#1 Crushes: Our Favorite '90s Rock Vixens
(Sadly, the group had to cancel this Houston date due to a health issue in Garbage man Duke Erikson's family. The date has not been rescheduled as of yet.)
The group, led by fearsome Scottish redhead Shirley Manson, has been sorely missed from the music scene. They are currently touring behind their upcoming album Not Your Kind of People, which hits stores May 14. Rocks Off's own Neph Basedow talked to Garbage's guitarist/keyboardist Steve Marker this past week about outer space, touring in Texas and recording the new album.
Manson was a part of an elite group of rocking women in the '90s who made the decade all the more interesting; as the men found their grunge sea legs, the girls upped the volume and were creating a whole different kind of noise. In an era where equality was still a hot-button issue, you could always expect groups like Sleater-Kinney and L7 to obliterate male-centered bands. I would still take Bricks Are Heavy over a lot of stuff called "tough" in the '90s.
So we created a collection of our favorite empowered, lethal ladies from the '90s who rocked with an iron fist. Plus of course a few honorable mentions at the end. We asked the Rocks Off Facebook wall for some help, and we regret to inform everyone that Scott Stapp is in fact a male, and that Nancy Wilson doesn't qualify as a '90s artist.
Courtney Love (Hole, Batshit Widow, Mother of the Century): Okay, you hate Courtney Love because she killed her husband, did/does/is drugs and hasn't been very conservative with her tongue. But her music has never been disappointing -- well, to me, at least -- from Hole's debut Pretty on the Inside to 2010's Nobody's Daughter. I still argue that 1998's Celebrity Skin was one of the best albums of that decade, too.
I can explain...
PJ Harvey (Female Tom Waits, Lipstick Vacuum, Hot Chick From Beavis & Butt-Head, Rock Goddess) No other artist, male or female, can make you feel dirty, decadent and a part of some international conspiracy like PJ Harvey can. If you need to start anywhere in her catalog, begin with 1995's To Bring You My Love. Lips for days. She very much made lasses like Alison Mosshart possible in the '00s.
Sleater-Kinney (Power-Trio, Eternally Cool, Um, Have You Heard Dig Me Out?) This trio doesn't get a ton of love when it comes to larger rock narrative of the past two decades, which is a shame, even though nearly every album they released was on most best-of lists each year. Two-thirds of the band is now in Wild Flag, and they are continuing the loud legacy.
L7 (Tampon Flingers, Femme-Punkers, The Aunts You Always Wish You Had): When the '90s rock story is told, L7 should never be left out, but sometimes they are. Band leader Donita Sparks is still a force of nature, and you should be reaching for your copy of 1992's Bricks Are Heavy in 3, 2, 1...
See Also: Babes in Toyland, The Distillers
Gwen Stefani (SoCal Queen, Cyber Debbie Harry, First Lady Of Ska-Punk, Punk-Rock Harlow): You laugh, but Gwen Stefani and No Doubt helped get more kids into ska and punk than anyone else in the '90s besides Rancid and Green Day. The boys loved her because she seemed like she would be fun to party with, and the girls felt empowered by a gal leading a band of boys. It didn't hurt that she helped set countless mall trends, either. Bindis on white girls!
See Also: Save Ferris's Monique Powell
Bikini Kill (Riot Grrls!, Menaces to Jock Society, Media Terrorists): Most any girl who picked up a guitar in the '90s -- who wasn't trying to become the next Shania Twain -- owes a debt to Bikini Kill. Hell, even dudes rep them. Rapper Fat Tony is a very vocal fan of the group. Be sure to check out The Singles, which featured help from Joan Jett on three cuts.
See Also: The Butchies, Bratmobile
Liz Phair (Mayor of Guyville, Late Bloomer): The younger set probably only knows Liz Phair as just another voice on adult-contemporary radio. But there was a time in 1993 when she was scaring male rock critics shitless with the honesty of her record Exile in Guyville, all the while helping put what so many women were feeling to music.
See Also: Suzanne Vega, Cat Power