Girl Power: Female Power Pop
by Annie Zaleski | April 4, 2013
Let's face it: Power pop, a genre marked by pristine harmonies, precise hooks and catchy riffs, sounds best in the warmer months, when you can roll the car windows all the way down and crank the tunes at top volume. This year's first must-blast record is Ride Your Heart, the debut album from the L.A. sister duo Bleached, full of sun-kissed tunes punched up with garage- and surf-punk influences.
Bleached fall into the category of female power pop, a genre spawned in the late '70s and early '80s. The style's pioneers include hard rockers The Runaways and the Ramones-inspired Nikki & The Corvettes, as well as two L.A. bands: reformed punks The Go-Go's and '60s-rock obsessives The Bangles. In fact, Southern California in the '80s was a female power pop hotbed, thanks to Valley Girl movie soundtrack anchors Josie Cotton and Bonnie Hayes with the Wild Combo, as well as garage rockers The Pandoras.
The alt rock boom of the '90s ushered in a whole new crop of lady-fronted power pop bands that had one thing in common: They redefined what the genre could sound like. New England was a hub because of Letters to Cleo, Juliana Hatfield and Throwing Muses, while California again reigned supreme with the ska stylings of No Doubt and Save Ferris, the bittersweet indie of that dog. and the gritty punk of The Muffs (featuring former Pandora Kim Shattuck). However, countless other acts -- including Veruca Salt, Magnapop, Velocity Girl and The Donnas -- put their own stamp on the style.
In the last 15 years, female power pop has continued to permeate every conceivable niche and style: strident riot grrrl (Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre), livewire punk (Tsunami Bomb, The Distillers, The Soviettes), retro synth-pop (The Epoxies, CSS, The Action Design), sassy garage (The Charms, Amy Gore & Her Valentines) and bouncy rock (Paramore, The Chalets). And in 2013, Bleached aren't the only band repping for the genre: Ferocious punks White Lung and '90s-punk-pop revivalists Candy Hearts are also leading the way.
So take a spin through this female power pop primer -- and good luck trying to keep the volume at a reasonable level.