Girls, girls, girls

Pub date October 28, 2009
SectionMusicSectionSonic Reducer
SONIC REDUCER Ladies first. As pop’s lads rotate in and out of the dawg house — and Lil Wayne pleads guilty to gun possession and Chris Brown decides to "Crawl" — the time has come for the XX-chromosome set to rise to the occasion: Girls, girls, no pushing, shoving, or elbows to the knockers. Just kick it on record, all ye femme talents, past, present, and future.

Tomorrow — and yesterday — is the way for the all-girl Brilliant Colors. Spend a little quiet time with the SF threesome’s bracing, brief, brand-spanking Introducing (Slumberland), and let the Ramones-y distortion rumble and tumble till you’re completely prepped for the sweet-tart twee revolution in full effect with labelmates like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the Mantles, and Summer Cats. Yes, Flying Nun’s twirling primitivism and an early punk naivete that tags both Half Japanese and Huggy Bear, as well as a purity of ultra-lo-fi sound and singularity of concept, will take BC far. It’s low key but brilliant in its own way: viva la Bay girl-band revolution.

"Aiiii!" That’s the sound of Madonna in the play zone, in full celebratory mode, on the now sorely dated-sounding "Ray of Light," smack in the center of the first disc of Celebration (Warner Bros.), the newly remastered greatest-hits comp cherry-picked by M’lady and her fans. Now that’s the cry of an icon. Project Runway‘s star-struck, untutored Christopher Straub was flying his freakily clueless flag when he recently raved of Christina Aguilera, "She’s an icon!" Despite "Beautiful," the petite ex-Mickey Mouser isn’t quite among the ranks of the veneration-worthy (especially after her Runway appearance in a cliché Halloween-ready putf8um wig).

Madonna, however, remains rich with symbolism, themes, and variations, worthy of dissection — she’s always striven for more than mere chart-topping ack-shun, and Celebration draws from a deep well of work, silly or no. You can trim a third of the tunes on the 36-track compilation, which sports a cover that brashly appropriates Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, and still have enough ear-teasers and ideas to qualify for canonization — even as a tiny-town chorus of itty-bitty backing robots bleat, "I heard it all before! I heard it all before! I heard it all before!" on "Sorry." Fifty-one years young — with arms that look alternately enviable, emancipated, and emaciated — Madonna is waving her label farewell with this nail in the coffers of the $408 million Sticky and Sweet Tour. Only two numbers, "4 Minutes" and "Miles Away," are culled from her most recent studio full-length, Hard Candy (Warner Bros., 2008). Tacked on are the new dancefloor-hailing "Celebration" and "Revolver," with Lil Wayne and its prescient references to the rapper’s gun charges and its vocal cribs from Rihanna.

How does Mad’s seemingly throwaway pop stand up so many years along? Why bother gathering these songs in one/two places for the third time? Celebration‘s first tracks — "Hung Up," "Music," and the surprisingly resilient "Vogue" — make a powerhouse aerobic class troika. "Like a Virgin" feels fun and faintly fresh, while "Into the Groove" suffers from oversaturation. "Like a Prayer" seems less subversive, sans video, and more overworked than one might recall, and "Ray of Light" rings especially awkward in its forced glee. Still, the synth-rocker "Burning Up" is delightfully cheesy-cool, and "Secret" and "Borderline" glow with unexpectedly solid pop craft — though, wait, did Madonna actually ask for "more tuna" — "mucho maguro" — on "Sorry"?

Speaking of Japanese morsels, pass the beat and throw in a slew of "Ai"’s, "Eya-eya"’s, and other assorted vocables while you’re at it, when it comes to OOIOO’s gloriously raucous ARMONICO HEWA (Thrill Jockey). The sixth album by the all-woman unit organized by the Boredoms’ Yoshimi is a dizzyingly deep swirl of tribal drumming and mechanistic guitar blurt ("Uda Hah"), awash with elastic synths ("Ulda") and leaping, lilting girlish vocals that point to the breath as the way of all things ("Konjo"). Here, OOIOO manage to be beautiful and wild at exactly the same time.



Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart, This Song is a Mess But So Am I’s Freddy Ruppert and Zola Jesus’ Nika Roza join forces to make spectral synthpop. With White Hinterland and Common Eider King Eider. Wed/28, 9 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF.


Their business is ass-kicking, and business is … big. With Triclops! Mon/2, 10 p.m. $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF.