All entries for Wednesday 12 July 2006

July 12, 2006


Indie is a risky place for women to venture. You can wring your hands all you want about equality and shit like that, but women in guitar based music have a harder time than those in other genres. In R'n'B and pop they are practically the rulers, the dominant R'n'B stars are Beyonce and Rhianna, the big and best pop groups are Girls Aloud and Sugababes. But in guitar music land there's a residule boorishness which means some gigs can be spoiled by shouts of “Get yer tits out” directed at female band members. It's annoying and stupid. Rant over.

So when girls do go indie they seem to take one of two routes – they either get a little bit whispy, or they get attitude. The whispy types include groups like The Cocteau Twins or the Cranberries when they were really big. The attitude ones will either be really in your face, unafraid to use the word feminist like Courteny Love, or they are more personal, more assertive about what they are thinking about at that exact moment. Less of the sweeping statements, more of the “I want to do this and I am damn well going to do this”. The masters of this latter art were the great lost Britpop band Elastica.

Elastica were beyond cool. By failing to care and be musical nerds they managed to turn their don't–give–a–stuff attitude into some magnificent music. Nothing fancy was required, so nothing fancy was attempted. Chords were simple for a reason, it meant songs could be played quicker so the next one could begin. 'Annie' is less than 75 seconds long and still manages to piss all over 95% of all Britpop. And in singer Justine Frischman they had a frontwoman who wasn't singing to indoctrinate the world, she was singing because she damn well wanted to.

Elastica – 'Annie' MP3 Expired
[Buy Elastica from Amazon]

Their 15 track debut album was a rush of giddy fast punk, interspersed with some more thoughtful reflective stuff which added depth to what they had to say. In 'Waking Up', which was released as a single, Justine managed to perfectly sum up so much of life with the line “I work very hard/But I'm lazy/I can't take the pressure and it's starting to show”. Also impressive is the album's sole track over four minutes, the wonderful 'Never Here' which builds on (of all things) a guitar riff, rather than some ultra fast chords.

Elastica – 'Never Here' MP3 Expired

[Buy Elastica from Amazon]

Unfortunately as a band Elastica were too perfect. They developed perfect rockstar drug problems (guitarist Donna was so badly addicted to heroin that she tore out her anti–heroin stomach implant) which lead to rockstar lethargy. Turns out they were lazy but not working very hard. Somewhere along the line it took them over five years to write their second album which, frankly, sounds like it took five minutes to write, and is one of the most disappointing albums of all time. The Menace is not recommended, though their debut, Elastica, most definitely is, as is their really rather good BBC Sessions compilation which contains some of the best Christmas songs ever, including 'All For Gloria' which is the best version of 'Ding Song Merrily On Hi' to be about a somewhat ditzy glam girl called Gloria. Be unfestive and take a listen.

Elastica – 'All For Gloria' MP3 Expired

[Buy _The Radio 1 Sessions_from Amazon]

The most remarkable thing about Elastica is that you will have heard their most famous song, 'Connection' which was also used as the theme tune to Trigger Happy TV, and may very well remember 'Waking Up' as well. Their fall from the forefront of Britpop was too spectacular for words. What makes it doubly sad is that these days Justine Frischman is most remembered for having dated both Brett from Suede and Damon from Blur. It seems the girl with the guitar can't be an icon in her own right, she has to be the bird of some blokes who sang some songs which weren't as good as her best.

It's not radical feminism to point out that that's a little unfair. So you could either fight the gender oppression (or whatever the radical feminists call it) by listening to Elastica again… or you can listen to them again, loud, and drown out those annoying rows about gender. Or you could not listen and deprive your ears.

The choice is yours, of course.

Tracks are for sampling purposes only and will be deleted two weeks after this entry.

You are not this cool.

July 2006

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