These Women Make Texas Rock!

The San Antonio rock trio Girl in a Coma recently played the famed lesbian bar Sue Ellen’s on after two earlier shows in Corpus Christi and Austin. But they’re not the only lesbian band in Texas, you know. In fact, if you took a look at last year’s South by Southwest music lineup, you would have found five lesbian musicians all homegrown in the Lone Star State.
By: Daniel Villarreal
March 04 2013 3:35 PM

The San Antonio rock trio Girl in a Coma recently played the famed lesbian bar Sue Ellen’s on after two earlier shows in Corpus Christi and Austin. But they’re not the only lesbian band in Texas, you know.

In fact, if you took a look at last year’s South by Southwest music lineup, you would have found five lesbian musicians all homegrown in the Lone Star State.

As their collective stars rise nationwide and notoriety increases, Texans can take pride that such phenomenal talent first shone in their own backyard.

Agent Ribbons

The treehouse duo of Natalie Gordon and Naomi Cherie delight in making poetic collages out of whatever curios they find lying around, whether that’s birds nests, rusted playground equipment or Russian dolls.

In their song “Family Haircut” from their 2012 release  Let Them Talk, the band laments an unrequited love currently caught in a bad relationship by turning all sorts of junkyard material into beautiful metaphors:

“Heard you calling in the static of the night / A restless heart is like a satellite… How’d you like an arrow through the heart? / She asked / How’d you like some water in a tall tall glass?”

Admittedly, the Austin-based band originally hails from Sacramento, California. But their lyrical tunes about love and loss, wonder and wondering strike a timeless chord, making listeners feel like kids again; only kids with a bit more wisdom tinting their rose-colored world.

The video for their song “Family Haircut” is below. 

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Sarah Jaffe

Though Jaffe hails from Denton, the singer songwriter's musical genre is a bit harder to place.

Her tremendous voice and confessional lyrics in her first, widely acclaimed album Suburban Nature might have qualified her as a folk singer, were it not for the complex atmospheric effects giving her songs a rich, complex undertone.

Jaffe's strumming guitar and wistful tunes about damaged relationships could have passed for country music, were it not for the orchestral string arrangements increasing each song's emotional power.

On her second album The Body Wins she widens her musical range by  vocal distortion, bass and beats into her personal portraits of a self-aware woman nevertheless in wading doubt. Folk? Country?! Forget it.

On "Halfway Right," Jaffe sings, "Saw to get you off was to let me slide/ I make it seem lighthearted to see halfway right/ And when you got there to see it from the outside/ It was really just a matter of playing the victim right."

As she croons, a drum  repeats like a heartbeat, raising the tension as the piano's low notes add to the urgency. But as with many of her songs, the instrumentation eventually lifts into a catchy rhythm, keeping the song from crumbling into an emotional hole.

In short, Jaffe doesn't fit neatly into the country or folk music boxes because she's willing to experiment with the most compelling ways to tell her stories and match her incredibly commanding voice.

Jaffe is currently playing shows in Phoenix and LA. Below is her track "Vulnerable" from album The Body Wins.

 

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Patrice Pike

For a while after her 2006 song "Beautiful Thing" helped land her a spot as the youngest inductee in the Texas Music Hall of Fame, Austin-born Patrice Pike talked about releasing an album tentatively titled Beautiful Things.

But since her rock-and-roll beginnings — as a member of Sister 7, a touring band with the Lilith and HORDE festivals, and a performer at Austin City Limits and the Kerrville Folk Festival — she has since found "a true home away from home" in the tiny gold rush town of Murphys, California where she performs her latest material at the intimate Black Bart Theater.

Her songs these days have a decidedly soul and R&B feel to them (just listen to "Hold You" below). The music still emits the  rock-and-roll passion of her earlier work but feels a bit more controlled, perhaps the result of her many artistic collaborations and live performances around Europe and the U.S. since Sister 7 broke up over a decade ago.

She released several live, digital albums of her work at the Black Bart theater in 2011, but we can only hope for an eventual full-album release sometime soon.

 

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Girl In A Coma

Whether you like punk, rockabilly, 90s alternative, Tejano music, indie or classic rock and roll, rancheras, the San Antonio trio of Girl In A Coma has got a tune for you.

The two-thirds lesbian band excels at weaving a web of alluring songs that first draw you in with Nina Diaz's expressive vocals and then rock you out with her sister Phannie's head-banging drums (not to mention Jenn Alva's shredding guitar).

True to their eclectic style, in 2010 Girl in a Coma released an album full of covers — including a rocking replay of Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight," a hypnotic minimal version of New Order's "Transmission" and cover of the The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that replaces the original's wistful acoustics with an empowering electric guitar.

But their most recent album Exits & All the Rest — which helped snag them two nominations in the 2012 Independent Music Awards — bristles with emotional energy whether they're wailing for love, spinning a unique pop melody or railing against Arizona's controversial “show your papers” immigration law.

True to their bold style, the band will play in Arizona’s capitol this April — papers be damned.

Watch the video for "Smart" from Exits & All the Rest below: 

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