Kathy Foster is a pillar of the Oregon punk rock music scene. She rose to prominence as the bassist for the now-defunct band The Thermals. But in recent years you may have heard her spinning records as a DJ in Portland or pounding the drums in the punk group Hurry Up.
Her eclectic taste as a curator is on full display in this special guest playlist created for Oregon Public Broadcasting that highlights the songs that got her through the pandemic. And while the selections here may be sonically broad, there is a theme. After a brutal year, she mostly just wants us all to dance.
Sweeping Promises - “Hunger for a Way Out” (2020)
“A lot of times I gravitate towards this type of stuff, like stuff I would play at a dance night [as a DJ]. So one of my favorite bands that I discovered during this time — and they’re a new band and they put out a record really recently — is Sweeping Promises. I believe they’re from Boston. They’re kind of a no-wave post-punk band that has a little bit of a retro sound. When you hear it, you’re kind of like ‘Is this from the eighties?’ I really like the whole record.”
Khruangbin - “Maria También” (2018)
“I like a lot of music that is kind of rhythmic and percussive driven. I like a lot of international music — a lot of different African and Asian stuff from all different eras, but probably more like ’60s, ’70s type stuff. And this song kind of sounds Thai to me. This is one of my favorite songs that I’ve discovered this past year, just because I love the groove of it and the percussive, hypnotic sound and that it sounds kind of international.”
Sault - “I Just Want To Dance” (2020)
“This is another pandemic-themed song called ‘I Just Want to Dance,’ because that’s something that I miss doing. I miss dancing. I miss deejaying dance parties, getting sweaty with people. But to me, it’s another band that kind of sounds retro. Their albums are really interesting. It’s kind of a collage of sounds— protest chant type songs and then some that are more of a modern kind of R&B sound and then something like this.”
Girls At Our Best! - “Getting Nowhere Fast” (1981)
“It’s kind of a punky-pop girl group and it reminds me ... a lot of the riot grrrl pop bands from the early [1990s]. That’s when I first started playing music, and I was really into a lot of riot grrrl bands and English girl punk bands. And I remember this band being around, but for some reason I just never dove into their music. So, I’m stoked to kind of rediscover Girls At Our Best! and they’ve been really inspiring me to just get excited about playing music again and going to shows.”
A.R. Kane - “When You’re Sad” (1986)
“As a woman of color myself, and playing in punk bands and heavy bands, I don’t often see people that look like me in the same scene. And so, I’m always kind of trying to find and promote more artists of color doing more rock and punk and shoegaze. So, I discovered this band, and this is one of their first singles [from 1986] ... It’s jangly, noisy, dreamy pop. I love the sound of this song. It’s one of my favorite sounds and I was stoked to find an artist of color doing a song like this. It’s also reflective of my personality because I do like upbeat dance-y punk, but then I’m also pretty emotional and like to wallow, too, sometimes.”
Fatback Band - “Goin’ To See My Baby” (1972)
“I’m really into lo-fi sounds. You might not be surprised [to hear that] with me playing in The Thermals and Hurry Up. But yeah, pretty much in any genre, I love a lo-fi sound. It’s funk, but it’s a little more lo-fi and laid-back sounding, and I just think it has a great vibe and groove and makes me want to dance. And of course, it’s a sweet sentiment— ‘going to see my baby.’ And also another pandemic-themed [selection] to me because in the past year we’ve had to stay away from loved ones and had to put visits on hold.”
Listen to the playlist on Spotify: