There's an omnipresent epidemic in music journalism. Male music writers - who make up the large majority - are fucking terrible at writing about women. "Songbird" and "Songstress" are a couple of the most infuriatingly patronising nouns that get carelessly thrown around, whereas "fierce" is an almost always gendered adjective that dudes use to downplay women who reject their patriarchal ideals.

Pragmatically, there's a really disheartening tendency for men to reinforce Male Gaze when reviewing shows that don't exclusively feature dudes (or, if you want to be a dickhead, ones that showcase "all-female bands"). The one word that really gets these tirelessly entitled Writer Bro type characters going, though, is "sassy". Do you identify as non-male and play rock music? If so, some white guy has probably sat in a high-end coffee chain listening to Miles Kane and called you a "sassy female songstress" or some toxic bullshit. It too often gets dismissed as pedantic, yet this form of grossly gendered music commentary systematically keeps women with guitars as a cute novelty, forty years after The Slits. It's an issue that needs tackling head-on and from both sides, which is why we need Liverpool psych-punks Queen Zee and the Sasstones - who feature in this month's Psych Out with their stunning debut, alongside a bunch of other mesmeric releases, mostly debuts.


Queen Zee and the Sasstones - Hate Male

Fronted by the sonically shape-shifting Zach Jones (AKA Queen Zee), 'The Sasstones are essentially a fourteen-legged, visceral caricature of all the needlessly gendered music writing that plagues us - and they're on a mission to reclaim. "Another empty apology / another night of misogyny" muses Zach as the blazing, noise-ridden guitars of 'Sissy Fists" prepare for one last scathing aural assault. Most members of the band have played in various projects as recently as this year, including noise, hardcore, punk and psych bands - and this EP feels like an unforgiving but totally worthwhile collision of all those things, pinned beneath a heavy social-political consciousness. Our generation has been almost entirely apathetic towards politics in its art, and so for a band like Queen Zee and the Sasstones to come leaping into Liverpool's DIY scene is super exciting, and it's not hard to believe that Hate Male could be the start of something big.


JC Flowers - Driving Excitement and the Pleasure of Ownership

Around this time last year, Pond's unmistakable frontman Nick Allbrook penned an essay entitled 'Creative Darwinism: Pretty Flowers Grow in Shit', essentially detailing how a lack of musical culture in his native Perth had always been an aid to his creativity, rather than a hindrance; London-based psych pop collective JC Flowers have found beauty in silence too. Formed of musicians that cut their teeth in bands like Novella, Moon Zero and Advert, JC Flowers side-step the bloated city's subversive signifiers and channel their energy into igniting a glistening, harmonic pop melody. The ATP-signed group are at their mesmeric best on 'Spent', with its quietly delivered interpersonal lyrical narrative - recalling the likes of Big Star or Elliott Smith - almost engulfed by an impossibly ornate psych-pop backdrop. It's a stunningly harmonious debut that effortlessly re-kindles psychpoptimism.


Proto Idiot - For Dummies

Garage rock is at its most insufferable when it takes itself seriously. Nearly all post-90s garage rock records with any kind of longevity, those of the same ilk as Thee Oh Sees' Help, have been totally stupid, Manchester upstarts Proto Idiot are exactly that. Their latest effort fruitfully injects infuriatingly catchy rhythm sections and totally childish melodies upon a following that is breaching out beyond the shackles of Manchester's improving but still lacklustre music scene. Proto Idiot don't necessarily want to make records that people will care about in five years time, but they seem to have stumbled across quite some formula.


Magic Potion - Pink Gum

On their debut LP, Stockholm gang Magic Potion churn out a hazy brand of fuzz-fuelled garage pop that embraces melodic structures well beyond their years. Their chiming-yet-lo fi, bright-but-dejected effort is a balancing act of a record that finds the sweet spot more often than not. It embraces a Beach Boys-indebted sweet tooth for melody whilst tackling awkward structures; twisting and turning, cruising and jolting. "There is no love for fuck-ups here" sighs Gustaf Montelius on standout Golden Power, but you can be sure he's not talking about Stockholm's ever-increasing odd-pop roster, which may have just found its magnum opus.