From styles that range from sweet, sad pop to in-your-face blistering punk rock, there are plenty of talented female musicians showing off their skills in bands all around metro Phoenix. We made a list of 10 local bands to check out that are fronted by women. Here they are, in alphabetical order. You’re welcome.
1. Battered Suitcases
Led by lead singer and bassist Sharon Case, who also handles the same duties in longtime local punk outfit Labor Party, Battered Suitcases deliver lyric-driven rock ’n’ roll. The band’s name comes from writer Jack Kerouac’s iconic novel, On the Road, and the band is equally committed to crafting gritty poetic statements that reflect life’s often harsh realities. Not only is the band fronted by a female, they’ve got Jess Case on drums, and she’s nothing short of a maniac — hitting hard, well, and with passion. Another Labor Party founding member, Frankie Case, handles the propulsive guitar work.
2. Carol Pacey & the Honey Shakers
Carol Pacey is an East Coast transplant who fell in love with the Arizona landscape and decided to get a band together. She and her Honey Shakers play a very spunky blend of folk, rock, and alt-country. Her voice is effortless and glides like silk through any of the specific styles she chooses to embrace. There’s a sense of power and comfortability that permeates the band’s offerings. Whether it’s an up-tempo stomper that gets you dancing, or a low and slow ballad, the band as a unit is strong.
3. Cherie Cherie
When you feel like getting into a hypnotic state, it's a good time to listen to Cherie Cherie. The band is made up of longtime members of the local music scene, including Lonna Kelly, who’s been in various bands and also recently released a critically acclaimed solo record called Take Me Home Superman. Her voice draws you into a lull and the folky psychedelic sounds surround you, enveloping you into a trance as you follow the tunes to their end. Songs like “Down, Down, Down” are reminiscent of the loveliest Velvet Underground’s moments.
4. The Declaimed
When it comes to local hardcore band The Declaimed, the phrase “punk as fuck” is completely applicable and utterly true. This four-piece band comprising longtime friends cranks out fast and vicious tunes that blast you in the face. Whether the song is about world issues or personal stuff, this team isn’t sugarcoating a damn thing. Lead singer Jen Holiday might be small in stature, but her voice is giant and brutal. At live shows, you’ll see she means business as you watch her neck veins nearly explode throughout the performance.
5. Doll Skin
These four young ladies have been playing together for about three years now, forming when a couple of them were barely teenagers. The group delivers solid and concise anthemic rock songs that are sprinkled with some pop, punk, and a little glittery glam. Not long after they started, they garnered a healthy dose of attention. One person that took a long look was Megadeth bassist and co-founder Dave Ellefson. He liked Doll Skin so much that he took them on tour and recently released their debut album, In Your Face, on his record label.
6. Language Barrier
This sad-pop trio isn’t afraid to strip down and embrace minimalism. Using guitar, bass, piano, and percussion, the group crafts and delivers short, sad songs that stay on your mind. The musical starkness adds to the mood, combining perfectly with singer Allie Long’s sweet voice that is both simultaneously childlike and adult-lonely. An overall haunting sensibility abounds. Songs like “Fingers/Fists” creates a little bit of cognitive dissonance as you hear this small and innocent voice repeating lines like, “My fingers are permanently locked from clutching so hard.” Perfect rainy day music to soundtrack those solitary, self-reflective moments.
7. Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra
This dynamic, rhythmic orchestra is one of the Phoenix area’s most unique groups. PAO was founded in 2013 by David Marquez, and the band brings together a diverse and seriously talented group of musicians from around town. They have joined forces to showcase the Afrobeat sound, which weaves together jazz, funk, percussion, and chant-style vocals. Together, their union has created a force that showcases precision, skill, and soulful sincerity. With seasoned vocalist Camille Sledge at the helm, driving this funky ship, it’s impossible not to get locked in PAO’s solid grooves.
Two-piece bands seem prevalent lately and we’ve got a couple of our own in the Valley, including Shovel. Dusty Rose sings and plays guitar, the latter of which she has been known to smash into bits at the end of a live set. Her grungy, noisy guitar and vocals shift between growly and sweet, giving nods to some of the Sub Pop sounds of the early ’90s. Ward Reeder, who local rockers refer to as “Phoenix’s Keith Moon,” stays consistently ballistic on the drums, keeping you on edge with his chaotic style.
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If this is the first time you’ve heard Treasurefruit, don’t be surprised if you think you recognize the lead singer’s voice. It’s probably because there is a good chance you’ve heard it before. That’s Anamieke Quinn, and she and her guitar have spent years making the rounds, performing all over the Valley, from bars and clubs to festivals and special events. She’s been in different bands, as well. In this band, her voice moves like a smooth rollercoaster as she sings her tales, maneuvering through high and low notes while keeping a pervasive sultry softness throughout.
10. Venomous Pinks
One look at this group of ladies and you know they’ve been around the block a few times. They drip with world-weary attitude and they’re not about to take your bullshit. Their fueled-up punk rock is more than proficiently played but still manages to maintain a rawness and edge that makes you feel like the whole thing could erupt into utter chaos at any given point. The band has been together for more than a decade and has shared the stage with a lot of well-known punk bands like PiL, The Queers, The Adicts, and Naked Aggression.