iPod Dive

 Posted by
Jan 052011

So work has had me on the train quite a bit and that means going through my iPod more than usual. Two interesting thoughts/observations:

  1. I’ve been listening to the old Canadian, all-girl group Plumtree. They wrote the song “Scott Pilgrim” that spawned the graphic novel, movie, etc… They play pretty good, guitar driven pop-rock, which I dig. Here’s my dilemma: If they were GUYS making the same music, I’d probably hate it and think it was kinda weak. But being that it’s gals, I more than give it a pass, I kinda give them points for rocking. Is this sexism? (Reverse sexism???) Anyone else feel this way regarding “chick” bands?
  2. I’ve listened to the White StripesIcky Thump and have some thoughts on them. I was given their first album by a coworker back in the day and dismissed them as being a gimmick. (What? No bass???) And I’m generally suspect of musicians-as-celebrities-actors-daters-of-actresses like Jack White. But…over the years I have to say, every time I’ve heard a new White Stripes song on the radio—or of his offshoot bands—I’ve always admired that the guy consistently puts out Rock music with a capital R. I mean the guy is the only mainstream act to put out heavy, chunky, thuddy rock. And I shake my head and say, “Man, I gotta hand it to that dude, he’s heavy.” So…this Icky Thump album is pretty darn good in a odd country/blues/rock meld that works. And, the drummer who gets a horrible rap…is pretty f’n good. Or at least she works perfectly for this style—behind the beat rock, which I also dig. Am I alone with my respect for Jack White?

Sorry for the long post 🙂


  30 Responses to “iPod Dive”

  1. I give the chick who can rock a “pass” most of the time. Maybe they are just fun to look at doing a “man’s job” (ok, that does not sound right).

    I think I give Meg White the same pass…to some extent. I also think that if she was not doing what she is supposed to do, Jack would have been a solo act or found another drummer. He must think that the Meg White style is right for his songs, so why would I expect her to do something other than what she does.

    I think that’s why guys all over the planet were drooling over Tal Wilkenfeld when she played at Crossroads with Jeff Beck. She was really good, not “good for a chick”

  2. I agree with you on Jack White, but I’m a biased Detroiter supporting the local boy who made good for himself. Like you, I’ve been a bit turned off by the gimmicky stuff, but the music is good.

    What do you guys think of this one? I like it:


  3. 1. There are many women-dominated bands who rock. You can put together a pretty rocking playlist without apologies with Pretenders, Breeders, Hole, Sleater-Kinney (and the offshoot Corin Tucker Band), Susan Tedeschi, Grace Potter, The Raveonettes, Bettie Serveert, and Metric . . . and these are just off the top of my head.

    2. I agree Jack White has pretty good instincts — and made the best album Loretta Lynn put out in 30 years!

  4. BigSteve

    I have never understood the appeal of Jack White’s music. And his Look creeps me out.

  5. I am in Club White. I like his records and he seems pretty sincere. Everytime I think he could be a complete waste, he proves me wrong. I think his brand of cool is real and not manufactured. Anybody seen the doc on their Canadian tour? I also happen to enjoy him in that guitar movie that came out a couple of years ago with Edge and Jimmy Page.

    They played that Beck Ronnie Scott’s gig for the umpteenth time just last night. Tal IS very very good. But, jeez, she looks 12. I can’t get beyond that. I’m creeped out by dudes who find her hot. Or maybe I have issues…


  6. I probably have the opposite problem with female artists; I don’t think they’ll be for me so I don’t give them a fair hearing. I am always surprised when I really begin to like a woman and I shouldn’t be.

    And this is the year I give up expecting to acquire some White Stripes from friends so they are top of my list to download 10-15 songs from iTunes with my gift card.

  7. machinery


  8. I think Jack White is a talented record maker, but I typically don’t like his records; White Stripes work for me a song at a time. As I wrote up once before, I think he’s the future T Rex. His singing and the abundance of schtick bug me, but I’d bet he could make a great record producing a band he’s not in. Maybe he’ll produce and play guitar for Iggy Pop or some ancient garage godfather. (I can’t judge that Loretta Lynn album. I like her best as Sissy Spacek, right?)

    As for your first question, that Plumtree song is pretty catchy, especially before the “13-year-old girls jumping on the bed in their cotton undies at a sleepover”-style vocals kick in. Then it sounds like all those bands with Deal sisters and rich-girl friends of Evan Dando. It’s still catchy, though – and I’m the guy who just this morning raved over the UK equivalent of this style of singing, so there.

    Maybe I am sexist when it comes to rock ‘n roll, or maybe I sincerely don’t like getting hit over the head with celebrations of Women/Girls in Rock. Plenty of women do it well and don’t need a “handicap” from me. Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out album is pretty great. They could be a pack of dogs (literally – I’m not being sexist) and still be considered a very good band in my book. There are a number of women solo artists or band leaders I like a lot. What I’m not good at, however, is grading the Indie Sleepover bands on a curve. That Plumtree song has a cool guitar riff and moves. That’s good (not great). I’m cool with that. A lot of times I hear stuff raved over in that general style and I DO think, “If this was a band of guys they’d get a collective hanging wedgie from music fans and critics!” I’d never give a woman a wedgie, but I feel comfortable thinking that. Maybe that mood speaks to some people more than it does to me, just like there are people who think The Smiths are really good. I simply don’t like most of that stuff, and I ESPECIALLY don’t like reading reviews that applaud this stuff by first pointing out that the band includes “girls” as if that alone gives them “girl power.” That just seems beneath any remotely adult discussion of music. But again, I don’t put a whole lot of stock in my opinions on this matter. I’m probably incapable of feeling like a young woman who’s hearing this stuff. Some of these bands may speak to a woman’s inner teenage girl the way The Undertones speak to my inner teenage boy.

  9. BigSteve

    What do I think? Wooden, cliche guitar riffs, badly played and poorly recorded drums, and some kind of faux naive arty talking that don’t make me care enough to try and understand. Seriously this is their best record? Sorry, I’m a hata.

  10. It’s nice to know that someone dislikes White Stripes and Jack White more than I do. If you ever want to shoot your television set, check out that Final Tour movie in Canada they made. Man, THAT’S cause for a hanging wedgie.

  11. misterioso

    I’m ok with Jack White, all in all. In relatively small doses. Good stuff but it has a limited appeal for me. Still, while it is working, it is good.

    I am pretty sure I am far from sexist in my real life but my record collection suggests otherwise. Women are not well represented. I admit it. I can’t say I didn’t like Plumtree just because they’re women, though. Or Canadian, which, music-wise, seems a better justification. But I sure don’t care for them. Maybe I should go put on that Juliana Hatfield cd I haven’t listened to in 15 years. Or not.

  12. I like it because it sticks out from the crowd of rock songs. It’s a different little story about what it’s like to be a dipshit kid. The narrator is supposed to come off as a doofus, not as “arty.” And all rock is cliche, pretty much.

  13. I have no idea if it’s their best record. Probably not. Most of the stuff I say on that tumblr is just blather trying to get people to click on the tune.

    You are making me double-check my own suspect taste!

  14. BigSteve

    I think this issue relates to the dad rock thread. There’s no swing in this music. If it wasn’t for the talking, I’d say it sounded like a Grand Funk deep cut.

    And this is why I brought up irony in that thread. God knows I don’t want Mr. White to be ‘sincere,’ but I always feels like he’s pulling my leg, like the riffs are in triple-secret air quotes.

    But hey if you’re from his neck of the woods, his vibe may simply resonate more naturally with you.

  15. It’s funny you put it this way. I was thinking, as I heard the song, that it was like a garage-rock take on another Detroit son, Eminem.

  16. The main issue for me is that the music I like is not often made by women, as opposed to me not liking music made by women. I don’t know of the female equivalent of the Plimsouls or Big Star or Tom Waits. And there shouldn’t be, just for the sake of “musical equality”.

    I try to listen to music without regard to sex, race, creed or sexual orientation. And the types of pop music that I listen to the most (rock/garage-rock/power-pop) just seems to be a much more dude-centric. Other genres that I listen to a lot (old r&b, soul and country) seem much more evenly balanced. If I liked more singer songwriter stuff, I’m sure I would have more cds with female based bands.

    I would also note that a few years ago, my wife and I went to a Television show and a Daniel Lanois show. Both were complete sausage parties (as some of you here can confirm), which could suggest that that type of music is generally more appealing to men so it follows that more men would be inclined to start like minded bands.

  17. bostonhistorian

    I’m digging the plumtree, which I hadn’t heard before. Would I like it as much if guys were doing that song? Probably not, but then again the lyrics weren’t written for a guy to sing, and that’s the key difference. If wikipedia is to be trusted, they were all under the age of twenty when that song was recorded, and that’s pretty damn good in my book, girls *or* boys. In the end, it boils down to attitude, and they’ve got a good “let’s bash this thing out” vibe going. I’ve been listening to a lot of woman fronted music lately–a ton of Sarah Records, various Amelia Fletcher projects, Holly Golightly–so I may just predisposed to liking this, but I played it for my seven year old and she really dug it too.

  18. alexmagic

    I try to listen to music without regard to sex, race, creed or sexual orientation.

    Somewhere, George Michael – joyous tears forming in his eyes – looks upward from his computer towards the sky and shouts “FREEDOM!”

  19. bostonhistorian

    I dunno. I draw the line at Creed.

  20. Aren’t The Bangles the female jangle-pop band for you? I’ve yet to track it down, but a friend tells me their first ep, way before they got glossed up, is REALLY good and might even be up my narrow alley.

  21. BigSteve

    I saw them play in the era before they glossed up, and they were more garagey than jangly. Their cover of Hazy Shade of Winter was much more slammin’ before it got recorded for a soundtrack with Rick Rubin.

  22. I think their version of “Going Down to Liverpool” is pretty much perfect. Better than “Baker Street” even!

  23. Yeah, their garagey beginnings are what made my friend think I might like their first record. (If anyone has a copy of that, could you do a Townman a favor and burn it for me? Thanks.)

  24. Their first album has some really good moments and the first song, “Hero Takes A Fall” is flat out Great. If I have the chance, I’ll burn a copy and bring it tonight.

  25. mockcarr

    I have that first Bangles EP before Michael Steele became the bass player, I can record that for you if you want. The first full length one is better, but it has a LOT of ruggish harmonies that might bug you.

  26. mockcarr

    To me, All Over The Place is about as good a lpower pop album as there is. Of course, I struggle with genre definitions.

  27. mockcarr, I’d be happy to check out both the ep and the lp. Thanks. I can better handle rug harmonies coming from women (eg, The Roches). My apologies for typing that sentence just now.

  28. mockcarr

    I like the Plumtree song, it’s reach is not far, but it’s pretty solid and the production suits my tastes. I was expecting twee voices, given Mod’s reaction, and they ain’t.

    I don’t really have any grrrl stuff, but I like as much of it that I’ve heard as any White Stripes song. Naturally, as a guy who fumbles with a bass, I find that band lacking a key ingredient for no good reason.

    There’s just less rock music done by women, but I hope I don’t eschew it based on who’s singing – I think I’d prefer hearing a woman’s voice more often. For a start, I’m often accused of liking the wimpy tenor-singing power pop songwriters by my girlfriend.

  29. Susannah Hoffs! [Sigh] Saw here a couple of years ago — still has it going on!

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