BEST NEW INDIE: KAREN O - WOMAN
On her new collaboration with Danger Mouse, Karen O redefines what it means to be a woman, and a punk, in 2019.
We've been redefining gender roles and expectations for nearly 100 years, at this point. We've broken down so many binaries and false signifiers in a bid to get to the real and the true, to reach a place where an individual may define their gender expression in whatever ways they see fit.
Even with a century of feminist framework behind us, the term "woman" is still often associated with softness, passivity, beauty standards, and an expectation to be 'ladylike'. Many of these assumptions and associations are quite classist, racist, and ableist, as well, but that's a whole separate issue.
If there were some sort of secret cabal defining what these textbook definitions mean and how they're used, it would be clear that those writing the definition of 'woman' have not spent much time with women. Sure, women can be graceful, beautiful, elegant, soft-spoken, nurturing, or whatever the heck else they feel like. They can also be intensely competitive, fiercely loyal, and dangerously protective, not to mention possess nearly any negative personality trait a masculine person might.
Ladies can be ferocious. They can be terrifying. They can be mighty.
On her newest collaboration, Karen O challenges these assumptions about womanhood and femininity. Even better, it rises above vacant sloganeering and vapid corporate feminism. This is not a soundtrack for #girlbosses. "You don't want it/Then don't take it" isn't likely to end up embroidered in sparkly glitter font on a designer handbag (although it should. We Are: The Guard would buy one!)
KAREN O - WOMAN
"Woman" is a battle cry from the trenches, a call-to-arms from the circle pit. Even better still, it doesn't sound it!
"Woman" is a gritty, greasy, lo-fi garage soul banger that's quite unlike anything either Karen O or Danger Mouse has done before. Sonically, it sounds rather similar to Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys' side project, The Arcs, as well as some of the retro-worship of Ty Segall. It sounds like a dance party in a VFW hall, decked out in silvery streamers and pink crepe paper. That's a party we would go to, for sure.
Hopefully a lot of others will be piling in, as well. "Woman" is the lead single from a new collaborative album, titled Lux Prima, which is due out on March 15. We Are: The Guard are beyond excited if the rest of the album is 1/10th as good as "Woman."
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.