June 2, 2015

Bully; and thoughts on female-fronted rock bands

I briefly mentioned the band Bully in February as a part of a post about all the great female-fronted rock bands I have discovered in 2015. I read an interesting article about Bully this morning, and as their debut album approaches on June 23, here is a video about their band:



I have read in countless interviews that female musicians hate to be classified by their gender, and that is understandable. However, I can't help it.  I LOVE the sound of female vocals, and I personally classify female vocals as genre in my head and have done so for decades (despite the diversity of styles and sounds within that grouping). My February blog post got me thinking, and I eventually created three mixes, all with female vocals: the 90's, the 00's, and the 10's. It resulted in 65 total songs.

I listened to all three mixes in one day as I drove from Kandern to Frankfurt and back. I made some fascinating discoveries, and I apologize in advance if these are over-generalizations (some definitely are). Number one, there was an aggression found in female-fronted rock in the early 90's that was lost for almost 15 years. It wasn't until the past couple years that aggression and intensity returned, and Bully is a perfect example. Other recent examples are Speedy Ortiz and Cayetana.

Another discovery is that 90's bands with female vocals were primarily a bunch of guys with a girl singer. There are exceptions of course (Veruca Salt, That Dog), but SO many of those 90's bands (Sixpence None the Richer, Dakoda Motor Co.) the girls just sang. I have no problem with that, because I love their music no matter what the roles of the band members are. I recently wrote an article about two female-fronted rock bands that had a huge impact on me in the 90's:

Fleming & John’s ‘Delusions of Grandeur’ and Hoi Polloi’s ‘Happy Ever After’

In the 00's women seemingly began fronting bands more often--meaning not only did they sing--they wrote the songs, played guitar, etc. (Tegan & Sara, Eisley, Rilo Kiley). But as I mentioned, these bands were "clean" and "slick." Once again, I don't have a problem with that, as I love their music and the "prettiness" of some female-fronted music is undeniable and awesome. And a lot of this was just the style of the decade.

But now in the 10's we have both the aggression, intensity, and female leadership. Alicia Bognanno (Bully), Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz), and Augusta Koch (Cayetana) write the songs, play the guitar, sing lead vocals, and sometimes produce and record the music itself- and it is INTENSE:



Finally, using my iTunes as a database, I created a playlist of 70 female-fronted (or solo) rock artists that I love, and that I am forming my opinions with. So when I talk about loving female vocals, this is my point of reference. There is at least one album from every year from 1991 to the present, and no artist is listed more than once. (Sorry about the formatting; struggling to find the best way of getting the data out of iTunes into a post.)

If you have any recommendations on artists I am missing and unaware of, please comment!

My Bloody Valentine Loveless Blown A Wish 1991
Curve Doppelgänger Wish You Dead 1992
The Cranberries Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can't We? Dreams 1993
Dakoda Motor Co. Welcome Race Fans Alive 1994
Letters To Cleo Aurora Gory Alice Here & Now 1994
Veruca Salt American Thighs Seether 1994
Fleming & John Delusions Of Grandeur I'm Not Afraid 1995
Hoi Polloi Happy Ever After Tiptoe 1995
The Innocence Mission Glow Speak Our Minds 1995
No Doubt Tragic Kingdom Sunday Morning 1995
Raspberry Jam Oceanic Can I 1995
Sixpence None the Richer This Beautiful Mess Love, Salvation, The Fear Of Death 1995
Tess Wiley Splendora- Bootleg Pre-Release Version Skinny Little Line 1995
Aleixa Honey Lake Whirling Within 1996
Morella's Forest Ultraphonic Hiss Silver Syrup 1996
Jejune Junk Radical Firepower 1997
Jill Sobule Happy Town Bitter 1997
That Dog Retreat From The Sun (GBG Deluxe Edition) Never Say Never 1997
Velour 100 Of Color Bright Clouds 1997
The Cardigans Gran Turismo Hanging Around 1998
Hole Celebrity Skin Awful 1998
K's Choice Cocoon Crash Believe 1998
Plumb Candycoatedwaterdrops Damaged 1999
Ashen No Other Comfort Autopilot 2000
Over the Rhine Films For Radio Give Me Strength 2001
The Anniversary Your Majesty Devil On My Side 2002
Halo Friendlies Get Real Milwaukee 2002
Mates of State Our Constant Concern 10 Years Later 2002
The Reputation The Reputation The Stars Of Amateur Hour 2002
Rilo Kiley The Execution Of All Things Spectacular Views 2002
Rocking Horse Winner Horizon Orange Blossom 2002
Brown Feather Sparrow Wide Awakens Everything A Box Of Spring 2003
Cat Power You Are Free Free 2003
Evanescence Fallen Imaginary 2003
The New Pornographers Electric Version All For Swinging You Around 2003
Pretty Girls Make Graves The New Romance Something Bigger, Something Brighter 2003
Tegan & Sara So Jealous Speak Slow 2004
Cruiserweight Sweet Weaponry Goodbye Daily Sadness 2005
Sarah Hepburn Stars and Haze Hey…OK! 2005
Sleater-Kinney The Woods Entertain 2005
Headlights Kill Them With Kindness Put Us Back Together Right 2006
Rainer Maria Catastrophe Keeps Us Together Life of Leisure 2006
Great Northern Trading Twilight for Daylight Our Bleeding Hearts 2007
Via Audio Say Something Say Something Say Something We Can Be Good 2007
The Bridges Limits of the sky Pieces 2008
Juliana Hatfield How to Walk Away The Fact Remains 2008
Thao We Brave Bee Stings and All Swimming Pools 2008
Camera Obscura My Maudlin Career French Navy 2009
Best Coast Crazy For You Boyfriend 2010
Eisley The Valley Watch It Die 2011
Gemma Hayes Let It Break There's Only Love 2012
Hospitality Hospitality Friends Of Friends 2012
Lana Del Rey Born To Die Off To The Races 2012
Metric Synthetica Youth Without Youth 2012
Sarah Jaffe The Body Wins Glorified High 2012
Sleigh Bells Reign of Terror Crush 2012
CHVRCHES The Bones Of What You Believe Gun 2013
Echosmith Talking Dreams Come With Me 2013
Haim Days Are Gone If I Could Change Your Mind 2013
Alvvays Alvvays Archie, Marry Me 2014
The Casket Girls True Love Kills the Fairy Tale Ashes & Embers 2014
Cayetana Nervous Like Me Serious Things Are Stupid 2014
Haley Bonar Last War Bad Reputation 2014
Stars No One Is Lost Are You OK? 2014
Stranger Kings Stranger Kings All Of Everything 2014
Vekora Vekora Back For Lapse 2014
Bandit Of Life Losing In A Sense 2015
Bully Feels Like I Remember 2015
Football, etc. Disappear 7" Sunday 2015
Speedy Ortiz Foil Deer Puffer 2015

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