Spears's career was built on the promise of pubescent sex — how does that change when her paycheck is splashed all over workplace monitors? What is celebrity when the highly controlled PR mechanism breaks down and the most intimate component of fame, tabloid poonanny, is served up, C-section and all, in a bucket seat?
So as pop's eternal girls go wild and skip the thong song and we muse over whether Pelosi and company's new roles could be the best thing to ever happen to Dubya, especially if he aims to avoid impeachment (mainstream media hand-wringing over frosh Demo centrists possibly going wild is disingenuous — does anyone really expect Pelosi to be as much a partisan pit bull as Newt Gingrich?), we have to wonder how we might transform this turning point, the second (or third or fourth, etc.) coming of the Woman, into something greater than the sum of its disparate, far-flung, all-girl band parts. It's tempting — and perhaps nutty — to draw rough, symbolic comparisons between the national discussion around Hillary Clinton’s and Barak Obama's possible presidential runs and the Bay Area's most arresting musical developments in 2006: the insurgent interest surrounding all-female bands and the buzzy rise of Bay hip-hop and hyphy. Is it time to lay siege to the turf of the Man. Even the oldest schoolee in rock's girls academy, Joan Jett, can point to Broadcast Data Systems statistics on how more than 90 percent of the songs played on rock or alternative radio are still by men. "It's institutional, and I'm not quite sure where to attack it," Jett told me this fall. "Except with the audiences. The audiences forced stations to play 'I Love Rock ’n' Roll.' So we got to get to that place."
That place — my space or yours — is wherever women (and men) put together bands to make their own "user-generated content," as a social networking site might dub it, or "art," as I prefer to call it, and find the will to take control. Of how they sound and how they get their music out. For a sample overview of that cutting edge, see Chicks on Speed's recent sprawling triple-CD comp, Girl Monster, Volume 1, with tracks by artists ranging from Kevin Blechdom, the Raincoats, Tina Weymouth, and Boyskout to Pulsallama, Cobra Killer, LiliPUT, and Throbbing Gristle's Cosey Fanni Tutti. Rewrite musical history and promise you'll be on volume two. SFBG
KIMBERLY CHUN'S CRAMMED TOP NINE
•Folk talk: Bonnie "Prince" Billy, The Letting Go (Drag City); Beirut, The Gulag Orkestar (Ba Da Bing); Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City)
•Hot rock: Awesome Color, Awesome Color (Ecstatic Peace); Erase Errata, Nightlife (Kill Rock Stars); Snowglobe, Doing the Distance (Makeshift); Om, Conference of the Birds (Holy Mountain)
•Interstellar explorers: Akron/Family, Meek Warrior (Young God); OOIOO, Taiga (Thrill Jockey); Grouper, Wide (Free Porcupine); White Magic, Dat Rosa Mel Apibus (Drag City)
•Live, with love: 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, Coughs, Citay, Gossip, Sonic Youth and Mirror Dash, Neil Hagerty, Flaming Lips, Liars, Radiohead, Grizzly Bear
•Odds and ends: Tom Waits, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards (Anti-); Marisa Monte, Universo ao Meu Redor (Blue Note); Girl Monster, Volume 1 (Chicks on Speed); Art of Field Recording: 50 Years of Traditional Music Documented by Art Rosenbaum (Dust-to-Digital)
•Party jams: Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury (Re-Up Gang/Arista); Girl Talk, Night Ripper (Illegal Art); Beck, The Information (Interscope); the Knife, Silent Shout (Rabid)
•Pop nostalgists: Camera Obscura, Let's Get Out of This Country (Merge); Pelle Carlberg, Everything Now! (Twentyseven); Essex Green, Cannibal Sea (Merge); Pascal, Dear Sir (Le Grand Magistery)
•Solo mio: Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti-); Jolie Holland, Springtime Can Kill You (Anti-); Thom Yorke, The Eraser (XL)
•Reissue korner: Cluster; Karen Dalton; Delta 5; ESG; Ruthann Friedman; Jesus and Mary Chain; Milton Nascimento; Ike Yard; What It Is!: Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967–1977) (Rhino)