Girls who love empowered rock, and guys who love dominatrix rock goddesses, prepare thyselves. Liz Phair, whose last solo album was all cupcakes and Avril Lavigne-y, is making a tough-broad comeback at the Hiro Ball room on June 25, where she will be performing “Exile in Guyville” in honor of its 15th anniversary. Phair’s album, along with Sinead O’Connor’s song “Daddy I’m Fine” pretty much define 90’s feminist rock for me. Scanning my ipod the other day, I was wondering if I had just outgrown my girl-rock phase, because lately my album collection, though still studded with pearly, empowered voices like Neko Case and Cat Power, lacks a definitive “rock” element. Then I was listening to “Sound Check” on NPR, and the same issue was being batted around. Where did our P.J. Harvey’s go?
My only concrete example of a female musician who rocks of her own accord, without the loud jamming of her back up band, is probably Kathleen Edwards. When she plays with her lead guitarist and husband Colin Cripps, she doesn’t be-bop like a rocklette—she plays like a dude. But Edwards, as wonderful as her sound is, is a bit of a palletable rocker. She’s a Tom Petty. Even when she’s dark, she’s universally approachable.
Who know what happened to this generation of girl-rock. I’m not knocking Feist or Regina Spektor—I like them—but it does seem everything is getting a little soft. Maybe it’s a sign that women have finally completed a phase in the sexual revolution. This phase of feminism is like Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky. Or maybe it means we’ve taken a giant step back.