In a music-saturated world where anyone can put a song on Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Spotify, it can be difficult to sift through the smaller bands worth checking out. Sticking with the headliners of an acclaimed music festival like Riot Fest is a safe bet—and if you followed this line of reasoning, you probably saw Patti Smith, Pussy Riot, Tegan and Sara and Metric last weekend—but this year, many smaller acts boasted exceptional female genius on boutique stages. Playing in the largely male-dominated punk rock scene, women are even more of a minority than a solid emo album. Here are a few artists from the next generation of Kim Gordons and Kathleen Hannas that you need to follow now. Trust us, you’ll be streaming these extremely talented and underground femme fatales until next year’s festival.
Britty Drake, vocalist and guitar player for Pity Sex
Largely influenced by ‘90s shoegaze and Sonic Youth, Britty’s vocals are equally haunting and reflective, effectively paired with fuzzy guitar riffs and Brennan Greave’s gritty vocals. Although Britty was a later addition to the band, she fit right into Pity Sex’s lo-fi sound, becoming an integral part of the recording process during Dark World. For their next album, Feast of Love, she took charge, singing lead vocals and writing half the record. It’s likely that Britty and her band will continue playing sold-out shows and festivals while still in college.
If you like The Pixies, Yo La Tengo and My Bloody Valentine, listen to “Keep” by Pity Sex
Sheena Ozzella, vocalist for Lemuria
It’s hard to believe that this pop-punk gem got her start in Buffalo, New York’s DIY hardcore scene. She expressed interest in playing guitar and her friends in bands taught her the songs they wrote along with Nirvana covers. Now, celebrating the 10-year-anniversary of her band, this power punk singer croons about awkward dating scenarios and philosophical wonders with smart lines like, “It’s hard to stay sober when you don’t look at me” and “Have you ever caught it rain on one side of the street?/I’m nobody because I’m everybody else.”
If you like The Cranberries, Braid or Jawbreaker, listen to “Brilliant Dancer” by Lemuria
Katie Shanholtzer-Dvorak, vocalist and keyboards for The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
This nine-member band from Connecticut is at the forefront of the 4th wave emo revival with a plethora of musicians (including Katie) that seem to just keep multiplying. In their writing process, they start with a riff and collaborate from there, each member adding their own part. The band’s most recent album, Whenever, If Ever, is grippingly nostalgic. The band aims to write about the “experience of life in general,” inspired by New England and Handsome Woman, the name of their old house and favorite venue. Shanholtzer-Dvorak is a new installment to the band and will be present in their next album, a largely spoken word endeavor, set to release later this year. She currently sings and manages the keyboards, adding further depth to her band’s music and unique name.
If you like Brand New, Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Modest Mouse, listen to “Victim Kin Seek Suit” by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
Anika Pyle, vocalist and guitarist for Chumped
Self-proclaimed Brooklyn “bummer punks,” Chumped is reminiscent of early 2000s pop punk at its finest. Brutally honest hooks and power chords are a staple of this young act, and their recently released EP, That’s The Thing Is Like, is even more intricate and catchy. Anika Pyle talked to Boxx Magazine last year about what it was like to play in a genre that’s more or less a “boys club.” “I get really nervous thinking about how people will be hyper-judgmental of my musical abilities and skills because someone is going to compare me to 10 other women in music even though there are thousands of them playing right now,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that girl can’t really play guitar, but she’s nice looking,’ or ‘Yeah, she’s okay, but she’ll never be this dude or that dude.’ So, I’m really hypersensitive to skill.”