A couple of years back, we stumbled across something called A Reference Of Female-Fronted Punk Rock — a wonderful, exhaustive compilation of old school female-fronted punk bands from 1979-1989. (You can find it here if you’re interested.) But as much as we love all the bands featured, we got to thinking recently: well, what about their contemporary counterparts? We’ve been amusing ourselves putting together a selection, and with the new Screaming Females record, Ugly, out this week, it seems a good time to break out some of our favorites. Suggestions are, as ever, welcome — if we get enough we might do a Volume II!
A classic power trio possessing a frontwoman who can scream with the best of them, Screaming Females’ sound recalls the glory days of Sleater-Kinney, which is pretty high praise as far as we’re concerned. Their name perhaps pokes just a wee bit of fun at popular perceptions of females in punk rock, but their music is no laughing matter — and boy, can Marissa Paternoster tear it up on the guitar.
Seattle’s Tacocat describe themselves in their Twitter profile as “equal parts Kurt and Courtney,” and as far as pithy summations of a band’s sound go, you could actually do a lot worse, although Tacocat are more pop-tastic than Nirvana or Hole ever allowed themselves to be. In any case, the description’s also a fine example of Tacocat’s sense of humor — they cite their “primary mission” as “FUN,” and released an EP last year called Take Me to Your Dealer. But for all their endearing goofiness, they’re also a fantastic and intelligent band, a fact that lifts them out of the realms of Best Coast-esque one-dimensionality. Excellent.
NYC band K-Holes share a label with Tacocat — they’re both signed to Seattle institution Hardly Art, which is a happy hunting ground for anyone harboring a fondness for melodic latter-day punk action. K-Holes are a different proposition from their labelmates, though — this is nasty, scary, dark music that sounds not unlike the band’s name. The video above just came out yesterday — it’s for their new single “Window in the Wall,” which is more ominous post-punk than flat-out punk rock, a direction we’re liking a lot.
While we’re on nasty, scary noise, check out Australian three-piece Useless Children — not only does vocalist Cinta Masters raise almighty hell with her vocals, she does so while battering the shit out of her drum kit. Yikes. Curiously, Masters also plays in abstract electronic group Gold Tango, who couldn’t be more different from the pretty much unconstrained fury of Useless Children.
Australia’s got a surfeit of ace bands at the moment — lovers of female-fronted punk should also check out Terrible Truths and Super Wild Horses — but since we’re only picking one more here, we thought we’d highlight up-and-coming Perth group Golden Staph. They’re signed to consistently excellent Sydney label RIP Society (also home to awesome compatriots like Circle Pit, Royal Headache, and Zond), and have an album due out sometime this year. We’ve got a feeling it’s going to rule — say you heard about them first right here.
Shannon and the Clams
The eponymous Shannon is also one of Hunx’s Punx, and as with her “other” band, there’s a distinct Ramones-esque, garage-friendly bubblegum punk influence to be found in The Clams’ music. Shannon herself is a charismatic and generally awesome frontwoman, and we’re looking forward to hearing the result of their recent recording sessions in the Santa Cruz mountains in central California (with “a host of spider kin and a couple of fat mice crawling on the stained floor,” apparently.)
And now for something completely different. This Tokyo duo sound like someone putting slices of a Daphne and Celeste record through a blender — their ingenuous pop sound is somewhat reminiscent of compatriots like the 5,6,7,8s and Shonen Knife, but Trippple Nippples have a deranged charm all their own. Judging by the pictures on their website, their live show looks pretty amazing. And, um, “LSD” — “I like my LSD! I like my LSD!” — may well be our new favorite song.
Pop-tinged melodic punk is all very well, but sometimes you really just want to hear some really fucking loud guitars and lots of shouting. Step forward Brooklyn trio Shady Hawkins, who are only happy to oblige — their songs sound like they were recorded in the garage, and are all the better for it (notwithstanding their amusingly self-effacing Bandcamp bio: “fuck it, we’re better live”). And, of course, we’re all for puntastic band names that riff on celebrities. We can’t find any of their stuff on YouTube, but check out their five-song EP Sucia below!
Cunningly unGoogleable, Traveling are nevertheless worth tracking down (their Bandcamp site is here if you’re feeling lazy.) They play melodic pop-tinged punk with the subtlest of hard edges, and also share a member — bassist Ginger Alford — with the similarly worthy and similarly unGoogleable band Good Luck.
And finally, the mighty Mindtroll, possibly the world’s only punk band to feature an accordion (unless you count Gogol Bordello, we guess.) The band’s unusual songs — they have tracks called “Fort Greene Ice Cream” and “Baby Sluts,” amongst other things — befit their unusual set-up, and the combination makes them one of the more distinctive bands around at the moment. (They also do a mean cover version, as this cover of Salt N Pepa’s “Push It” from the Permanent Wave Halloween covers show last year demonstrates.) All in all, they’re idiosyncratic, raucous, and proudly DIY. And ultimately, that’s what punk’s all about, eh?