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Women As Lovers

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Editors’ Notes

Xiu Xiu has never been a band to tackle light topics or turn out pretty pop songs. (If that’s what you’re hoping for, turn back now.) Jamie Stewart and band have staked out a corner of the indie-rock pantheon for their own brand of nakedly emotional and sonically challenging music. Women as Lovers (named after a novel by controversial feminist Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek), is both grim and beautiful. Themes of death, sexual yearning, war, abuse (of many stripes)  — these are but a few of the open wounds we’re forced to tend to, while violas and cellos, trumpets and glockenspiels, conch shells and congas tangle in the background. The cover here of Bowie’s “Under Pressure” is perfectly ... fun (Michael Gira of the Swans guests), the utter delicacy of “Master of the Bump” is heartbreaking and lovely (“If you say my dancing is effeminate / I will never dance again”) ... and “Gauntanamo Canto” will make any anti-war activist proud. But as true as that all is, we must also point out the sheer lyrical bleakness and despair of a number of tracks — notably, “Black Keyboard,” “Child at Arms” and “In Lust You can Hear the Axe Fall.” But even in those difficult moments, Xiu Xiu’s music is miles above much (much) indie-rock fodder, and the bleating, bleeding guitars, the unique vocal arrangements and instrumentation, the wall of sound the listener encounters back-to-back with moments of frailty and tenderness, make the whole affair worth seeking out. Tracks 15-21 are exclusive to iTunes.

Customer Reviews

Takes some work.

I remember disliking the first Xiu Xiu album I ever bought (A Promise) for months before liking it. Most of my favorite albums took a while to like, but those stood the test of time for me. This is proving to be no exception. I figured that I would never really get into Women as Lovers. It seemed to be kind of boring and a little too much "wall-of-sound" for my taste, but after a few weeks it's starting to deliver for me. That's the great thing about this band--they consistently challenge even their most die-hard fans. Thank God. The last thing I want is for my favorite band to get boring and predictable. On a side note, I got to see Jamie perform solo at the Smell in Los Angeles about a month ago. Even with just an electric guitar and his voice, he put on one of the most riveting shows I've seen in the last year or so. This band is infinitely earnest.

Tommy and Dan you can't hold hands down you're Street!

Download "No Friend Oh" beautiful song!

There is no right there is no wrong

Debatably their best album yet! Tracks 15 thru 21 are iTunes exclusives. These guys have reinvented what Indie Rock was about and have created a new genre. Brilliant.


Formed: 2000 in San Jose, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Taking their name from the 1998 Chinese film Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl, Xiu Xiu formed in San Jose, California with Cory McCullough, Yvonne Chen (publisher of the indie zine Zum), Lauren Andrews, and Jamie Stewart. Before forming Xiu Xiu, McCullough and Stewart played in the band Ten in the Swear Jar. Prior to the 2002 release of their first full-length album, Knife Play (released on vinyl through Absolutely Kosher and on disc through 5RC/Kill Rock Stars), the band made appearances on numerous...
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