We all know that genres exist in music. As much as Rain, the liberal arts music major from down the street, would argue against it, genres will be there whether we like it or not. Sure they unnecessarily divide music in some cases, and perhaps they dampen some aspects of the creative process by drawing lines between musical thoughts, but that doesn’t mean they’ll go away anytime soon. Within those genre divides, there are even more cracks in the pavement. One of these divides is the famous “Bands vs. Girl Bands” type of thinking, and I’m here to say that that’s some shit. In music culture, there are still people who think Girl Bands are for females, and all other bands (meaning Male Bands) are for everyone. That is, equally, some shit. This little thing I’ll do every once in awhile here on Grrl Punch isn’t to further that divide. It isn’t to set up cracks in the musical pavement already constantly up broken by class, culture, race, and gender. And mostly, it isn’t to look down on female-lead bands because they “need help” or because they’re not going to be as good as male-lead bands. I’m doing this to allow people, you guys, to catch up with years and years (even extending into current day) of the rich history of female-lead bands (this can include all-female bands, bands with female songwriters, and just bands with female singers). Even though the indie scene has been viewed in the past as a forward thinking culture, all genres, including indie, still hold up these strange, subconscious divides. That’s what I’m trying to help. If you’re a fan of any of the bands I cover, support the shit out of them. Chances are, they might not be getting as coverage as they deserve simply because they’re a female-lead band. To reiterate, that’s some shit
Let’s get the ball rolling with a current one. It’ll be shorter this time due to the preamble.
Zentropy is one of forty albums by Frankie Cosmos (the stage name for Greta Kline), and it’s a damn good one. On first listen, the word “simple” might pop out at you. For example, Kline, in her wispy tone, opens the album with the lines “art school makes you wild/real school makes you wanna get high/high school makes you crazy/high school made me cry.” Do not let this aesthetic choice fool you. Zentropy is an album that tells of universal feelings that we all hide, it just so happens to do so in a simplistic style. Let me explain.
For many reasons, a lot of people believe certain emotions or feelings exist in relation to age, gender, or any other strange box. Cosmos’ beautiful, geniously written (she is studying poetry at NYU, bygolly) songs would argue against that. Some might say that “Buses Splash with Rain” is a distinctly “feminine” song: “I’m the kind of girl buses splash with rain/…Look mom, I’m hobbling through/I’m gonna be a painter too.” Although, on deeper listens, it becomes apparent that “distinctly feminine” doesn’t make quite as much as much sense as you’d think. Everyone, I would argue, has felt like the kind of person that buses splash with rain. Everyone has had preconceived ideals(whether they’re from parents or elsewhere) that they want to live up to. The last track of the album, the heart-wrenching “Sad,” is about Kline’s canine-friend Joe Joe: “He was just a dog/Now his body’s gone.” Again, many might find the questioning of why her dog has died and her wishing he wasn’t gone as juvenile, distinctly feminine, and naive. I would argue, in contrast, that those who hide their feelings in such a time are the truly juvenile ones. Dogs are beings that exuberate pure joy and happiness that live for your affection. When they die, it’s fucking sad. Furthermore, it can be equally sad when you’re reminded how lonely you are due to recurring memories of times when you were happy: “I’m lonely/I’m sitting where we’d sit.” To say that this melancholy feeling is juvenile and feminine is to completely shut one’s self off from the idea of emotions completely. Emotions are shared they are felt and thought of differently from person to person, but the essentials are there for everyone. Zentropy is a testament to the fact that no emotions exist in a vacuum, and no emotion is better than, worse than, juvenile, or old-hat. They’re just fucking emotions.
To speak on the music, every song on this thing is fantastic. The melodies soar over you, and they tend to just get more and more stuck in your head with every listen. Harmonies, tempo changes, fantastic guitar-leads: all of these are tools in Kline’s three-person symphony, and all sound great. The musical prowess and experience Kline holds synchronizes incredibly well with her poetry and well-grounded view on the world around her. And that’s pretty special: not a lot of albums can say that they hold up that balance as well as Zentropy does, seventeen minutes or not.
Buses Splash with Rain
~ Chris Wright