Almost from the first chords of the American garage-rock scene, the vodka-fueled Nordic countries have been fertile ground for rocking female bands. Restless girls from the north country — Finland's Cimmats (1963), the Dandy Girls (Norway, 1964), the Butterflies (Denmark 1965), the Nursery Rhymes (Sweden, 1964) and the Angeliques (Sweden, 1965) — have been cranking the volume and rocking just as hard as men. The names may have gotten freakier, but this week's findings suggest the tradition continues to thrive. (Historical information from wingdangdula.com.)
The Patsy Walkers: Named for a U.S. comic book character dating back to 1944, these six Helsinki women are all about campy costuming and the properly cultivated "look." Whatever the costume, they describe their music as "primitive horror-punk with garage and thrash-billy tendencies." Sounds like basic full-on, old-school, den-of-iniquity rock to me. (Sample: "Rock Police")
The Voladoras: If Reverend Horton Heat had been born a woman, he'd probably be playing rhythm guitar in Sweden's Voladoras. That distorted Link Wray whammy bar feel is all over songs that sound like they originated during an orgy in the Bat Cave. The Voladoras are to the Helsinki rock scene what the Flaming Sideburns are on the male band side. (Sample: "You Suck")
Nordic female rockers
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Miss Monster Club: More three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-pot-smoke thunder-rock from this Finnish foursome. The influences are more in a Dick Dale vein than the de rigueur Link Wray worship usually found in the musical climes of Northern Europe. Perfect for a Quentin Tarantino movie or an out-of-control sock hop. (Sample: "Lost Control")
Cocktail Slippers: These Oslo ladies don't mine the garage aspect of rock the way the others here do, which gives them some common ground with rough-rocking U.S. outfits like the Supersuckers. The 2006 LP on New York rock label Wicked Cool, Mastermind, shows plenty of affinity with outfits like MC5 and AC/DC. This is one tight band, and the riffing never stops. (Sample: "Give It to Me")
Thee Ultra Bimboos: Formed in 1994, the Bimboos have been a fixture on the Helsinki garage scene so long the garage has probably been rebuilt. This is shake-your-booty, toss-your-hair rock from another powerhouse foursome that's been together long enough to really have it together. These ladies rock, but there's a nagging premonition Nancy Sinatra may make a cameo appearance in knee-high patent leather boots and a mini at some point. (Sample: "Pussycat Drive")
Branded Women: Not that there isn't plenty of surfy guitar twang, but Branded Women bring a wider musical palette to their work than the other bands here. The Women occasionally surrender the tats and leopard leotards for dark melodic pop like the memorable "Second Best" or "Every Bruise" (part Ray Charles doing "Hit the Road, Jack," part any female torch singer leaning into "Fever"). Just when you settle into that mid-tempo Europop groove, they get frantic with the menacing "Boomerang." (Sample: "While Love Remains")