VV Brown / Tigs (Chew Lips)

It’s depressingly true, but female musicians are often judged more on their aesthetic value than on their overriding musical abilities.

This is sometimes the unavoidable curse of our sex, but it is in no way immutable. Just look at Beth Ditto. Defying convention and putting two fingers up to those judgmental bastards, the ferocious front woman stormed back onto the scene earlier this year with Gossip’s fourth studio album, ‘Music For Men.’ And she didn’t disappoint.

This raucous American has certainly broken the mould in a number of ways, gaining widespread critical acclaim and oodles of respect for her talent as a chanteuse and not as a visual stimulant for the male libido. And she joins the stellar line-up of women who have this year made waves and pushed boundaries for the sake of music. Yes, 2009 has certainly been their time to shine.

With Karen O and her third album ‘It’s Blitz’ making it to the top of everyone’s list, she proved that she has the longevity required to make a serious mark in the Noughties hall of fame. And Speech Debelle’s modest Mercury win earned another point for us girls, as well as emphasising the rich variety of talent that exists out there in the feminine ether.
So, with established artists adding to their already sparkly repertoire and newer acts breaking through the frequently unyielding wall of the music industry, the fairer sex have done pretty well for themselves this year, it must be said.


VV Brown

VV Brown is often known more for her bonce than her beats.

Indeed, breathing life into a Fifties-inspired hairdo - the quiff - she was one of the music world’s most celebrated fashion pin-ups this year. You only had to walk down any British street this summer and clock the throngs of coiffeured girls to really appreciate the wide-reaching impact of her impeccable retro style.

But she definitely has tunes. A soulful addition to the women of 2009, VV Brown - AKA Vanessa Brown - offers her own delicious blend of funk and pop (with an emphasis on all things indie), making her both radio-friendly and worthy of sincere critical adulation at the same time.

And she exhausted the festival circuit too this year, singing her heart out to the receptive crowds at Glastonbury, Bestival and the Camden Crawl.

Prematurely elevated to goddess-like status by her hordes of commentators even before the album’s physical release, Vanessa drummed up quite a furore with her heavily anticipated debut ‘Travelling Like The Light’. But the towering fashionista delivered the goods, proving that she has the substance, style and potential staying power of a true Noughties diva.

Words by April Welsh


Tigs (Chew Lips)

2009 saw the emergence of an elfin firecracker in the form of Chew Lips’ sassy singer Tigs, and the UK music scene is all the brighter for it.

Despite the fact that the band haven’t even released an album yet - debut ‘Unicorn’ is set to be released early next year - the trio have made big waves this year, catapulted from obscurity by Steve Lamacq’s support into a heady mix of non-stop festival appearances and two single releases on Kitsune.

“You don’t really expect anything when you start a band,” she muses. “Five shows in and we found ourselves playing to an industry crowd. Nine shows in and we played to Lamacq. Sometimes it all happens quite quickly. I wish we’d had a bit more time to make ourselves good before we got attention, but you can’t control these things.”

While bandmates James Watkins and Will Sanderson are obviously brilliant at what they do - sparse and simple guitars, bleeps and sampling layered to great effect - it is the strength and flourish of Tigs’ voice that adds a certain sparkle to the electro-pop mix.

Never one to shy away from controversy, this stylish motormouth isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Chew Lips’ biography says it all: “In journalistic parlance, she gives good copy.”

We look forward to seeing 2010 lit up by this explosive individual.

Words by Laura Foster

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