Friday, 19 March 2010

Conversational | Lisa Mitchell

by Ashlea Maher, 19th March 2010...

Like any rose, Lisa Mitchell is a fragile and tender beauty. Her timid guitar and soft acoustic guitar licks weave together seamlessly to project interesting and beautiful folk arrangements that have seen her blossom as the next all-the-rage artist. Her escalation is interesting given her career was born out of the five-minute-fame reality television hype. The English-born Mitchell moved to Australia when she was three, and after growing up feasting on the likes of The Beatles and Cat Stevens, Mitchell relished her chance to shoot for popstar glory by entering Australian Idol. aged 14.

But it was evident once competition got serious that her folky songstress nature wasn't going to fit the contrived three-minute ballad mould that such competitions require. Mitchell has made her own way to stardom on the strength of her original work. Her first EP's (yes, Idol contestants can release EP's) One Said To The Other and Welcome To The Afternoon were graciously accepted in the UK, US and Australia, and she released her debut album Wonder in 2009.

Wonder is the result of high-profile collaborations in the UK and Australia, and was recorded while Mitchell was living in the UK from 2007. She played Glastonbury last year, just completed her first ever solo tour of the UK and was awarded the coveted $30,000 Australian Music Prize last week. not bad for someone who is only 19!

"People are very quick to claim you as their own. It's a bit of a tug-of-war at the moment between the UK and Australia, but it's good. I love both places". Mitchell is said to be growing up as one of the new breed of chick folk pop singers, comparable to the likes of Regina Spektor, Feist and Laura Marling. Looking back on conversations, live shows and meet-ups with Mitchell in recent months, it is obvious how much she is a star in the making, without any commercial marketing needed. 

"Song writing for me is usually trying to create something that will give me proof of hope, like a packed lunch for the future or something", Mitchell said during her recent UK tour. "I'm a chronic journal writer, so it's kind of like when I just can't write it down, when there has to be even more of a human element to it, whether my voice or the chords... I guess it's just like proof that I can move forward. Usually it's about losing or re-finding hope or happiness. Most of my songs are written around that cusp. I guess it's a survival mechanism for me".

After collaborating with producers Andy Barlow (Lamb) and Sacha Skarbek (Adele), Mitchell said she is happy to have broken the mould. "I feel a lot free-er with my music now" she explained. "Every time I work with someone I'm gonna pick up little habits that they do that I quite like, or just everything kind of influences somehow. I always write a lot by myself, but it was good for me doing co-writes. It's like exercise for the mind. You literally cannot get stuck in your own ways because you're constantly being refreshed the whole time".

Mitchell's debut album Wonder is out now, and single 'Oh Hark' is out on April 12.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Review | Lisa Mitchell

by Ashlea Maher, 16th March 2010. All photography by Sara Newman
Lisa Mitchell @ Monto Water Rats, Tuesday February 9th

We came. We saw. We left early.

Mitchell was second on the bill at a showcase at Monto Water Rats on Tuesday, and it was packed! An Aussie/British battle played out anew, as the fight for pre-performance pole position raged before Mitchell even took to the stage. The Australian contingent defiantly stood their ground, while the Poms moaned about  being jammed up close against their Commonwealth cousins. Pfft, we should be used it; it was just like a District Line peak hour commute after all.

So, arriving after the unknown first act with my festival etiquette in full force, I attempted to enter the seething pit (weird for a chick rock gig). Maybe I’m getting old, but I backed out and took up my position up the back, my view hampered by the tag-along boyfriends. I better get braver before Glastonbury. Cue camera stuck up in the air to see folk-pop pixie Mitchell greet the tense crowd with a sharp new haircut, a glam gold dress and the tune Coin Laundry – popular among everyone regardless the crowd war.

Clean White Love, Neapolitan Dreams, Pirouette, cool new single Oh Hark! and an average cover of Dire Straits' Romeo and Juliet later and the set was over. Was that it? Apparently so.

We fought for national pride, for a 30-minute set and no encore? Surprisingly, yes. After a five-minute ‘will she or won’t she’ wait for an encore, Monto’s went from not being able to swing a cat, to a more normal Tuesday night gig scene as the next act set up. And who was it? No-one cares. Lisa was over. With only a vague memory in which to write an appraisal, I went in search of comment to give my review the 'view' it needed, and where better than to start at the top; with someone who definitely was at the front.

A congenial Mitchell - who'd hung around at the bar after her set longer than most of her fans - said she really enjoyed the gig and was blown away with all the support. I have it on good advice too that a local Monto regular was also quite blown away by the level of the Aussie turn-out; overheard at the urinals (like I said, good advice), exclaiming, “I’ve never seen it this packed in here". His equally disgruntled pal reliably informing him, "Yeah. She’s from Australian Idol”. The Pom next to me in the crowd, however, preferred to weigh up the tight situation in fiscal terms: £6 ticket + a beer ÷ 6 song set = £1.33 per song. "Not really value for money," he declared.

Were you near the front and lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Lisa performing? If so, leave your comments below and help Ashlea add some 'view' to her review.

Song Of The Week | Diana Ross

by Little Miss B, 15th March 2010...

Upside Down


You may have noticed it has been unnaturally quiet in The Girls Are camp this week, a condition attributed to our impending move and new website preparations. Behind the scenes, stress, frustration and inevitable meltdowns have been lurking, so in a desperate attempt to cheer ourselves and lift weary spirits, we have dug deep into disco and.... *relax*

Monday, 8 March 2010

Song Of The Week | Fever Ray

by Little Miss B, 8th March 2010...

Keep The Streets Empty For Me

I could list all the reasons she listed, I could say it is because she asked me, I could wax poetical on this choice... But instead, I will just say this is for my darling Layla. Brilliant photographer, brilliant colleague and most wonderful human being. Bisous x

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Read All About It | Girls Girls Girls

by Little Miss B, 4th March 2010...

It's that time again folks: time to get sport your beast threads and head down to the Old Blue Last for another fun-filled all-night all-girl party, hosted by the ever fantastic Dance Magic Dance ladies.

♥ Playing Live ♥
These Damaged Goods darlings mix perfect girl group melodies with no-nonsense punk guitar riffs 
with a result that'll have you dancing, smiling and howling into the small hours.
Glasgow glitter punk outfit ft Jane McKeown of the legendary 90's girl band, Lung Leg.
It's their only London show and it's going to be amazing so be sure not to miss it!
We hold this band very close to our heart, not only does it comprise of our bestest friends in the whole wide world, 
members of The Duloks, Sexual Hot Bitches, Official Secrets Act and our very own Dance Magic Laura, we were there 
when they formed whilst eating pizza and watching End of the Century and Rock 'n Roll Highschool. 
We were there maaan. 
Long live The Ramones.
♥ On the Decks ♥
Ladies from Brightons ace Shebang Magazine 
play their favorite girly tunes.
Stevie! Stevie! Stevie!
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 
Saturday 6th March
8:00pm till late
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 
Facebook event:

Review | Storm In A Teacup

by Little Miss B, 1st March 2010. All photography by Layla Smethurst for The Girls Are...

Becca (Word Play) + Verity + Kissing Kalina @ Storm In A Teacup/Fat Quarter launch, The Victoria, Mile End.

Something is happening in London. 2009 saw an unprecedented increase in lady activity, with female-centric projects seeming to spring to life, left, right and centre. As a result, 2010 promises to be the year of the girl, with aforementioned communities and ventures gaining serious momentum. New to the roster is female arts collective and social enterprise (and wonderfully monikered) Storm In A Teacup, a collaborative endeavour aiming to promote women working (and playing) in the arts. Even though barely a nipper, the project has already escalated with a fanzine, club nights and record label all in the pipeline. Launching the endeavour alongside feminist magazine Fat Quarter, The Girls Are popped along to see what all the fuss was about. 

Becca (Word Play)

I unfortunately missed the spoken word performance by Becca of Word Play fame (TFL, you are going down) but thankfully arrived in plenty of time to hear the welcome speeches, music acts and brilliant DJ (within an hour of arriving, she had played Battant. Sold). Full to the brim with keen onlookers, friends and like-minded individuals, the atmosphere proved supportive and relaxed (when so often, these sorts of things can be a little staid and 'cooler than thou'). 


Founding member of Storm In A Teacup Verity was the second artist to take to the stage, joined only by an acoustic guitar and epic grin. Effortlessly enveloping classic Americana, guttural blues and sweet folk sounds, Verity is a rare breed of performer. Simultaneously theatrical yet utterly without pretence, she laughed her way through a short but impressive set that aptly evinced her powerful, expressive voice. Imagine a young Michelle Shocked (before she went all Gospel). Needless to say, she was greeted with rapturous applause, regulatory 'whoops' and genuine appreciation.

 Kissing Kalina

Kissing Kalina were the last band to step up, and step up they did. This London based-three piece have produced one of my favourite records of late with the colossal and savvy 'Sirens'. With their roots in punk rock and riot grrrl, this band produce an expansive, multi-layered sound: a fascinating and endlessly immersive blend of garage rock, and downright filthy electro overtones. With the moody, stomping bass, the contrast of Dan's high energy performance with bassist Lill E's poise, Viv's frenetic synth swelling from the back corner of the stage, Kissing Kalina played a solid set. Current single 'Here She Comes' was sheer brilliance, and the incessant, sleazy guitar effects spell bound the crowd. This band have swagger, with Lill E's proper Laaaandan accent providing the icing on the free cupcakes doing the rounds.

A brilliant project, hosted by a brilliant team proved to be a brilliant night. Keep your peepers peeled for more from Storm In A Teacup and The Girls Are.

For more on Storm In A Teacup, visit here.


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Review | Goldsmiths Ladyfest

by Little Miss B, 1st March 2010. All photography by Layla Smethurst for The Girls Are...

Bracelettes + PENS + Wetdog + Veronica Falls @ Goldsmiths Ladyfest.
DJ by Girl Germs.
Thurs 25th Feb 2010.

Regular readers will know this is the year of Ladyfest Ten, an anniversary celebrating a decade of lady action, achievements and general awesomeness. Not due to take place until November, expect to see a legion of associated events in the run up. Just like last week's Ladyfest, hosted by the wonderful senoritas at Goldsmith's. The fourth night of a five day run saw inspired line-up, Bracelettes, PENS, Wetdog and Veronica Falls take to the stage. Arriving to an alarmingly empty student union, it was not long before the simple pleasures of such a night became apparent: sofa to sit on, a pint of cider for a mere £2.20, and a smorgasbord of lady-tunes provided by DJ's Girl Germs. Nice. After a brief soundcheck, first support Bracelettes kicked off the proceedings with gusto.


This undeniably charming, London based three piece consists of Ayako (guitar + vox), Satori (bass + vox) and Mark (drums), and I am ashamed to say this is the first time I've seen them live. Another one of those low-fi bands you stumble upon on Myspace, they far outstrip the majority of their contemporaries in terms of flair and skill. With matching bass and guitar, they skipped through a short but accomplished set, never faltering. Their simplistic, surf-inspired, garage rock calls, clearly display a certain level of ardor. This band are tight, slick and well-rehearsed, yet retain a sense of playfulness and spontaneity: a skill in its own right. Obvious comparisons would be to Mika Bomb and the's, with the Bracelettes ladies echoing the rabble-rousing girl chants that Japanese garage rock bands do so well, yet there is a heck of a lot more to these guys. Heavily tattooed Mark, pounding relentlessly at the drums, drove each song smack into the audience, as Ramones-esque bass lines and guitar riffs punctuated the beat. Sharing vocal duties, the girls revelled in playground cat-calls, and we the audience could not help but smile. So popular and impressive were they, we ended up losing our seats, space and prime position as the room filled with keen-bean, old and new fans. Definitely one to watch.


After a brief and stressful trip to the packed bar, The Girls Are favourites PENS were the next band to step up. They played a fantastically chaotic set, with timings and vocals going awry, but as ever, it did not matter. Always managing to stay just the right side of the DIY/low-fi aesthetic vs. just plain shit divide, they cruised through their set with nonchalance, flippancy and a very visible sense of fun. I love a multi-instrumentalist. I love a band who swap instruments. I really do. Now, the PENS ladies can never be described as being particularly proficient on each instrument, but to do so would be to disregard the very thing that makes this band so frackin ace. Consummate crowd-pleasers, and purveyors of some of the catchiest songs I know, it was a crying shame that the vocal levels were sub-par. Without full vox, these songs can become slightly repetitive. However, they were close to the best I have seen them, and yet again, PENS never fail to disappoint.


Wetdog were clearly and irrefutably the most interesting and entertaining band of the night. If you have not seen this three-piece before, I firmly suggest you do so, post-haste. With their undulating, deliciously menacing basslines, their antiquated, eerie guitar parts, and their bizarre, haunting call and response vocals, they sound like no other band I've heard, despite what every review written about them would like us to believe. A vampiric Vivian Girls, a haunted Huggy Bear, all fall short of what this band actually capture. Marching, rhythmic, and brilliantly elemental, the core and crux of this band is their kinship to the human heartbeat, the rhythms of our own bodies, so that even when off-kilter, it is impossible to resist tapping a foot, or nodding one's head when these ladies play. Yet, they remain firmly tongue in cheek, never succumbing to the uber-serious and somewhat tedious discussion surrounding them. What was an interested audience quickly metamorphosed into a frenetic crowd soon after Wetdog launched their musical assault.

Veronica Falls

As ever, Veronica Falls played a faultless set. It would be misleading to state that they get better with each viewing, as this might somehow imply they were ever anything less than impeccable. Beguiling and majestic in equal measure, the Comet Gain-loving four piece managed to get everyone up on their feet, the revellers swamping the band, leaving one big party pit that continued on through the night. Need we say more?

A huge and resounding well done to the organisers of this event.
You should be proud as punch.

To see more photo's from the night, please click here.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Song Of The Week | Tune Yards

by Little Miss B, 1st March 2010...


Ok, I've been a little spaff-happy when it comes to Tune Yards of late, but I just took a stroll through Muswell Hill whilst listening to 'Hatari', and the sun was shining, and people were smiling and it has quite made my day. Enjoy.

The Week In View | 1 - 7 March

by Little Miss B, 1st March 2010...

Super duper. As always, let us know of more.

 Doll And The Kicks @ Barfly

Wed 3rd:
Girl Germs, DMD & Scene not Herd @ Carfter Dark Ladyfest fundraiser, The Victoria
Spit + Elissa Franceshi + Witches of Eastwick @ L*dyGarden, Lock Tavern

Thurs 4th: 
The Complete Short Stories @ Bucks Uni
Doll & The Kicks + Annaca + Sea Fields @ Barfly
Twat Boutique club night @ Dalston Superstore
Peaking Lights + Swallows + Woolf @ Barden's Boudoir

Fri 5th: 
November Fleet + Dimbleby & Capper @ Barfly
Queen Bees club night @ Off Broadway

Sat 6th:
Betty & The Werewolves + The Racket @ Girls Girls Girls, Old Blue Last
The Most Cake Party @ The Book Club

Sun 7th:
Stina And The Soldiers @ Barfly