In music, genres are kind of silly. They’re like filing cabinets- helpful for classifying and organizing a large volume of information, but more or less unnecessary in the 21st century. When you’re sifting through subgenres as unwieldy as shoegaze and dreampop and trap and grime rock and so much more, you wonder why any of these made-up labels really even matter. Furthermore, relying on genres to talk about music can have the unintentional effect of putting said music in a box, which is reductive. Think of all the fantastic music out there that’s classified as pop- and think of the perhaps-not-so-flattering image that would auto-populate your mind if you read a review calling said music pop. It’s like labeling people, as hipsters, sorority girls, nerds, stoners, whatever else- genres don’t tell the full story.
I’m going on this rant because I want to talk about some music for which I simply cannot genre-fy (or refuse to genre-fy).
Although I’m on an anti-genre, anti-labeling rampage today, I do fully support drawing connections between artists- you know, XX sounds like YY and would be fantastic playing a festival with ZZ(top, ha). Finding artists similar to your old faves- whether it’s through a friend’s recommendation or a local show or Spotify’s automated Discover feature- is a great way to broaden your musical horizons and make killer thematic playlists. So when I first listened to badass Spanish band Hinds, I was tickled by how much they sounded like badass American band Chastity Belt. That’s not to dismiss either as a cheap, across-the-Atlantic knockoff, of course- but if you’re into one I can guarantee you’ll dig the other.
An aside: aesthetically, I generally identify as somewhere between “dirty hippie” and “yes, leggings are pants.” The women of Hinds have made me rethink this ~look~ of mine with the way they pull off red lipstick, unkempt hair, baggy normcore, and the baddest garage rock I’ve heard in ages (Oops, I genre-d. Sorry). It takes some serious influencing to make me rethink my decisions regarding socks and Birkenstocks- and that’s what my time with Hinds has done to me. I might start wearing lipstick if I can find mine– and this is major. That being said, Hinds is about way, way more than sheer visual appeal. Back to the point.
I hesitate to call any band a ~girl band~ (even though I’m never shy to profess my love for angry girl rock), but shit dude, it sure does feel good to see people who also have vaginas writing, playing and recording really sick music in an arena that’s always been more or less a boys’ club. Plus, the four undeniably boss bitches of Hinds don’t try to subvert their femininity in order to be a part of said boys’ club, as many artists and other women in male-dominated fields do. Their videos have this sick girl-gang aesthetic that makes you want to hop the next redeye to Madrid and drink beer on their couch for a week (and let them do your makeup too, because that lipstick’s on point). So yes, Hinds is a ~girl band~ and that is part of the reason why I’m so into them.
But they also sound hella good.
Definitely give “Bamboo” a listen (and watch the video, I linked to it above)- it’s my favorite tune of theirs. “Bamboo,” as well as the rest of their work, has this great lo-fi feel to it, like something you’d hear at a funky house show down the street. But the band’s original (since 2011; there are now four women in Hinds) two members, Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote, also have fantastically complementary voices that alternate between smooth and gravelly in time with the band’s stripped-down guitar riffs. Their lyrics (in English) are a little nonsensical at times (remember, they’re Spanish), but also pretty clever (see: “Chili Town”), feminist, and occasionally fuck you-y. I’m mildly devastated that I started listening to Hinds long after I left España, because I just know they’d put on a killer show. But hey, it’s almost SXSW time again, so who knows…
Oh, and they’re dropping an album this week. Fuckin’ YAS.
When I first listened to Hinds, I immediately thought of Chastity Belt. Again, not hyped on the term ~girl band~, but Chastity Belt is a fucking fantastic pillar of girl band-itude. If they’re not on your drinking-male-tears-with-your-girlfriends-while-casting-spells-on-all-your-exes playlist, you’re simply doing it wrong. Chastity Belt is Hinds’ Pacific Northwest band-twin. With stripped-down tunes, a DIY feel, and stellar songwriting, Chastity Belt turns the notion of garage rock as a male occupation on its fucking head in a major way. “Cool Slut” is a feminist anthem (because, repeat after me: WOMEN ENJOY SEX AND CAN DO SO WITH WHOMEVER WE PLEASE AS OFTEN AS WE PLEASE) and the band’s first album, No Regerts, offers up some wonderfully inane house party-type tunes. It’s their second album, though, that really shines. Time to Go Home is the hangover to No Regerts’ binge. The album’s title track and “Joke” are my favorites, as they perfectly encapsulate that feeling of realizing, as you stumble your way to the bathroom to puke the next morning, that, despite your ever-advancing age, your life is still kind of a shitshow, and you’re getting to a point where that may no longer be okay. But it will be okay, thanks to a thread of ironic detachment that winds its way through the album and the occasional reminder (like “Cool Slut”) that there’s really no need to take your shit that seriously.
Hinds and Chastity Belt have a similar sound, obviously. I guess we could go with like “lo-fi” or “indie” or “garage” as a label (but wtf do these things actually mean? I do not know). There are differences between the two bands, naturally- you’d best believe I’m not gonna lump these babes together because they’re both ~girl bands~ who make similarly-genred music- but I’d say that they both represent the same movement. Rock music isn’t a boys’ club anymore. So many of today’s ass-kickers and innovators in rock are women (who are demanding your fucking respect, btw). And this is happening all over too, from Seattle to Madrid to everywhere else where young women are picking up guitars and uploading to Bandcamp. Women in rock (and pop, and hip hop, and fucking opera for all I know) are defying genres as they shatter stereotypes, creating a new generation of unclassifiable icons for fangirls like me who were too intimidated by all the boys in the room when they took guitar lessons as kids.
And that’s pretty cool, if you ask me.