Two weeks ago, the 60th Grammy Awards took place, during which The Recording Academy honored musicians like Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, and Kendrick Lamar with gilded gramophones. Though largely considered to be the “Oscars of music,” the Grammys are somewhat unique as far as the main Award shows go, considering, well, no one seems to really like them.
Somehow, I missed Jen Cloher perform twice in New York.
The first was when she opened for Courtney Barnett + Kurt Vile, The Lotta Sea Lice Tour. I had gotten the set times mixed up and arrived in time to hear Cloher retelling the origins of “Strong Woman,” her last song of the set. I was devastated while everyone around me raved on. When I asked her to sign my record later, I told her she was amazing. I’ve never been so sure of a lie before.
As we move past our end-of-the-year recaps, we wanted to start to highlight what’s getting released this year, and what better way to do that than a release calendar!?
A new addition to our spreadsheet, the LGBTQ+ table offers an amazing breadth of voices working across all genres, making for some of the most forward-thinking offerings on the list. What follows is a guide through twelve of our highlights from this last calendar year.
The newest and fastest-growing addition to the list, singer/songwriters keep a soft tone of voice, for the most part, but offer some of the most explosive songwriting you’ll find in any genre.
Over the course of her two albums as Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner has turned the project primarily into an act of world-building. From the family photo that graces the cover of her 2016 debut Psychopomp to the lengthy note and freehand illustrations and accompanying each song in the lyric booklet for its follow-up Soft Sounds From Another Planet, she evokes a highly personalized sense of the world around her. Japanese Breakfast is a space in which Zauner mediates her experience of this world and, through the visual mythology that informs the project, invites the listener to do the same with theirs.
Our shortest playlist, Hip-Hop/R&B can sometimes be a world unexplored by those accustomed to Indie Rock. However, this provides you with a chance to reach outside your comfort zone and listen to some truly innovative artists who are pushing the boundaries that their genre has set for them by their male predecessors.
In our series “By The Numbers,” Mollie takes a look at trends in the music industry to get a sense of how we’re doing. While looking at statistics can sometimes seem too simplified, it’s a great way to see, in layman’s terms, how things are changing. Up first, we take a look at how W/T/F people placed on all our favorite publications’ end-of-the-year lists.
Whenever I recommend a lesser-known album to my friends, I get asked the same question right away: “Is it on Spotify?” In a time where fewer people than ever are buying music, and most can only afford a monthly streaming service, Spotify’s near-monopoly of the streaming market gives this question a sinister subtext. When those loyal to a streaming service ask, “is it on [blank],” what they are implying is, “if it isn’t, I’m not listening to it.”
In making the Spotify playlists for this year’s Music by Women spreadsheet, I took note of the releases which were not available on streaming services. When I looked at them, I noticed an unsettling trend: these albums were largely made by LGBTQ+, POC, and non-English speaking artists. While the difference between being on Bandcamp instead of a Spotify playlist may seem like a minor technicality, it dramatically increases the likelihood of these releases being ignored.
Welcome to the annual Music by Women spreadsheet and playlist compilation!
What you’ll find here are over 500 (!) tediously compiled albums and EP’s, by artists within the Women/Trans/Femme gender spectrum, sorted by genre and identity identifiers. This year we go beyond genre to help celebrate the diversity in the music we list. In a year of marches, political turmoil, travel bans, and much more, there’s been so much that makes us feel like the odds are against us. Through our freedom of expression through music, we come together to form a sisterhood that will help us power through it all. This is shown through the playlist art – each playlist is a piece of the big picture that is the full list. We hope through this music you can find artists that remind you of yourself – your nationality, identity and/or language, or find someone that is from a different world than yours. Enjoy! Let’s dive in!