Ke$ha aside, 2010 is shaping up to be a good year for women in music. Lilith Fair has returned, Hole is making a comeback, Gaga is queen of the world (or at the least the world of product placement), and there are a slew of female artists poised to make a breakthrough over the next nine months. From garage rockers to soulful singer-songwriters, we’ve found ten really great ones — destined to wind up on playlists everywhere.
To make it easier to identify the artists and bands that might fit in best with your taste, we offer you a humble guide to our picks, complete with comparisons to some ladies you may already love. Read on for our complete list — and a healthy dose of girl power.
If you’re a fan of Kate Bush or Florence & the Machine, then check out Marina & the Diamonds .
Welsh-born Marina Diamandis (she’s a solo act BTW; the “Diamonds” aren’t her backing band) and her quirky brand of piano-based pop had us from the get-go. After releasing two EPs, Diamandis recorded and released her first album,
, overseas earlier this year (the disc hits our shores on May 25th). She has a knack for writing catchy hooks and her offbeat vocal flourishes (cuckoos, electronic voice manipulation, and high-pitched chirps) remind us of Kate Bush’s earlier records. Plus, we checked her out at NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge last night and she’s an engaging live performer.
If you’re a fan of Live Through This–era Hole or Bikini Kill, then check out Vagina Panther .
Brooklyn-based indie garage rock band Vagina Panther recorded their debut album at NYC’s legendary Looking Glass Studio before it closed — and the resulting 11 tracks prove worthy of their lofty origins. Loud and high energy, the band (fronted by Dead June; yep, that’s her real name) is a bit of an enigma, with little information (aside from a cryptic website) about them online. If you wonder longingly where all of the angry female rockers went, VP is for you.
If you’re a fan of Benitez-era Madonnna or Kylie Minogue, then check out Ronika .
It’s the mid-eighties, Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait” is blasting from the DJ booth (to be followed shortly by Shannon’s “Let The Music Play”), and you are, of course, dancing like a fool. Flash-forward over two decades and we have Ronika, whose synth-based dance pop will bring you back to those days in a snap (or snap bracelet, shall we say). But there’s more to this girl than a schlocky gimmick; she’s got real ties to the UK’s underground dance scene and her aesthetic is way more CBGBs than Belinda Carlisle. She’s got an EP out now and while we couldn’t find any information about an upcoming LP release, we’re sure it’s imminent.
If you’re a fan of The Runaways or Garbage’s recent, poppier efforts then check out Plastiscines .
This Parisian all-girl rock group has been around since 2004, but their second album
(the first on Nylon magazine’s record label, NYLON records) is poised to make them huge stars. Their music has already been featured on Gossip Girl, but don’t let that deter you; their fun, energetic garage pop will win you over — especially on tracks like “Bitch” and “You’re No Good,” an inventive cover of the Linda Ronstadt classic. The band recently relocated to Los Angeles, and the influence can definitely be heard on the album, with slicker hooks and guitar riffs that are made for days of cruising the Pacific Coast Highway in a shiny red convertible.
If you’re a fan of Nina Simone or Erykah Badu, then check out Nneka .
In the spirit of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Nneka is bringing literate, well-informed hip-hop to the masses with her third album
(her first to be released Stateside). Already a highly regarded artist through Europe, she’s sure to gain a legion of American fans as she joins the ladies of Lilith on tour this summer. Her raspy voice tackles a variety of genres from reggae (“Africans”) to R&B (“The Uncomfortable Truth”) with ease and her lyrics prove that this a woman who has something to say — and sing about.
If you’re a fan of Carole King’s Tapestry or Duffy then check out Diane Birch .
Diane Birch wasn’t exposed to pop music growing up because of her deeply religious upbringing, but one listen to her debut album
and you’ll be convinced that her frame of reference was shaped by years of listening to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Dusty Springfield, and Laura Nyro. It’s an ambitious offering that blends elements of soul, gospel, and classic pop and has garnered heaps of critical acclaim. A true singer-songwriter, Birch is also different enough to distinguish herself from the pack of snoozy dilettantes laying claim to the title.
If you’re a fan of Sleater-Kinney or Vivian Girls, then check out Dum Dum Girls .
One of the new all-girl low-fi rock bands to emerge out of LA’s vibrant downtown music scene, Dum Dum Girls’ music simultaneously recalls PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me and classic Ronettes. Their debut album will be released on Seattle indie label Sub Pop later this month; it’s a tight, 11-song collection that pays tribute to the best in girl rock (frontwoman Dee Dee collaborated with famed producer Richard Gottenhrer, known for his work with the Go-Gos and Blondie). If you’re still mourning the deaths of Sleater-Kinney and Mika Miko, Dum Dum Girls just may be the second coming.
If you’re a fan of L’Trimm or Lily Allen, then check out Uffie .
Fans of this electro-pop rapper have waited almost three years for her debut album, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans to be released — and we still can’t find any sign of it on Amazon. Her style ranges from the sample-heavy party rap of “MCs Can Kiss” to the marvelously synth-y “Pop The Glock” (clearly influenced by the sounds coming out of her home city of Paris). If she can get the album out of the starting gate, we think Uffie could have a loyal following on our shores (where she was born). We’re ready to Uff.
If you’re a fan of Emmylou Harris or Allison Kraus and Union Station, then check out Sarah Jarosz .
This 19-year-old bluegrass wunderkind is the real deal — and has been sharing the stage with roots musicians like Ricky Skaggs and David Grisman since she was only 14. A multi-instrumentalist and singer, Jarosz’s songwriting is astute and informed, especially for someone so young, complete with her rich, beautiful harmonies and masterful mandolin playing. Her debut album
was released on small bluegrass label Sugar Hill Records (the same label that released Dolly Parton’s much-praised roots records in the early 2000s) and clearly signals the introduction of an exciting new talent in country and Americana music.
If you’re a fan of early Eurythmics or Ladyhawke, then check out I Blame Coco .
With a legendary performer as your dad and a well-known activist as your mom, the bar is already set pretty high, but Sting and Trudie Styler’s daughter Coco Sumner delivers with her band I Blame Coco. Island Records will release their debut album later this year, but the tracks that are already out there got our attention. Their specialty: dark electronic rock featuring Coco’s low, growling voice. It’d be easy to hate on a girl trying to launch a legit music career who’s also been featured in a Burberry ad campaign, but we just can’t seem to get I Blame Coco’s music out of our heads.