When it comes to rock ’n’ roll sans boys, sisters were doin’ it for themselves all over the globe as far back as the mid-’60s. Half-baked historians tend to trot out ’70s bands like Fanny or The Runaways as examples of rock’s first self-contained all-female bands, probably because—though hardly stars—they became better known than most of their forebears. But the fact is that when the mid-’60s garage-rock phenomenon was inspiring tons of teenagers to bust out guitars and drums, eschew aural niceties, and start playing guts-and-gravel rock ’n’ roll, there was no shortage of young women revving up for the revolution.In the U.S., distaff ’60s bands were thick on the ground. Goldie & The Gingerbreads, the launching pad for respected rocker Genya Ravan, were probably the first, getting together in New York City in 1962. But within a couple of years, they were joined by The Pleasure Seekers (including future glam-rock star Suzi Quatro alongside her sisters), The Debutantes, The Luv’d Ones, and hordes of others.But America wasn’t the only place where this phenomenon was being forged. England had its own female Merseybeat band in The Liverbirds, while Germany had Die Sweeties, and Indonesia boasted Dara Puspita. Quebec gave Canada Les Intrigantes, and Las Mosquitas generated a buzz (sorry) in Argentina, while Sanjalice showed up in Yugoslavia. Some of these bands were cutting covers of the hits of the day, but a lot were writing their own tunes, and even if the bands that made the femme-rock underground of the ’60s never really found their way to fame and fortune, they still made a crucial contribution to the culture. In an era when the women’s movement was just getting underway, the original Riot Grrrls made it clear that guys didn’t have a monopoly on rocking out.For more ladies of the first generation of rock, read Jim Allens story on pleasekillme.comhere.
Progressive metal first emerged in the late ’80s, a whirlwind of ambitious themes, sprawling concepts, aggressive precision, ambitious arrangements, off-kilter time signatures and wild displays of chops. Bands like Queensrÿche and Fates Warning would have varying intensity of the spotlight, but nothing matched the commercial and critical success of Tool, the uncompromising band that released the biggest rock record of 2019, the 86-minute Fear Inoculum.However, the seeds of lofty, lateral-minded metal churn go back to the ’60s and ’70s. Pioneering prog artists (and Tool influences) King Crimson and Pink Floyd would often venture into the heavy and strange. Lesser-known bands such as Britain’s Atomic Rooster, Germany’s Lucifer’s Friend, and Los Angeles’ Captain Beyond sunk deep into proto-metal moods. Jazz artists like Tony Williams, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and ’70s-era Miles Davis mixed bonkers playing with abrasive rock energy. French “zeuhl” bands like Magma and Belgian “rock in opposition” band Univers Zero played with time signatures in disorienting ways. Here are some bands that paved the way for prog-metal’s lofty ideas.Photo Credit: Travis Shinn
Im not sure if Duran Duran were a minor band disguised as a major one, or vice versa, but they did have a handful of really catchy songs, and playing a saxophone on a raft is a boss move. One thing is certain though: Metro UK is a pretty minor publication, and ranking "Ordinary World" over "Rio" is complete bullshit. Still, here are a few great tracks from this these 80s kings.
The ’90s have never sounded better than they do right now—especially for modern-day indie rockers. There’s no shortage of bands banging around these days whose sound suggests formative phases spent soaking up vintage ’90s indie rock. Not that the neo-’90s sound is itself a new thing. As soon as the era was far enough away in the rearview mirror to allow for nostalgia to set in (i.e., the second half of the 2000s), there were already some young artists out there onboarding ’90s alt-rock influences. But more recently, there’s been a bumper crop of bands that betray a soft spot for a time when MTV still played music videos and streaming was just something that happened in a restroom. In this context, the literate, lo-fi approach of Pavement has emerged as a particularly strong strand of the ’90s indie tapestry, and it isn’t hard to hear echoes of their sound in the work of more recent arrivals like Kiwi jr. or Teenage Cool Kids. Cherry Glazerr frontwoman Clementine Creevy seems to have a feeling for the kind of big, dirty guitar riffs that made Pacific Northwestern bands the kings of the alt-rock heap once upon a time. The world-weary, wise-guy angularity of Car Seat Headrest can bring to mind the lurching, loose-limbed attack of Railroad Jerk. And laconic, storytelling types like Nap Eyes stand to prove that there’s still a bright future ahead for those who mourn the passing of Silver Jews main man David Berman. But perhaps the best thing about a face-off between the modern indie bands evoking ’90s forebears and the old-school artists themselves is the fact that in this kind of competition, everybody wins.
It may be that 2019 was the best year for ’90s metal since, well, 1999. Bands from the decade of Judgment Night re-emerged with new creative twists and tweaks: Tool stretched out into polyrhythmic madness, Korn bludgeoned with more extreme and raw despair, Slipknot added a new drummer (Max Weinberg’s kid!) who gave them a new groove, and Rammstein wrote an anti-fascism anthem that caused controversy in Germany (and hit No. 1 there too). Elsewhere, icons of the era returned in unique ways: Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor scored a superhero TV series, Primus’ Les Claypool teamed up with Sean Lennon for some quirky psych rock, and Faith No More’s Mike Patton made an avant-decadent LP with ’70s soundtrack king Jean-Claude Vannier. Finally, the soaring voice of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington returned for a moment thanks to Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton, who released a song they recorded together in 2017.
Taking a look at the playlists for my show on Boston’s WZBC might give the more seasoned college-radio listener a bit of déjà vu: They’re filled with bands like Versus, Team Dresch, and Sleater-Kinney, who were at the top of the CMJ charts back in the ’90s. But the records they released in 2019 turned out to be some of the year’s best rock. Versus, whose Ex Nihilo EP and Ex Voto full-length were part of a creative run for leader Richard Baluyut that also included a tour by his pre-Versus outfit Flower and his 2000s band +/-, put out a lot of beautifully thrashy rock; Team Dresch returned with all cylinders blazing and singers Jody Bleyle and Kaia Wilson wailing their hearts out on “Your Hands My Pockets”; and Sleater-Kinney confronted middle age head-on with their examination of finding one’s footing, The Center Won’t Hold.Italian guitar heroes Uzeda—who have been putting out proggy, riff-heavy music for three-plus decades—released their first record in 13 years, the blistering Quocumque jerceris stabit; Imperial Teen, led by Faith No More multi-instrumentalist Roddy Bottum, kept the weird hooks coming with Now We Are Timeless; and high-concept Californians That Dog capped off a year of reissues with Old LP, their first album since 1997. Juliana Hatfield continued the creative tear she’s been on this decade with two albums: Weird, a collection of hooky, twisty songs that tackle alienation with searing wit, and Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police, her tribute record to the dubby New Wave chart heroes (in the spirit of the salute to Olivia Newton-John she released in 2018). And our playlist finishes with Mary Timony, formerly of the gnarled rockers Helium and currently part of the power trio Ex Hex, paying tribute to her former Autoclave bandmate Christina Billotte via an Ex Hex take on “What Kind of Monster Are You?,” one of the signature songs by Billotte’s ’90s triple threat Slant 6.