It is so easy to feel overwhelmed by the state of the world, in which we are mostly powerless to create a dramatic change. Yet music offers us respite, and re-energises us to continue fighting for what we believe in, bringing us together and making us stronger.
So the annual return of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, seemed like an prime opportunity to round up some incredible feminist anthems from the past year, and celebrate some of the best artists around at the moment. All these tracks deserve to be heard on repeat, as they serve to get us pumped up for a month of marches, activism, and empowerment.
Share your favourites in the comments below.
You Are The Problem Here – First Aid Kit
You Are The Problem Here really caught my attention with its unabashed ability to strike at those men complicit in the abuse of women, without fear of a #notallmen backlash. It is the perfect example of taking anger and channelling it into something wonderful. With each word, you can hear the rage build. It growls towards an anthemic chorus and is interspersed with killer lines throughout; ‘And we don’t need to be diminished / To sisters or daughter or mothers /I am a human being, that is how you relate to me’
First Aid Kit are currently on tour through to August.
Scream – Weaves, featuring Tanya Tagaq
This track from Weaves, combines Tanya Tagaq’s quirky vocals with background screams and growls that become more intense throughout the song. We are taken from a position of insecurity, with messages from a patriarchal society stating ‘my thighs are too big’ to a truly empowering demand to ‘get up on the table and scream your name.’ Jasmyn Burke’s voice and instruments blend together, along with Tanya Tagaq’s katajjaq, which comes from an Inuit tradition of singing, traditionally performed by women based around creating a rhythmic pattern through both inhalation and exhalation. The effect is jarring and gives the track a unique sound that starts as a kind of dialogue between the women and culminates in a powerful choral screaming.
Weaves are currenting touring the USA, and their album is available now.
R U A Feminist – Breakfast Muff
Not as cool as I used to be, I discovered this gem with the help of Spotify. R U A Feminist is funny yet tragic. Honesty shines from the very first line, again aimed at men: ‘You’re a feminist, until I won’t fuck you. You’re a feminist, until I talk to other guys’. Like You Are The Problem Here, this is a classic examples about how the personal is political. Again, the shouty chorus here is one that is so on point you can help but joining in.
Boys Will Be Boys – Stella Donnelly
Somewhat ironically, considering some of the lyrics, I found out about this song from my dad. A slower-paced track, it’s particularly notable for its ability to tackle the subject of victim blame, and the infuriating dismissive statement in the song title that excuses violence against women. The idea that ‘women rape themselves’ again refers to the constant fear that is instilled in women and girls to fear rape and protect themselves from it, rather than placing the responsibility and blame on boys and men.
Stella Donnelly is on tour throughout Australia in April, then hits Europe in May.
Turned to Ash – Black Palms
Black Palms’ debut single is packed with powerful vocals and thrashing guitars and drums that make you want to head-bang and swing your hips at the same time. Lead vocals are provided by Briony, who also plays bass for the band, and she builds up smoothly from a low register to the powerful chorus of Turned to Ash.
Catch them live across London, next playing at Nambucca on 20th March.
Feel the Same – Bully
I loved Bully’s debut album, and Feel the Same from their second album, Losing, doesn’t disappoint. The lyrics may not at first seem as empowering as some of the others here. But instead they speak of a certain resilience in the strength it takes when it’s difficult to carry on with day-to-day activities, while navigating complex emotions. Plus, it mentions female masturbation. Alicia Bognanno’s signature raw vocals combine with catchy guitar riffs to make this worthy of the feminist anthem stamp.
Currently on tour throughout the USA, Bully come to Europe in May.
Sissy – Aye Nako
Aye Nako aim to promote a ‘community-oriented, anti-capitalist, LGBTQ-friendly ideology’ and their latest album splits song-writing between lead singer, Mars Dixon, and guitarist, Jade Payne. Sissy draws on the insult, often aimed at boys and men for not conforming to gender expectations. The lyrics begin: ‘Soft as I might appear, earthbound, but not from here’, and this sets the tone for the rest of the song, which is poetic and evocative, rather than explicit, in its meaning.
They also supported Bully on tour last November; keep up to date with Aye Nako through their website.
Smile More – Deap Vally
I feel like we’ve been waiting a long time for a song like this. It’s out and out feminist, addressing that common micro-aggression most women will be familiar with: being told to smile. Stand out lyrics include: ‘I am not ashamed of my mental state, and I am not ashamed of my body weight. And I am not ashamed of my rage, and I am not ashamed of my age’. This whole song is such an belter, it will have you singing along in agreement.
Deap Vally will feature alongside many others at Queens of the Stone Age’s headline show in Finsbury Park this June.
These are just some of the tracks that will keep me going this March. What are your feminist anthems from the past year?
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