When Calgary’s Women cancelled their tour after an onstage fight in 2010, they left a question mark as to whether or not they would continue on. Sadly, that question was definitively closed just two years later: Women guitarist Chris Reimer died in February, 2012 at the age of 26. Women’s recorded legacy remains forever frozen at two albums, their 2008 self-titled debut and 2010’s Public Strain, but fortunately for fans of weird, chilling indie rock you can still find their fingerprints all over the current music scene.
In our latest UNCHARTED feature, we spoke to Viet Cong, the fantastic new band from Women’s former rhythm section Matt Flegel and Michael Wallace. Here’s five other projects featuring the work of former Women.
After Women broke up, guitarist Pat Flegel drifted between a number of more low-key, experimental projects, including Fels-Naptha (who ended before putting out a release, and before the Dial corporation had a chance to sue) and Androgynous Mind, which morphed into Cindy Lee. Flegel and his musical partner Morgan Cook use Cindy Lee as an outlet to put all their raw, spontaneous ideas to tape, bathing downcast folk and abrasive guitar jams in lo-fi warble. Live, he tends to play in drag.
Many solo bedroom artists make the same mistake in thinking: that music conceived and recorded in solitude will sound best performed that way. Instead of playing guitar to a drum track, Italian-born songwriter Mauro Remiddi expanded his Secretly Canadian laptop-pop project Porcelain Raft to a live duo with the help of a drummer. And he found one hell of a drummer behind the kit of Women. Michael Wallace's cymbal smashing style puts more than a bit of muscle to Remiddi's dreamy drift.
Shortly before his death, Women guitarist Chris Reimer quietly joined the Dodos, but he sadly never had a chance to record with them. Still, the Brooklyn math-folk band’s new album, Carrier, has Reimer’s influence all over it. Formerly an acoustic duo, the Dodos have gone electric, adopting Reimer’s glistening, syncopated approach to the guitar, giving it that eerie sense of detached melancholy that Women were so good at evoking.
In the last year of his life, Reimer also found the time to produce the debut from Victoria’s Freak Heat Waves. The band is now touring with Viet Cong, using their ice-cold, groove-heavy post-punk to set the stage for his former band mates. It definitely fits. In a lot of (excellent, excellent) ways this sounds like the second coming of Women.
Chad VanGaalen recorded both Women albums in his basement and members of the band sometimes play in his live band, but the influence goes even deeper than that. VanGaalen made his 2012 album Diaper Island slightly after making Public Strain, and just left the recording configuration the same. “Public Strain is the best thing that I’ve worked on, period,” he told me in an interview for NOW Magazine, “so it made sense for me to steal all their guitar sounds.”
VanGaalen also commissioned a solo cassette from Chris Reimer, which was released posthumously as The Chad Tape.