Wax Lyrical – Women in Music

Today being White Ribbon Day here in Australia, I thought I’d do something a bit different and rattle off my ten favourite female musicians and celebrate their contribution to the music industry. These are in no order and are completely my own opinion.

Hope Sandoval – The Mazzy Star vocalist is a rare gift with an ethereal quality. Her partnership with guitarist Dave Roback delivered three excellent albums throughout the 90s, each one a dreamy, shoegaze musing. Hope’s vocals floated on top and took the listener to the darker reaches of introspection, but never abandoned us there, merely guided us through. Unabashedly shy, Hope often performs in darkness – I was lucky enough to attend a concert at the Sydney Opera House in 2018 – it’s certainly an odd experience to attend a concert where all the lights are out! It was to promote the Vivid Light Festival, no less; there’s some wonderful irony in that.

Essential listening: She Hangs Brightly (1990), So Tonight That I Might See (1993), Among My Swan (1996).

St. Vincent (Annie Clark) – known better by her stage name St. Vincent, Annie is a breath of fresh air in the overproduced popular music scene of the 21st century. In these musical dark ages, she dares to sound unique, and like any great artist, is constantly changing things up and producing one excellent album after another. I feel that the best is yet to come with Annie, despite her already impressive discography. She plays her own instruments, sings her own songs, writes her own ideas – I reckon many will agree, that’s a big deal in these days of trap-beat autotune bullshit.

Essential listening: Masseducation (2018), Daddy’s Home (2021).

Patti Smith – Proved that the girls can match it with the rougher side of contemporary rock music. Patti’s punk-infused musicianship made a good mix with her skills as a poet, lending her to become a staple of the art rock scene. Also a fine writer, Patti has several books including the brilliant Just Kids. Her 1975 album Horses stands as one of my all time favourites, which opens with the loud brashness of Gloria, and never misses a beat after.

Essential listening: Horses (1975), Wave (1979).

Siouxsie Sioux – The dusky jewel in the crown of new-wave and gothic, Siouxsie is iconic in more ways than one, be it her spider-like hair and heavy makeup, or the tortured anguish evoked from her music with the Banshees. She bashed down the door that stands between all of us and our deepest insecurities, our ominous thoughts, and brought them to the forefront – nobody dares to say what we all think sometimes, nobody but Siouxsie.

Essential listening: Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982).

PJ Harvey – I feel Polly Jean is often underappreciated for what she’s contributed to the modern music scene, from her early days rocking out in a trio to her many excellent solo albums. Taking the over-sexualisation of female musicians and completely owning it for herself, PJ adds bite and dares anyone to challenge her. This best exemplified on the album Rid of Me, where the lyrics talk of twisting off the heads of her wrongdoers, or becoming ‘man-sized and being skinned alive’. Visceral stuff. My personal favourite album of hers is 2011’s Let England Shake – a dark folky romp that talks of the horrors of war.

Essential listening: Rid of Me (1993), Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000), Let England Shake (2011).

Grace Slick – Vocalist for Jefferson Airplane, and a poster girl for 60s psychedelia, Grace had a beautiful free spirit that gave Jefferson Airplane an edge over their contemporaries. It says a lot about her ability that the band really took off once she joined. Whether she was singing lead or providing perfect harmonies, her voice soared. Her song White Rabbit became the anthem of hippie culture, building constantly in one long crescendo.

Essential listening: Surrealistic Pillow (1967), Crown of Creation (1968), Volunteers (1969).

Breanna Barbara – The next three entries here will take us to some of the lesser known but no less excellent indie musicians of today. I can’t exactly remember how or when I first listened to Breanna, but her 2016 album Mirage Dreams is utterly brilliant, carrying a tinge of psych rock mixed with the blues and some awesome slide guitar. Her singing is soulful and perfectly suited to each track, best heard in her unrestrained coyote howls in the title track. I truly hope to hear more from her in the coming years.

Essential listening: Mirage Dreams (2016).

Tess Parks – Another hidden gem of the modern indie scene, Tess has a beautiful huskiness in her voice that carries well over her spacy psychedelic guitar work. Somewhere between Patti Smith and Hope Sandoval, but no less unique, Tess has collaborated extensively with Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe, and the two have produced some great stuff I can’t recommend highly enough. An absolute breath of fresh air in today’s music scene, she is equal parts classic throwback and pioneer, and like Breanna, I hope to hear more music from her in the future.

Essential listening: Blood Hot (2013), I Declare Nothing (2015).

Warpaint – The ladies from Warpaint have put out a number of great albums and have developed a beautifully plaintive sound that begs for long listening sessions across their entire discography. Their songs are often moody dirges to get lost in, as I feel their transcending of multiple genres results in something unlike anything else you’ll hear. Emily, Theresa, Jenny and Stella certainly deserve credit for their great synergy.

Essential listening: Exquisite Corpse (2008), The Fool (2010).

Joni Mitchell – What else can you say? She’s the queen. From her deeply personable songwriting to her truly unique guitar style, Joni Mitchell has pioneered for many musicians that have come after her. Also a skilled visual artist, Joni had to learn guitar while suffering from polio, which led to her tuning her instrument in odd ways to compensate. The result is a distinct sound that has endured for many decades. She had often been referred to as a female Bob Dylan, but that ain’t it – she’s Joni Mitchell.

Essential listening: Blue (1971), Hejira (1976).

From the White Ribbon website: Men’s violence against women is a social issue. It’s everybody’s issue to help end. Did you know: on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. You can help change that statistic by raising much needed funds for White Ribbon’s important primary prevention work in schools, workplaces and communities around Australia.

Visit whiteribbon.org.au for more information.

Stand up, speak out, and act to prevent men’s violence against women.

Free Reads for Halloween – Available Limited Time Only

Tenebrae Manor and The Will of the Wisp are free to download on Amazon Kindle from 27 October to 31 October; just in time for a Halloween read!

Click the book covers to go to the purchase page.

Have a frightful Halloween….

Halloween Month Giveaways

October has rocked around again, which means it’s time for a couple of free book giveaways!

Tenebrae Manor and The Will of the Wisp will be free to download on Amazon Kindle from 27 October to 31 October; just in time for a Halloween read!

And for those that don’t want to wait – my poetry collection, Vignettes – An Anthology is free to download right now. Click the images for more information.


At some certain point along the way, his home changed. Things weren’t in their usual spot, with some things seemingly vanishing. He missed the old crimson wallpaper, with the little avian patterns on it, where he would get lost for hours staring at it with his daughter. There’s a pelican, dad, she would say, and he would notice a cockatoo with a crest the size of its body. It must’ve been his daughter who rearranged his room and belongings; she had said she would, after her mother had gone, dad you should shake things up, it’s the best way to move forward. She was young though, his daughter. Didn’t understand the sentiments garnered upon material objects with time. He only wished she might have told him she was going ahead with such big changes, for now he couldn’t find the new spot for his house keys, and that nanny she hired wasn’t much cop either. That nanny must change her hair everyday; young folk messing with their hair all the time, at times he thought it was silly, other times he’d love to throw a bottle of dye at his scalp and see what the fuss was about. He’d done it once, at his wife’s bequest; too much salt in the pepper these days, why not get that old hue back on the noggin’, tall dark handsome thing you are. She often teased him like that, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Their son thought it was gross, but he was a teenager, he wouldn’t understand the playfulness of mum and dad married for decades. Stop holding hands, you’re not young flames anymore. He would visit the coffee shop every day he could, hoping to catch a glimpse of her behind the machine, her bracelets jangling away like birds on a wire while she worked the grinder. He knew they’d one day marry, meant to be and all that, she’d pour little heart patterns on top of his coffee, flourish the letters of his name with stars as she wrote his order down on the paper cup. One day the coffee shop had been closed, burst water main or something like that, and he’d been so distressed when the nanny had found him. He remembered her that day, angry yet relieved to see him, and my goodness did she give it to him. He protested to her, why do you care what I do, I can come and get a coffee damn it; but then his anger subsided into wonderment, for he saw the coffee shop window had a new display of tapestry and clothing – a strange thing to sell in a cafe, they must be expanding their business; he knew a lot of people did that these days. When they arrived home he noticed the white picket fence had been replaced with red bricks. He knew it had been old, but did they really have to go and rip out the whole thing? Measure twice, cut once, he’d always told his boy, and no doubt his young fella hadn’t been listening when he stacked these new red bricks. He asked the nanny if he could take a moment, he’d like to just check on his son, he liked to play with blocks in his room. The things they’d build together, he the father being invited into his son’s little domain, that innocent house of the infantile, where three little blocks can be a skyscraper, and just a few pieces of wooden track could be the launchpad for rockets into space. But he couldn’t find his son’s room, and instead of his little boy he could only see decrepit old people, God if I ever end up like that just shoot me, he’d say. His daughter would smile patiently and inform him that his son was just at work and would visit soon. Kids and their imagination. He wondered what pretend job his son had; moments like that made the hard times worth it. He’d work his hands to the bone to provide for his children, and they wouldn’t know, or need to know, of the sacrifice a parent makes. People would pretend all sorts of things, he thought, like that strange bloke marching around my room and calling me his dad. What makes folks so crazy? Still, he regretted that one argument he’d had with his boy; he only wanted what was best for his son, and sometimes you just have to trust your old man knows what he’s saying. Oh son I don’t care what you do, I only wanted you to get the most out of yourself. He is so capable, that son of mine. Why it was that he would ruminate under the frondescence of a poisoned nostalgia, he didn’t know. Maybe it was just that he wished he could change things here or there, maybe the outcome would have been different, another path taken, hurt feelings avoided. Truly he hated to hurt people, and the idea that he could even inadvertently let someone down was like a dagger in his side. There was a time when he had caught his wife in the bathroom, trying to cut her wrist or something like that; had he been there a moment earlier he might have stopped it, but what did that matter now? She had been in a bad spot then, his wife (or was it his daughter?), she’d got help and that one moment was just confetti in a vacuum. There were other happier times that he could muse on. Yet still he’d say it was his fault, should have realised, pay attention and you’ll miss it. As a boy he made his mother cry once – if she was still around, he’d apologise for an incident she’d most likely have forgotten. So much time had passed since, water under the bridge and down the stream and into the sea and evaporated away – why he’d spend any time recalling bad memories was a mystery he’d spent his entire life trying to solve. And at what point did memories simply become dreams, when such distance came between them, and who was to say the whole thing hadn’t been one big dream; he’d read science fiction novels about such concepts – being hooked up to some simulation while your physical body lays prone. But he didn’t know – the shoulders shrugged – he was just so tired, and knew that such fatigue usually meant there’d be a dreamless slumber that evening, with an occasional vignette, void of time or purpose, playing pellucid before his mind’s eye. He had often hoped that the final sleep would be like that – just a big cauldron of dream memories, like books on a shelf or waves crashing on a beach. He dreamt of a world where everyone was everything they ever were, old and young at the same time, but it hurt to try and comprehend such a paradox. Sometimes he hoped and dreamt nothing at all, for his mind would dull beyond reception, into a somnial tide, and only time would tell if the sleep was eternal. How funny, he finally thought, that time would tell if time – it made no sense at all.

Free Book Promotions – 5 Days Only

Time for another round free e-book giveaways. Three of my works will be free to download from 15th-19th April (specific times below). Click the links below to get your copy before time runs out:

Promotion available from 15th April 2021 12:00a.m. PDT until 19th April 2021 11:59p.m. PDT