, but what we had was more than enough. The mighty Huggy Bear genuinely frightened people, for the first time since the Punks had crept on to Top Of The Pops. Some more right-wing music papers simply didn't even cover them, many buried their heads in the sand and tried to assure it was Grunge and Brit-Pop that we wanted. Oh no it wasn't!

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised they tell us, but on dreadful Scum-athon TV show 'The Word' we saw the nearest thing to it as Huggy Bear ran through 'Her Jazz' to a befuddled and bewildered audience. It was almost TOO good, it was almost TOO powerful. Things reached an apogee when, after a sleazily sexist article, a member of the Huggy Bear entourage jumped from the crowd and slapped host Terry Christian's smug face. If you see the clip, watch as a startled Christian lashes out with his foot to try and kick her.
(Sadly the video clip has now been removed from Youtube!!)

Huggy Bear were GENUINELY exciting in an era of bland faceless mediocrity, but apart from friends Blood Sausage, the Riot Grrrl movement didn't have much of a voice over here.
In America, however, Riot Grrrl became a phenomenon with bands like Bikini Kill, Heavens To Betsy, Bratmobile, Slant 6, Babes In Toyland, Cheesecake, Excuse 17 and Team Dresch to name but a few.

Some of my friends (though not Griff and Ray, I should point out) HATED the whole Riot Grrrl thing, but we loved it. In an era before the Internet, the whole cut-and-paste, fanzine culture, DIY ethic coupled with some of the spikiest, most scattershot music imaginable was a pure and honest thrill at a time of utter complacency.

The decade would end with the Spice Girls proclaiming 'Girl Power'.....but that was a decidedly Thatcherite brand of so-called 'Girl Power' and should be swept away into the nearest litter bin.

The 2000s saw ex-members of now defunct Riot Grrrl bands continue the cause; Kathleen Hannah of Bikini Kill now made music as Le Tigre and Julie Ruin, while members of Excuse 17 and Heavens To Betsy became Sleater-Kinney, and Kat Bjelland of Babes In Toyland continued as Katastrophy Wife.
Britain, however, became rather barren on the Feminist Pop front, sadly.

(Sleater-Kinney above)

The rise of dreadful TV Talent Shows and Reality TV guaranteeing microcelebrity has once again brainwashed the masses. Why make a splash and rock the boat when you can make yourself financially safe for a few minutes of televisual ridicule. It's horrific.

The ideal British Woman now seems to be a grotesque hybrid of Katie Price and Kate Middleton; a pornographicised caricature with no life goals other than sitting around on their pampered arses, unaware of the dangers of their own objectification. Piffle and Poppycock my friends!
Yesterday the three of us ~Streetlampers~ found ourselves questioning where the new Feminist Pop/Rock icons were. Lady Gaga? Katie Perry?? Madonna??? Do us a favour!! Face it, Madonna may be held up as some Feminist icon but this is a woman who promoted and created objectified pornography. Yeah, right on Sister!
Sadly we couldn't come up with too many of our own; Shrag and Vile Vile Creatures were about it, although there is a Manchester band called (hooker) who I'm very fond of and who do seem to be blazing a Feminist trail....but that's it!
Unless, of course, you can tell us differently!

That is the whole point of this Blog. Away from our usual smug, we-know-everything twattery, we hope we are proven wrong here. We really hope that readers will get in touch and tell us of some Radical Feminist bands that we are unaware of. Hell, we even hope some of the said bands will get in touch so we can write about them and enjoy their music.
Please prove us wrong, Friends!

The buck stops with you!