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Nashville Sessions: Thelma And The Sleaze

Thelma and the Sleaze.
Courtesy of the artist
Thelma and the Sleaze.

Nashville may be famous as the country music capital, but it's also a great rock 'n' roll town. In recent years, the city's spawned a new generation of joyfully ragged garage-punk purveyors, currently represented on the national scene by enduring bands like Jeff the Brotherhoodand newer ones like Bully. Thelma and the Sleaze's Lauren Gilbert, who goes by the initials LG, has been part of that community since moving to Nashville from Iowa to study audio engineering. She co-founded a punk karaoke night, had a taco stand and played in the group Trampskirts before founding Thelma and the Sleaze, one of the wildest and most exciting live acts in Music City.

In this session, hear Thelma and the Sleaze shake the walls of the EastSide Manor recording studio with its blend of post-riot-grrrl punk and self-aware "trashy" Southern rock. Between songs, Gilbert talks with World Cafe about blending an explicitly feminist and queer sensibility into music that's historically been associated with brawny biker dudes. Gilbert has stories for days — about staging female chocolate-pudding wrestling matches in the back of the dive bar Springwater; playing the recent "Kandyland" tour, which had Thelma and the Sleaze playing a different Nashville venue every night for a month; surviving as the kind of touring musician who's away from home more than 250 days a year; and keeping Nashville rock honest and raw.

Copyright 2016 XPN

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.