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Is it weird that all the music I listen to is sung by men?
September 22, 2009 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Is the music you listen to gender-biased? I realized today while making a Mix CD for somebody that all the artists I listen to regularly are male. Is that just me, or is it the same for the rest of you? Can you recommend me some good female musicians based on the guys I'm listening to now?

So lately my listening habits include the following:
Blind Pilot
Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
Peter and the Wolf/Red Hunter
Sufjan Stevens

What women should I be listening to?
posted by tumbleweedjack to Media & Arts (66 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I think Jenny Lewis is the go-to alt-country recommendation; I think she'd fit in quite well on your list. She also fronts Rilo Kiley, which tends to be a little less ballad-y.
posted by twoporedomain at 1:27 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Bird and the Bee. My boyfriend has such a huge crush on the singer, and her voice is sexy and pretty and playful all at once. Very melodic stuff, with lots of neat instrumentals and catchy hooks.

I'll come up with more suggestions after some thought, but for my rock-and-roll boyfriend to be so into them, I think, says something.
posted by a.steele at 1:29 PM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Caitlin Cary
Gemma Hayes
Aimee Mann
posted by substars at 1:29 PM on September 22, 2009

Neko Case for sure, her older stuff tends to be more on the alt-country-ish side, but I think it's all fantastic.
posted by trinkatot at 1:29 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Neko Case.
posted by baltimoretim at 1:30 PM on September 22, 2009

oops, some links:
Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
Rilo Kiley
posted by twoporedomain at 1:30 PM on September 22, 2009

Oh and as for your first question:
I find that I, too, am biased towards male singers (even as a female). Not sure why this is but it takes a special female-singer to attract my attention.
posted by a.steele at 1:31 PM on September 22, 2009

Seconding Neko Case. She also performs with The New Pornographers, which is a mix of male and female singers.

St. Vincent.

I'm extremely partial to Deerhoof and The Fiery Furnaces but they don't really fit into what you're listening to.

I actually listen to mostly-women recently, because the current crop of guys-who-can't-sing-and-don't-care really annoys me.
posted by muddgirl at 1:34 PM on September 22, 2009

I will second St. Vincent and add Bic Runga.
posted by darksong at 1:35 PM on September 22, 2009

I did the same thing! Yay for being open to more types of music. We have similar tastes, so here are some artists I like with female vocalists. All are Myspace Music links:

Beach House
The Peekers
Cloud Cult
posted by yaymukund at 1:37 PM on September 22, 2009

Beach House (can't recommend them enough)
posted by oinopaponton at 1:38 PM on September 22, 2009

Oops, yaymukund beat me to the Beach House love.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:38 PM on September 22, 2009

Also, a lot of the women I listen to don't perform in the sort of alt-country that is popular today - ever notice the gender ratio in Spin magazine? But I listen to a lot of late-80s/early-90's punk, grunge, and riot girl stuff that has some great performers, not to mention current indie-pop music which is full with awesome women.
posted by muddgirl at 1:38 PM on September 22, 2009

I'd guess my musical tastes skew 75% male, 25% female. And I'm with a.steele. A female singer has to be really special for me to listen. Note that my definition of special may differ from anyone else's.

I like:

Joanna Newsom
She & Him
Sam Phillips
Amy Winehouse
Kate Bush
Kimya Dawson

You may also like:

Regina Spektor
Lily Allen
Little Boots

And I hate Jenny Lewis.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:41 PM on September 22, 2009

Oooh, you actually might like the new Taken by Trees album.

Like I always say, when you're looking for music, once you go Swedish, you never... go... back?
posted by oinopaponton at 1:43 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Frida Hyvönen
posted by fire&wings at 1:43 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you like Neko Case, you will like Kelly Hogan's stuff, who often collaborates with Case.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:45 PM on September 22, 2009

Seconding Jenny Lewis, but early Rilo Kiley or the album with the Watson Twins, NOT "Acid Tongue" or the repugnant "Under the Blacklight."

You might also like Emilliana Torrini.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:47 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is the music you listen to gender-biased? I realized today while making a Mix CD for somebody that all the artists I listen to regularly are male.

I think all things considered I actually prefer female vocals, but a lot of the genres of music that I listen to are heavily skewed toward male singers. Not really based exact matches with your list but a few female artists/bands to check out:

Scout Niblett
The Arcade Fire (some female vocals)
Cat Power
Liz Phair's first album
posted by burnmp3s at 1:48 PM on September 22, 2009

Also, if you're willing to go a little more old-school, I'd say go ahead and listen to Tammy Wynette. She's a huge part of the country roots Oberst, Lewis, and Wilco are drawing from, and she is my favorite singer of any gender ever (except *maybe* Freddie Mercury.)

There's also Emmylou Harris, whose voice you may know from Bright Eyes' "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning." Check out her solo stuff from the 70s, or with Gram Parsons.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:50 PM on September 22, 2009

I think you would like Blonde Redhead.
posted by internet!Hannah at 1:52 PM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh and it's kind of a different genre, I don't even know what to call it (electronic goth with irony??) but Black Box Recorder, fronted by Sarah Nixey were simply fantastic. Check out "England Made Me" or "The Facts of Life" albums.

Sarah Nixey also had a solo album which is more dance-y but still very good.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:53 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Both Jenny Lewis albums are fantastic.

I would go to or and enter Regina Spektor, St. Vincent, or My Brightest Diamond.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:54 PM on September 22, 2009

You might try Basia Bulat and Kathleen Edwards.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:55 PM on September 22, 2009

I'm terrible at classifying music by genre, so these may be completely off, but I think Haley Bonar, Maria Taylor and Trespassers William might all have relatively similar sounds to what you're listening to.
posted by nimufu at 1:59 PM on September 22, 2009

You might like Kate Nash.
posted by kylej at 2:00 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:01 PM on September 22, 2009

Also have a bias - I prefer male vocals. Not sure whyProbably 90/10.

Artists you might like to give a listen to:

Laura Viers (Pink Light is a great song)
Another shout also for Rilo Kiley

Not exclusively female so sneaks in, but Ballad Of The Broken Seas by Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan is very good.
posted by mjlondon at 2:06 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like the bands you listed. Here are a few bands that I also like, which have female singers:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Fever Ray
Jessica Lea Mayfield
Simone White
Patty Griffin
Marissa Nadler
Joanna Newsom
Matt and Kim
Ellen Allien
Camera Obscura
My Brightest Diamond
West Indian Girl
The Raveonettes
She & Him (that's Zooey Deschanel's band)
Bettye Lavette
Asobi Seksu
Nina Nastasia
Mates of State
The Dresden Dolls
Leona Naess
Susanna and the Magical Orchestra
Vivian Girls
Cassandra Wilson

Neko Case (solo plus the New Pornographers)
Jenny Lewis (solo plus Rilo Kiley)
Emmylou Harris
posted by J-Train at 2:06 PM on September 22, 2009 [5 favorites]

I used to also have an almost exclusively male music library, but now some of my favourite artists are women. I would second Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Emiliana Torrini, Feist and Regina Spektor. In addition, I like (link goes to my favourite YouTube-able song by each):

Cat Power
Jenn Grant
Priscilla Ahn

(On preview... just listen to J-Train!)
posted by fhangler at 2:11 PM on September 22, 2009

Daylight's For the Birds
Teagan and Sara
Bats for Lashes
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Emily Haines
The Stars
posted by Midnight Rambler at 2:16 PM on September 22, 2009

Edith Frost
Jenny Toomey
Stina Nordenstam
Jana Hunter
Juana Molina
The Grates
posted by rhizome at 2:20 PM on September 22, 2009

Someone that hasn't been mentioned that I like, Lykke Li.
posted by Shesthefastest at 2:23 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Guy is a huge fan of Bright Eyes and also of Underwater, the Changelings and CocoRosie. Azure Ray, whom I love (while Bright Eyes makes me grind my teeth while my ears bleed) have collaborated with Bright Eyes.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:28 PM on September 22, 2009

Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Dolly Parton, The Essential Dolly Parton
Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis
Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
(actually pretty much every Aretha Franklin album between 1967 and 1971)
posted by kirkaracha at 2:48 PM on September 22, 2009

Is that just me, or is it the same for the rest of you?

It is to me to a certain extent, but that's in part because I listen to a bunch metal and punk, both of which have lower counts of female leads tha, say, jazz.

Of course, there's a certain chicken-and-egg there, I guess.
posted by rodgerd at 2:55 PM on September 22, 2009

Wow, great thread. Some more:

Eastmountain South
Over the Rhine
posted by octothorpe at 2:58 PM on September 22, 2009

All you need to listen to is Marnie Stern.
posted by whiskeyspider at 3:05 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I won't add to the list, but as far as the initial question, I've often asked myself the same thing. Has anyone done a survey of indie/alternative favorites and noticed the gender split? My guess would be that, for whatever reason (cue irresponsible hypothesizing), there are just more male vocalists out there.

Now, is that because male voices are more marketable? or do males just like to perform more?
posted by Think_Long at 3:15 PM on September 22, 2009

Lots of good stuff so far. A couple more: Amy Farris, Lisa Marr, Lisa Hannigan, Jill Sobule, Jesca Hoop.
posted by chez shoes at 3:17 PM on September 22, 2009

Seconding Cat Power and Nina Nastasia

I really like Mary Timony and her old band, Helium. Also Lykke Li. Neither one are countryish, though.

Isobel Campbell (of Belle & Sebastian) did a couple albums with Mark Lanegan that are folk/country style, you might like.

Dean & Britta (Dean Wareham, formerly of Galaxie 500 and Luna)

And there's always the one and only PJ Harvey.. the album Uh Huh Her is pretty stripped-down, and then White Chalk.. and the most recent album she did with John Parish, A Woman a Man Walked By. (Personally I'm not wild about that album, but I don't listen to a lot of indie/folk stuff, but I do recommend the previous two.)
posted by citron at 3:22 PM on September 22, 2009

oh, and I'm surprised if I'm the first one to tell you this, but Gillian Welch is the first and last stop when it comes to music. Not just female music, but all music. She won.
posted by Think_Long at 3:23 PM on September 22, 2009

Oh, someone else you'd probably like if you like Sufjan Stevens: Hanne Hukkelberg. Mainly her first two albums. Her third (most recent) album is a drastic departure, probably less suited to your taste.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:37 PM on September 22, 2009

Hmmmm... maybe check out Anais Mitchell.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:53 PM on September 22, 2009

I'll throw these into the ring, more than one of 'em will be seconds by the time I'm done, I'm sure:

Irma Thomas
Candi Staton
Mazzy Star (and Hope Sandoval's solo albums)
Kendra Smith and her Gild of Temporaral Adventurers
Amy Denio
Marnie Stern
Gillian Welch
Lavay Smith
Detroit Cobras
The Bellrays
Elysian Fields (linking because there are multiple bands called that)
PJ Harvey
Blonde Redhead (male and female vox)
Joanna Newsom
Isobel Campbell
Jana Hunter
Patsy Cline
The Kills
Le Tigre
Yo La Tengo (male and female vox)
Florence and the Machine
Thao (aka Thao Nguyen)
Sarah Kenvyn
Dirty Projectors (male and female vox)
The Blow
Beat Happening (male and female vox)
Juana Molina
Eleni Mandell
Espers (f and m)
Nina Nastasia
Tammy Wynette
The Pretenders
Enon (male and female vox)
Elfin Saddle (male and female vox)
Deep Listening Band
Faun Fables
Marissa Nadler
Fern Jones
A Fine Frenzy
Dengue Fever
Hanne Hukkelberg
Heartless Bastards
Iris DeMent
Valerey Gore (aka Valery Gore)
Blossom Dearie
Jennifer Warnes
Paavoharju (male and female vox)
Althea and Donna
Patti Smith
Lullabye Arkestra
Death by Chocolate
Etta James
Harvey Girls (male and female vox)
The Kropotkins
The Phonemes (and any with Magali Meagher)
Betty Davis
The Go! Team
Elecrelane (easily my favorite all female rock band)
Pony Da Look
Low (male and female vox)
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:54 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Guild. Not gild. Heh.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:55 PM on September 22, 2009

Forgot some:

Mia Doi Todd
Jolie Holland
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:58 PM on September 22, 2009

If you get nothing other than Joanna Newsom out of this thread, it will be a success.
posted by willpie at 4:17 PM on September 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

Years ago I used to call my neighborhood college music station and point out how many songs with male vocalists they had played in a row and ask them to please play more women. If you regularly listen to radio do the stats some day and call them if they're really out of whack.
posted by mareli at 4:43 PM on September 22, 2009

Beth Orton. My favorite of her's is Central Reservation. A bit like Dido except talented.
posted by Fiery Jack at 6:29 PM on September 22, 2009

One of the best and most interesting female musicians I can think of is Joni Mitchell. If you like Sufjan for his idiosyncrasies and sometimes odd choices that work out perfectly, you might like hers as well. This is a demo from '75, listen to the way she layered her voice for instrumentation.
posted by Red Loop at 6:35 PM on September 22, 2009

I have similar taste in music as you! (btw, I saw blind pilot at the Outside Lands fest last month, and that was the bee's knees. I got Israel's signature - and then lost it!)

Women I like that you may also like:
Regina Spektor
Imogen Heap

also try bands with prominent female vocalists. Belle and Sebastien have a lot of songs where the girl sings, same with Camera Obscura, and they might meet your requirements.
posted by alona at 6:59 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

nthing Caitlin Cary, and I also suggest Tift Merritt
posted by secretseasons at 8:07 PM on September 22, 2009

Element101 - hard to find, but so worth the hunt
posted by infinityjinx at 9:00 PM on September 22, 2009

Although my music collection is made up mostly of sad white indie boys, I think that all of the people who are reccomending Joanna Newsom and Neko Case are absolutely right.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:35 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Emily Haines, and in conjunction Metric.
I'm kind of in love with What is free to a good home? right now, but I reccommend you snag and listen to Knives don't have your back first, considering WIFTAGH is a complimentary (came out a few months later) ep to Knives.
Everyone else I was going to mention has been covered, more or less.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:33 AM on September 23, 2009

Some oldies but goodies:

Judee Sill
Connie Converse

New bands/artists no one has mentioned:
Those Darlins -- badass, shitkicking country. Imagine a mashup of Johnny Cash and the Ramones, plus estrogen
Dot Allison -- chillout folk in the Beth Orton subgrenre
Tippy Canoe -- not your typical ukulele chanteuse
Syd Straw

Conor Oberst is a guy? I always thought he was a weasel.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:02 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

On the second part of your question...I don't know if this specifically answers it, but a musical trend that has risen over the past decade is the rise of the diva in all genres. There seem to be a lot of idiosyncratic female vocalists in indie rock (Feist, St. Vincent, Inara George, etc)...perhaps the favor you show for male musicians is a reaction to that, and a desire for more band-based, less quirky music? Just a thought.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:07 AM on September 23, 2009

My husband loves Neko Case, and he also likes Eilen Jewel
posted by CathyG at 7:21 AM on September 23, 2009

I listen to a lot of the same stuff as you. Without nthing a lot of stuff above - here's some female artist stuff I listen to that was not mentioned:

Ani Difranco
Fiona Apple
Moldy Peaches (Kimya Dawson + Adam Green)
Nina Simone
Sarah Harmer
posted by backwards guitar at 8:52 AM on September 23, 2009

I may be late, so if anyone's mentioned these before, my apologies:
The Wooden Birds
Bat for Lashes
School of Seven Bells (any acoustic/minimalist live sets)
Mazzy Star
Kaki King (although a lot of her stuff isn't vocal)
posted by june made him a gemini at 11:26 AM on September 23, 2009

Hit post too soon:
Late Night Alumni
Olivia Ong
Emilie Simon
An American Werewolf (possibly)
posted by june made him a gemini at 11:30 AM on September 23, 2009

goin' back a ways . . . Wanda Jackson.
Dated Elvis. Rockabilly Queen.
posted by Seamus at 12:39 PM on September 23, 2009

One more: The Be Good Tanyas.
posted by octothorpe at 12:41 PM on September 23, 2009

Seconding Ani DiFranco. She does amazing things with her voice, writes beautiful, beautiful lyrics, and is a phenomenal guitar player.
posted by kristi at 9:38 AM on September 25, 2009

I don't think it's odd; the vast majority of bands are fronted by men.

That said, I also wind up pigeonholing enormous amounts of female singers into "coffeeshop singer/songwriter", as that's largely all the local radio ever plays that has anywhere near a 50/50 male/female split.
posted by talldean at 8:07 PM on September 27, 2009

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