There Are a Ton of Great Female-Fronted Rock Bands Right Now

Categories: It's 2014

Though I confess to being an ardent reader of them, I'm resistant to shoveling my year's listening habits into a year-end list; looking back like that feels like underscoring the records I missed rather than the ones I was spinning endlessly. Beyond that, I find it nothing short of off-putting when critics pay particular attention to the gender of a given band, especially because that discussion only ever comes up when the gender is female. You never hear, "They're a really great rock band, and they're all men, too!" and, damn it, that ain't right.

With all of that said: Holy shit, there were a lot of great female-fronted records out in 2013.

The easy standout in a discussion of such a stellar collection of albums is going to be Savages, whose debut Silence Yourself is an unrelenting barrage, with all the intensity of a slightly more melodic Hüsker Dü. The post-punk tag somehow seems fresh and urgent in the hands of Savages, with Fay Milton's drums bellowing along like no one has ever drummed harder. Silence Yourself somehow makes the last 10 years of rock feel like it's been spinning its wheels.

And this is to say nothing, of course, of The Knife's proper follow-up to the unassailable Silent Shout: the equally staggering Shaking the Habitual, my pick for the best record of last year, standing head and shoulders above critical darlings Yeezus and Modern Vampires of the City.

While it's hard to say quite how democratic the songwriting is in the Knife (interviews with the band are few and far between), I'm apt to give singer Karin Dreijer-Andersson an awful lot of credit, and not just because Fever Ray is a bit more interesting than Oni Ayhun. And Shaking the Habitual seems to have drawn a line in the sand, a canister of tear gas thrown into the middle of the dance floor. In short, no one does this shit better than the Knife does it, with Shaking being their most enigmatic, challenging, political, and beautiful record yet.

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