Ladies in Music: St. Vincent, Em and the MotherSuperiors, Best Coast, Neko Case, and The Mynabirds

I am a bit of a music nerd with my premium monthly subscription to Spotify, my vinyl-purchasing habit, following Spin, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and ponying up for expensive but fantastic headphones. What can I say? I love listening to music. And there are some fantastic ladies in the music world who make it all the worth while. Here are a few of my favorites, but note that this list is by no means comprehensive.

Picture credit: The Cedar Cultural Center
Picture credit: The Cedar Cultural Center

St. Vincent
I recently trekked to Tulsa to see St. Vincent at Cain’s Ballroom. Prior to this show, I was a casual fan, having listened to her records off and on since her debut in 2007. After the show, St. Vincent and her music had me completely enamored. Her live show is simply electric, emotional, and a hell of a theatrical performance. It certainly helped that this show was a homecoming for St. Vincent, who is otherwise known as Annie Clark and was born in Tulsa. Her roots were obvious, as St. Vincent, an otherwise ethereal character with a crown of white hair, joked about avoiding getting arrested at QuikTrip and reminisced about Whataburger. An extremely inebriated girl began dancing by me mid-way through the show and took the opportunity to show me that Annie’s sister was just mere steps in front of us. She waved to said Sister, and when she turned around, their striking resemblance showed that inebriated girl was not joking. Drunk girl confessed that St. Vincent’s performance floored her, because growing up, she knew her as gentle and quiet Annie. The stage clearly transformed her, transformed her from Annie and into St. Vincent, a vital force of emotion and energy. This transformation, even though I do not know her as Annie, was exhilarating to watch as St. Vincent not only owned the stage, but the entire ballroom, with her music and performance. As someone relatively introverted, I am continually fascinated by what the quiet people do in regards to their art. After this show, I was no longer a casual fan. Signed, sealed, and delivered — St. Vincent, I’m yours.

Listen to my favorite song off of her new album St. Vincent, “I Prefer Your Love”:

Other recommendations: “Digital Witness” (St. Vincent), “Huey Newton” (St. Vincent), “Cruel” (Strange Mercy), “Strange Mercy” (Strange Mercy), “Your Lips are Red” (Marry Me), “Ice Age” (Love This Giant with David Byrne)
Online: Twitter | Website

Picture credit: BandCamp
Picture credit: BandCamp

Em and The MotherSuperiors
Em and The MotherSuperiors are a fantastic local OKC act that describe themselves quite succinctly as “psychedelic soul.” I caught them at The HiLo Club last August, maybe September, and have been hooked ever since. Em, the lead vocalist, puts on a beautiful performance, whether she’s hitting a high note with aplomb, growling in her lower register, and in some cases, shrieking. The MotherSuperiors are certainly talented musicians, but the package truly is complete with Em’s wild and wildly fantastic vocals. She is a woman who commands the stage and captures the attention of the audience with ease. When I first saw this band at the HiLo, Em had me entranced as her bewitching, sultry voice filled the tiny club filled with drunk people and cigarette smoke. If you’re around OKC and find yourself in a bar where they’re playing, sit right there and don’t move. There is an excellent show in store for you.

They recently debuted their first album, Churches into Theaters. It’s available for preview and purchase at their BandCamp. In the meantime, you can listen to “So You Think You’re the Devil”:

Other recommendations: “Tractors and Daisies,” “Tangerine,” “Brian Wilson’s War,” “Contra” (Churches into Theaters)
Online: Twitter | Website

Picture credit: NME
Picture credit: NME

Best Coast
Bethany Cosentino, 1/2 of the Californian duo that is Best Coast, sings honest, emotionally charged lyrics backed by catchy, enjoyable garage rock-tinged surf pop with a dash of lo-fi that harken back to music from the 60’s. I cannot help but give her props for her straightforward lyrics such as, “I lost my job, I miss my mom, I wish my cat could talk.” I mean, what girl doesn’t wish her animal companion could converse on a human level at some point in her life? Also, she’s upfront about her affinity for the beach about how it’s “the only place” for her. And I can’t blame her, because even though living in Oklahoma is pretty decent, it does not have the beach. When living in a landlocked state starts to drive me a little stir-crazy, I put on a Best Coast album and daydream about the ocean and the waves. It helps.

Best Coast released Fade Away last autumn, and “Fear of My Identity” is definitely a favorite off that lovely 7-track EP.

Recommendations: “I Don’t Know How” (Fade Away), “This Lonely Morning” (Fade Away), “Better Girl” (The Only Place), “Crazy for You” (Crazy for You), “Do You Love Me Like You Used To” (The Only Place), “Our Deal” (Crazy for You).
Online: Twitter | Website

Picture credit: ANTI-
Picture credit: ANTI

Neko Case
Neko Case provides an excellent soundtrack for when I am in the brooding mood. Her lyrics and music pack an emotional wallop that seem to befit when I need time to contemplate what’s on my mind. With her take on alternative country and my aversion to anything country, I was surprised that I enjoyed her music so much upon first listens. Now, she’s a far cry from the mainstream country that plagues radio stations, but needless to say, Neko Case was initially quite different for my music tastes. Despite the bit of genre hopping, her voice is beautiful — emotional, lilting, elegant, and yet raw and with an edge. She has gone on record saying she refuses to use auto-tune on her tracks. and I say amen to that! I would not want to listen to her sing any other way.

She has so many excellent albums that are worth spending leisurely amounts of time with, but Middle Cyclone is the album that made me fall in love with her music. As I am sure you have guessed by now, here is one of my favorite tracks, “Fever”:

Other recommendations: “Vengeance is Sleeping” (Middle Cyclone), “City Swan” (The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You), “Hold On, Hold On” (Fox Confessor Brings the Flood), “Man” (The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You), “This Tornado Loves You” (Middle Cyclone), “I Wish I Was the Moon” (Blacklisted)
Online: Twitter | Website

the-mynabirdsThe Mynabirds
Last, but certainly not least, here’s a band I cannot recommend enough: The Mynabirds, a band brought together by former Georgie James member, Laura Burhenn. Laura has a soulful, gorgeous voice that has a Dusty Springfield-quality to it; however, instead of singing about preachers’ sons, she sings about freedom, love, peace, war, heartbreak, disarming and does so beautifully. The Mynabirds’ music has a retro quality to it, which seems fitting as the band name came from an abandoned Neil Young project called The Mynah Birds. They only have two albums out — What We Lose in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood and Generals — but here’s hoping that album number 3 will be on its way soon! (And a tour that includes a stop in OKC would be lovely too.)

I also have had the pleasure of briefly meeting Laura when she was touring with Georgia James way back in 2007, and I will never forget how utterly kind she is. Her kindness, I think, is reflected in her lyrics yearning for a “legacy of love.” It’s certainly an example I want to follow. Here’s Body of Work from The Mynabirds’ second album, Generals:

Other recommendations: “L.A. Rain” (What We Lose in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood), “Karma Debt” (Generals), “Radiator Sister” (Generals), “Disarm” (Generals), “We Made a Mountain” (What We Lose in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood)
Online: Twitter | Website

And that’s all for now! Stay tuned for future posts featuring more fantastic musicians and talented people.