EOTN explores the records that have influenced, motivated, shaped, altered or augmented careers, projects, perhaps even lives. These are the albums that speak for a personal love of and appreciation for music. Obsessed with vinyl? Even better.
This International Women's Day, the women of Rough Trade share records and projects from the music-makin' women that inspire, uplift and delight us, making this job we call record selling, a joy, every day.
Shout out to all the strong women in our industry who engineer, produce, manage, write, sing, teach, cheer, create, debate, dance, promote and play. You are all incredible and we admire you every day.
Rough Trade Bristol
Picking a favourite album by a female or marginalised gender artist is impossible since that is pretty much the only culture I choose to consume these days (heh). But today seems like another great day to stan long term faves Pom Pom Squad, since they just released a brand new track and announced signing to City Slang! Pom Pom Squad, fronted by Mia Berrin, is truly “more than just a band.” The concepts, visuals and music are all art at its most glorious.
Their debut album Ow is not out physically yet, so here’s a photo of me looking Tired™ in my PPS longsleeve, holding a direct-to-vinyl live version of their emo banger Heavy, Heavy (did I mention I was a mega fan? Like I think me and BTS stans could have it out tbh).
Honourable mentions for today: Urias, Shygirl, Rina Sawayama, No Name, Adrianne Lenker and Wych Elm.
Rough Trade East
I have yet to hear a musical project from Emma Ruth Rundle that I don’t love. Post-rock bands Marriages and Red Sparowes, from where I first discovered and fell in love with her music ten years ago, folk-influenced dream-pop/shoegazers The Nocturnes, who have made some of the most beautiful songs I know (Paper Hands, Love and Grandmother Makes A Steeple) and her current gothic folk, post-rock singer/songwriter solo act, are all carrying the same heavy darkness and mystic beauty. Her two latest collaborations released this and last year are just as phenomenal, first the full length album with sludge metal band Thou, and then the single Anhedonia, with gothic godess Chelsea Wolfe.
Rough Trade Nottingham
Cass Elliot of The Mamas & The Papas had a beautiful clear distinctive voice, and was definitely not the image of a pop star, so in my mind she is a role model for what women can do regardless of looks. Their sound takes you to a time where women were beginning to believe anything was possible. The Greatest Hits album has everything you need to take you to that era.
Rough Trade West
No matter the gender, when put on the spot it can be hard to draw a conclusive list of inspiration. There’ll always be that one person you kick yourself at 2am for forgetting... or who comes to mind at times of emotional dependency (for better or for necessity). For this reason, I struggled with coming up with anything remotely gathered to say about my selection of female inspirations... so take this is a generalised overview (?) and if we ever get to have this chat in person, I’ll hopefully be a bit better prepared.
Amy Taylor (Amyl & The Sniffers)
My only resolution for 2021 is to be more like Amy Taylor.
Member of The Black Lips and quite possibly the most authentically sublime woman I’ve ever, laid my eyes and ears on.
The band I pretend to be in every time I’m in the shower.
Keith Richards manager of 30+ years, Rose has been there, done it, seen it all and dealt with the rest. A true icon one day I’ll maybe be a ninth as cool.
Minnie is in this list in her own right as an artist who can hit high-notes no soul has ever reached before. Riperton is also included because she reminds me of another very special woman in my life who goes by the name of Harley Cassidy. Harley is a music industry powerhouse, an inspiration to myself and a true light in an industry where there are very few top pals going round.
Rough Trade Warehouse
I think Laura Jane Grace is a really crucial figure in music and particularly in the punk scene - which, for all its subversiveness, still has a culture of toxic masculinity that can be alienating and even dangerous for the women and non-binary people within it. One of my favourite records is Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, and I’m also a big fan of her first solo album Bought To Rot, performed as Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers. Her lyrics are always so raw and biting, but also have an unapologetic vulnerability that’s really stirring.
Rough Trade NYC
Dorothy Ashby was a trailblazer, under-recognised as one of the all-time jazz greats, and my go-to to elevate any situation.
My DJ collective, Sunrisa Disco, is doing a special Women's Day set on Soho Radio tonight at 21:00 - 22:00 GMT - tune in if you fancy!
Rough Trade East
Shivaree's I Oughtta Give You A Shot In The Head For Making Me Live In This Dump is the cream of the crop for me. The number 1 record of all time (a bold statement I know). I don't think they even pressed it onto vinyl! They kind of slipped through the cracks, appearing here and there once in a while. But I believe, especially as a lyricist, it is one of the most inspiring and macabre love letters to the sinister side of life I have yet to come across.
Everything about it is perfect. From the childlike, cannibal-esq love song Cannibal King to the melancholy acoustic Ash Wednesday to the disturbing Daring Lousy Guy. Ambrosia Parsley's sultry, smoky vocals drift throughout, lazily intermingling beautiful melodies and fucked up lyrics. Daring Lousy Guy has, in my opinion, one of the most incredibly sarcastic and menacing opening lines to a song, 'your bones are going to be disconnected, you darling lousy guy...' This rubbing shoulders alongside Bossa Nova's equally unsettling lyrics 'If people were cars I'd be covered in scars/I bought this old dress to cover the mess...' makes it hard to ignore the tragic and violent undertones of some of these tracks. Even the light-hearted ones such as Goodnight Moon, Arlington Girl and Arrivederci are riddled with paranoia, anxiety and death.
Parsley's lyrical style and vocal delivery gave me permission, invited or maybe even goaded me to see how far into the dark I could go whilst still holding on to a light-hearted melody. These tracks encouraged me to dig deeper into the macabre, to find out what's scratching at the door, the ghosts on the stairs, the demons that follow you around all day and the bones you break on the way. Teamed together with Duke McVinnie (Johnny Otis, JJ. Cale) and Danny McGough (Tom Waits) and you have a recipe for an effortlessly intoxicating, beautifully morbid album.
Rough Trade Warehouse
My pick is the underrated debut from dreamy, dark-dance duo Spill Gold. Rosa Ronsdorf (vocals, keys, guitar) and Nina de Jong (drums) are based in Amsterdam and are one of my favourite bands to see live - Nina has an amazing drum set up complete with Shekere and a Steel Drum, whilst Rosa switches between synths, drum pads and guitar. They’ve played alongside Beak> and Exploded View - would recommend checking them out if you’re into either of those two!
Rough Trade Warehouse
I was very excited when the Pillow Queens announced their debut album last year. I think they really embody a message of female power and fun. Tracks from this record are always wiggling their way on to my playlists. Pillow Queens stand loud and proud on the shoulders of so many amazing female artists that have paved the way for women in music and so many artists that I love. Plus I just think they are so bloody cool. I’m psyched to catch them live at the next possible opportunity.
Rough Trade NYC
Nailah Hunter’s music can be described in many ways: ambient, otherworldly, new age... but the element of magical escapism is the most prominent when listening to her soothing harp instrumentals. Through reclaiming the mythological hall for her and the Black community, Hunter cultivates a restorative and self-healing fantasy world to provide the fortification needed to fight for racial inclusivity.
Rough Trade East
I was introduced to Dolly Mixture's Demonstration Tapes by a friend very late in the day but it seemed like a missing link in an aspect of my musical taste. Although not an original observation, the mixture of sixties girl band influenced vocals and guitars seemed just perfect. I was only able to listen to this via YouTube for a while and so was excited when it was reissued two Christmases ago. This also reminds me of a nice evening at the Betsey Trotwood, where we watched Paul Kelly's film Take Three Girls. This pressing was launched with friends it feels I haven't seen for a very long time now.
Rough Trade East
Jen Cloher's 2017 self titled LP is one of the most honest records you'll hear. A brave and brilliant album, stretching across 11 songs that to and fro between envy and adoration and everything inbetween.
Today, I'm playing track 6, Strong Woman, on full volume and screaming along while I sit at my desk and compete with my neighbour's daily Kanye West megathon.
This world it wasn’t made for women
You know even before you’re bleeding
I’m sorry, can’t you hear me speaking?
How is it now, now that I’m screaming?
Honourable mentions: Arlo Parks, Karen O, Dream Wife, Amy Taylor, Courtney Barnett, Sweeping Promises
Girls Rock London
High-quality music programming for young and adult women, trans, and non-binary people, with a specific focus on increasing access for people who face barriers to participation.
Sisters Returning Home
A non-profit that helps formerly incarcerated Philadelphia women reestablish themselves after spending time behind bars.
Women's peer support group
A Bristol-based charity and fantastic initiative for women needing urgent mental health support.
An organisation who help sex workers in Bristol.
A Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic led registered charity delivering social care support, talking therapies and training to adults and young people across Bristol.
Get In Her Ears
A non-profit platform dedicated to promoting and supporting women and non-binary people in new music.
Pride in Music
A non-profit charitable collective working to create a cross-industry network for the LGBTQ+ community, artists and allies working within British Music.
Women Who Will
A membership community for people who identify as women, who create positive social and environmental impact through their work!
Bristol-based, female-run record label Saffron have officially opened applications for Springboard, a new internship scheme aimed at getting young women and non-binary people into the music industry. The initiative will offer seven people aged 18-25 a ten-month course, providing mentoring, professional coaching and grants worth £1,000 - £3,000, supported by national charity Youth Music.
Helping to eliminate period poverty in Britain's most deprived communities.
Bloody Good Period
Fighting for menstrual equity and the rights of all people who bleed.