Sound Check: January 2008

News and reviews of queer women in music.

A new year brings a gaggle of new shows and tour announcements, and 2008 is already shaping up to be a great year for music, with hot releases from queer women lined up early on. There are plenty of musical distractions to keep you busy while you wait for Patty Larkin to drop Watch the Sky later this month, especially if you’re still catching up on all the great sounds of 2007.

Live Onstage

Seeing The Sounds play live is a great way to end the year on a high note. Maja Ivarsson is the Swedish band’s bisexual, platinum-blond singer, and her stage presence is dynamic.

Starting off a mid-December show at Chicago’s Vic Theater with the band’s 2002 hit single “Living in America,” Ivarsson riled up the crowd. Not that they needed to be prodded. Her tight, black hot pants exposed her long, white legs, and her leather jacket hugged her torso but was flexible enough to follow her every dance move.

Performing songs from the band’s two albums, Ivarsson jumped on the drum set and on top of her bandmates’ amps in her tiny heels. She always maintained her balance and her sassy poise while flipping her ponytail and cheerily swearing at the crowd in her Swedish accent.

Ivarsson’s staccato vocals are easy to follow and pleasantly reminiscent of Blondie’s Debbie Harry circa 1979, when “Heart of Glass” was a disco-pop sensation. The Sounds came out of the dance-rock resuscitation of a couple of years ago, but they showed their staying power with their new-wave sophomore album, Dying to Say This to You, in 2006.

A band that certainly records well, The Sounds are a spectacle that should be experienced live, thanks to Ivarsson’s sexy rock ‘n’ roll stylings.

Releases Reviewed

A band that is friends with Tegan and Sara practically has their seal of approval, so Iron On has a lot to live up to with their EP, The Verse. The Australian quartet has been recognized in their homeland as local talent since 2002, but 2008 could be Iron On’s year abroad.

Watch the video for “One Man Band” by Iron On below:


The Verse is five songs of romantic indie rock with Sleater-Kinney-esqe riffs and dueling male and female vocals. Fans of Mates of State, Rilo Kiley, and Matt and Kim will appreciate the exchanges and harmonies shared between out guitarist-singer Kate Cooper and Ross Hope. On “One Man Band,” the first track, they share vocal duties without struggling or overpowering each other. Alternating lead vocals on the subsequent songs, both have the opportunity to show off their solo skills. Kate sounds especially great on the sullen “Snow.”