Hello. Today, we’re going to learn about five bands that are truly awesome. If you haven’t heard them before, you’re missing out on the finer things in life. And if you have heard them before...you’ll realize how right I am. These bands span across a few music types (well, it’s rock, but still very different), but they have two things in common:
- I actually paid money for their albums
- Female vocalists
Music with female vocalists is the best, so you’re in for a treat.
We’ll begin our session with the rock band, Human Waste Project. The band only released one album, E-Lux, but that is all they needed. Their sound is borderline grunge / metal, very energetic, and something you can mosh to. The guitars are always electric, even during the two slower songs on the album. But who can complain about power chords and guitar solos? And the drumming is nothing less than a nonstop rhythmic rampage that pounds the beat into you. Human Waste Project does not do acoustic; the lyrics and vocals are angry and passionate, and if you sing along, you’ll release all the rage you’ve ever had. The singer, Aimee Echo, not only screams like the best, but her voice has a seductive quality to it. You can’t listen to Electra and not be turned on (or is that just me?). Overall, E-Lux is a great album for any fan of hard rock. Despite the fact that the band broke up in 1998, they reunited to play one show back in October of 2008 (which was amazing), and with any luck we’ll see more from them. As for Aimee Echo, she moved on and now sings for theStart. It was at one of their shows that I first encountered the next band.
The Birthday Massacre is one of the best bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing live. They’re an electronica / industrial band from Canada, and while that may not sound appealing (I’m not really fond of electronica), they do it better than anyone I’ve ever heard; vastly better. The songs have an industrial feel, with harsh guitars and hammering drums, that often transitions directly into soft keyboards and sweet vocals. This contrast makes it feel as if you are listening to two bands at once, yet simultaneously gives The Birthday Massacre a sound that is always recognizable. The guitars work fluidly with the keyboards, magnifying the effect of the notes and making the songs sound powerful. While this alone would make them a band worth listening to, it is the vocals that make them truly exceptional. The singer, Chibi, presents a vocal contradiction that mirrors the identity crisis that the rest of the music has. While her voice can be pure and sweet (and often is), there is a side of her that is demonic. A quick listen to the song, Lover’s End, will show you what I mean. And it is exactly that beauty, the conflict within every song, that lead The Birthday Massacre to quickly become one of my favorite bands.
Next up, we have the grunge band Ednaswap. Once upon a time, there was a song called Torn - you might remember it as sung by Natalie Imbruglia. Well, it was originally written by Ednaswap. Take a moment to find the acoustic version or the version from the album Wacko Magneto, because it puts Natalie Imbruglia’s version to shame. It is hard to describe Ednaswap in pieces, without giving an inaccurate picture. The guitars and drums rarely do anything that anyone would consider amazing; on their own, they wouldn’t be anything special. And even though singer, Anne Preven, is able to evoke the proper emotions, many artists can do the same. Each piece of the band on it’s own is little better than average, but there is something about the way everything is pieced together that makes the sound something spectacular. Ednaswap is a band of feeling. Every strum of the guitar, every beat of the drum, every vibration of the vocal chords gives a unified sound. When you hear the words, “another disappointment,” you feel disappointed. Going back to Torn, the reason it is so much more amazing than the popularized version is that the slower tempo and depressive quality to the instruments (vocals included) make you feel the loss of the belief in love. Their last album, Wonderland Park, has a high quantity of depressing songs, but their earlier albums contain a good amount of fun songs. Fast paced, angry, and just silly, these songs have brightened many of my days. Sadly, Ednaswap is another band that broke up.
The next artist was brought to my attention by a friend of mine, and I’ve been in her debt ever since. Emilie Autumn has everything you could possibility ask for: an intricate sense of style, corsets, writing talent, humor, a strong voice, and she played violin for Dethklok! I believe her music is best described as Victorian Industrial. And while you might question what that title means, it is surprisingly accurate. Instrumentally, she features the harpsichord, the piano, and the violin. It’s not unusual for her lyrics to be influenced by old poetry. The album (and title song) Opheliac is a clear reference to Shakespeare. Emilie Autumn has two albums of very different quality. The first, Enchant, has a very airy feel to it and transports you to another world. What If is a good example of her sound from that era: soft piano playing, a light background of violin, and her voice as sweet as it can be. There isn’t much from there that you couldn’t play in front of your mom. By contrast, the album Opheliac, has a much darker, gothic sound. The violin turned from a classical instrument into an electric, guitar-like instrument. The harpsichord traded in for a keyboard, generates beats so harsh that Trent Reznor might be jealous. Her voice no longer sweet, but filled with anger and spite. The difference between the two albums is both fascinating and wonderful. Each has their own style to offer, and each is worth listening to. On top of that, her instrumentals are completely mind blowing. Definitely worth checking out.
Finally, we finish on a softer note with the brilliant Heather Nova. You may have heard of her, but I can’t write a list of awesome female vocalists without mentioning her. Everyone I know who has heard her, likes her. Everyone. Heather Nova is an exceptionally talented singer/songwriter. The instruments are never overpowering (whether a full band or just a guitar/piano), and the focus of the music is always on the vocals. The guitar may have solos, but it emphasizes the emotion carried by her voice. Her music is on the softer side and could easily be played in a mixed group of people without offending anyone. You won’t find harsh industrial notes or anything resembling metal. As her music is personal, much of the lyrics are about relationships - love, breakups, undying devotion, lust, and simple happiness are all covered. What makes her truly special is that her voice carries immense passion. You will feel what she is feeling when she sings, because all of her songs give you insight into her soul. Concerning her latest album, she stated:
I think the songs must be good, because most of them make me feel pretty uncomfortable, which is a sign that I have plumbed the depths and dug for truth, no matter how unsettling.
And you definitely feel that from her music. A true understanding of the artist that is beyond rare.
And on that note, we conclude our little discussion. Hopefully, this has introduced you to some new music, and hopefully you’ll like some of it at least. There are many great bands out there, but these are among the best.