Today's Top 5 Female Punk Rockers

Screaming Females' Melissa Paternoster wailed at House of Blues in October.
Marc Brubaker


There have been punk-rock chicks as long as there has been punk rock. Unfortunately, punk can also all too often be a boys' club. Consider that emo, an entire genre based around angsty young men bemoaning their troubles with women, spawned from punk. Then take a gander at the genre's biggest icons: From Johnny Rotten to Henry Rollins, it's mostly all men.

But does that mean women can't be as punk or hardcore as men? Of course not. Even back in the '80s, there was Kira Roessler jamming on bass alongside Black Flag. In the '90s, there was an entire movement of largely female punk-rock bands: Riot grrrl.

And while riot grrrl has mostly petered out since then, that doesn't mean there aren't many badass punk rocker girls dominating the scene today. These are just a few of the best.

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5. The Coathangers: The Coathangers learned how to play their instruments by playing them in front of audiences. This trial-by-fire approach to starting out led them to not only frequently trade out instruments, as each of them had as much skill with each instrument as anyone else in the band, but led them to craft some of the most interesting, craziest punk rock going on right now.

4. Teri Gender Bender, Le Butcherettes: Le Butcherettes are a punk band out of Mexico that has quickly been rising to prominence since signing to Sargent House Records. Front woman Teri Gender Bender is known for her absolutely bonkers stage presence, where she typically wears a blood-stained dress.

3. Vivian Girls: Vivian Girls are an all-female garage-rock revival band. Their sound is lo-fi and noisy, but their best feature is their songwriting. They slowly built upon their talents on their first two records, a self-titled debut and Everything Goes Wrong, but it's everything comes together for them on their most recent album Share the Joy. With their songwriting, they are becoming the heiresses to the throne vacated by Sleater-Kinney.

2. Wild Flag: Speaking of Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag is the latest band from Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, two-thirds of that band's line-up. Together with Mary Timony from Helium and Rebecca Cole from the Minders, they've gone back to their punk roots and stripped down any excess. Even better, they prove that front woman Carrie Brownstein may be funny on TV's Portlandia, but she can still absolutely rock when she feels like it. They're also just pure fun.

1. Marissa Paternoster, Screaming Females: Screaming Females have been slowly building a fanbase for several years now. They've already got a devoted cult following and have recently been getting even more attention from a tour with Garbage and an album produced by Steve Albini. Front woman Marissa Paternoster's screams and yells make up the band's vocals, and she is also a shredder guitarist from hell.

Live Shots

November 12: Eddie Vedder at Jones Hall

Aging grungers are the new aging hippies. When the first wave of grunge hit in the late '80s and early '90s, the world was still rife with greybeards and their old ladies just two decades removed from cultural nirvana. Before the other, bigger Nirvana.

I remember being a tiny person in the midst of the Seattle explosion while also being exposed to the nostalgia of the free-love era. Never would I have thought that the two would have so much in common.

"You know what they say about the early '90s, man. If you remember them, you didn't have a debilitating drug addiction or an allergy to fame."

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder is one of the rare survivors of the grunge era who is still standing and can still tell a tale without tremors. Yes, the g-word is less of a slur than it was 20 years ago, and thankfully Pearl Jam managed to rise above the trends and tread their own path, thanks to their own stubbornness, a punk ethos and the leading hand of Neil Young.

A lot of Monday night's gig reminded me of Young's solo show at the same venue in 2010, from the sparse instrumentation to the set design. You should have seen people attempting to capture the campfire and starlight onstage from the audience with their cellphones.

Vedder as a solo act, a storyteller, and a guitarist doesn't touch the level of elation that fans say they feel at a PJ show. Nothing comes close. But not that many Houston PJ fans would know what it is like to see them here anyway.

The singer himself joked about his infrequent visits to Houston while dropping wistful odes to the Vatican and the Unicorn, departed venues that the band played numerous times on the way to becoming all-caps Pearl Jam.

Pearl Jam is now a festival band, leaving behind the road-slogging to younger groups and acts out of their own grunge class that didn't quite make the same global or monetary connection they did.


Vedder's solo schtick is heavy on his Into The Wild soundtrack stuff and various PJ nuggets. If you find the ukulele annoying or too precious, you will not be enchanted with the novelty of Ved­der doing half his set cradling the baby gee-tar.

Hardcore fans, though, will be rewarded by being in the presence of one of their icons. The man seems to understand that his target audience isn't "the kids" anymore, but thirty- and early fortysomethings he's helped usher through the past 20 years. He even made a remark about the monied crowd, knowing his ticket price isn't exactly small. CRAIG HLAVATY


Is One Halfway Decent Thanksgiving Pop Song Too Much to Ask?

Not so long ago, Rocks Off was wondering why there has never been a decent pop song about Thanksgiving. Not despairing, just wondering. Apart from all the complete shite, you could fill an entire wing of your iTunes library with quality tunes about Thankgiving's yuletide neighbor. But Turkey Day itself?

Try to name even one memorable, poignant, stirring, meaningful or even amusing popular song about the holiday. True, there's Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song," but one of our closest advisers argued that one doesn't count because it's comedy. We disagree, but nevertheless it's still about the closest thing the United States has ever seen to a Thanksgiving "hit."

Since 1621, when the pilgrims first decided to celebrate surviving the passage from England by eating themselves nearly-comatose, and especially since Congress officially designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in 1941, the day has lulled America's songwriters into a creative Tryptophan coma. Maybe they'd simply rather watch football.

This mental debate took place before Rocks Off became aware of one "It's Thanksgiving" by Nicole Westbrook, the Auto-tuned YouTube sensation of the moment at 7 million views and counting.

Now available on iTunes, the song was written and produced by Patrice Wilson, the Nigerian-American who did the same thing for last year's Rebecca Black Internet-earworm "Friday." Wilson's Hitchcockian insistence on making cameos in his videos has sparked more than one To Catch a Predator comment on YouTube. Here, he shows up in a full-size turkey costume.

"It's Thanksgiving" is useful if you have trouble keeping track of the year's major holidays, have ever felt the need to seize a turkey leg to use as a microphone or have a wicked yearning for some mashed potatoes (understandable). Otherwise it is a grating yet trifling bit of soulless, soul-sucking dance-pop fluff that should make any reasonable person over the age of 12 want to stab out their earholes.

So America is still waiting for a decent Thanksgiving pop song. Rocks Off did a little digging, and found exactly one musical giblet not immediately worth throwing out with the table scraps. Sad, sad, sad.

Loudon Wainwright III, "Thanksgiving": OK, this one isn't half bad. Lucy, Rufus and Martha's dad says grace before Thanksgiving dinner, dreading the meal that is to come: "Remind us that we are all grown-up adults, no longer children/ Now it's our kids that spill the milk, and our turn to want to kill them." CHRIS GRAY

Screwston, Texas

Underground Rapper T-Shirts Someone Should Make

Doughbeezy: That's Doughbeezy. You probably know that. Or maybe you don't. If you don't, you (probably) will eventually.

Tawn P: That's Tawn P, of course. She's really very good when she raps. You should listen to any song that she has her name on.

KAB: That's KAB, otherwise known as The Monster. He is one of underground Houston rap's great characters. And, according to rumblings, he has embarked on a sobriety journey, which we are especially excited about. You should listen to a song of his called "Jungle." It is wonderful.

Propain: That's Propain. He's a rattlesnake in Jordans. There are few emcees in town that are as reliably menacing. If you see him out, give him all of your money. He deserves more than you do. SHEA SERRANO

Screwston, Texas

Meet Travis $cott, KANYE's Local G.O.O.D. Music Protege

Asking your typical Houston rap nerd about artists on the verge or in the national spotlight usually circles the same cliched wagon. Normally they'd list off your usual suspects, sprinkle off a couple indie darlings who hang in different sects of the city, all while being very political and not wanting to step on any toes.

Because most rappers in Houston who become known in Houston...usually craft their initial buzz in Houston. Not 19-year-old Travis $cott.

Up until people bought Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music's Cruel Summer LP this fall, Travis $cott only existed to them as a kid who would randomly pop up on hip-hop sites such as ILLROOTS and smaller Texas blogs who knew of the kid. even listed Scott as one of their 10 Houston Artists to Watch this year.


Outside of that, very little has been revealed publicly about the 19-year-old rapper/producer who grew up in Missouri City, went to Elkins and then seemingly got shot out of a damn cannon to link up with Mike Dean and Kanye West. Press-wise, the most engaging thing on him may be his interview with ItsTheReal that even name-dropped Houston's own OG Che$$.

Dollar $ign rappers, I tell you.

Musically, $cott gets picked on for being heavily influenced by West. He'll forthrightly deny such a thing, but there's nothing necessarily wrong with that. West's 808s & Heartbreak album essentially snowballed into giving us Drake, and look how that's turned out.

G.O.O.D. Music picked up $cott on the rapper's pure potential, which we can easily note because his chops are well-rounded for someone who seems like they've been recording with their laptop in this "anybody can be a new-age star"-crazed genre.

Cuts like "Animal," with T.I., didn't build with the usual flair that a Tip-­assisted record would, but then you have moments like "16 Chapels," "Old English" and "XX," where it's clear that solo-wise, $cott can hold his own. BRANDO

Live Shots

November 14: Paul McCartney at Minute Maid Park

Seeing Paul McCartney live is a lot of things. It's communing with a spirit that has touched millions and will touch millions for as long as humanity lurches forward. It's hearing the old schmaltzy bedrock anthems and the proto-everything blasts that made the past 50 years of music so damned interesting.

And it's also about witnessing a man who, even at 70, can still rip a crowd a new anal opening with a flick of his wrist and a mischievous wink.

Wednesday night's McCartney gig at Minute Maid Park could have been his last in Houston ever. That's a reality that had its bony hand on my shoulder all day before the show and during the whole night.

Starting at 9 p.m. sharp and running close to midnight, McCartney's set was an exhibition of the past 50 years of pop and everything hopefully that is to come.

And would you believe that the man nary took a drink of water, rushed off stage for a costume change, an oxygen treatment, or an instrumental break for two hours? Even still his energy levels were off the charts, for anyone of any age.

Maybe he really did die in 1966 and was replaced by a robot.

Things kicked off with "Magical Mystery Tour" and a haze of stage fog. The show did begin a bit subdued, to be honest, which was at first terrifying, but when your set is close to 40 songs long (he played 37) it's not a race, it's a jog.

The mixture of Beatles and Wings material was genius and seamless, and truth be told, it actually seemed like the crowd around me reacted to the Wings work with more excitement and gusto than the Fab Four stuff. I swear the loudest cheers I heard were not for "Yesterday" or "Let It Be," but for "Maybe I'm Amazed." I can't explain that.

The McCartney performance tics we have all grown up with are still pumping right along: The head bob, the head nod, the coos in the right places, the knowing winks and smiles. The Höfner bass. His veteran backing band was also able to turn on a dime with him, and has mastered every possible nuisance of the Beatles/Wings canon. CRAIG HLAVATY

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