Let’s play a free association game. I’m going to say a musical genre, and you think of the first three bands that come to mind.
The genre is “rock.” Go!
I’m willing to bet that for a vast majority of readers that none of the three bands include a female front person. Whether your associations had a historical lens and involved The Beatles or Led Zeppelin, or your brain went to 80s bands like Van Halen or Guns’n’Roses, or you thought of modern rock mainstays like Pearl Jam or Foo Fighters, I’m willing to bet you didn’t name any lady rockers.
What is it about women in rock that requires us to label them as “women in rock” instead of just “rock,” as if the genre sans descriptor denotes a male-only version of the music?
Even when woman singers and female-fronted bands escape the “women in” tag, they tend to get grouped into some sub-category, like “acoustic rock” or or “art rock” or “singer/songwriter” – or, even just “pop.” Yet, even with less women in rock’n’roll than men, it’s not hard to name women in all of those categories, like Heart, The Pretenders, The Breeders, or PJ Harvey.
A large part of the allure of Aussie rocker Alex Lahey’s debut full-length record for me is that it’s unquestionably rock without needing any further description. Yes, there’s a retro tinge to the arrangements, but this is surging, modern guitar rock that’s not discernibly different in genre than Arctic Monkeys or Imagine Dragons or whatever it is that modern rock radio is playing these days.
(Seriously, what do they play? Yet more Foo Fighters, I guess. There is always new Foo Fighters to play.)
I was introduced to Lahey via her cover of “Torn” for Triple J radio. I loved her bright, plaintive vocal and how she slashed at power chords on her guitar. That was enough for me to bookmark her name and notice when her full-length debut I Love You Like a Brother dropped a few weeks ago.
It’s a terrific, charming rock record from front to back, full of Lahey’s a gently-self-deprecating charm and a bevy of textured, unique band arrangements to keep it from ever feeling too sameish. I’d say if you enjoy Best Coast or Dum Dum Girls, you would probably like it.
Of all the strong songs, “Let’s Call It A Day” is that one that captured my imagination the most on the first play, maybe because it so clearly illustrated to me the inclination to sub-genre-ize a rocker like Lahey just because she is a woman. [Read more…] about Song of the Day: “Let’s Call It A Day” – Alex Lahey