If Lou Reed were in his twenties and started the Velvet Underground today, they might sound something like Spowder.
We live in a great age for discovering music, via platforms like Bandcamp, Spotify, et al., and with that ability comes easier exposure to different perspectives. Even though rock ‘n’ roll has historically been a male-dominated institution, there exists an abundance of exciting voices of women and people outside of the gender binary. From large names – Against Me!’s jaw-dropping mid-career revival Transgender Dysphoria Blues; Sleater-Kinney’s triumphant return on No Cities to Love; and the ever-relentless Screaming Females – to the bands you’re likely to find playing in a basement or living room, these acts are making waves in the stagnant waters of rock music.
Below are some of the most exciting non-male artists I know. Do you know any that the world needs to hear? Send us an e-mail, and we’ll include them in next week’s list.
ROMP (New Brunswick, NJ) –
It has been just under a year since ROMP self-released Sorry, Not Sorry, their debut EP. In that time, they have trail blazed the United States. Living somewhere in the gray space between indie and pop-punk, ROMP delivers anthemic choruses and unforgettable live shows. Their debut album is due out later this year on Bad Timing Records.
CUTTERS (Brooklyn, NY) –
Last summer’s We Are the Quarry and subsequent touring have introduced Brooklyn’s CUTTERS as an exciting, passionate act. Though punk in their roots, the eight-song LP explores ambient and jazzy sounds and subverts verse/chorus/bridge songwriting conventions. Standout tracks like “Young Gods” and “Excitable Liefeld” explore anguish, drug abuse, and searching for purpose, but – most importantly – offer hope.
Chattel Tail (Pittsburgh, PA) –
Love, depression, anxiety, and cute mice: all in a day’s work for Chattel Tail. Pittsburgh’s Laura Lee has used the moniker since 2013 to craft affecting folk tunes. The group plans to release full band recordings sometime in the future, but the sparse Leaves serves as a perfect, sorrowful introduction.
Palehound (Yonkers, NY) –
Palehound has just recently released what might be the best album of the summer, last month’s Dry Food. Unexpected rhythms, complex but not overbearing guitar work, and keen self-awareness propel Ellen Kemper’s indie punk songs to great heights.
Julien Baker (Memphis, TN) –
The moment Julien Baker opens her mouth to sing, “Wish I could write songs about anything other than death“, you will not forget her voice. “Sprained Ankle”, the lead single from the forthcoming album of the same name, is a dreamy, wistful tune that will catch your ear immediately. Baker’s album debuts on October 23, and you can pre-order now via 6131 Records.
Spowder (Morristown, NJ)
If Lou Reed were in his twenties and started the Velvet Underground today, they might sound something like Spowder. Combining the echoey guitar riffs and brusque vocals of psychedelia with punk sensibilities, their EP Desert Safari Swamp is a must-hear. “My House Smells Like Kim Deal” will stay in your head for the rest of the day.
Raivoraittius (Finland) –
Raivoraittius are queer, straight edge, vegan and angry. Their self-titled EP is a heavy hitter, on which they scream anti-establishment sentiments (“It’s time to destroy cis hetero patriarchy!”) and lament the growing nag of misanthropy (“Little by little/Step by step/I lose my faith in human”). If we are indeed in an age of new perspectives, what better soundtrack than these pointed messages?