Local Wire

Black Carl @ Tempe Beach Park

In a rather controversial concert review last December, New Times contributor Nicole Smith wrote of the indie sailor-pop band Tennis' singer, Alaina Moore, "I generally hate chick singers who don't have anything spectacular to offer." Sure, it's tough to paint 50 percent of the human population with one brush stroke, but it's inescapable — in rock 'n' roll, women are always going to be judged. Openly. Even by fellow women, who, in this example, judge them even harder than their male counterparts, based on the fact that they have a cabinet full of, ahem, "beaver dams." Unfair? Totally, but it's easy to find examples of impressive female vocalists, even locally. Give me a run-of-the-mill local male vocalist and I'll give you an Emma Pew, the soul-laden powerhouse behind one of the Valley's greatest local bands, blues rockers Black Carl. The band does minimalist indie soul with aplomb and style, and Pew can't help stealing the show. She doesn't just drive her lyrics home — she shoves them down your throat, force feeding you every word with an attitude that says, "Got it? Good." The fact that she could go head-to-head with any contestant on The Voice contestant is apparent, but she doesn't, and she doesn't need to. She has the skill to impress any reviewer or judge, but she sings with a "fuck you" sneer anyway. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call rock 'n' roll — penis or no penis.

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Christina Caldwell