I don’t know about you, but January felt a bit off for me. As usual, it took me time to get my equilibrium back after a few weeks of traveling, and I was met with a sudden onslaught of work at the end of the month. Throughout this time, I made the mistake of neglecting something that means a lot to me: my music collection. Nothing sounded appealing to me, I was sick of all the music I had and I didn’t have time to look for something new. But now it’s February, and I’ve come up for air long enough to address this issue. I realized that not only has there already been an incredible amount of good music released in 2018, but a large percentage of it is by female artists – a win-win. So as I freshen up my record collection, allow me to freshen up yours: here are six female-fronted records that are rocking my month.
Sydney Gish, No Dogs Allowed (self-released)
Just to make us all feel less accomplished, Boston college student Sidney Gish decided to release her second amazing full-length record before the age of 21. But this isn’t kid stuff: Gish’s music is playful and quirky with complex arrangements. Her penchant for catchy melodies and witty lyrics make No Dogs Allowed an utter delight and a breath of fresh air all the way through.
Anna Burch, Quit the Curse (Polyvinyl)
Detroit singer-songwriter Anna Burch’s debut album offers the kind of indie rock I can’t resist: ’60s girl group melodies tinged with sardonic, alt-girl vocals. Quit the Curse deals in relationships, self-doubt and small moments, and will hit the sweet spot for fans of Liz Phair and Vivian Girls.
H.C. McEntire, Lionheart (Merge)
Heather McEntire has released three albums as part of the alt-country band Mount Moriah, but she’s branching out on her own with Lionheart, a solo record powered by her rich voice and sharp songwriting. This record is fully situated in the south – McEntire is from North Carolina, and she conjures her homeland in these atmospheric songs. Yet in the most interesting material here, McEntire mines the gulf between her conservative upbringing and home with her embrace of her queer identity.
Shopping, The Official Body (FatCat)
There’s no denying it: the ’80s are back in a big way. And though there are many aspects of that decade that should stay in the past, I’m all for the music – in particular the angular post-punk of bands like Gang of Four and Siouxsie and the Banshees, two clear influences for London band Shopping. Though the band isn’t entirely female, singer Rachel Aggs’s cold-clap of a voice drives the band’s work. Despite their name, Shopping’s songs often explore anti-consumerist and other political themes. In a phrase, it’s killer dance music with substance.
Hollie Cook, Vessel of Love (Merge)
British musician Hollie Cook has a fascinating pedigree: her father is Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and her mother was a backup singer for Culture Club. With these genes, Cook’s music is as eclectic as one might expect. After playing for a time with the re-formed punk band the Slits, she has branched out into a full reggae sound with Vessel of Love. It’s a smooth, ethereal record that will have you pining for warmer weather.
awakebutstillinbed, what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you (self-released)
True confession: I turned 35 last month. This means that while I’m not quite in mid-life crisis territory, I’m fond of things that remind me of my youth. One of those things is emo – that tortured, melodramatic indie music popular during my high school and college years. While I wasn’t a full-fledged emo nut like some, whenever I hear The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good or Weezer’s Pinkerton, my heart swells with nostalgia. Enter awakebutstillinbed (winner of the most emo name ever), a young San Jose band fronted by singer-songwriter Shannon Taylor. With raw, shambling, guitar-driven songs, this record will transport you right back to your dorm room-wallowing drama days. For better or for worse.