I spend a lot of time trolling YouTube for obscure punk, post-punk, darkwave, and associated fringe music. It’s a compulsion, although I remain conflicted over listening to this music without paying for it. If YouTube was like an all-you-can-eat buffet where you paid one price and could gorge on as much music as you wanted, I would gladly pay that fixed price (provided it went directly to the musicians). And frankly, I’m surprised YouTube has not yet gone the subscription route, though I suspect such a fate is not far off. The fact is that I cannot afford to individually support every musician I listen to on YouTube by buying their music, if it’s even still available for purchase, which it very often is not since most of these bands are inactive and/or have no web presence. And I should clarify that I do still pay for music. If there is a band that I really enjoy and find myself repeatedly wanting to listen to their music, I will seek them out and if their music is available to purchase somewhere I will buy it. But with many of the bands I find, I’m just sampling them and moving on. Only a select few do I find myself returning to listen again. In this respect YouTube is a good place to do music research, and so perhaps it’s not such a bad thing if it leads to people buying music they otherwise would not have known about. With that in mind here are a couple of my recent finds below. And I should add, as many music-uploading YouTube users often do: if you like these bands, please support them by buying their albums! The Au Pairs albums can be hard to find but they are still out there in various formats. And the Poison Girls website offers most of their releases as downloads, with a PayPal ‘honesty box’ for payments.
Au Pairs – Fronted by lesbian-feminist Lesley Woods, whose lyrics both skewered sexual and social politics and celebrated sexuality from a woman’s perspective, the Au Pairs played post-punk occasionally reminiscent of Gang of Four, with its prominent funk-inspired bass and trebly guitar. Their second LP ‘Sense and Sensuality’ found them straying even more into jazz and funk territory. Here’s a fantastic live track from that album. Also check out this episode of Post Punk Britain from earlier this year featuring an interview with Woods, a playlist chosen by her (including several Au Pairs songs), and a new song she recorded for the show.
Poison Girls – An anarcho-punk band led by Vi Subversa, a middle-aged mother of two, Poison Girls were early contemporaries of Crass and recorded their first single on Crass Records. But they weren’t a typical anarcho-punk band (if there is such a thing), and later went their own musical way. From what I’ve read of their story, it’s more interesting than that of Crass and the rest of that milieu, but I’m always more captivated by the outsiders, even in a scene already far outside the mainstream. Vi’s lyrics, capturing the perspective of a smart woman growing older as she continues to rail against the patriarchy, communicated an experience not commonly heard at the time in punk music. And the music was certainly not run-of-the-mill, either.