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One of the longest-lasting remnants of riot grrrl, Sleater-Kinney blew past the confines of the indie-rock underground to become one of the most culturally significant rock bands of our time. By the time they ended things in 2006, they’d gotten at least some recognition for their astute political lyrics and virtuosic musical chops, but not nearly enough. S-K surprised everyone by dropping No Cities to Love, their first album in a decade, back in January. Naturally, it’s awesome, and the mainstream is giving them more attention than ever before.
Nineties angst wouldn’t have been the same without Nina Gordon and Louise Post’s sweet harmonies and SG interplay. Sadly, endearing earworms like “Seether” and “Volcano Girls” ceased production when the pair began having epic arguments and Gordon left in 1998. Post continued on under the Veruca Salt moniker, but it wasn’t anywhere near the same. In proof that time heals all wounds, the rift between Post and Gordon was finally healed in 2013 when they announced their reunion on Facebook: “hatchets buried, axes exhumed.” This month, Veruca Salt release Ghost Notes, their first LP in nine years (and the first with the original lineup in 18). They’ve also been touring all over North America, with international dates likely to follow.
Babes in Toyland
This Minneapolis trio put out three albums worth of rage and grunge-fueled badassery helmed by Kat Bjelland and her mighty howls. After three brilliant albums, they called it quits in 2001. The Babes got back together officially last summer, cautiously playing a few shows in California and Minneapolis before launching a more substantial European and North American tour (which includes several Canadian stops). Some new songs may also be on the horizon.
8 grrrl band reunions that have made the world a better place
Kim Deal used time away from The Pixies to form yet another revered alt-rock band, one that showcased her songwriting talents a lot more freely without a Black Francis-type pulling all the strings. Though they never really broke up, a fluctuating lineup and long hiatuses made many of us wistful for The Breeders’ early-nineties heyday. The Last Splash lineup of the band got back together in 2012 to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary with a reissue and world tour. With Kim Deal quitting Pixies in 2013, she’ll likely be able to focus more on new Breeders material going forward.
Though they’ve always stayed relatively under the radar, San Francisco post-punk crew Erase Errata are revered in certain music-nerd sectors for their cleverly crafted hooks wrapped around sharp political observations - Marnie Stern is just one of the musicians they’ve influenced. Aside from a couple sporadic singles, they’ve been uncomfortably quiet since the release of 2006’s Nightlife. The girls returned in January with new album The Lost Weekend. Touring doesn’t seem to be a big priority at the moment (likely due to the members all living in different states and having happy careers outside of music), but their few recent festival dates are hopefully a sign of more to come.
The first signees to Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal label, Luscious Jackson captured a mid-nineties yearning for slick, groove-heavy pop tunes multilayered with meaning. They achieved mainstream success with hit single “Naked Eye,” but things fizzled out after 1999’s Electric Honey failed to generate much excitement from the masses or the label heads at Capitol. The band reunited to put out 2013’s Magic Hour, their first LP in almost 15 years. They also put out a children’s album, Baby DJ. As of late, they’ve been celebrating the reissue of the Clueless soundtrack in honour of its 20th anniversary (which features their song “Here”).
The Julie Ruin
Godmother of riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna is well regarded for her work with Bikini Kill, but solo project Julie Ruin is a wonderfully lo-fi precursor to the fun, feminist tunes she’d later turn out with Le Tigre. She took a lengthy break from music altogether when she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease around 2005. Hanna announced that she would be resurrecting Julie Ruin as a full band in 2011, and their first full-length, Run Fast, came out in 2013 to much acclaim. Hanna’s sadly not out of the woods totally - a Lyme Disease relapse forced cancellation of tour dates last year, but the band is confident that treatment and time off will allow her to continue playing in the future.
Photo of L7
Few bands took rock n’ roll excess to the extreme (and survived) like L7. The four-piece rose to fame in the grunge era on the strength of 1992’s Bricks Are Heavy and quickly became notorious for antics such as dropping trow on national television and throwing a used tampon at an audience. Inspired by the outpour of support they received in response to an upcoming documentary feature about the band, L7 decided to hit the road once again with the original lineup. They’re currently on a European tour and will also hit up the US and Canada later this summer.
For a minute it felt like the height of feminist music had gone out with the printed zine, but bless, it’s back in a major way. The mayor of Boston recently declared an official Riot Grrrl Day (injuring several MRAs in the process); Jessica Hopper just released her first book, aptly titled The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic; even the world’s biggest pop stars, including Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, and Beyonce, proudly use the F word with abandon.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that the trailblazing woman-powered bands of the ’90s and early aughts have reappeared in recent years. There have been some smaller teases, such as Courtney Love musing about jams with the original Hole lineup, Jack Off Jill planning a one-off gig this month, TLC launching a Kickstarter for a new album, and even the Spice Girls rumoured for a 20th anniversary reunion next year. Better still are all the other bands officially making a go of it once more.
Check out our gallery above for the list of bands we’re most psyched to see again.