There’s a consistent notion with rock festivals that there is a lack of gender diversity. A common response is that there just aren’t enough females in rock bands to consider. This, of course, is a cop out as we are living in a music renaissance of young diverse bands.
Over the past few years I’ve tried to group my favorite female-fronted bands in mix cds and Spotify playlists to share with friends. As somebody who takes a lot of pride in introducing new bands to friends, on International Women’s Day I really wanted to try and get people into female-fronted bands I’ve come to love over the years or even recently. As much as I would love to talk all day about bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Sleater-Kinney(and believe me I could), I thought it’d be cool to kinda focus on other bands either less well-known or who I feel are under appreciated or just bands that I want y’all to listen to. I wanted a slick 20 which proved difficult considering my original list was closer to 50 after not including more obvious choices.
Underrated Veteran Bands
The Gossip – “Standing in the Way of Control” This band ruled. I first took notice of them after I watched an online teaser for the first season of Skins that featured this song playing throughout a crazy house party. Beth Ditto’s voice is so powerful it would destroy any room she sings in and the indie dance instrumentation makes me want to rap my toe every time I hear it.
The Joy Formidable – “Whirring” I saw The Joy Formidable play Waterloo Records a few years back and guitarist/singer Ritzy Bryan shredded my face off. This song sounds like what I imagine a rock concert in heaven sounds like.
Marnie Stern – “Transformer” From one shredder to another, Marnie Stern was essentially my introduction to guitar tapping while I was in college. Touring consistently with tap-friendly bands like Tera Melos, Stern puts on clinics with her frenetic shredding and melodic riffs.
Laura Stevenson – “Jellyfish” There is no reason why Laura Stevenson shouldn’t be on the radio. She writes overwhelmingly catchy songs packed with an unmatched emotional fervor.
Screaming Females – “Wishing Well” screaming Females have been around for quite a while and with every release been lauded for their intense energy. While this song deviates from their heavier songs frontwoman Marissa Paternoster still sings her heart out.
Lemuria – “Christine Perfect” A friend in college got me into Lemuria vi͏a a YouTube video of lead singer Sheena Ozzella making pierogies. It was charmingly goofy and immediately made me a fan. This song is a re-recording of one of their older songs and it’s even better the second time.
Cruiserweight – “Yellow Lights” Along with bands like The Impossibles and Dynamite Boy, Cruiserweight was one of the first bands from near my part of Texas I remember reading about in Alternative Press. They walked so Paramore could run. “Yellow Lights” is really catchy but to fully absorb how good they are you have to see them live.
Chumped – “Something About Lemons” I saw this band open up for Jeff Rosenstock and man were they fun to watch. They embodied everything you love about making music and this song is screaming with vulnerability and melody that you can’t help but sing along every time you hear it.
Swearin’ – “Movie Star” The Crutchfield sisters are to emo in the aughts what the Kinsella Brothers were to emo in the 90s. A family tree of bands formed by the sisters have left their mark on the indie scene leading up to the present. Sister Allison’s recently reunited Swearin’ have a second wave emo sound with more upbeat melodies.
Hinds – “Garden” The Spanish band jumps into the fuzz world of bands with a 60s girl band sound with a pop punk background and they aren’t afraid to throw down some nice riffage. They’ve been making moves over the past couple of years and look like they’re prime to make a splash.
The Beths – “Future Me Hates Me” I just came across this band while preparing for SXSW. I love their sound. The fuzz guitar is nuanced while taking a back seat to singer Elizabeth Stokes’ sultry voice. There is an inherent 90s rock vibe to their style but with hints of 00s garage rock that culminates in a nice pop rock sound.
Illuminati Hotties – “(You’re Better) Than Ever” this band made some buzz last year with a catchy sound and infectious melodies that will get your toe tapping along. Much like Hinds, there is a hint of a 60s girl group sound but played more for moving 8ths sound. It’s fun music and has great relistenability. A year after hearing this song for the first time and I’m still not sick of it.
Remember Sports – “Tiny Planets” I love this song. There’s an overwhelming sense of vulnerability in Singer/guitarist Carmen Perry’s vocals and lyrics that is so endearing that it sucks you into the song even further. The music itself is bouncy yet minor enough to match the tone of the lyrics. Overall Remember Sports is a fun band more than worth a listen.
Seasoned Indie Darlings
The Regrettes – “Hey Now” This band has been on the up for a while with a full on doo wop sound combined with some light distortion. This song is such a throwback in sound it’s easy to forget it’s only a few years old then.
Bleached – “Think of You” I became obsessed with this band after I saw them cover “Skulls” by The Misfits for AV Undercover. Singer Jennifer Calvin’s throaty voice is such a perfect tone to cover Danzig and it really accentuates their original music too. “Think of You” could have easily been an 80s pop song, but Bleached sell it with a very tight rock and roll sound.
Alabama Shakes – “Hold On” Here’s where I admit I’m dumb and when Alabama Shakes hit the scene I dismissed them as glorified dad rock. Here’s where I admit I’ve never been more ashamed of dismissing a band. Front woman Brittany Howard is a commanding vocalist that could mesmerize you with her voice. When she sings you hear anguish but you also hear hope, the only person I could compare her to is the late great Charles Bradley. Here’s where I admit I’ve never been more excited about being wrong about a band.
Cherry Glazerr – “I Told You I’d Be With the Guys” I’m a Cherry Glazerr stan through and through. Guitarist and frontwoman Clementine Creevy seduces the listener with her vocals and dangerous guitar riffs. This song sounds like being stranded in the south on an August night with nothing but a switchblade. I’ve been a fan of everything they’ve put out but this song gives me goosebumps every time.
Benny the Jet Rodriguez – “Run” I first heard about this band from Nothing Nice 2 Say comic artist Mitch Clem’s end of the year list a few years back. As a fan of The Sandlot I was intrigued by the band’s name. “Run” is a lo-fi recording but is such a fun listen. The guitars are fuzzy and the vocals sound like they’re recorded far from the mic but it’s impossible to listen to this song without wanting to bounce your head.
Deap Vally – “Baby I Call Hell” You ever discover a band you’ve never heard of before falling down a “FFO” rabbit hole on Spotify and then you get mad that nobody ever told you about them? This is how I felt when I first heard Deap Vally. Singer/guitarist Lindsey Troy’s guitar sound is bassy and sultry and reminds me so much of Death From Above 1979’s bass sound. They have this old school classic rock vibe and it will destroy your speakers in the best way possible.
The Skins – “Killer” This song starts off innocuous enough with a funk guitar harmonic progression that you kinda hear from live bands that play at your parents’ favorite bar. It’s fun and amped but then lead singer Bayli comes in with her vocals and blows everything away. There are so many elements to this band that prevents them from sounding like another funk rock revival and instead feel like so much more than that and it all starts with Bayli. The instrumentation feeds off of her energy and there’s this ecosystem of musicianship that is loud and heavy and funky and rocks all at the same time. Holy shit this song rules!