Last week, I pressed my face against the glass and watched from afar as everyone else went to Austin to hear some of the best music the world has to offer at South by Southwest. Even with the bloat and menace of corporate influence, SXSW still beckons music lovers, even those who just can’t get there. We feel its pull, but distance didn’t keep me from armchair quaterback-ing the festival, particularly the feminist music highlights. So, like everyone else, I’ve compiled a list of favorites, but unlike many demanding attention for their opinions, I wasn’t actually there.
Now, I know there were many, many folks playing all over Austin, but I stuck to the official lineup to keep myself from going down an internet wormhole from which I would never emerge. And, I’ve included an array of musical styles, veteran musicmakers, and newcomers, but I avoided folks that have already been featured in this series. Here are my additions to our ongoing playlist for a feminist future – the SXSW edition.
Listen to these songs and more at: Unsweetened: A Playlist for a Feminist Future on Spotify.
Alice Bag, “Se Cree Joven”
LA-based veteran punk rock musician Alice Bag’s latest release addresses those folks who hassle her about her appearance. “A couple of women were talking about me and my appearance behind my back (they assumed I didn’t speak Spanish). Instead of giving them a piece of my mind, I walked away and let it fester until it became a song about not giving a shit what other people think.”
Ex-Girlfriends, “You’re Next”
Ex-Girlfriends are an unabashed garage punk supergroup out of Brooklyn. On being women musicians, Monika Knapp says, “We are women but we don’t represent a silent or passive female voice. Our attitude is one of composed, unapologetically outspoken strength.”
Jessie Reyez, “Gatekeeper”
Columbian-Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez was born in Toronto but cut her teeth on songwriting during a prolonged busking stint on the beaches of Florida. From her 2017 EP Kiddo, “Gatekeeper” is about fame and exploitation and very much a song for the #metoo movement.
This is an anthem to everyday struggle, and it feels so familiar – even though it’s from a rapper who is a complete mystery.
Lingua Franca, “8 Weeks”
Louisville-born and Athens-based Lingua Franca is a rapper, an activist, and a candidate for Athens-Clarke County District 2 Commissioner. This song, from her last album, obliterates anti-abortion rhetoric.
An unsettling and deeply moving song from Cincinnati-based Lung – with Kate Wakefield on vocals and electric cello and Daisy on drums.
Mary Ocher, “To the Light”
Multimedia artist and anarchist Mary Ocher creates synthy atmospheric and driving pop sounds that pull from her various backgrounds in music and her personal background – she’s now based in Berlin but she was born in Russia and raised in Tel Aviv. This is from last year’s, The West Against the People, an album that takes on xenophobia in the western world.
Princess Nokia, “Flava”
Rapper and R&B singer Princess Nokia is an up-and-comer in her home base of New York City. She’s known for her unique style and her work with the Smart Girls Club, a feminist art collective.
Sailor Poon, “Blame the Patriarchy”
Austin-based Sailor Poon has a simple motto: “Always Crude, Never Prude.”
SassyBlack, “New Boo”
“New Boo” from Seattle-based Catherine Harris-White (of THEEsatisfaction and a collaborator with Shabazz Palaces) is an offbeat and fun pop song about new love and consent.
In the male-dominated DC punk scene, Eve Moolchan of Sneaks has carved out a space for her sparse and discordant brand of punk rock.
Thunderpussy, “Speed Queen”
From their latest release, Greatest Tits, “Speed Queen” is irreverent, badass rock n’ roll from Seattle-based mainstays, Thunderpussy. They would hate this list.