In 1978, when the Go-Go's played their first show on Hollywood Boulevard at legendary punk venue the Masque, they, along with X, The Bags, and the Runaways (already breaking up), were among the super-influential female bands in the city. Things haven't much slowed down since then – Courtney Love, anyone?
But today there seems to be a particularly strong crop of local, woman-fronted rock bands.
Indie labels such as Lolipop, Burger, White Iris and others have spawned rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, SISU, Colleen Green, and Bleached (which are on the cusp of breaking nationally). They're all part of a movement that began with Brooklyn's Vivian Girls, who recently played their final show, and continues to grow with popular bands like Dum Dum Girls and Best Coast.
Drummer Allie Hanlon is a member of Ottawa garage punks The White Wires, but has made the move to L.A. It makes sense, considering her songwriting shows an affinity for California sun, fast cars, and the surf's-up spirit of the Beach Boys.
9. Kan Wakan
L.A. native Kristianne Bautista's voice on “Forever Found” is melancholic and dense, like a cloud of space dust.
Bautista grew up listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber and jazz, and she adds a deft touch to the electronic effects and classical instruments that make Kan Wakan a moody departure from the growing garage rock and punk contingent on the East side.
West Hollywood & Venice
Pr0files are the creation of West siders Danny Sternbaum and Lauren Pardini, who write songs about sex addiction and abuse. Combined with '90s-tinged electro pop, their songs capture the darker side of sunny L.A.
On their debut single “Call Yourself a Lover,” their atmospherics, combined with Pardini's hypnotic vocals, brew an intoxicating feeling suited for a drive on the Pacific Coast Highway – on a rainy day, swerving between falling seagulls and drunken surfers.
7. Only You
Lincoln Heights and Hollywood
Finding love in Los Angeles is tough. Beatnik crooner Rachel Fannan (formerly of San Francisco's Sleepy Sun) sings about it behind doo-wop melodies and pop hooks reminiscent of early Dum Dum Girls.
On “Love is Making Me Tired,” Fannan's voice soars through a '60s girl group sound that's powerful and feminist. Fannan's got some serious pipes and limitless range, which are two reasons why Only You has the potential to break out in 2014.
6. Gothic Tropic
Cecilia Della Peruti's psychedelic and experimental brew includes ingredients from Afro-Cuban rhythms, art punk riffage, and improvisational funk. All of this combines to make Gothic Tropic a seriously cluttered, unique-sounding group.
A form of musical ADHD exists at their core, and it's unlike anything else in the scene today. Every Gothic Tropic show is quirkier and more interesting than the last – with Peruti ripping stinging solos during caffeinated and barefooted performances that are primal and painted-toes feminine.
See also: Our profile of Gothic Tropic
5. Neighborhood Brats
The South Bay
Frontwoman Jenny Angelillo gestures and twists her body like Kathleen Hanna, sounds like the Avengers' Penelope Houston, and at least on one occasion, has used a maxipad to dry her broken and bloody nose. That's about as punk rock as it gets.
With guitarist and founder George Rager shredding Damaged-era Black Flag hardcore riffs on every song, the L.A. hardcore scene seems destined for a revival.
See also: Our profile of Neighborhood Brats
4. Kera and the Lesbians
“Bipolar Folk” is how frontwoman Kera Armendariz describes her band, Kera and Lesbians, which includes four men and Kera (the only lesbian), gyrating her hips like a 'punk rock Elvis' during a live show that's spastic, jazzy, and wired.
Kera's Nina Simone-tinged vocals on “Gypsy Song” – which opens with melancholic funeral horns – is soaked in prohibition-era moonshine and Eastern European surf rock, a genre that happens to be the sole property of Kera and the Lesbians.
When Henry Rollins told us to listen to Vum, we listened to their latest LP Psychotropic Jukebox, and then went back and listened to their trippy debut Night Sun. On each song, Jennifer Pearl's ghostly vocals induce LCD-trips through echoing hills and lush terrain, a sound inspired by Krautrock and controlled psychedelia.
On tracks like “Hall of Mirrors,” gothic organs and echoing drums create a moody juxtaposition to L.A.'s sunny sensibility – hurling you down a giant rabbit hole of Lynchian imagery that includes mangled beauty queens and paranormal activity.
2. Bonfire Beach
Dexy Valentine's Bonfire Beach project drives a wedge between her dreamy work on Magic Wands, and her desire for a rumbling motorbike, heroin-chic aesthetic dusty enough to get compared to B.R.M.C.
Local bands like L.A. Witch touch on this, but Valentine's much more bluesy and Jim Morrison-esque than any of her peers (listen to “Paradise Inn” for a sample). She captures Hollywood excess behind tinted sunglasses and gothic psychedelia.
1. Deap Vally
San Fernando Valley
After Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy met a crocheting class in Silver Lake, circa 2011, they decided to form L.A.'s most fearsome dynamic duo; boldly feminine and ultra sexualized, Deap Vally combines bluesy grooves with torn stockings and denim shorts.
Deap Vally is the embodiment two ladies' desire to revive the crotch-grabbing spirit of Zeppelin sexualization and Courtney Love debauchery. They're like the Black Keys – except they have more balls and musical integrity. What doesn't make sense is how Deap Vally has done so well in the UK, and yet somehow, continues to fly under the radar in L.A.
See also: Our profile of Deap Vally
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