Girlschool 2010 - Page 3

FALL ARTS: Fall is here, and women are ruling the Bay Area rock scene

Grass Widow dodges rock conventions while making the leap to Kill Rock Stars

"We get offers to do cheesy things and we don't do it. We're extremely liberal punk kids, y'know," explains Scott, who sees all of her band's numbers as love songs, with a few intriguing angles: "Motherland," say, is "an overtly feminist song about solidarity between women," while "Absolutely Anything" concerns vaginal imagery in art.

Call Brilliant Colors' inspired tunes a true reflection of its music-obsessed maker: Scott studied political science and economics as an undergraduate at Mills College, and arts journalism as a fellow at University of Southern California, and she regularly writes for Maximum Rocknroll. She also runs a cassette label, Tape It to the Limit.

"You could say we're conscious of who we play with and where we play and what we say," says. That means saying "no way" to playing at chain clothing stores such as Top Shop, though she humbly adds, "I don't want to seem ungrateful or rude about it, but we want to stick to shows that are all ages and cheap."

Snackable: The Sandwitches

Give naivete a good, hard twist and you get something close to the rock 'n' roll-primitive originality of the Sandwitches. Little wonder that two of the winsome 'Witches, vocalist-guitarists Grace Cooper and Heidi Alexander, were once backup vocalists for the Fresh and Onlys — the Sandwitches' music rings out with the ear-cleansing clarity of smart girls who understand the importance of preserving the best, raw parts of their innocence, even amid the pleasures and perils of age, wisdom, snarking hipsters, and intimidating record collections.

One of the SF trio's recent tunes, "Beatle Screams," embodies that fresh, crunchy, approach: its lo-fi echo; lumbering, click-clack drums; and sad carnival-organ sounds are topped off with the comic pathos of girlish, ghoulish shrieks from the depths of groupie hell.

Live, the Sandwitches come across as offhand, upbeat, and surprisingly passionate, playing music that harks to lonely teardrops, mom 'n' pop low-watt radio stations, the Everlys and Gene Pitney, with a twinge of country and a dose of dissonance. The trio's recordings have a nuanced view of love and lust. They assume the perspective of infatuated naifs on "Idiot Savant," and warble "Fire ... I fill the room, I fill the womb," on "Fire" from the 2009 debut album, How to Make Ambient Sad Cake (Turn Up). Produced by the Fresh and Onlys' Wymond Miles, the new Sandwitches EP, Duck, Duck, Goose! (Empty Cellar/Secret Seven) plunges even deeper into the shadows, tackling "Baby Mine," Fresh and Onlys' honcho Tim Cohen's "Rock of Gibraltar," and other eerie lullabies with confidence and tangible vision.

The Sandwitches materialized two years ago when Alexander and drummer Roxy Brodeur began playing together. "She said she really liked the way I drummed and we should play music sometime," recalls Brodeur, who has also drummed in Brilliant Colors and Pillars of Silence. Alexander had also been playing with Cooper, and it seemed only natural for the three to join forces.

Brodeur was adept at following along: "I play to the vocals a lot, and it depends on the song because Grace and Heidi write in pretty different styles — with Grace it's lighter and jazzier and with Heidi it's a little heavier and thumpy."


Sept. 10, 7 p.m., all ages

Cyclone Warehouse

Illinois and Cesar Chavez, SF



C'mon....we've been waiting..what..thirty years for a real chick band that can actually play--er..invoke--real music. Not just some whiny garage band thrash pumping, And we're still waiting. Period.

Posted by Guest Nick Stuart on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 1:06 am

I am absolutely in awe of your ignorance, Nick.

Posted by Mike on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 10:48 am

Which I thought this article was going to be about.

The Headcoatees were good too.

But as 95% of bands suck, it's not a chick thing in that there is so much sucking in general.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 11:00 am

"People are automatically, 'They're hot! Omigod, that one is hot!'"

Really? Ahem...

Anyway, if these bands are the best the Bay Area has to offer, no wonder the current music scene is at best a joke, and at worst non-existent to anyone outside of the Bay. Wow, guitar, drums, bass and singing- but wait- they're girls! OMG, how unique!

You know, there is a ton of music that isn't centered around the same old rock instrumentation, song structures, and clichés but I guess The Guardian couldn't be bothered to do a bit of research on that. Instead they focused on the same old boring stuff, the same types of groups who will have no lasting impact on anything because they are imitating a form of music that was perfected about 25 years ago. But, OMG, they're girls! In costumes! How unique!

How about an article on Bay Area musicians who are actually trying to do something interesting with their music instead of marketing themselves and their gimmicky music and image?

Posted by David on Aug. 26, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

I'm very interested to know.

Keep in mind techno isn't music.

Another great band that happened to be women was Yellow Machine Gun.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 26, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

Barn Owl. Moon Duo. The Alps. Jonas Reinhardt. Other local artists on the Root Strata label. Check out the On Land Festival next weekend to see some of them. Or just stroll through Aquarius Records and ask for recommendations if you are really serious and don't have some built-in excuse not to consider them as "real" since they don't package their music into the verse/chorus/verse format.

Posted by David on Aug. 27, 2010 @ 10:42 am

extensively, David. Also, maybe you should actually listen to some of the bands Kim is writing about above, like Grass Widow, who go far beyond the lame stereotype of rock you say we're aping. And what's wrong with writing an article about the fact that there are a lot of female garage rock bands coming to prominence at the moment, anyway? You seem to want to read an article about bands you like. Obviously, this isn't that article. This is this article.

PS lol at "perfected 25 years ago" in your earlier comment -- what, do you mean like Bryan Adams and Huey Lewis & the News?

Posted by marke on Aug. 30, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

And how ignorant can you be?

Next you'll be telling us that the Kronos Quartet are "un-listenable"?

1960 called, it wants you to criticize "Jazz"

Posted by Frank McGee on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

smart drugs lost popularity, and the water & air bars closed up.

Too bad techno didn't die an equally 90's death.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

that's when your aesthetic sensibility and adventurous aural spirit did as well.

Posted by marke on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

I love the Twinks and you guys suck a$$.

Posted by Guest Carebear on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 7:37 am


Posted by Guest Beth Loudmouth on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

your only good band

Posted by loudmouth? on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

Given: the author likes her music and the specific bands she has on her IPOD, but GIRL don't go steppin' on the ladies toes that don't have a place on your IPOD. You caused a riff which I am sure you can relish in and slap on a hotdog and be like fuck yeah; or you'll be having a light bulb moment and redo the article. Alot of people have never heard of any of those bands you featured in your article seems like the title was not the right fit.. Cinderella moment. Yes eveyone, Kim had one.

Here's a thought why don't you redo the article and really break it down by genre. Dude you gotta get out more and go to more shows with girls in bands if you wanna do a girlschool article. And just because some bands practice in an old wannbe gentrified meat locker don't make them about burgers n' shakes.. I wanna job writing BS in the Guardian

Posted by Guest Scarlet on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 10:37 am

Where are my girls The Hot Toddies at?! They've been rocking SF with their original fun, all female indie garage pop since 2006... pretty similar to the bands you're describing. Seems to me like u left out the band that started the trend...


Posted by Guest on Sep. 14, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

Yeah, I agree with Robyn! The Hot Toddies were one of the only bands around doing an all-female garage indie pop band when they started around 5 years ago, and now it's kind of a thing and they get no mention? C'mon!

Posted by Ryan on Sep. 14, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

I love the Twinks! How could you not love surf-y garage pop?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 20, 2010 @ 10:22 am

Also from this author

  • Women with movie cameras

    Cheers to CAAMFest's crop of female Asian American film directors

  • Spiking the box office

    THE YEAR IN FILM: Looking back at a triumphant year for African American films

  • Not from around here

    French synth-pop giants Phoenix and Daft Punk tap into the alien within