Seattle’s artsy-indie music scene was once dominated by groups that could all pretty easily be clumped into the sad-guy-in-a-flannel sort of category. Bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Fleet Foxes got there start in the often cloudy, drizzling hipster city and Band of Horses picked Seattle as their home and epicenter. Yet in the past few years Death Cab has disbanded, as have the Fleet Foxes. Band of Horses is no longer tied down to the area, and thus the alternative scene of Seattle has progressively dwindled down and created a vacuum in need of a new wave of music to satiate the crowds.
It is time for the flannel men to move over. The up-and-coming wave of musicians and artists no longer sound like complacent, bearded, rain-drenched bands. The new sound is much different. In fact, the newest bands on the scene happen to a new sort of feminist punk.
This new wave feminist sound comes hand in hand with the new force of feminism in society. Women internationally are now standing up for equal rights, liberation from sexual harassment and justice for all races and genders. Most importantly, it is becoming more and more common that women are outspoken in their feminism and taking activism to a new level.
While stars like Beyoncé, Nikki Minaj and Taylor Swift all do champion the feminist cause and have forged their own paths of being modern feminist icons, their music does little to compare to the punk feminist anthems that are being churned out by Seattle bands like Tacocat, Chastity Belt and Mommy Long Legs. Or others who light up the scene, like La Luz or Mombutt.
These bands have their own sarcastic, humorous, yet entirely relatable and serious lyrics that stem from feminist and alternative norms. They split paths from the usual pop radio music lyrics as they take it upon themselves to go on and discuss a variety of feminist and everyday issues that plague our society- all with a punk twist.
Issues that these bands address spans from slut shaming and finding sexual positivity, to street harassment and assault, as well as a number of forms of discrimination. They not only address these explicitly feminist issues, but also go on to address issues such as homophobia, racism and marginalization.
The music industry tends to form a sort of hype around these kinds of topics, hence the ladies in power mentioned before, whose feminism can come off as a sort of faked or even as some kind of marketing scheme at times. While they attempt to fulfill the part of a feminist hero, they often fall short as they fail to be truly inclusive or end up portraying a privileged feminism rather than one that accounts for everyone. It can be frustrating to see a feminism that ends up feeling more like a commercialized practice to gain popularity, rather than something that these artists are using their fame to really fight for.
That’s why these Seattle feminist punk bands are so fantastic. Tacocat’s album NVM gained national recognition with their sweet pop-punk tunes that outwardly harp on topics like UTI’s, catcalling, contraception and chastity methods involving wearing a leotard to kill the mood. The bassist for this band, Bree McKenna, has said that feminism is important in her art because, “it is an important part of my life experiences. Experiencing sexism, homophobia and discrimination has affected many elements in my daily world,” and “having suffered through a lot of that in my formative years makes me extra happy that underrepresented voices are screaming as loud as they can.” Their music works to represent minorities and underrepresented voices in their songs, all of it done in melodic punk pitch.
Chastity Belt, which formed at Whitman College, has had recognition in the New Yorker for their pro-slut anthems, including the song Cool Slut on their album Time to Go Home that asks, “We’re just a couple of sluts, so what?” and encourages all the ladies, that if they want to take off their shirts, “it’s okay to be slutty.” Their song takes a level of humor, albeit honesty, about the constraints of society and the necessary self awareness and confidence that it takes to overcome the society slut shaming of our time and recognize, that it is okay to do whatever you want.
These bands are all really rad to have on the new music scene. They work, not to tokenize or just blow smoke up the idea of feminist or inclusive views, instead they champion them in a raunchy, relatable and humorous way. Instead of focusing solely on sound or sales, these women address all identities, and make real statements about oppression, all the while telling their listeners to be who they are, and as Mombutt member Elena Kuran says, “never water yourself down.”