Women on the record: Q-Music covers Sneaks, Ace of Cups, Shelby Lynne and more
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You can hear the inspiration of the spoken word scene in the songs on Happy Birthday (Merge) by D.C.'s Sneaks (aka Eva Moolchan). You can also detect the influence of musical acts such as Le Tigre and tUnE-yArDs. All of these elements combine to make a thrilling listen. Sneaks gives us plenty of opportunities to work out the kinks in our bodies, as well as plenty to think about, in irresistibly rhythmic numbers such as "Faith," "This World," "Do You Want To Go Out Tonight," and "Mars In Virgo."
Recorded and released before the 2020 election where Kamala Harris made history by becoming the first female Vice President, "Put A Woman in Charge" by pioneering female rock band Ace of Cups has taken on a whole new meaning. That song comes from Sing Your Dreams (High Moon), Ace of Cups' second album. Before Fanny, before The Runaways and long before Sleater-Kinney, Ace of Cups were part of the psychedelic music scene of 1960s San Francisco. Some of that spirit holds over on songs such as "Basic Human Needs" (featuring vocals by Wavy Gravy), "Gemini," "Boy, What'll You Do Then," and "Waller Street Blues."
You have to wonder if Shelby Lynne ever got over the compliment/insult of winning the 2000 Grammy Award for Best New Artist 11 years and five albums after releasing her first full-length disc. As wonky Grammy history goes, this pat on the back/slap in the face might be the all-time most bizarre. Yes, Lynne definitely deserved praise for her breakthrough album I Am Shelby Lynne, but there had to be a better way of going about it. Since that time, she has made the most of her 21st-century creativity burst releasing ten more studio albums, including a Christmas record and one on which she teamed up with kid sister Allison Moorer.
Lynne's newest album, an excellent self-produced, self-titled effort on Thirty Tigers/Everso, may be her most revealing. Recorded and released before COVID-19 began to take its toll, the album cover photo featuring the lower half of Lynne's face covered up feels prescient and hints at her possible side career as a seer. Lynne's previous albums have featured original compositions and collaborations, and Shelby Lynne is no exception. What's noteworthy is that her collaborator on seven of the ten songs is lesbian filmmaker/screenwriter Cynthia Mort.
The famously private Lynne, who has said in the past, "Everybody's a little gay," may be letting a little light into her dark closet. Regardless of who she loves, Lynne still sounds great, her voice maturing like a fine wine. Most of the songs owe more to R&B and pop than country, Lynne's initial musical genre. "I Got You" and "Don't Even Believe In Love," for example, sound like they would be right at home on any release from the Hi Records catalog. "Love Is Coming" could be a lost Angel Olsen tune. "Revolving Broken Heart" is pure torch song and "Here I Am" gives Lynne a chance to show off her belter's skills. www.shelbylynne.com
One thing you can say about Emily Cross is that she's not sitting idle. When she's not performing with Dan Duszynski as one half of Cross Record, she's singing lead as one third of Loma, along with Duszynski and Jonathan Melburg of Shearwater. After the first listen you won't want to shy away from Loma's second album Don't Shy Away (Sub Pop). Comprised of some of the most haunting dream pop you are likely to hear any time soon, Loma will dazzle you on "Ocotillo," the heat generating "Half Silences," the exotic "Elliptical Days," the gentle club rave of "Given A Sign" and the colorful "Blue Rainbow."
Music is the universal language. So, even if you don't speak a lick of French, you are bound to find something to your liking on L'Ere du Verseau (Recreation Center) by French duo Yelle, led by Julie Budet. More than a dozen years since Yelle's domestic debut Pop-Up, the pair returns with its most admirable effort. Still electro-fueled, Yelle has found a rein in some of the more contrived aspects of previous efforts (we're talking to you, Dr. Luke) and the results are moving in more ways than one. Standout tracks include "Menu du Jour," "Karate," "Vue D'en Face," "Peine De Mort," "OMG!!!" and the Giorgio Moroder-esque "Interpassion."
Technicolor (Mondo Mundo/Thirty Tigers) is the second album by Sweet Lizzy Project featuring lead vocals by Lisset Diaz. Originally from Havana, Cuba and now based in Nashville, the quintet has a distinctive sound and style, which you can hear immediately on the opening titular track which develops into a scorcher as it progresses. "Turn Up The Radio" has a tasteful twang and "Ain't Nobody to Call" is a potential arena rocker. That's The Mavericks joining SLP on "The Flower is in the Seed" and "Travel to the Moon" is fittingly out of this world.
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