2017 was a doozy, to say the least. Somewhere after the seventh hurricane, but before an additional shooting, next to the time 45 – yet again – denounced another basic human right, and around the release of Taylor Swift’s self indulgent album, society as a whole came to the agreement that, yes, this year as a whole was – and would continue to be – repugnant. However, in between exhaustive breaks of red eyes hesitantly watching Twitter, waiting for the next disaster to be announced, music was being made.
As history teaches, tremendous hardship leads to pivotal cultural liberation via music; Patti Smith, Joan Baez, Loretta Lynn, The Staple Singers, Bikini Kill, The Slits, Billie Holliday. While major names tore up charts in their triumphant return (St. Vincent, Bjork, Emily Haines, Feist), under the radar women of rock music were making a name for themselves in (somewhat) quiet revolution.
01. Downtown Boys (Providence, Rhode Island, USA | Punk / Rock / Political Punk)
– Loud, politically-charged punk rock is always the answer. Downtown Boys, lead by vocalist and lyricist, Victoria Ruiz, released their third album this year called Cost of Living. Nothing about the group – or their most recent record, for that matter – is tenuous. After signing with Sub Pop it appears the group, originally from Rhode Island, is even more amplified, emphatically delivering their relatable convictions. Accompanied by instrumentals as raucous as their message, Downtown Boys pave the wave for a regeneration of radical punk. Whether or not that is their aim.
Check out the band’s video for the single “Slumlord Sal”.
02. Daddy Issues ( Nashville, Tennessee, USA | Grunge Rock / Punk Rock / Pop)
– From Nashville, TN, Daddy Issues might be one of the coolest up-and-coming 90s grunge bands to come out of the 2000s. After releasing and touring their first full-length LP Deep Dreams in 2017 the group have grown away from a former garage rock sound, having created a name for themselves in the punk world — think early Breeders or Veruca Salt, though significantly more strident (if possible). Daddy Issues creates consistent lo-fi based tunes infused with dirty guitar and a lot of snarl. Teetering between self deprecation and self awareness, the group removes any accompanying chagrin with their lyrical frankness. Tackling once taboo topics like sexual assault, Daddy Issues have a strong way with using words as a well wielded sword. The all-female ensemble are surely just getting started, amassing larger crowds by the show.
Check out the band’s OurVinyl Sessions version of their single “Daddy Issues”.
03. Kate Tempest (Brockley, South East London, England | Spoken Word / Hip-Hop)
– Frankly, it’s quite easy to be moved by an artist – especially after viewing them in a live setting. It is much more rare of a feat for an artist to leave an unwavering mark lasting months on end. But anyone who has had the true privilege of experiencing Kate Tempest live will without a doubt know to what I’m referring. Tempest is an English spoken word hip-hop artist and poet. Her most recent work is aptly titled Let Them Eat Chaos and was released in 2016, toured in 2017. Let Them Eat Chaos may be short (around 48mins) but fully engaging. First listen could have a person misconstrue her challenges and pleas to humanity as preachy – it’s important to get past it. Tempest’s words are powerful with tidbits like “wake up”, “love more”. Each track, accompanied by steady beats, progresses smoothly onto the next like chapters in a robust novella. There don’t seem to be a lot of people in the public eye creating what she is creating.
Watch Kate’s official “Europe Is Lost” music video.
04. Japanese Breakfast (Eugene, Oregon, USA | Indie Rock / Indie Pop / Experimental / Lo-Fi)
– Soft Sounds from Another Planet, Japanese Breakfasts’ 2nd full-length solo studio record released in 2017 is the LP to solidify Japanese Breakfast as a soon-to-be household name. Fittingly ethereal, Soft Sounds… could have easily scored Lost in Translation or The Beach albeit taking on a sci-fi vibe musically. The music created by Japanese Breakfast and band encompass a distinct indie-rock, shoegazey sound prolific of the late 90s, early aughts. Being the kind of enigmatic performer that bounds around on stage in light up sneakers, eyes closed, sensually connected to the moment, Japanese Breakfast has a knack for being lyrically playful as she contemplates femininity, duality, and assumed life on Earth.
Peep the “The Body Is A Blade” music video right here.
05. Sheer Mag (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA | Punk Rock / Alternative / Rock)
– There is probably nothing more exciting than hearing a band and having a faith you didn’t know needed restoring then reinstated in the future of music. Sheer Mag, fronted by Christina Halladay, has that power. In this writer’s opinion, at least. Their Philly-bred soulful punk with a clear 70s classic rock influence, evident on their first full length LP Need to Feel Your Love, is wholly refreshing. Dispersed amid some solicitous tunes, Sheer Mag reveals clear prowess in the realm of protest songs (ie: “Expect the Bayonet”, “Suffer Me”). If you get your kicks from early Iggy Pop and The Stooges or even AC/DC, imagine infusing groovier, boogie tones and prepare to salivate over Sheer Mag’s brand of punk.
Yep, this is the group’s video for the song “Suffer Me”.
*Be sure to also check out:
– Women of Rock: 5 Female Groups You Need to Hear Right Now! (Part 1)
– Women of Rock: 5 Female Groups You Need to Hear Right Now! (Part 2)
– Women of Rock: Hedvig Mollestad’s 5 Female Groups You Need to Hear Right Now! (Part 3)
– Women of Rock: 5 Female Groups You Need to Hear Right Now! (Part 4)
– Women of Rock: TETRARCH Guitarist Diamond Rowe Lists Her TOP 5 Female Groups You Need to Hear (Part 5)