A few months ago, something called the “Smirnoff Equaliser” popped up on my Spotify page. Of course, the first thing I thought was…vodka? However, when I looked a little closer I found something much more interesting. The idea of the “equaliser” was to make each user a playlist based on the “gender bias” of their listening. The goal? Get more people to listen to female artists. In 2017, 100% of the top streamed tracks were by male artists. Spotify recognised the fact that we shouldn’t be missing out on so many amazing female artists. My “equaliser” results came up 29% female, 71% male – the feminist in me was outraged. So, I made a conscious decision to discover more female artists. Here are four of my favourites that I’ve found over the last few months:
LA-based artist Phoebe Bridgers made her debut in 2015 and in 2017 released her first album, Stranger in the Alps. The album is filled with dreamy Indie-pop numbers – the perfect soundtrack to a bus journey (I say this from experience). Although a lot of the songs seem quite sad, they’re that beautiful kind of sad that makes you feel…peaceful. “Motion Sickness” is definitely a highlight of the album – it has one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard this year. “Funeral” is another favourite of mine – the name and the lyric “Jesus Christ I’m so blue all the time” pretty much sum that one up. In 2018, Bridgers along with other female artists Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, released music under the name boygenius, and if those releases are an indication of more to come, you’re definitely going to want to keep an eye on this gal.
I like to think of Marika Hackman almost as the British equivalent of Phoebe Bridgers. However, Hackman’s music tends to come across a bit more…(for lack of a better word) angsty. I began my listening with her sophomore album I’m Not Your Man. With this release, Hackman vowed to stop holding back the music she really wanted to write, “How are people gonna connect with me if I’m hiding?” This shines through in the realness of her lyrics – especially notable in “My Lover Cindy” and “Good Intentions.” Hackman held nothing back on this album, “I just wanna write about the fact that I’ve broken up with my girlfriend”, and I really admire that.
Japanese Breakfast is the solo musical project of Korean-American singer and guitarist, Michelle Zauner. Their debut album, Psychopomp, was released in 2016 but personally I prefer their 2017 album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet. The album flows beautifully from start to finish – it’s an experimental dream-pop masterpiece. If you’re not one to listen to an entire album in one go, I would recommend starting with tracks “Road Head”, “Boyish” and “Till Death.” It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why I love this album; I just do, and I think that says a lot. Sometimes the best things in life can’t be explained.
Last but not least, we have an Irish addition! PowPig is a four piece all-female band from Limerick and they’re cool as hell. In recent months, they have become associated with acts such as Pillow Queens, The Strypes, Whenyoung and Paddy Hanna. The band also made their festival debut at Body & Soul this past summer. That says it all really doesn’t it? These ladies are destined for big things. Both of their EPs, Denture Adventure and Buzz Buzz are weird and wonderful from start to finish. I haven’t heard an Irish band quite like this in a while. I’d recommend starting your listening with “Ode To Wiseau” (yes, Wiseau as in Tommy Wiseau, creator of The Room). This will give you a good idea of their vibe.