The ladies rocking the rock scene right now have the numbers and the talent that rivals any other decade in this series, but they are sadly lacking in publicity and commercial presence. The word “indie” applies to almost all of them in the genre sense, largely out of a lack of knowing where to put them. Too bad, because this part of the list is comprised of some serious kick-ass talent.
Karen O - Karen O wonders where the balls went in rock n’ roll, begging the question, “Where has all the charisma and the sexuality and the gnarl gone?” Nowhere, Karen O. Not as long as you’re around.
Alison Mosshart - Mosshart has her hands in almost as many projects as Jack White, which is fitting since White tapped her to lend her lead vocal stylings to his side project, the Dead Weather. Her day job is with the Kills, a garage-rock duo who are a little bit blues, a little bit American (Mosshart), a little bit British (guitarist Jaime Hines) and a whole lot rock n’ roll. They’re mastering a throwback quality set to a synth soundtrack that is best viewed through a haze of cigarette smoke and after a slow pull of whiskey, which, coincidentally, describes Mosshart’s voice.
Grace Potter – I’m kind of obsessed with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the moment, and you should be, too. Potter is a knockout with a voice that’s an aural assault, tinges of Janis Joplin and Sheryl Crow running through, and the Nocturnals are a perfect combination of classic, Southern-flavored rock meets modern indie/synth rock. Check them out now.
Lzzy Hale - Lead singer for Halestorm, Hale has talked of forming a female rock supergroup a la the Runaways. She was also tapped for a remake of the Ozzy Osbourne/Lita Ford power ballad “Close My Eyes Forever” with Disturbed vocalist David Draiman on his side project Device’s new album. Hale could no doubt give Joan Jett and Lita Ford a run for their money.
Emma Richardson – As bassist and vocalist for the Brit trio Band of Skulls, Emma Richardson is a woman who rocks because of this simple fact: she can explode out of your speakers with her sultry voice and driving bass line and then quiet it down to a come hither whisper and sing oh-so-sweetly.
Amy Lee – Recently labelled 2013’s reigning Goddess of Rock by Loudwire, Lee is also the Ambassador for the Underdog, giving a voice to all those who feel misunderstood and different. And what a voice it is.
Ritzy Bryan – Don’t let Ritzy Bryan’s sweet, fairy look fool you. As lead singer for the Joy Formidable, an artsy/noise rock trio hailing from North Wales, Bryan is a smasher of guitars and bringer back of baby doll dresses a la Courtney Love, circa 1992. On second thought, when drawing that comparison, let Ritzy Bryan’s sweet, fairy look captivate you. I interviewed Joy Formidable bassist (and Bryan’s boyfriend), Rhydian Dafydd back in September 2011. Check the interview here.
Juliette Lewis - It’s true: Juliette Lewis is a woman who rocks, and not just for her Oscar nom-worthy acting skills. She’s a legit Woman Who Rocks, with or without the Licks, the band she formed and fronted in the early 2000s. Think Iggy Pop with lady bits.
Warpaint – Like Veruca Salt before them, Warpaint co-founders Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman are besties and have been since eighth grade. No bad blood and break-ups to speak of yet – and hopefully ever – and after a revolving door of line-up changes, which has included actress Shannyn Sossamon (her sister Jenny Lee Lindberg is and always has been Warpaint’s bassist) and the Chili Peps’ Josh Klinghoffer, Warpaint are a solid all-female unit of art rock, dream pop and beauty. Want proof? Click the pic above.
Hayley Williams – Paramore’s siren haired songstress has had a rough year, navigating her way through many of the cliched trials and tribs that come with being in a rock n’ roll band. But like any true rockin warrior princess Williams has emerged victorious with some of her fiercest, most honest lyrics yet. After a line-up shake-up last year, Paramore are back with a leaner, meaner version of themselves on what critics are already calling their best album yet, entitled Paramore, which drops in early April.
Emily Haines – Haines has all the trappings, I mean, makings of an independent woman. She’s stylish, talented and smart. An analog embracing, social media shunning, self-aware lady who not only knows the value of cultivating an image but of embracing her post as a woman and lead singer for indie-rock outfit, Metric, Haines is not a bad role model for ladies to have. Oh, and she rocks pretty hard, too.
Jenny Lewis - You may recognize Jenny Lewis from the Shelley Long helmed cheesefest Troop Beverly Hills or the obscure girl-power nugget Foxfire starring Angelina Jolie, or you may recognize her from one of the various musical projects she’s dotted the musical landscape with. Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Jenny and Johnny with boyfriend Johnathan Rice, and has made quite an impact all by her little lonesome.
Carrie Brownstein - Brownstein is a tour-de-force on the indie scene. She was at the tail end of the riot grrrl movement in the late 90s, singer-guitarist for alt-rock trio Sleater-Kinney, star of Portlandia with SNL’s Fred Armisen, NPR blogger and current singer-guitarist for the all-female Wild Flag alongside Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss. Singer-guitarist-blogger-actress-riot-grrrl-woman-who-rocks. Carrie Brownstein boasts what is perhaps the single most impressive hyphenate.
Click here to hear my Spotify playlist of all the women on all four lists in this series, plus many, many more.