Sunday, July 19, 2020

Women In Music

This post contains a handful of music videos and zero sports cards. If you're not a fan of video clips in a blog post feel free to skip it. Thanks.

I'm grateful to have an "alternative" rock radio station that I can listen to on my way to and from work, or for long drives to Connecticut. However Alt 92.3 is highly flawed

I'm also grateful for my job. It's easy, to the point of boredom, but my bosses are friendly and my co-workers are like family. My manager G is the best. The only complaint I have is that she loves country music. Her Spotify playlist is loaded with Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, and the like. Some of you may like that sort of thing, but it gets repetitive after a while. I've heard it eight hours a day, five days a week, for the past year. My ears need a vacation.

Because of this I rely on Alt 92.3 to wake me up and give me two songs to enjoy before the inevitable assault on my senses begins. Far too often my station fails me.

Last Monday I was particularly frustrated with their selection. After starting far too many mornings with Billie Eilish I heard this track on my morning drive. I was already in a salty mood and complained about the "sleepy girl music" this station seems to love.

My wife took me to task. With two girls in the car, she wanted to make it very clear that girls don't exclusively make sleepy music (hello, Coldplay?)

Of course I knew that. But I didn't have the time or energy for a nuanced discussion.

Once I was at work and had some time to think, I started to realize that I've actually liked a lot more female singers than my wife has.

I'm the one that rocked out to "Barracuda" on Guitar Hero. I'm the one that can name the late singer of the Cranberries (she asked me this three days ago after Alt played "Zombie" for the 865th time - after work, of course.) I'm the one that went to a Jewel concert and wore a Garbage t-shirt to school and owned not one but two Veruca Salt albums.

Andso I complied a list of my favorite female singers while at work (to distract myself from the unpleasantness emanating from G's playlist) Since I couldn't listen to these great tracks at the time, I thought I'd post them today. And then I'll take my blogging break. Maybe ;)

Honorable Mentions/One Hit Wonders/etc.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, pretty much all of my favorite female celebs can sing - and some have even reached #1 on the Billboard charts (is there anything Anna Kendrick can't do?) I'm excluding them for this exercise.  
is it me, or is she giving off strong Tina Fey vibes here?

My personal playlists are often peppered with single tracks from female-fronted acts. Not all of them are one hit wonders. Sometimes I only like one of their songs, or I haven't downloaded more than one. That said, I highly recommend any/all of these tunes:

 Not really a lead singer, but..

When I was a young lad, Smashing Pumpkins were my favorite band. I thought it was cool that the bass player was a girl. There didn't seem to be too many girls in rock bands at the time. My fellow Pumpkinheads and I really wanted to like D'arcy. But she always looked so disinterested. She didn't contribute all that much (although Billy Corgan's massive ego could be to blame) and didn't join the fairly recently reunited Pumpkins lineup. 

Nikki Monninger of Silversun Pickups is the bass player I always wished D'arcy would have been. She's a lot more fun to watch than D'Arcy ever was, contributes a lot more to her band, and she's just plain better at playing bass. Also, Nikki can sing quite well when called upon. Here's their brand-new cover of Martika's "Toy Soldiers":

A couple of years ago I bought a big box of CDs (and cards) from Gavin at a great price. There was so much music included that I might never get to it all, but I gave Metric a spin. Until then I'd only heard "Youth Without Youth." I'm now familiar with about a dozen more tracks, and I'm not quite all-in on all of it but I am sold on Emily Haines for sure. 

There was a time when I was into Paramore about as much (if not more) than I liked Fall Out Boy. Then Hayley Williams started doing solo projects, the Farro brothers left, and the band had to convince skeptics that they were still a band. The last Paramore single I liked was "The Only Exception" but everything up to that point was amazing. 

Three summers ago I was at a wedding for one of my wife's best friends and I heard a song that sounded like classic Paramore. But it wasn't anything I'd heard before and the vocal packed more punch. As I soon found out, this wasn't Paramore - it was Pvris.


Pvris was the opening act for 30 Seconds To Mars/Muse when we saw them at Jones Beach in New York. The Mrs. and I became fans almost immediately. I've never enjoyed an opening act as much as I did that day. Some of their songs are dark and depressing, and I'm not quite sure what they're going for on their new album, but Lynn Gunn is a force of nature.

After months of being beaten down by my manger's playlist I sought out cover versions of certain songs, to distract myself when I dislike the original artist. Lynn and Pvris covered Sia's "Chandelier"and absolutely crushed it:

Who are some of your favorite female musicians? Have you heard any of the tracks on my playlist? I'd love to hear your thoughts on these artists, or your own recommendations, in the comments.

Thanks for reading!!



  1. Stevie Nicks, Cyndi Lauper, Missy Elliot, Alanis Morissette, Madonna, Lauryn Hill, and Pat Benatar are a few of my favorites. I guess my 80's and 90's pop roots are showing.

  2. We have very similar taste in music. Add CHVRCHES to your list and I could listen to that Spotify channel all day long.

  3. I've gotten to like Chvrches quite a bit. They're one of my wife's favorite groups so I took her to see them last summer at College Street Music Hall in New Haven. They've got a lot of sings I dig, and the lead singer is super cute FWIW :-)

  4. A solid playlist in the making. I think you need to make a shareable Spotify list!

  5. I've listened to "Fade Into You" a lot. Heard of Paramore, Lacuna Coil, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Seen a couple of Anna Kendrick's movies but didn't know she sings.

  6. Good stuff. Some other rockin' ladies that pop to mind for me are Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), Kim Deal (Breeders), and Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth).

    1. I second Jenny Lewis / Rilo Kiley - one of my biggest concert regrets is missing out on Rilo Kiley, hopefully I will get to see a Jenny Lewis concert some day in the future!

  7. OK, you know I have thoughts on this:

    In general, I stick to the '70s through the early '00s for my female-fronted favorites. The more recent stuff sounds either too dreary or too angry or both (I've often said, it sounds as if they are 60 seconds from hurling themselves off a cliff).

    So, that said, I'm a definite fan of Ann and Nancy Wilson, Joan Jett, Shirley Manson, Maya Ivarrson (thanks for getting the Sounds on there!), Siouxsie Sioux, Delores O'Riordan, Debbie Harry, Pat Benatar, Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Erika Wennerstrom, and, yeah, OK, I'll make an exception for Amy Lee. I'm certainly not above pop though and the late, great Marie Fredricksson was wonderful. Also Jewel is low-key amazing, what she can do with her voice is not discussed enough.

    Also a fan of Kim Deal (Breeders, as well as the Amps), Harriet Wheeler (Sundays) Aimee Mann, Kate Bush, and back in the day, Terri Nunn.

    Veering in a different direction, I will always listen to Caron Wheeler (most known for "Back to Life" from Soul II Soul) and Joss Stone, and have been a fan of Sade since Diamond Life came out.

    As for super-charged voices on the scale of Amy Lee, Floor Jansen is probably the best singer I've ever heard (Nightwish). Best female voice few have heard has got to be Grace Potter (local connection shout-out).

    As for the classics? Linda Ronstadt belongs on every list of great female singers.

    A couple no one remembers anymore: Basia and Carmel McCourt.

    Regarding what you mentioned, as far as Mazzy Star, you've got to add "Bells Ring," off the same CD, terrific song. I like Metric a lot, although I've kind of OD'd on them. One that I'm not sick of though is "Dark Saturday" off their most recent album. I'll have to check that Chandelier cover. I find I detest the current musical treatment of pop songs. You can tell Chandelier is a good song but it's hampered by the sameness that plagues pop radio from the last 10-15 years and it's why I can't even listen to contemporary pop radio. I've listened to Lacuna Coil on youtube. I need to see more to get an appreciation. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of maybe 2 bands that my daughter and I both appreciate.

    Female singers that are always in rotation are:

    Linda Ronstadt
    The Sounds

    Other than Carrie Underwood and The Band Perry I couldn't tell you anything about female country music (is Martina McBride still a thing?). Fortunately that station is never on anywhere I am, and I live in a very countrified area.

  8. Great list! I was happy to see Gavin mention Jenny Lewis, and I'll throw out a few others myself:
    -ZZ Ward
    -Sara Bareilles
    -Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo)
    -Ingrid Michaelson
    -Kimberly Perry (the Band Perry)
    -Zoey Deschanel (She & Him)
    -God Help the Girl
    -Neko Case
    -Camera Obscura
    -All Angels
    -Lily Allen
    -Wailin' Jennys
    -KT Tunstall
    -Kate Nash
    -Regina Spektor

    1. I second Sara Bareilles, and Camera Obscura. My favorite Bareilles album is Kaleidoscope Heart, the songs are all complex and take all kinds of twists and turns.
      Camera Obscura is great if for no other reason than their Scottish accents!

  9. Not many female singers in metal but there are some really good ones, mostly from Europe. The band Nightwish had two different female singers, different styles but both really good. Doro Pesch is another great female metal singer.

  10. I'm also in that older camp. For me, the go-to female artists are Dusty Springfield and the Bangles. If you're not familiar with their work, give them a shot.

    There's a great, little known album from the early 90's by A'Me Lorain & The Family Affair called Starring In...Standing In A Monkey Sea. The hit single (which I haven't heard on the radio in decades) was "Whole Wide World" which was pretty much a Paula Abdul knockoff, but the rest of the album is more diverse and really, really good. Unfortunately she doesn't seem to have recorded since then. Another great lost album is the 1970 self-titled album by Doris Troy backed by a band that includes Eric Clapton, Steven Stills, and a couple Beatles.

    Just scanning down my music folders, I'll also mention Aimee Mann, Alison Krauss, Blondie, Darlene Love, Koko Taylor, Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Primitives, and the Shirelles. Yeah, I'm old.

  11. i was first introduced to mazzy star thanks to their collaboration with the jesus & mary chain. some other female voices i enjoy listening to include maria mckee (lone justice), aimee mann, liz phair, caitlin cary (whiskeytown), and even a couple of songs from hole. there are a bunch of others in my library, too. right now i am listening to some my marianne thanks to "eurovision song contest: the story of fire saga".

  12. If you want to compromise with country sounds with your manager, Margo Price is pretty awesome, and I've always been an Emmylou Harris fan. Country music from the 60s and 70s comes from a different world than more recent country music. Dolly Parton is great, honestly. I'd also throw in Kate & Anna McGarrigle (Rufus Wainright's Mom and Aunt), for something folky. Also, First Aid Kit (sisters that harmonize like Simon & Garfunkel, sometimes literally by covering their songs). Another folky singer songwriter I like is Basia Bulat, but beware, she plays a ukelele un-ironically.

    That's funny you say that about Paramore, even though I liked their earlier albums I love "After Laughter," so probably the exact opposite of your taste on that.

    If you are into Best Coast, I recommend Alvvays, Phoebe Bridgers, Snail Mail and Tennis

    If you are into Mazzy Star, I recommend Waxahatchee, Angel Olsen, and Laura Marling (if Leonard Cohen had great female vocals... he might have sounded like Laura Marling, great songwriter).

    If you like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I'd also recommend Dum Dum Girls (Kristin Gundred aka Dee Dee). The lead singer sounds at times like Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. As a tangent, I'd also recommend Frankie Rose (was the original drummer for Dum Dum Girls - think 80s synthpop)

    You probably already know this based on your first picture, but there's a version of "Black Sheep" with Brie Larson's actual vocals instead of Emily Haines - I wouldn't say it is better, but both are worth listening to.

    The Faders sounds kind of like Band of Skulls to me, they had a song "I know what I am" on a verson of MLB the Show, which is where I heard them first.

    A newer band I like to run through brick walls listening to is called Savages - they might already have broken up, lead singer Jehnny Beth has a solo album out now, but their album "Adore Life" is a favorite of mine. Savages doesn't really sound like Lacuna Coil, but if I'm trying to put recommendations into groups, I get pumped up in a similar way listening to them.

    Sleater-Kinney, The Breeders (Kim Deal or NO DEAL, thank you), Sonic Youth, and Bikini Kill/Le Tigre/The Julie Ruin (all Kathleen Hanna) are 90s Seattle Punk/Grunge highlights for me. Current Seattle punk, I vote for singer Emily Nokes of the band Tacocat. If you want something punky from the 70s, I'd throw in The Avengers and of course the Runaways.

    And since this is already way too long, another list of artist I didn't see already listed that I like.
    The New Pornographers (specifically the solo albums of --->) / Neko Case / Kathryn Calder
    Purity Ring (Megan James - a lot like Chvrches, come to think of it)
    The Beths (Elizabeth Stokes - they are from New Zealand, how fun! They are getting played on the radio a lot here in MN)
    Cat Power (Chan Marshall)
    Thao Nguyen (of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down)
    The Heavy Circles (remember Edie Brickell? This is her and her Stepson Harper Simon)
    Warpaint (Emily Kokal)
    Hospitality (Amber Papini)

  13. I not ashamed to admit I am a huge Paramore fan. Glad to see there is another one as well. I listen to them often. There last CD, well I believe it was their last one that featured Hard Times definitely wasn’t as good as the previous ones.

  14. Most of what I listen to in the car (on SiriusXM) is hard rock and metal, so I get a lot of Heart, Pat Benetar, Amy Lee, and Lacuna Coil, though I don't think Christina Scabbia fulfills her potential in that band.

    Back in the 90's and early 2000's I was into Shania Twain, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks, Lari White, Lee Ann Womack, LeeAnn Rimes, and SheDaisy. Also liked some lesser known gals like Mandy Barnett, Chely Wright, Mindy McCready, and several others that I can't name right now.

    I'll often fall asleep to a channel on my Alexa with Adele, Sade (who I've seen live), Dido, Sarah McLachlan, and Natalie Merchant. Second the Basia too.

    And a guilty pleasure I discovered way back was Robyn, who is more pop/dance.

  15. I'm late to this party, it seems, but I have to put in mentions for Paula Toller (from the Brazilian band Kid Abelha), Michelle Branch, and Alison Krauss.

    I'm not one to hate on country music, but for about 15 years the genre has taken a turn for the worse. I call it "bro-country" and it's just not the same as George Strait and Chris LeDoux.

  16. Great post - I've often said that females singing rock is one of the best sounds out there. I love the mention of Veruca Salt (one of my personal favorites). I'd also add Letters To Cleo, The Cardigans, No Doubt, Tonya Donelly (Throwing Muses/The Breeders/Belly), Lisa Loeb, and Julianna Hatfield.

  17. Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams are a couple "country-ish" female singer/songwriters (in addition to the aforementioned Neko Case) with some great stuff that you could try sneaking into your boss's ear.

  18. Always gotta mention Kim Shattuck of The Muffs whenever this topic comes up. The most underrated '90s singer with the most underrated '90s band.