I went through this really long phase of listening to only bands with lead male singers. This wasn’t a conscious decisions; it’s just nothing with a female singer had really jumped out at me for some time. But since last fall, I’ve discovered a handful of really solid/catchy female-led acts to obsess over.
This summer we went to see this electronic band from Scotland, CHVRCHES (pronounced “churches”), that I had discovered on the Internet and that barely anyone had heard of. Most of their music was found on YouTube at the time. Their first album, “The Bones of What You Believe,” just came out a couple of weeks ago. But like all things cool, New Yorkers were on top of it and the show was packed. The bass was way too loud — thank goodness for bringing ear plugs, like old people — but still really fun. And although I already knew I loved the lead singer, Lauren Mayberry, because of our mutual adoration of cats and similar petite frames, her Glaswegian accent and politeness really won me over.
Then she wrote an op-ed for The Guardian about online misogyny toward female singers, I decided she is extra-super awesome.
Last fall we went to see the Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring (I sense an ironically religious theme to these bands’ names) in Brooklyn, which is what made me interested in the indie electronica genre and was how I was introduced to CHVRCHES, to be fair. Anyway, the girl member, Megan James, has a great voice. And these songs are hard to get out of your head. Especially this one:
I probably don’t need to tell you about Purity Ring anyway, since they played at ACL this past weekend and everything, so they are basically famous.
Even though I saw these two open for Grouplove last year right after Hurricane Sandy, I forgot to take a photo of them. This New York-based (woohoo) musical duo sing sort of jazzy/soul-inspired pop music. Mostly I remember being mesmerized by Lizzy Plapinger’s overwhelming coolness. I mean, look at the hair! She has this crazy hair and she was wearing deep red lipstick and this flapper-style dress and singing her heart out, and all I could think is, “I will never in my life be that cool.” I know you’re thinking, “purple hair, Rebecca, really?” You had to be there, I guess.
Here’s a video in which blue-haired Lizzy looks cool in a retro diner and cheerleaders inexplicably vomit glitter.
She & Him
Oh, like you didn’t know this was coming. Indie darlings Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward are adorable. Their music is fluffy and adorable and vintage-inspired, making it perfect for a July 4 weekend outdoor concert in Central Park. And, oh, hey! I went to that concert. It was hot and humid, but Zooey looked flawless, as always. (Fun fact: People seem to have a strong association between me and Zooey-related things, although I do not care for her TV show, “New Girl.” Like they’ll be all, “Zooey D is growing out her bangs?!? You know who needs to hear about this? Rebecca!” I kid you not. But I do care deeply about Zooey’s bangs, I do.)
I know it doesn’t fit with the theme of this post, but my main tiff with She & Him is that poor M. Ward gets shoved into the background a lot. Check out his solo stuff or work with indie supergroup Monsters of Folk to get a real feel for this guy’s talents.
Anyway, She & Him did a second encore at their Central Park concert this summer, and performed a cover of “I Put A Spell On You” that was, well, spellbinding. Zooey held on to those notes like they were going to run away! The woman is talented. And flawless. Have I mentioned that yet?
So in case you live under a rock (or don’t obsess over these things, like I do), you know that this 16-year-old New Zealand-based singer-songwriter has been taking the music charts by storm with her single “Royals.” While this seems very random to me, it is a great song. Her whole album, “Pure Heroine,” is worth a listen. Or two. Or three. I have to go with the majority on this one: girl’s got talent.