Every year around this time, music writers like to participate in the numerical masturbation ritual known as year-end lists. (Stay tuned for ours!) This is always followed by the even lamer ritual of endless bickering over said year-end lists. Then someone will inevitably stir up the pot by pointing out that not enough female musicians were included. And while I have about as much interest in getting involved in a heated argument about gender equality in music as I do in watching a single episode of either Entourage or Sex and the City, I do want to take a minute to point out that the ladies of rock totally crushed it this year. Just absolutely slaughtered the dudes, musically.
Now, before you take to Twitter to call me a sexist epic fail retard or whatever (I’m @danozzi, by the way, in case you want to do that later), I’m not saying that men didn’t also have a strong showing. They did. (See the new albums by Radioactivity, Iron Chic, Off With Their Heads, etc. etc.) And I’m not saying that women haven’t put out good albums in previous years. (Does that even need to be said?) I’m just saying that 2013, as a whole, was possibly the best year ladies have had in punk in a long, long time. What’s been particularly impressive is the genre range women have covered, proving that female punk is not relegated to riot grrrl bands. Nothing against riot grrrl bands. I’m on board with any movement that deliberately spells its name wrong (except for the Ku Klux Klan, obvz). But really, women have covered the bases this year, from folk punk, to pop punk, to hardcore, to the more indie rock side of punk.
Here is a random list of women who I thought kicked a particularly large amount of ass this year. You may be saying, “But you forgot bands like Waxatchee and Cayetana and Screaming Females and Lemuria and Perfect Pussy” and whatever other female-fronted bands you’ve been jamming out to over the last 12 months. Sure, if that's what you're into, you can include them on your lists. This one is mine. And it serves no purpose other than to say: Thanks for the good tunes, ladies. Keep 'em coming.
Frances Quinlan, Hop Along
Hop Along only put out one song in 2013 and it was still better than anything else that came out this entire year. Frances Quinlan’s voice is so goddamn beautiful I want to marry it. Does that make sense? Like, not a big expensive thing, but I want her voice and I to have a nice little destination wedding somewhere (maybe Belize?) with a few of our very close friends and then I want to spend a long, healthy marriage with her voice. We’ll occasionally argue about stuff, her voice and I, but cute little things, like who forgot to walk the dog. I feel like I may have gotten lost in my own head here about the whole marrying her voice thing. But if you can listen to this song and your heart doesn’t drop into your stomach right after the 2:15 mark, I am sorry to inform you, but you are a dead person. Apologies that your last moments on Earth were spent reading my awful story about marrying a voice.
Lauren Measure, Worriers
Here’s how much I respect Lauren Denitzio (aka Lauren Measure) and her dedication to feminist principles in the punk scene: I asked her in advance if it was OK to include her in this article. I fully recognize the inherent lameness of a straight white dude expounding on females in punk so I really felt like I needed her approval for inclusion in such a list. She said it was cool as long as I didn’t use phrases like “chick” or “girl” which I would never use when describing these broads. (JK JK, Lauren, please do not beat me up.) Seriously though, I was über-bummed when the Measure [sa] broke up. But Lauren’s new project, Worriers, is finally filling the Measure-sized hole in my heart.
Laura StevensonLaura Stevenson put out the best punk album of 2013 and it wasn’t even a punk album. It was this depressing indie rock-sort of album that absolutely crushed me for almost an entire year. Wheel will probably end up being my favorite album of the year, just based on the sheer number of plays I’ve given it. I’m too embarrassed to say exactly how many, but somewhere in the upper hundred million. What makes Laura particularly amazing to watch is how she is so endearingly awkward and seems to have absolutely no idea that she possesses a staggeringly beautiful voice.
Jenny Owen YoungsJenny Owen Youngs didn’t even put out an album in 2013 but still managed to be the biggest ladybadass of the year by coming out as gay, marrying her fiancé, and, in so many words, telling the world to either accept it or fuck off. It’s pretty bullshit that in 2013, people still have to announce their gayness in public fashion, but she did so in the most spectacularly brazen-yet-humble way possible. If you ask Jenny about punk, she probably won’t even cop to having anything to do with it. (Seriously, she didn't know who GG Allin was.) And yet, she puts out her own records, books her own shows, and does her own merch, which is why I call her DIY JOY. Not to her face, but I do call her that. She also travels the country with the bearded punk dudes of the Revival Tour, where she has likely tolerated many a raised tour bus toilet seat.
Allison Crutchfield, Swearin’
Pop punk has always been a boys club. And not just any boys. Geeky boys who sing about being romantically inept and the girls who dump them because of it. And having long been one of those geeky boys, pop punk has gotten me through many a dumpings. But why should dudes get to monopolize the pop punk geekery? It makes me so happy to see women losing their shit to Swearin’ and pop punk in general. Welcome to the very sad club, ladies.
Anika Pyle, ChumpedAnika is kind of like my little sister, in that she is constantly borrowing money from me and I find her very annoying. But goddamn, can the girl can play some pop punk jams. If you like Swearin’, there’s no reason you should not immediately spend your money on Chumped’s debut EP.
Lou Hanman, Caves
I don’t even know anything about this band other than they are from the UK and the woman’s name is Lou and the album they put out this year totally scrambles my brain and I love it.
Laura Jane Grace, Against Me!When Against Me!'s Tom Gabel made the announcement that he would be living as a woman and would be going by the name Laura Jane Grace, it was the most punk rock thing she’d done in years. But on top of that, she finally started making good music again. Her True Trans EP was only two songs, but they were probably the best two songs she’s released in the last decade. Not to mention the best song titles. (Sorry, but no one is topping “FUCKMYLIFE666” for a long time.) At this point, I wish she would just dissolve the band and go on as a solo artist which, if I had to guess, will probably happen eventually. I say that because having caught her solo shows this year, it is obvious that she has a cult-like presence that transcends the band and is a hero to the many trans folks in the crowd. True trans soul rebel.
Kathleen Stubelek, Circle Takes the SquareCircle Takes the Square put out an album almost 10 years ago and then I don’t know what happened to them. I don’t want to know. I like to imagine they were off in a cave somewhere making sacrifices to the screamo gods until they were inspired to make the most sinister record of all time, which came out very very late in 2012 (so basically 2013 for the point of this article). I caught them on tour this year and Kathleen Stubelek mopped the floor with my earholes. All hail this band.
Miley CyrusYeah, I said it. And I stand by it.
Dan Ozzi is the contributing editor of Noisey and would like to take this opportunity to propose to Frances Quinlan's voice. Follow him on Twitter - @danozzi