The prevalence of the internet and the easy ability to record, edit and distribute music with no record company backing and very little cash has completely changed the face of the industry. In some ways it has super-condensed “popular” music into a very small gene pool- and this tiny group of mega-selling artists will be the only thing a certain segment of society ever hears. In other ways it has wildly opened up the borders, creating burgeoning experimentation and new blood crashing through our cultural veins.
I’m not sure if I prefer the newness to the way I came up, when virtually the only way you’d find new bands was by going to local shows in tiny venues where you’d see kids who’d traveled thousands of miles in crowded, stinking vans to perform for (maybe, if they were lucky) gas money night after night. When you bought their CDs and shirts you were literally paying to make sure they could eat.
I can’t explain the thrill of finding a new band, a new song that spoke to a place inside your soul you never knew existed, that blew the cobwebs off your eyes and made you want to dance or have sex or slam your face into a wall, anything to FEEL and keep feeling. Anything that wasn’t the numbness that everyday life tranquilizes you into.
There was the added thrill of copying those songs for friends, coming up with the perfect mix that would let them glimpse who you truly were, parts of yourself you never shared or could never articulate. Seeing the recognition when those same songs caught fire in their brains, creating bonds so deep that years later I still associate certain songs so closely with people that I’ve long since lost track of- yet hearing that tune will cause them to spring fully formed into my mind.
One perk of the modern age is that I can name practically any song to a friend and within seconds they can be hearing it. It may not share the same intensity as my earlier experiences but it’s certainly easier.
Lately I’ve been lamenting the loss of the riot grrl era and the pure punk era before that, wondering where all the amazing feminist bands trickled off to, why so few seemed to carry on their legacy. But digging deeper into the music I already listen to, as well as investigating some new bands, I realized there is no need for sadness. There might not be a huge cohesive “scene” the way there once was, a network that seemed to interlock even across far distances, but there are still ladies out there putting their hearts on the line. Screaming out their truth and putting the boys to shame.
I mean, Sleater-Kinney made a comeback album! The women I grew up wishing would adopt me! The only band I literally wept over the breakup of! Then you have Pussy Riot being arrested for taking on the entire Russian government. And all across the world you have female-led acts that most people will probably never hear of, fearlessly rocking the eff out. How can I mourn the past when these chicks are illuminating the way into the future?
And NOW, if you just stopped by for the list, here are 20 songs by female bands that will make you want to slamdance like it’s 1997 or 1977 …or 2277!
1 . Cayetana – Scott, Get The Van, I’m Moving
“The hardest part of breaking my fall is I am nothing but skin… Tell me can you feel it at all, cause I got nothing within.”
2. Honeyblood – Killer Bangs
3. Hop Along – Waitress
“She must’ve known, who I was. The worst possible version of what I’d done.”
4. She Keeps Bees – Feather Lighter
5. Daughter- Youth
“And if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones. ‘Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs. Setting fire to our insides for fun.”
6. Girlpool – Stumble on Tapes
7. Amanda X – Nothing Wild
8. Twin Limb – The Weather
9. Perfect Pussy – Bells
10. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener
“The paramedic thinks I’m clever cos I play guitar. I think she’s clever cos she stops people dying.”
11. Waxahatchee- Bathtub
12. Childbirth – I Only Fucked You As A Joke
13. Basia Bulat – Five, Four (live)
“All these things we’d done before. Was it an accident? Was it an offering? Was it yours.”
14. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
“And I’m a goddamn coward, but then again so are you.”
15. The Coathangers – Watch Your Back
16. Advaeta – Angelfish
17. Sharkmuffin- Serious Business
18. Ex Hex – Waterfall
19. Houndmouth – Casino
20. Sleater-Kinney – No Anthems
“Steal your power, in my hour I could change most everything. I’m not the anthem, I once was an anthem. “