Music on Trial: May 1, 2015

In many ways, the music industry acts as a microcosm of society. For example, the widening gap between the rich and poor in America is seen also in the widening of income distribution in the music industry. With the rise of illegal downloading, revenues for musicians now come from concerts. Yet, big name artists are capturing more revenues from ticket sales just as the top one percent of Americans are capturing more wealth.

Fortunately, not all shifts in the music industry mean bad news. In fact, some shifts reflect greater acceptance. One genre in particular is poised for a gradual shift of greater inclusion: rock and roll.

Rock music, for the most part, has been a male-dominated industry. When people think of rock music, old names like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd come to mind – classic all-male bands. Even though newer bands such as The White Stripes and The Black Keys, and indie rock bands such as Radiohead break away some distance from the tradition, they still cling to the old formula of white men playing rock music. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Some genres such as punk rock were built by strong, female voices. Old names like Pat Benatar and new names like Sleater Kinney and Savages come to mind. Yet, by and large, rock music remains a male dominated genre.

However, this decade and the ones following it will belong to women in rock. We are already seeing more female-fronted bands take the spotlight. They give voice to an experience that was, at first, largely silent in rock music. This shift comes from the fact that as older generations age, they take their perceptions and tastes with them. On the other hand, our generation brings with it a greater appreciation for more varied voices.

This change means that we will see more female rock artists because we want something different; we want to see someone besides white men on stage rocking out, because that’s been done before, time and time again. Besides, the rising female artists in rock music, well, rock. They change the genre and push its boundaries with their new, fresh approaches to rock music. Their lyrics make us think about life in ways we may not have noticed. Their approach to rock gives us hope and helps us define our generation. Their music speaks to us, and we won’t stop listening anytime soon.

This shift will consist of not only more all-female bands but also multi-gendered bands. Soon we’ll even start to see male-led bands backed by all-female musicians. More importantly, this shift reflects a greater shift among our generation overall. Our generation will be one of greater inclusivity, built on the pillars of equality by giving voice to those who traditionally have had none. Here are some rising female rock bands that you need to listen to right now:


Swedish for “strong woman,” this Scandinavian band pulls out riffs reminiscent of 1980s British rock. The lead singer belts out powerful lines in a voice that is comparable to a force a nature. The band’s lyrics serve as a big middle finger to strong, domineering men who take advantage of women.

Songs: “No Mercy,” “Asleep,” “Witness.”

Sheer Mag

Not only does this hard-rocking Pennsylvanian band remind one of AC/DC, but the lead singer also breaks down the perceived conventions of female beauty. We should no longer expect female musicians to be of stunning proportions that are unrealistic at best. Instead, they should be human. She rocks her look and has one of the most unique rock music voices in the industry today.

Songs: “Hard Lovin,” “Fan the Flames.”

Cherry Glazerr

This Californian lo-fi garage rock band takes notes from St. Vincent in its aesthetics, but relinquishes nothing in its delivery. The lead singer’s voice ranges from calming and beautiful to wretched and ripped with emotion. Released when the band members were still in high school, the group’s first album explores the stereotypes of teenage girls and breaks down each one, one chord at a time.

Songs: “Had 10 Dollaz,” “White’s Not My Color This Evening,” “Trick or Treat Dancefloor.”

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