It was a damn cold night in January 2015 in Helsinki. I was wandering around the city with my mates looking for a place to eat but it was so late and most of the restaurants were rejecting us.
Sorry, Kitchen’s closed.
So we ended up eating in one of the most international place. You know, they’re always open till late.
It was a Rock bar and there were TV screens showing musical videos all around. My attention got captured by this LA based female band called Bleached. Their 2013 single “Love Spells” was a funny indie rock track and the video was a low budget 80’s like horror movie, inspired, probably, by Sam Raimi’s famous “Evil Dead”.
I started listening to these young ladies as I came back home and their debut album Ride Your Heart is still with me every morning, strongly chained into my mp3 player.
Fast easy tracks like “Waiting by the Telephone”, “Next Stop” or “Looking for a Fight” became cool punky lullabies to start the day with the right foot. Not to be recognized for impressive technical skills, Bleached are especially noticeable for their grunge-punk image (take a look at their lovely For The Feel EP cover), broken stockings, skateboarding and 80’s & 90’s style and stuff nostalgia.
Although their artistic core may be considered completely feminine, Nick Pillot is a male member of the band as well.
The same happens with Wax Idols: three girls and one boy based in Oakland. My Youtube’s automatic playlists uncovered their song “Dead Like You” in late 2015. Their 2011 No Future album is a collection of funny indie rock songs, which sometimes exploits surf like drum patterns (take for instance the rhythmic “Hitman”). To be considered definitely more flexible than Bleached, Wax Idols’ albums are pretty much heterogeneous among them. The latest American Tragic lost somehow its rock sound and moved to a more sadcore and synth style.
First single “Deborah” is able to fling you back to the 80s.
As much flexible as Wax Idols are, Sub Pop signed Dum Dum Girls went through deep changes in their career as well. Dee Dee Penny’s band moved from an exceptional 2010 indie debut (I Will Be), to a more pop sound with Only in Dreams and finally to a new wave influenced LP in 2014: Too True.
The front woman actually seems to like this latest synth-pop trajectory, as she released her first solo pop album, X-Communicate, under the moniker Kristin Kontrol. Dum Dum Girls’ black leather dresses and no-smiling-at-all style grabbed my attention in 2014, when I got the chance to see them in Rome, after a Paris based friend suggested me to go to their live show. “Oh, I wish black leather looked that good on me as well!” she told me on the phone.
Now, as of 2016, another, smaller, California based band is back with a new alternative rock album: Deap Vally, a duo from Los Angeles as well. Their image and style is as rotten and dirt as Bleached. Signed to Island Records, Deap Vally released their second LP, Femejism in September. First single, “Smile More” is a blues rock heavy stone that hits hard behind your neck. The lyrics are somehow the perfect description of this American Female Rock style that’s booming all around.
Everybody’s trying to tell me what to do
It makes me want to break some shit and sniff some glue
Stranger in the bar tells me to smile more
I look at him and I ask, “What for?”
I am happily unhappy, man
And no, I don’t wanna shake your hand”
Female rock scene is still strongly alive and one thing is easy to notice is that, both musically and stylistically, these young girls (and there are many more if you take a look around) seem to have clear ideas about their artistic path. Sometimes clearer, more defined and interesting than their male fellows.
California remains the perfect cradle for them: the chance to get in contact with a nourished musical background, a stylish scenario and all American culture contradictions, is a seed for a kind of art that still sounds dirty, fascinating and fresh.
So enjoy mates, here’s some California Females Rock Shopping Tips. Fill up your playlists, these girls definitely deserve it.