Hey, Ladies: Five Female Musicians at the Top of Their Game
Pieter M. van Hattem
Anything you can do I can do better. Of course, that isn't the case if you can actually do it better.
Just to be clear, this list isn't about girl power. No doubt, there are dudes who rock harder than some girls and girls who rock harder than some dudes. Talent isn't a gift that affects one gender in greater numbers than the other.
This is about giving credit where credit is due. It's about equal press coverage for equal skills. And it's inspired by Tempe's Black Carl, which features soul songstress Emma Pew, who opens for Hanni El Khatib Thursday at Crescent Ballroom.
That said, men dominate the rock scene. It's just a fact. You could argue that, perhaps, men are more likely to be drawn to the genre than women. You could suggest that music is a more popular path for men than it is women, simply based on the fact that it's more socially acceptable for a man to pick up a guitar than a woman.
Just ask any woman who plays guitar. As they casually drop the fact into conversation, it's met with nothing but oohs and ahhs. That, and some sudden sexual attraction from any man in the room.
Maybe that was her goal all along. After all, guys start bands every day for the chicks.
It doesn't really matter why these chicks started playing music. They're at the top of their game right now, and they totally rule.
Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast
Best Coast will release their second full-length disc, The Only Place, on May 15 as a follow up to 2010's whiny, amateurish, yet completely sincere and catchy Crazy for You. It was brash. The lyrics were simple, if not immature and obsessive, and were all written by Cosentino. But as they're presented with lo-fi beach- rock attitude, you can't help but think she's the crazy girlfriend of your dreams.
Just try to get away from "Disparate Youth" this year. It's impossible, but we're not complaining. The Philly-based singer has a knack for making commercial-friendly pop that doesn't disrupt the hipster microcosm. Formerly of punk rockers Stiffed, this chick can pretty much do it all.
No, St. Vincent, otherwise known as Annie Clark, isn't new to the music scene. She spent time touring with Sufjan Stevens and was once a member of The Polyphonic Spree -- though I think almost everyone has that on their résumé. It was a cool start to her experiment with the avant-garde, which eventually gave way to her first commercially successful album, Actor, and 2011's Strange Mercy, which is just plain beauty on vinyl.
Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag
The Portlandia push no doubt catapulted Brownstein from what Rolling Stone once called the 12th-most "underrated guitarist" in music to the Portland-spoofing, musician-slash-comedian the 37-year-old budded into. Formerly of alt rockers Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein went on to form Wild Flag with Janet Weiss of her old band, plus fellow lady rockers from Helium and The Minders.
Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes
As singer of the Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard deals with a lot of shit. Primarily from YouTube commenters, never failing to be classy, stating the shockingly soulful frontwoman isn't quite up to their superficial standards of what a woman should look like. But she never set out to be a beauty queen. She's a musician, and the heart aches at just the thought of her gritty groan in "Boys and Girls."
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