Feminism Rocks – Literally!

This blog needs a pick-me-up that I can’t provide at the moment – I just feel a bit too serious. Luckily Travis was kind enough to volunteer to step in with  some music-related commentary!

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It’s finally the weekend! Since I know we all need something to ease the tension from this past week, here is a list of five bands that are not only important to feminism but rock much harder than most groups!

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1. L7 : This all-female Los Angeles punk group released some great albums, especially 1992’s Bricks Are Heavy, which includes what is their most well-known song, “Pretend We’re Dead”, along with several other fantastic songs such as their attack on war in “Wargasm” and their derisive attack on society’s expectations for females in “Diet Pill”. L7 also formed Rock for Choice, a group formed to “mobilize the music community to protect abortion rights and women’s health clinics.”

gits_photo_012. The Gits: A sadly overlooked band, The Gits were a punk rock group fronted by the charismatic Mia Zapata, who has without a doubt one of the most incredible voices in rock and roll. After the devastating rape and murder of Zapata, her friends in the music industry banded together to create Home Alive, a “Seattle based anti-violence project that offers affordable self defense classes, provides public education and awareness, and leads local community organizing efforts,” that “encourages everyone to recognize their entitlement to the basic human right to live free from violence and hate.”

3. The Pastels: One of the most beautiful (and obscure) bands in the world, The Pastels have recorded so many remarkable albums such as their debut Up for a Bit With The Pastels and the near flawless Mobile Safari. The Pastels, made up of guitarist/vocalist Stephen Pastel, bassist/vocalist Aggi Wright, and drummer/vocalist Katrina Mitchell “were important for introducing a lot of the gender-interactive tendencies that would play such an important role in the indie scene in the ‘90s.”

4. Shonen Knife: Osaka, Japan’s all-female Shonen Knife began with three women in 1981; according to Michael Azerrad’s book Our Band Could Be Your Life, Naoko Yamano (guitar/vocals), Atsuko Yamano (drums), and Michie Nakatani (bass/vocals) had to “keep their band a secret from their families and employers, since it was considered unseemly in Japan for women to play rock music. Perhaps because of that repression, Shonen Knife’s music radiated a joyful sense of release.” Today Shonen Knife, comprising of Naoko Yamano along with drummer Etsuko Nakanishi and new bassist Ritsuko Taneda, still performs and rocks much harder than your favorite bands.

5. The Raincoats: Formed in 1977 by guitarist/vocalist Ana de Silva and bassist/vocalist Gina Birch, The Raincoats were one of the first all-female groups in the punk scene; their eponymous first album “razed away punk’s heaving machismo and boy’s-own bluster, subverting a stylistic orthodoxy with the most unusual instrumentation.” Although the Raincoats were “not the most famous, or most acclaimed, of London’s late-’70s post-punk milieu, [they] may be said scene’s best band,” as their quirky instrumentation and all-female presence in a male-dominated scene went on to undoubtedly influence many female rock groups such as Bikini Kill and Hole. 

I hope you take the time to listen to these bands and, if luck should have it, you’ll fall in love with their music as I have!

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