This week, Boston will host shows by two of the biggest bands to break out of Massachusetts in the past year. It just so happens that both of these bands could be categorized as punk acts — and are led by women.
Speedy Ortiz, which rose out of Amherst with a collection of EPs, put out its first LP, “Major Arcana,” to widespread critical raves, and has been handed the torch as one of the best rock acts Boston has yielded in some time. The band has been touring with the likes of The Breeders and Chelsea Light Moving, and will hit the Paradise with Los Campesinos! on Tuesday.
Potty Mouth, formed by four musicians within the western Massachusetts music scene, quickly gained traction with just a few bandcamp uploads in 2012. Last year’s debut “Hell Bent” yielded 10 songs chock of basement charm and punk prouditude, giving local fans a solid rookie to champion. Potty Moth will partake in an impressive bill at Great Scott on Wednesday that includes Waxahatchee, All Dogs, and Cayetana.
Punk is punk, no matter who plays, dresses, or lives it. Bands should not be judged based on gender, but at the same measure, the fact that so many of these successful bands are led by women also should not be ignored. Let’s take a look at some of the best up and coming female-fronted punk acts that Massachusetts has to offer.
This trio popped up in late 2010 with a handful of short releases and a grittier breed of what bands like Best Coast and Dum Dum Girls were doing, and have since been recognized as kind of the original gangstas of Boston’s new wave of garage girl punk. There’s plenty of pop charm to its tunes, whether it’s the three chord progression of “Horoscope” or the surf shuffle of “Leave Her Alone.” There’s also a dire psychedelic haze behind the trio’s leading harmonies that puts a clean stamp on the band’s sound and keeps things mysterious.
Sentimental and commanding lyricism leads eruptive rhythms chock full scratchy power chords and the occasional ripping solo. Parasol is another power-trio from Allston that meets pop-punk and basement fuzz halfway between. The band’s latest “Not There” was released last week, and contains a solid collection of catchier riff-driven singles and more caffeinated aggressors. Parasol is truly and “ask a punk” level punk band, as its internet presence is sparse, but one of the most commendable things about the group is its allegiance to all-ages shows.
Also hailing from Allston, there’s nothing coy about Tomboy’s grooves. Just listen to the band’s latest single “Sweetie,” which is a amalgamation of hexing guitar lines and fists-in-the-air songwriting. Tomboy is a trio fueled by pride, sometimes translating to psyched-up jumpy pop, and other times a “don’t fuck with us” dominance. The band’s next EP will be out this summer on Ride The Snake Records.
Lo-fi champ Silkies was originally formed in Austin, Texas, but has called Boston home for over a year now. Led by tinny surf licks, the band’s tone can at times explode, but in general there is a soft temperament to Lira Mondal’s lead vocals that keeps it very pop-friendly. Whereas most of the other groups on this list seem to draw influence from punk stylings of the ’90s, Silkies pulls a page from ’50s and ’60s Motown and doo-wop recordings.
The group vocals of Jamaica Plain-based trio Shepherdess immediately gives the band an exciting dynamic. Juxtapose that above undistorted and glorious power chord shreds and the band builds a palatable bridge between the raw chip-on-the-shoulder edge of Liz Phair’s early work and the cherubic harmonies of Grass Widow.
Amherst-based post-punk trio Longings has but an EP to its name but quickly dazzles with a very different punk formula. Both vocally and instrumentally aggressive, Longings creates a pit-inducing whirlwind of feedback and wails, kept grounded but a stone-solid rhythm section. If discordant bands like White Lung and Nu Sensae are your thing, you’ll be pleased to find Longings.