Once again, he inestimable Von of Americana Rock Mix and I seem to be on the same wavelength. Two weeks ago, Von posted a show focusing on female artists. He wrote, "We just don't receive enough submissions from female artists that are unique in the genre..." And even then, some of the female artists featured on the podcast are part of a male-female duo.
But why aren't there more female artists in the genre?
Recently, I made a mix CD for one of my seventh graders. I noticed she enjoyed bands like Evanescence and Paramore -- both bands featuring a damsel-in-distress. (I will go on record, however, for saying that I really enjoy what I've heard of Paramore so far.)
I wanted to make her a CD of bands that A) were less glossy and B) featured women who actually have something to say. I'm proud to say that she is now a huge fan of Two Cow Garage, the Indigo Girls, Sonia Tetlow, and, most importantly, Sleater-Kinney.
But I was very disappointed that I had so few options to pull from. Who are the big female names in our corner of the scene? Lydia Loveless, Lizzie Huffman, Rachel Brooke...all very talented women in their own right, but they're not edgy like, say, Two Cow Garage. Fort Shame, whom I'll be reviewing up next and who was featured on this week's Americana Rock Mix, is about as alt-country as I've heard.
I wondered if there was a reason that so few women in the genre have veered into the more rock-heavy side of alt-country. Are women not allowed to express the same kinds of emotions? Let's break down the subject matter of Micah Schnabel's ouvre:
1. Frustration with the music biz
3. Blue-collar rage
4. The importance of music
It's not like women don't write songs about these -- just pick up a Brandi Carlile or Kathleen Edwards album. They cover all four subjects. But most of the time, female vocalists lament their plight. They're submissive, rather than really fucking pissed about it.
And while riot grrl has picked up the slack (and where have you gone?), it shouldn't corner the market on female rage. Why can't there be a little twang thrown in as well?
While alt-country undoubtedly has its origins in Midwestern and Southern punks with an appreciation for their dads' music, that doesn't mean it has to be a boys'-only club. The appeal of the genre (to me) is its insistence on individualism and integrity in spite of life's curveballs. And that is in no way a uniquely male experience.
So what do you guys, gals, and folks in between think?