Archive | March, 2013

Women’s History Month – Women Who Rock…Lovely & Loud in the Now

29 Mar

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

Click to watch “Zero”

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

Click to watch The Kills’ “Tape Song”

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

Click to watch “Never Go Back”

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

Click to watch “Love Bites (So Do I)”

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.


Click to watch Band of Skulls’ “I Know What I Am”

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

Click to watch Evanescence’s “Everybody’s Fool”

Amy LeeRecently 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.


Click to watch The Joy Formidable’s “Cholla”

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.


Click to watch “Sticky Honey”

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.


Click to watch “Elephants”

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

Click to watch Paramore’s “Now”

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.


Click to watch Metric’s “Youth Without Youth”

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

Click to watch Jenny and Johnny’s “Big Wave”

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

Click to watch “Romance”

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.


Women’s History Month – Women Who Rock…Grrrls of the 90s

22 Mar

Ah, alas, we have arrived at the 90s, a time period rife with fierce female energy and feminine manifestos lamenting bad break-ups and their rightful place in a world dominated by men. It was a decade that featured a sexy pool of female talent; females who weren’t going to sit quietly in a corner looking frail and weepy. No, these women weren’t going to take men’s shit any longer, in fact, they were going to sing about the shit their men put them through, immortalizing their feminist woes and the men who’d done them wrong forever in song.


Click to watch “You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette – Morissette stood apart from the grunge movement that consumed the whole of the 90s, and, truth be told, she stood apart from everyone, claiming her own corner of the music industry with Jagged Little Pill and the hell-hath-no-fury anthem, “You Oughta Know,” an angst-ridden confessional that is lyrically courageous, fierce, expository and vulnerable. She became the radio-friendly poster girl for angry young women, leading the way for many of the ladies listed here to sing the same.


Click to watch “Stupid Girl”

Shirley Manson – Hottie? Check. Sexy accent? Check. Perfect blend of delicate songbird and badass frontwoman? Double, triple check. Dressed in the uniform of the 90s: melancholy pout, short skirts, fishnets and combat boots, Shirley Manson played the part of Misery Chick well as singer for the band Garbage. She’s made headlines recently showing her supreme support for Record Store Day, saying, “(Record Store Day) promotes the belief that time spent exploring a small, lovingly curated record store, discovering artists, music and ideas can arm you against anything that ever threatens to overwhelm or engulf you.”

nina and louise

Click to watch Veruca Salt’s “Shutterbug”

Veruca Salt – Besties Louise Post and Nina Gordon would stand side by side belting out songs like “Seether” and “Volcano Girl” onstage every night and then retreat to their hotel rooms where the pair would talk for hours on the phone. A falling out between the two fractured the group, reducing Veruca Salt to a tragic platonic love story and silencing, in my eyes, one of the best bands to come out of the 90s (see Eight Arms to Hold You).

polly jean2

Click to watch “Rid of Me”

PJ Harvey – While “Down by the Water” and Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea are more my speed, Harvey’s Rid of Me is a stand-out. Adding to the list of crazy ex-girlfriend albums (see Alanis Morissette and Liz Phair), her pure, unadulterated fury and unabashed raw power is spilled across this Steve Albini-produced gemstone.


Click to watch “Zombie”

Dolores O’Riordan – As frontwoman for the Cranberries, O’Riordan’s aggro-Irish lilt cuts like glass, and her pixie-esque frame only adds to the wonderment that such a big sound can come out of such a tiny person.


Click to watch “I’m Just a Girl”

Gwen Stefani – Cloaked in a cutesy vocal trill and pseudo-bashful, eyelash-batting stare, Gwen Stefani asked to “take this pink ribbon off my eyes” in the irony heavy, “I’m Just a Girl.” As a result, she removed the pink ribbon from many women’s eyes. Stefani stood far apart from her grunge girl counterparts, fronting the ska-heavy No Doubt, but she still showed lyrical sister solidarity and staying power, going on to become a fashion icon and designer, successful solo artist and one in a string of celebrity singers whose husbands were referred to as Mr. (Insert Female Moniker), with the honor for Mr. Gwen Stefani going to hottie rocker, Gavin Rossdale.


Click to watch Hole’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman”


Hole – Courtney Love may be the train wreck everyone can’t turn away from, but she’s got her toehold in music history, nonetheless, and it’s firmly rooted in the 90s. As frontwoman for the 75% female band Hole (alongside equally as kick-ass  rockers, if not more so, Melissa Auf der Maur and Patty Shemel), Love is considered by some to be a modern day Yoko Ono, but she’s also a no-holds-barred rock chick who gave an outside voice to every woman’s inner dialogue and spawned a legion of girls dressed as broken dolls just like her.

bikini kill

Click to watch “Rebel Girl”

Bikini Kill – Responsible for spawning the riot grrrl, movement, Bikini Kill were a punk rock feminist quartet with Runaways leanings, which can be heard all over the Joan Jett produced “Rebel Girl.” Lead vocalist Kathleen Hanna is married to a Beastie (Ad-Rock), dated Dave Grohl, started Riot Grrrl, a fanzine that spawned the movement of the same name, and is the person who scribbled “Smells like Teen Spirit” on Kurt Cobain’s wall. I don’t really need to say what came of that, do I?


Click to watch “Pretend We’re Dead”

L7 – L7 formed in the 80s but were easily rolled into the fold of the grunge movement alongside other female-heavy acts Hole and Bikini Kill. Although their act was full of tampon flinging and dropping trough on national TV, the ladies of L7 ultimately wielded their power for good and started Rock for Choice, a pro-choice organization.

liz phair2

Click to watch “Supernova”

Liz Phair – Gender bender Liz Phair wasn’t afraid to tackle taboo topics and sing about subject matter once deemed unbecoming of a lady to talk about. Her Exile in Guyville is like a raw nerve stroke of genius. Another post-break-up nugget, Guyville was also a response to the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, each song on Guyville meant to parallel each track on the famous Stones album.


Click here to watch “My Favorite Mistake”

Sheryl Crow – A dirty-hot vibe, growling rasp, and impressive cadre of  collaborations, the former back-up singer for the King of Pop decided to forgo the angry young woman route traveled by so many of the ladies listed here and struck a balance between standing her ground and exposing her soft underbelly in a, musically, very straightforward way. Instead of screaming about how her man had done her wrong, Crow begged the question, “Are you strong enough to be my man?”

kim deal 2

Click to watch the Breeders’ “Cannonball”

Kim Deal – For the first two Pixies’ albums, bassist Kim Deal went by Mrs. John Murphy, a name chosen as an ironic feminist joke. Her stint as Mrs. John Murphy may have put her on the map, but “Cannonball” off the second album Last Splash by the Breeders, the band she started with twin sister, Kelley, shot her into the mainstream. 

Not wild about Scott Weiland’s performance at the Bethlehem Sands Casino

15 Mar

Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity. Scott Weiland is one of rock’s great frontmen. He is also a great frontman overshadowed by the attention he receives in the media, most recently for being “fired” from Stone Temple Pilots, the band he helped found and a claim Weiland refutes.

Perhaps the petty nature of all this back and forth between him and his now ex-bandmates is one reason why attendance was so low last night at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where Scott Weiland performed, backed by his solo band, the Wildabouts.

To start, Weiland took the stage forty minutes late, making his lateness as much of a signature as his onstage swagger. A review in the Lehigh Valley Times cited Weiland as saying he was late because he was watching The Hobbit. How very rock n’ roll of you, Scott Weiland. I heard the word “Hobbit” come out of his mouth, but the garbled string of words surrounding it was lost on me…and I was standing four people deep from the stage.

The tour, aptly titled “The Purple to the Core Tour” features hits  from Stone Temple Pilots’ first two albums, Core and Purple, respectively. But last night, the covers had it. Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song,” the Libertines’ “Can’t Stand Me Now,” with bassist Tommy Black sharing vocals, and even a cover of the Doors “Roadhouse Blues” were hands down highlights, although the latter was a bit cringe-worthy as Weiland, supposedly sober but appearing not so, sang about “grabbing himself a beer.” It’s a song, and an iconic one at that, I do realize, but it still felt in poor taste given Weiland’s aforementioned incoherence.

Scott Wldabouting

Lead singers’ solo careers tend to succeed marginally more than the former bands they fronted, but seeing Weiland perform STP standards like “Sex Type Thing,” “Crackerman” and “Creep” with the Wildabouts proves STP is only as good as the sum of its parts.

Scott Weiland’s Wildabouts are a talented pool of musicians, and the new arrangements of old STP favorites were good, but they weren’t…STP. They lacked the chemistry and charisma that made Stone Temple Pilots one of the most famous hard rock acts of the 90s. Weiland, himself, even seemed lost and out of place among it all.

I so very much wish Weiland and his former STP bandmates, Eric Kretz and the DeLeo brothers, Robert and Dean, would resolve and rise above their issues to reclaim their spot as a tour-de-force rock band who made kick-ass rock n’ roll once upon a time.

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