19 Women-Led Bands That Don’t Get Enough Appreciation
There are a lot of women out there that are taking on the patriarchy in the name of rock. Unfortunately, music fans may be all too unaware of how many of these women are actually out there, since it seems all-female bands are often overlooked. Just look at the last few summer festival lineups, and you'll notice all of them are lacking in female artists. USA Today reported in 2015 that out of nearly 160 artists, only 26 at Coachella were women-led acts — this breaks down to only 16 percent. And, additionally, the Huffington Post reported that while 51 percent of festival attendees are female, Coachella's 2016 lineup featured 60 female acts (aka all-women and women-led) compared to 168 male acts.
Even worse, when all-female acts are on the bill, they're often reduced to being some kind of unicorn — like, the "girl band" that earns more headlines for its gender than its music. This is wrong, and why I've put together this list. I'm here to tell you the 23 acts on this list are more than all-female rock bands. They're rock bands. Period.
Some of these acts have just released their first albums, others are veterans of the 'biz — but every single one of them deserve a listen. Some will sound similar to other more legendary female acts like Bikini Kill or Sleater-Kinney, but know these bands are also all their own. And they deserve more attention for their musical abilities, which includes, playing their own instruments and writing their own songs, than what's between their legs.
Some may recognize the Haim sisters — Danielle, Este, and Alana — as members of Taylor Swift's #girlsquad, but they should also be known for their kickass music that totally sounds like it was recorded by an all-female version of Fleetwood Mac. Do yourself a favor and check these gals out live, where they will likely melt your face off with their red hot harmonies. You've been warned.
This bratty, satirical-leaning band from Seattle is proud to say they're nasty girls who don't wash their sheets, who pee in the shower, and who wipe their noses on their sleeves. What's more punk than that?
The Los Angeles-based duo consists of guitarist Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad on bass speaking about the female experience in a way that pulls at the heartstrings. The two sing songs about the restlessness of young love ("Chinatown"), feeling pigeonholed by gender ("Slutmouth"), and the terrors of mansplaining ("Jane") in a way that is perfect for soundtracking a good cry or a good scream. Just depends on what kind of day its been.
4. Chastity Belt
Another Seattle band that actually features a member of the aforementioned band Childbirth, Julia Shapiro. But, this band goes a little easier on the snark and a little heavier on the sincerity than Childbirth does, creating a moody brand of indie rock that is perfect for a new generation of riot grrrls.
5. Nice As F*ck
Jenny Lewis' new all-female project, which features The Like's Tennessee Thomas and Au Revoir Simone's Erika Forster, surprised fans by dropping an album in late June. But no surprise, it's as rock 'n' roll as ever. The band, which made its live debut at a Bernie Sanders rally, even gets a little socially conscious on its self-titled release that celebrates being a smart, independent woman.
This post-punk band from London has a way with words that would put Morrissey to shame. On "Adore," singer Jehnny Beth wants you to know she loves life, but you may not get that sense on first listen. Luckily, the music only gets better each time you hear it.
A little spacey, a little jazzy, and definitely a whole lot of Devo is the recipe behind this Brooklyn-based alt band that makes complexity sound oh, so simple thanks to their heavenly harmonies.
This Washington, D.C. three-piece led by Mary Timony took everything that was great about '70s rock, and added some female badaassery to it to make it even better.
The English band gets at the dark, gritty side of being a woman in songs like "Too Little Too Late," which is a kiss-off to a no-good guy who thinks sorry will make everything magically better. Of course, it definitely won't.
Hinds' debut Leave Me Alone should be required listening for any woman who's experienced a broken heart. The Madrid-based garage band sings about the torture of a breakup, and how messy it can really be — and this is made even more clear in the band's video for "Easy." Like Shakira's hips, those mascara streaked cheeks certainly don't lie.
11. The Coathangers
What you say and do will come back to you, but in The Coathangers' case, this is a good thing. For the last decade, these women have been making music that is the perfect inspiration for future all-girl bands.
Twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz make music in both English and the Nigerian language Yoruba. Their music is significant not only for that, but also because it pays tribute to their roots: Specifically, their father, who they honor on their 2015 self-titled debut that reflects on love, loss, and the past.
Ali Koehler of Vivian Girls and Patty Schemel of Hole came together to form this pop-punk girl band that should make female fans of the Warped Tour very, very happy.
14. Deap Vally
These ladies give Jack White a run for his money with their brand of bluesy rock.
These three sisters from Israel who also just so happen to be named Haim (go figure), combine Yemeni folk music with electronic dance for something that sounds new in a world where music tends to sound too similar.
16. The Prettiots
The band, made up of Kay Kasparhauser and Lulu Prat, whose name is a combo of the words "pretty" and "idiots," certainly isn't the latter. The duo's debut, Funs Cool, is full of snark as these women talk about life, death, and love.
17. The Big Moon
Listening to Juliette Jackson, you can't help but hear Nico, the German singer who brought a little raspy femininity to The Velvet Underground. But, on "Cupid," that big husky voice of Jackson's is used to take the piss out of the little cherub who uses his arrows to find true love for others, not to mention the unsuspecting guy he hits. Big Moon isn't interested in doing things the way men would like them to in love and certainly in music.
"Dreamy" is definitely the best word to describe this folk duo of Heather Golden Schwalb and Emma Rose, who are just perfect for soundtracking a sun-soaked summer. But, fans aren't just looking to take in their musical style, they're also looking to steal a bit of their fashion sense. The New York born-and-raised duo are already favorites of the fashion industry, which means you may be hearing and seeing a lot more of these two on the fashion runways.
19. Sister C
Still upset that Taylor Swift went pop? Then turn on these three country music-making sister. Think of it has a more acerbically sweet version of Swift's "Mean."
When it's all said and done, it doesn't matter how many of these female acts you've heard of before this list. Be happy you are learning about them now, just in time to add them to your next party playlist.