It’s cliche to say that it is the year of the woman, but maybe that’s because it is always true.
You don’t have to look far to see prominent female entertainers showcased in the realm of pop, hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll. In the world of indie rock, the prominence of the female artist cannot be understated. Rising acts such as Mitski, Courtney Barnett, and Soccer Mommy are charging to the forefront, and many of my personal favorite artists are female singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, like Jessica Pratt, Molly Burch and Marika Hackman, to name just a few.
Texas has been a breeding ground for similar grounds of musical genius and creation. Many of the more noteworthy and exciting bands coming out of the lone star state are managed and fronted by woman, and their efforts and output can be described as inspiring and impactful by anyone who has any knowledge of how the business works.
There are truly so many women working both on stage and behind the scenes who are necessary in order for the world of music to function. They’re operating venues, routing tours, writing music, and everything else in between. And it is often the case that these are the individuals who are pushing and motivating the music scene to be something more.
Houston, in particular, has some remarkable acts, with many more forming all the time. Here are a few that are worthy of attention, in no particular order.
The indie four-piece that is Mind Shrine is a collection of feelings that are artfully packaged into song. Singer Jess Howard has an entrancing and whispery delivery that invokes beachy dreamscapes, and the group has been able to snag some impressive opening slots for up-and-coming acts such as the Marias and Tops. Other members of the group include Richie, Brian and Brad, who have been on the project since the beginning. Our pick for their best track is the group’s latest single, “Sad TV,” because of its ability to transport the listener to another place and time. They made the cut because the band has attracted a massive local following in a short period of time, and when they put on a show, it is an experience not to be missed.
The list would be incomplete without hometown heroes Wild Moccasins, led by Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann. The group has been in the midst of a recent resurgence which has found them touring hard on their latest release, Look Together. The latest album is a collection of synth-heavy tunes that are pretty nostalgic. Wild Moccasins made the cut because of their ability to effortlessly re-invent themselves after years on the scene and outdoing their previous efforts in the process. Our favorite track has to be “Missing You (The Most)” because of its catchy hooks and driving rhythms.
El Lago is a Galveston-based shoegaze group that released their debut album, Colors, last year, characterized by a sense of haunting melodies backed by illustrious guitar sounds that bring to mind waves softly crashing on a misty shoreline. The group’s singer, Lauren Eddy, has been vigilant in helping create a network of bands between Austin, Houston and Galveston, hosting bands at a variety of venues and clubs between the three cities. El Lago made the cut because of how the band has been crucial in connecting bands in the region. And on top of that, they are probably all the nicest people I’ve ever met. The song we chose here is “Into The Clearing,” a track where vocalist Lauren attempts to lead the listener through the woods to an unspecified location. The song always stood out on their release, so here it is.
Houston-based indie pop powerhouse Rose Ette has been busy in recent years. They released their latest album, Ignore the Feeling, at the beginning of 2019, and the result is a collection of songs that are instantly familiar. Teresa Vicinanza’s vocal delivery is endearing and playful, and the group provides a compact and driving momentum throughout the record. Rose Ette made the cut because of their ability to turn out records at a pretty rapid pace, and also because the group has kept busy touring and playing festivals across the country. The song chosen here is “Ignore The Feeling,” from the album of the same name, because of its romantic lyrical content and its sheer pop minimalism.
The multi-member Gulf Coast soul group has been making waves in recent years and garnering deserved attention. With TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel, and featured spots on prominent regional festivals in Texas and beyond, the band has rocketed to stardom in a big way. Fronted by enigmatic vocalist Kam Franklin, this list would be at a loss if it were not to include the Suffers as one of the more influential and well-known female-fronted acts coming from the city. We chose for our favorite track “I Think I Love You” from the group’s latest LP Everything Here. The song perfectly encapsulates the diverse range of influences and range of the band’s performers.
Brand new Houston act Goodgirl mixes slacker rock and pop sensibility, with extreme doses of distortion for good measure. The group embodies the vibe of ’90s alternative rock, and they recently released their debut album, Poor Habits, with an explosive release show on Valentine’s Day. The live performance measures up to the hype. The band members include veterans Justin Martinez, Nate Dietrich, and singer Valentina Daboin. The band made the cut because of how they were able to pull off such a spectacular debut and show with little press and established notoriety. We chose the song “Alienation” from their EP, mostly due to how the song perfectly captures the loud-to-soft dynamic of the band.
Houston singer-songwriter Dollie Barnes is a true troubadour in the traditional sense, commanding an ability to win over the sourest of hearts with her endearing and other-worldly voice. Her music harkens back to the avante-garde folk music of the late ‘60s, with a bit of indie pop influence for added modernity. While not being particularly active in the local or regional gigging circuit, Dollie Barnes makes the list because her music breathes a very unique and real sense of artistry that can’t and shouldn’t be overlooked. We’ve picked her song “Phantom Joke” from her 2017 release, Caught In A Phase, for its ability to uniquely incorporate a seemingly disparate range of influences into a cohesive and well-made arrangement.
Whit perfectly fits the definition of an art rock band. Austin transplant Madi Whitaker, renown socialite and musical troubadour, began the project while living in Houston many years before moving to the music capital of the world. The group released their debut, Wait, What?, in 2017, and the concoction of guitar-driven arrangements, complete with discordant changes and syncopated riffs, are led by Madi’s articulate and poignant lyricism. Although no longer a Houston resident, Whit made the cut because the group continually returns to the city to perform, connecting the musical networks of the city in the process. We’ve chosen the song “My Bee,” always a personal favorite from their live set.