You know that scene in Empire Records; it’s Rex Manning Day, of course. Joe, who has already had a few trying hours, retreats to his office to bang on the drums while AJ and Lucas turn the break room into a stage, and AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood” plays in the background. This scene accurately depicts how I feel when, amidst a sea of mediocrity, I come across really great, substantial female rock musicians.
It’s a confusing time for music in general, but especially for rock music. In the mainstream, acts can’t figure out what genre they’re aiming for. They’re torn between selling out and actually making bank, or sticking to their roots. Varying bands/musicians are teetering on the edge of cheesiness, perplexing fans and audiophiles alike. The amount of times I pick up a new record and have to actually ask myself if I like it, or if I am being brainwashed into liking it, is far too many.
Luckily, this is seldom the case when it comes to up and coming rock artists and underground dwellers. Whether it be by choice, or simply not yet their time, the following female-heavy bands are creating exciting, quality music, having yet to become household names, and for that I’m grateful. This is another instalment of, WOMEN of ROCK!
See this cover artwork for these five band’s latest albums? Add them to your music library now!
– If Portland is good for something, it’s for keeping the best parts of the past alive and well. This is definitely the case with Portland band Guantanamo Baywatch. They do this all while manifesting a mix of surf rock and garage rock, sounding as though The Ventures met Pavement and The Breeders. This group is genuinely fun – with everything from their lyrics to their band name seemingly tongue-in-cheek.
Guantanamo Baywatch features the group’s reigning female member, (cello trained) bassist Chevelle Wiseman, who packs a mean punch with clear, prominent bass line throughout GB’s collection. With heavy reverb saluting the surf rock sounds before them, Guantanamo Baywatch is a true punk band with deep, genre ranging roots that feels like genuine rock & roll.
Here’s the music video for the track “Video”…video!
– Triángulo de Amor Bizarro are not new, having charted internationally since 2007 at least. That said, they feel like a hidden treasure to the average North American post-punk ear. They are a noise punk, rock band accompanied by a sultry contrast of sounds ranging from every one of their contributing facets. Somehow, TDAB illicit an otherworldly ambiance, often using typically funk rhythms, to create a unique brand of punk.
Wonder woman and bassist of the group, Isabel Cea puts on an insane, raucous live show alongside her male bandmates. She provides a necessary backbone to the overall sound and deliverance of the previously mentioned post-punk variety. At the core, they are an indie punk band, but they’ve made it clear they’re not making hipster music. Lyrically, they can be seen as staunchly feminist, constantly challenging machismo.
“Les Ilivare mi cruz”. No, I don’t know what that means.
– Imagine The Donnas, but more suited for the rest of us sentimental folks. The Coathangers are supposedly a garage rock band, but they continue to sound more punk with their maturation. The fluidity amongst the three women who make up the group is impressive; they exist best as a working, cohesive machine. A key take away from any Coathangers record is that everything is fun, but fun can have meaning to. As in, fun can be inventive and playful and purposeful.
This is prevalent in their lyrics, as well as the instruments used – is that a rubber ducky on “Squeeki Tiki”? The band, who have been around since about 2006, have spun sporadically into steady purveyors of adept musicality, and every year that goes by, the harder they get both lyrically and musically. The Coathangers’ growth is anarchy grown up and gone off to punk college, and it’s really fucking excellent.
Check the vid for “Captain’s Dead”.
– As an apprehensive 20-something, it’s easy to find complete joy and relatability in Tacocat’s entire essence. Their decade-expansing tenure has proven Tacocat to be more than proficient in the realm of surf rock. The Pacific North West group effortlessly dances the line between nostalgia and modernity. A blend of pop punk and effervescent surf rock (hey reverb! *swoon*), Tacocat has a great handle on their sound with tongue in cheek feminists undertones; they’re primed for big things if the world is ready to listen.
Here’s Tacocat’s music video for the blasphemously titled “I Hate the Weekend”.
– Originally a solo project of Allie Hanlon, this Ottawa turned LA-based four-piece is an interesting cross between bubble gum pop and garage punk. Peach Kelli Pop’s all-female cast fires out at fast speed, with the vibrant guitar working as a great offset to the controlled power-pop-with-major-video-game-soundtrack vibes.
The band have already had a successful year, releasing an EP Which Witch and full-length album Gentle Leader. Both records are refreshing takes on garage rock that are so totally full of life. A quirky combination of sweet (those harmonies) and aggressive (that guitar) seems to be the recipe for excellence in this realm.
Scope out Peach Kelli Pop’s “Black Magic”.
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