By Ella Squire
We all know Kate Bush, Stevie Nicks, PJ Harvey, the original female icons in music. But I feel women are still often going unappreciated in the music industry, particularly in the alternative/rock genre, and girl-led bands. As a woman, finding success in pop is often far easier to achieve than any other genre.
But some girls have proclaimed ‘no’ (or perhaps something more explicit) to giving up their distinctive style and have managed to weave their way into the industry without letting their sound suffer.
I want to name them ‘Unsung Female Heroines’. I’ve compacted a limited few into a short playlist, which you can access on Spotify.
1. Oblivion – Grimes ~ Grimes’ weird and wonderful experimental style has earned her a cult following.
2. Apparition – Stealing Sheep ~ three girls, clad in neon tights, and lots of innovative psychedelica.
3. Black & White – The Staves ~ these Watford sisters’ perfectly blended, elaborate harmonies have conquered folk, and more recently a folk-rock style with their album ‘If I Was’.
4. Digital Witness – St Vincent ~ my current ultimate female icon, who has already collaborated with David Byrne of the Talking Heads. Listen to her feature on the Chemical Brothers’ ‘Under Neon Lights’.
5. Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry ~ a mixture of pure late-80s funk, rap and sass. Believe it or not, she actually performed this on Top of the Pops when seven months pregnant.
6. Cornflake Girl – Tori Amos ~ ‘Cornflake Girl’ focuses on the topic of FGM, accompanied by one of the most complex yet fitting piano lines.
7. Baby I Call Hell – Deap Vally ~ Deap Vally are California’s latest alt-rock duo. Despite their rough-edged sound, these girls actually met at a crochet class.
8. Husbands – Savages ~ These four girls create one of the noisiest, most dissonant post-punk and garage-rock sounds I’ve heard, but remain eloquent and undeniably talented, whilst perfectly expressing the struggle of ‘battling the patriarchy before breakfast’.
9. Gold Lion – Yeah Yeah Yeahs ~ If you haven’t heard Karen O’s extraordinary vocals, or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ indie-rock sound yet- here’s your chance.
10. Madonna – Black Honey ~ Black Honey, with Izzy Baxter’s vocals, rose to prominence recently. It’s like Lana Del Ray with an indie rock accompaniment, lashed with reverb.
11. Bamboo – Hinds ~ these four Madrid girls have spent the last few years bringing their lo-fi ‘ramshackle charm’ and 60s girl-band feel to the masses.
12. Archie, Marry Me – Alvvays ~ Alvvays’ pretty, lyrical, reverb-drenched sounds are led by Molly Ranklin, and give a sense of melancholy nostalgia.
13. Laura – Bat For Lashes ~ Natasha Khan’s music explores a wide range of emotions, but this really takes the biscuit. Interpret as you wish.
14. My Silver Lining – First Aid Kit ~ The current Queens of Folk, sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, have truly mastered the art of harmony (even earning the appreciation of Emmylou Harris, about whom they’ve written a song).
15. Shuffle A Dream – Little Dragon ~ The incredible break and smokiness in Yukimi Nagano’s voice coupled with electro synths somehow earns this track an almost R&B feel.
And finally, if you’ve got time after all that – listen to PJ Harvey (queen of Alt-Rock)’s new album, ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’, which released on Friday.
Praise their ability to retain their individual sound, and praise their incredible vocals/instrumental skill/wickedly diverse personalities/sheer talent.