Friday, May 1, 2009

Mika Miko…and the daily drama

I really liked this new album by Mika Miko, whom I’m pretty sure I saw not this year but last at SXSW, though maybe just the tail end of their set. One of the things that I liked most about the album is that while they are mostly female and empowered and all that…they seem mostly to be in it for the music, rather than scoring feminist points. Myself, I am definitely a feminist, but more in the “pay me what you’d pay a man” sense, than the “please don’t ever say anything that might offend me” politically correct sense…which makes me a little bit sick to my stomach.

So anyway, that Mika Miko review, up today at Dusted:

Mika Miko is the mostly female mainstay of LA’s Smell Scene, a skittery, no-wave five-piece, whose jagged rhythms, blunt alto-chanted non sequiturs and staccato guitars recall late 1970s bands like Delta 5, Liliput and the Raincoats. There’s one male member now – new drummer Seth Dunham – but the energy is like an all-women’s dorm at 3 a.m., raunchy jokes, shrieks of laughter and late night snacking (the album features not one but two songs about wanting a “Turkey Sandwich”). Yet, while there’s no getting around the fact that Mika Miko is predominately female, they’ve got no interest in girl-band clichés. Mika Miko doesn’t really try to exploit its members’ sexuality, a la the Donnas or the Runaways. It doesn’t try to score ideological points, like Bikini Kill, Erase Errata or Sleater-Kinney. The message is matter of factly post-feminist: We’re girls. We’re in a band. Get over it.


Here they are playing “Wild Bore” and “Capricornations”

Also, I finally severed ties to PopMatters last night. I’ve been feeling not-very-valued there for some time. I stopped doing CD reviews last summer, when it became clear that if anyone else asked for a record, I wasn’t going to get it – and in fact, I hadn’t had a competitive assignment since Elvis Costello’s Momufuku, which, I was having some email problems and I might have asked for several times in one day…I’ve also had some issues with features, too, like for instance, when I went to see Chiche Libre last summer, Olivier told me that I was the first person to ask for an interview, on the EP rather than the album. We could have been early on a band that got press in the New Yorker, the New York Times etc, but instead, we waited five months and ran it slightly behind everyone else. My Fennesz piece, which was the #5 most read article on PopMatters yesterday, sat in the vault for four months. I’ve stayed with it mostly because I can’t find anywhere else to do interviews, but enough is enough.

The tipping point was a DVD review which, admittedly, I was late on. I got three emails on it yesterday, the first time anyone had contacted me. The first was a list of DVDs that were overdue. The second was a one-line note that this particular DVD was overdue (two hours later, maybe). I said I’d do it over the weekend and left to coach track. Then when I got back, the editor had posted asking someone else to do the review. This seems unnecessarily bitchy to me, but not out of character.

The thing is that PopMatters is absolutely the most impersonal site that I write for. There’s none of that community feeling that you had at Splendid or have at Dusted…not even the kind of informal back and forth with editors that I get, occasionally, at PW and Venus. You enter your little pieces into the database and then weeks or months later, they appear on the site. It’s like working for a widget factory, except without the paycheck.

I will sort of miss doing show reviews…though I can do some of them for Blurt. If I go to SXSW again, though, it’ll most likely be on my own.

So anyway, onward…

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