Sleater-Kinney, Veruca Salt: What are the most underrated female rock bands?

What Are the Most Underrated Female Rock Bands?

What Are the Most Underrated Female Rock Bands?

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Sept. 17 2015 7:04 AM

What Are the Most Underrated Female Rock Bands?

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The Donnas perform during the Sunset Strip Music Festival in 2009 in Los Angeles.

Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images

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Answer by Julie Anne Exter, board-certified music therapist, writer of mediocre songs:

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This is a deceptively complicated question. The short answer is actually all of them.

I happen to be a female rock musician, and rock music is still very much a boys' club in terms of respect for musicianship and songwriting skills. The first hurdle that women in rock music have to overcome is the fact that whatever music they're making is forever tied to their sexuality and femaleness, like it or not. If you're playing a guitar and you happen to own boobs, I'm embarrassed for humankind to report that your guitar-playing is not the first thing lots of people notice. Right, right, #notallmen. Still. A woman can have crazy musical chops and still be shelved in this day and age as “pretty good, for a girl.” Does that sound crazy? I'm the drummer in an all-girl rock band, and a well-meaning (male) audience member came up to me after our lastest gig and, thinking he was paying me a compliment, said those words verbatim. I didn't know whether to be embarrassed for him or indignant for myself.

So, having prefaced this answer with a feminist manifesto, here are some female-fronted rock bands that I think are underrated for one reason or another.

Sleater-Kinney. The musicianship in Sleater-Kinney will just straight-up blow your damn mind. Janet Weiss is among the greatest rock drummers of our time, and I don't think she gets half of the credit that she is due for being a master of the craft. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker are also outstanding musicians and songwriters, but I think it's Janet who really just shows up and kills it every time with little fanfare or attention.

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Veruca Salt. Full disclosure: They're my favorite band of all time, and I have the album art from Eight Arms to Hold You tattooed on me. So I'm a fangrrl. Veruca Salt had some fairly big hits in the '90s with “Seether” and “Volcano Girls,” but they never went as viral as they could have and should have. Then they went and broke up for the better part of 20 years, but I'm thrilled to report that they're back together and still killing it all these years later. I hope they get the attention they deserve this time around.

Hole. I know Hole has been defunct for a long time now, and that Courtney Love is widely talked about for reasons having nothing to do with music and having everything to do with being a hot mess, but I really think her guitar-playing never got the respect it deserved. She really didn't rely on conventional rock guitar chords and inversions at all. I'm pretty good at picking up guitar riffs by ear, and I have to tell you, I get tripped up on Hole songs. There's a lot more to them than a lot of people realize.

The Donnas. It's easy to get distracted by the fact that their lyrics tend to beat you over the head with dumb, drunken flirtation. Their songwriting is damn good, and they should have gotten way more attention than they ever did for it. They were an example of a female band that purposely played up their sexuality and have been made sort of a rock afterthought as a result. Just my 2 cents.

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