Back around 1994, riot grrrl bands were set to revolutionize both culture and music as one of the few female-led music moments of our time. The music — especially that of Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy, and Bratmobile — was angry and punk-influenced, and examined issues from a woman’s point of view and tried to get women far more involved in aggressive music and culture. Sadly, the movement spluttered to a halt after a relatively short period of time. Today, there are a new group of female musicians who are combining both angry, difficult music and feminist issues to form what could be considered a new ‘riot grrrl’ movement, although the bands themselves would probably disagree.
Syracuse’s Perfect Pussy are a band which incorporates white-noise style keyboard and feedback, rampaging punk rhythms, and most importantly the frenetic singing of Meredith Graves. Graves, who is also a writer of some renown, deals with very personal issues in her lyrics, which, when combined with the band’s uncompromising noise, makes for a difficult yet rewarding listen.
The highly emotional “Driver” from their debut album Say Yes To Love is a good example of what the band is about, as Graves shouts lyrics about eating stress and shitting blood while the band whips up a storm.
Canada’s White Lung are another female-fronted band who combine anger and feminist ideals to create some very exciting music. Lead by the charismatic Mish Way — who is able to scream up a storm — the band’s third album Deep Fantasy is one of the best punk albums of the year. The track ‘Snake Jaw’ deals with issues of body dysmorphia while ‘I Believe You’ looks at rape culture.
The band is more heavy than Perfect Pussy, and contain elements which could be considered almost metal, but nonetheless they are another band who are able to mix powerful music and uncompromising lyrics.
Washington DC’s Priests recent mini-album, Bodies and Control and Money and Power is practically a manifesto, as singer Katie Alice Greer takes on the excesses of the police in “Right Wing.”
Along with these bands, the recent reformations of bands associated in some way with the original ‘riot grrrl’ movement such as Sleater-Kinney, Babes In Toyland, and, most recently L7, show that the appetite is there for uncompromising female artists who are willing to take risks in both their music and their attitudes. It will be interesting to see where this movement goes in 2015 and beyond.