Women Making History Playlist
Updated: Apr 9, 2019
"Just get a female opener, that'll fill the quota."
Written by Ida V. Eskamani
Women don't have a whole lot, but goddamn do we have a month. Regardless of how exhausted or disconnected from our oppression we may be, every day is a day in the trenches for women's liberation. Yet since 1982, a bunch of dude Presidents have proclaimed March as Women's History Month, a celebration of the vital role of women in American history. A month where we tell the patriarchy "take a hike, bro!" and honor women's contributions, achievements, and all the things we actually did that men took credit for (known as the "Matilda Effect" in the field of science, and you know, known to all women, everywhere). It's a month where with intention, we honor sisterhood, and women trailblazers in our past and present.
My lil' contribution for 2019: a playlist of badass women redefining the music scene. I came of age listening to music led by men; from my mother's adoration of the mop tops of the 1960s which I wholeheartedly inherited, to my high school obsession for men in black skinny jeans preaching social justice, it was men in music that helped shape my worldview. I am eternally grateful to these artists. I still adore them and those who have come after them. Yet, this month and every month, women are making history in music. It's time we hear them.
Welcome to Bandifesto's Women Making History Playlist. For each day of March, I attempted to add a track to this playlist. I hope it fills your heart with as much pride and joy as it did mine these past 31 days.
Part One: "Yeah, tell me again how there just aren't that many girls in the music scene."
Featuring bands like Camp Cope, Nervous Dater, LONE WOLF, Diet Cig, Loose Tooth, and Remember Sports, part one is bitter, tough, full of self-doubt and doesn't give a shit. Quite fittingly, the playlist kicks off with Camp Cope's The Opener. An alt-rock trio from Melbourne, Australia, the bands 2018's record "How to Socialize and How to Make Friends" was rightfully hailed as one of the top albums of the year.
The Opener leads with a bassline that's an earworm, but also wearied. Bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich keeps the loop steady, as if to say with an exasperated sigh, "here we go again, more patriarchy." Drummer Sarah Thompson doubles-down, and singer and guitarist Georgia McDonald sets the familiar scene, "Tell me you never wanna see me again / And then keep showing up at my house / Tell me you'll never be in love again / Now you're walking around with someone else." The track begins in the depths of a very relatable toxic relationship, before evolving into a brutal commentary on the entire music scene. "It's another man telling us we can't fill up the room / It's another man telling us to book a smaller venue / N"ah, hey come on girls, we're only thinking about you!" / Now look how far we've come not listening to you!"
Camp Cope razed the male-dominated scene to the ground with The Opener, and it is glorious. Nervous Dater takes on imposter syndrome in Don't Be a Stranger, LONE WOLF executes punk with a heart of gold, while Diet Cig literally prances around broken hearts. Tell me again how there just aren't that many girls in the music scene.
Part Two: "I sat collecting dollars in my open case, had lost all hope for love until I saw your face."
Upon further reflection, part two of this playlist is TOO good. Detroit's Iranian-infused Habibi's I Got the Moves start us off with surf-rock grooves, followed by Philadelphia punks Thin Lips with one of their consistently vulnerable tracks, For Those Who Miss You All the Time. We pay homage to the women whose shoulders we stand on with Cruiserweight's I'm Back, off their timeless 2001 record "This Will Undoubtedly Come Out Wrong." We've also got singer-songwriter Lady Lamb, DIY punks Martha, and blues goth Adia Victoria featured, all artists with recently released records moving waves so massive they're shifting the trajectory of the planet.
For this feature, The Lippies 302 earns special attention. A feminist pop-punk band from Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Lippies formed in the fall of 2014 and are self-described as "four souls trying our best to not suck" (um, same). 302 follows a theme similar to The Opener; taking on a turbulent romance, then effortlessly transitioning into a feminist anthem (this is absolutely how my breakups have transpired, BTW). The track opens with an anticipation that can only be built by rolling drums and sliding power chords. Tonia Broucek storms in with earnest vocals, "I sat collecting dollars in my open case / Had lost all hope for love until I saw your face / You and your friends were wasted, it was only six / I gave you my number, you gave me a cigarette."
The relationship spirals further downward, it's intoxicating, emphasis on "toxic"-- "I was delusional, you were delusional / Instant gratification for lives lived so unfulfilled." Yet the protagonists soon takes control and reclaims what is hers to a thunderous backdrop, "It's not my place to forgive / With the pain you passed on I do not have to live / So right your wrong / Talk it out, talk it out or disappear / But know that this place is ours / And you are not welcome here!"
Part Three: "It's been a few days, I took a shower. Watched some TV, fed a sunflower. I'm still learning how to be."
It's mid-March y'all and we are still celebrating women-led music! Part three of Banfiesto's Women Making History playlist features Swearin', Wet Nurse, Screaming Females, Courtney Barnett, Priests, Haybaby, and The Courtneys. Be still our tired, oppressed hearts; this is music made by some of the best witches, and it's magic.
Deanna Belos is the founder and lead singer of Sincere Engineer, a band born out of the Chicago punk scene. Belos attended shows and supported local artists for years, but in 2017 she picked up the guitar and created her own contribution to the scene, her first record, titled "Rhombithian." The opening track, Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7 is featured on our Women Making History playlist.
Belo's gritty vocals launch the track with ferocity. "I had a corn dog, fell asleep / I feel weird now, I had a bad dream / About you and me." Relentless drum rounds reinforce the ugent sense of hapless despair, asserted by the chorus "What am I supposed to do now? / When you're still not around / And you're all I think about." How this band incorporates corn dogs into an immensely satisfying emo track is beyond me, but is absolutely brilliant. The track ends full circle: "So I'll listen to The Brokedowns / Cause they remind me of you and I feel sorry for myself / And have another corn dog and fall asleep on the couch." As emo tunes should, Sincere Engineer leaves you simultaneously devastated and comforted with this track.
Part Four: "Eleanor, we were all so full of suffering. We had a catalog of songs to sing that would help us to forget."
Part four is a beautiful mess (but who isn't!!?) March has a lot of days in it (31 to be exact), and they were getting the best of me. Somehow, this playlist ended up with 33 songs and I had to make some difficult decisions. Nevertheless, finishing off our Women Making History playlist are badass women artists of the past and present: Tacocat, Cayetana, Phoebe Bridges, Spud Cannon, The Beths, and Forth Wanderers, to name a few, with a whole lotta melancholy songs that will make you feel better.
Chumped is currently not with us, the pop punk band announced an indefinite hiatus in 2015, after releasing their only LP, aptly titled "Teenage Retirement." Our playlist features Eleanor, a track from the band's self-titled EP. Anika Pyle leads the band with her angst-filled appeals, but the play between vocals and guitar makes this track ineffaceable. I was in my mid-twenties when this song was released; yet it brings feelings of nostalgia well beyond those years.
Similarly, Discount's Clap and Cough was released in 1999, yet fits effortlessly alongside recently released pop-punk tracks. Founded in Vero Beach before relocating to Gainesville, Florida-- the track came as a recommendation from a friend who seemingly, really loves the town. Discount disbanded in 2000, yet continues to inspire. As DIY punks Martha put so eloquently: "Life is temporary, punk is forever."
"Passin' through a good scene in somebody else's life fills my cup, it fills my cup, it ignites that fire."
A friend recently said to me, "the patriarchy never fails." Despite our persistence and our collective struggle, gender equity feels far from reach. This reality is exacerbated for women of color, queer folk, immigrants, for those caught in the cycle and criminalization of poverty. For persons with disabilities, those who struggle with language access, the inequities and injustices multiply. We need much more than a month, we need a seismic shift. In our small way, we hope this playlist provides inspiration to embrace your sisters, and keep up the good fight. Here's to women making history-- in music, in our communities, and in our world.
Ida is an Iranian-American from Florida who grew up with the Beatles, and came of age in the pit. She will talk to you about music for as long as you will pretend to listen. She is founder of Bandifesto, a little blog with a big heart.