CUT AND PASTE: A Brief History of Zine Publishing

CUT AND PASTE is a new column that celebrates proto-blog culture by delving into the world of self-published print media – colloquially referred to as zines – which cover a wide scope of the personal and political lives of its authors and their various cultural obsessions. The column will be a mix of zine reviews, profiles and interviews with zinesters, highlights of zine archives and libraries, and coverage of zine events in today’s still-thriving culture. For our first installment, Rebecca Kunin, who teaches a course she designed at Indiana University called  “Punk, Zines, and D.I.Y. Politics,” gives us a brief rundown of zine history.

Zines are handmade and self-published print media. With relatively limited amounts of copies in circulation – both a practical constraint and ideological decision – they critique for-profit mass production. Zines often draw from the personal perspectives. As such, they tend to cover niche topics and come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and formats.

While the term was first utilized in 1930s/40s sci-fi fandoms, zines were embraced by punks in the 1970s as a counterattack to elitism in mainstream music journalism and the music industry. When punk music exploded onto local scenes, it upended mainstream notions of popular music. The core methodology of this critique was a D.I.Y. ethos. D.I.Y. suggests that one creates something – a show, song, zine, etc. – using the resources at their disposal. It suggests that an authentic message is one that is unfiltered by gatekeepers, who are swayed by corporate interests and the need to market and sell to mass audiences. A “rough around the edges” aesthetic, as it follows, is gladly embraced as evidence of human ingenuity in the face of an increasingly corporate and elitist artistic marketplace. This aesthetic (or ideal) manifested in punk music, fashion, political organizing, and print media, i.e. zines.

Zines became an important form of insider communication in punk scenes. One could turn to a local fanzine for a show review, interview, scene report, and pretty much anything else related to punk or otherwise. Beyond local contexts, zines traveled via touring bands and snail mail, spreading information and drawing connections across regional, national, and international D.I.Y. networks.

Because punks directed their rage towards corporate elitism and promulgated an ethos of inclusivity, it is easy to romanticize their outreach. While punk critiques capitalism, sexism, homophobia, and racism, for instance, it also exists within a world that is capitalist, sexist, homophobic and racist. Far from an egalitarian utopia, queer and femme punks and punks of color have had to exist within what scholar and zinester Mimi Thi Nugyen describes as “whitestraightboy hegemony.” Zines, however, became important sites for such critiques within punk spaces. Because of their participatory nature, more punk subcultures formed along these lines of critique.

One of these subcultures was queercore, a critique of homophobia within punk and conservatism within mainstream gay and lesbian movements. In the 1980s, Toronto-based multi-media collaborators Bruce LaBruce and G.B. Jones published J.D.s and helped to pioneer a local queercore scene. While there are many more titles than can be listed here, some of the most circulated Toronto-based zines included Bimbox and SCAB (Society for the Complete Annihilation of Breeding), Double Bill (Caroline Azar, Jena Von Brucker, G.B. Jones, Johnny Noxzema, Rex Roy), and Jane Gets a Divorce (Jena Von Brucker). Queercore, however, was not only based out of Toronto. Participants collaborated across geographic distances to other cities. Out of Southern California, Vaginal Davis published The Fertile Latoyah Jackson in the early 1980s. Up the coast in San Francisco, Homocore (by Tom Jennings and Deke Nihilson) and Outpunk (by Matt Wobensmith) were circulating widely. Out of Portland, Team Dresch bandmember Donna Dresch published Chainsaw, a homocore and riot grrrl zine. Many of the above-mentioned zines (and more) can be read in digitized formats on the Queer Zine Archive Project’s website.  Although centered on zines, queercore was a multimedia punk subculture that created music, films, and social networks. Outpunk and Chainsaw, for instance, doubled as record labels. By fusing art and activism, queercore reclaimed punk’s queer roots and created networks for queer individuals.

In the early 1990s, riot grrrl grew from local scenes in Olympia, Washington and Washington D.C. into an international movement with local chapters across North America, Europe, and Asia.  This activist art scene developed from feminist punks who were tired of the white boy mentality that dominated punk spaces. Riot grrrls used zines to discuss their personal experiences with sexism. Many members of this scene also performed in punk bands and advocated for feminist values and safe spaces at their shows. Famously, Kathleen Hanna of punk band Bikini Kill would call all the girls to the front at the beginning of their set. While it would be impossible to list all of the riot grrrl zines that were produced, some of the germinal ones include Jigsaw (Tobi Vail), Bikini Kill (Tobi Vail, Kathleen Hanna), Girl Germs (Molly Neuman, Allison Wolfe), Riot Grrrl (Molly Neuman, Allison Wolfe, Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail), and Gunk (Ramdasha Bikceem). These, and thousand more zines, connected femme punks across local, national, and international D.I.Y networks.

While riot grrrl opened a lot of spaces for women in punk, it is not without its critiques. Riot grrrl was mostly (although not exclusively) white, and many of its participants were middle class.  Punks of color and non-white riot grrrls critiqued riot grrrl for failing to address structures of racism and their own privilege within those structures on more than a superficial level. This critique of the whitewashing of feminist punk echoed a critique of race and racism in punk across many local scenes. In the 1990s, Race Riot emerged within this discussion. Mimi Thi Nguyen and Helen Luu published Evolution of Race Riot/Race Riot 2 and How to Stage a Coup, respectively, which are compilation zines that brought together punks of color to discuss racism in punk spaces and larger societal institutions. Bianca Ortiz (Mamasita), Sabrina Margarita Alcantara-Tan (Bamboo Girl), Miriam Bastani (Maximum RocknRoll),  Osa Atoe (Shotgun Seamstress), and Anna Vo (Fix My Head) are some of the central zinesters who have contributed to this discussion. Many of these zines can be read in digital formats via the People of Color Zine Project, founded by Daniela Capistrano.

By the 2000s, early social media websites and blogging platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr, Myspace, Live Journal, Bebo, and early Facebook introduced a new way for young people to interact with each other in an unfiltered format across greater geographical distances and at higher and faster rates. E-zines and blogs took zines from print to digital format.

Amidst all this, zine culture in its print form has remained alive and well. Zines can be found in cities and towns across North America (and around the world) at record stores, bookstores, comic book stores, zinefests, community centers, libraries and elsewhere. A handful of stores, such as Quimby’s (NYC and Chicago) specialize in zines. Rather than a replacement for zine culture, the internet has become a tool for zinesters to access a wider audience.

Now, when I go to a zinefest, I see zines on a number of different topics. I see zines about everything ranging from music, film, animals, feminism, and racism, to food and more. It is hard to ignore that a significant proportion of zines that I’ve encountered lately relate to themes of health and wellness – a trend that I suspect might be influenced by the inaccessibility of healthcare in the US and the stigmatization of mental illness and trauma. Another widespread theme in contemporary zine publishing is prisoner rights. Ranging from political essays by scholars and activists outside of prison to poems, essays, and illustrations from people who are incarcerated, these zines critique the prison industrial complex from an intersectional lens, exploring racism, classism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia. Tenacious, for instance is a zine written by incarcerated women and compiled by activist Victoria Law.

A lot of people in zine culture that I’ve chatted with mention a first zine that drew them in completely. For me, it happened when I was a 23-year-old ethnomusicology graduate student. I was at Bluestockings, a radical feminist co-op in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and I saw a brightly colored, glossy zine that stood out and immediately drew me in. The front cover was embossed in sections with glitter tape and a metallic noise maker was attached to the binding. It was called They Make Noise by Lou Bank and it featured portraits and bios of underground queer musicians. I remember being stricken by the fact that the zine was not just words on the paper, but a carefully thought out piece of art that someone spent a lot of time and care to assemble.

I became quickly consumed by zines and before I knew it, I was collecting them for my own bedroom archive. I made my first zine a couple of months later – my roommate Emmie Pappa Eddy and I collaborated and collectively created a fanzine about Friday the 13th. After that initial step I began to make more zines and after a couple of years, I built up my nerves to table at Bloomington’s Zine Fest. In graduate school, I have begun to work with zines in classroom settings as a creative alternative to elitist (and stodgy) academic formats.  My goal with this column is an extension of this research: to introduce more people to zine culture. As zine culture is fundamentally participatory, I also humbly hope to prompt more people to grab a piece of paper and make a zine.

Cover of Friday the 13th Fanzine. Cover art by Emmie Pappa Eddy

Recommended Further Reading

Queercore: Nault, Curran. Queercore: Queer Punk Media Subculture. Routledge: New York, 2018.

Riot Grrrl: Marcus, Sara. Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. Harper Perennial: New York, 2010.

Race Riot: Duncombe, Stephen and Tremblay, Maxwell. (editors). White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race. Verso: London, 2011.

Zines: Duncombe, Stephen. Notes From The Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture. Microcosm: Bloomington, 2001.

PLAYING DETROIT: Cheerleader “Bitchcraft”


There is nothing coy about Flint-based Cheerleader’s first full-length album, Bitchcraft. It is a riotous collection of defiant anti-apologies, that if delivered in any way other than Cheerleader’s impenetrable assault, would reinforce the very holding back they’re fighting against. Bitchcraft is the ultimate “fuck you” manifesto aimed to destroy, disarm, and devour the state of counterrevolution. Fully equipped with an advanced artillery of punk purism and unflinching feminism, Bitchcraft doesn’t knock. It grants itself permission.


The power of Christina “Polly” McCollum (lead vocals, guitar), Ashley MacDermaid (bass), and Nisa Seal (drums) is not contingent on image, labels or accessibility, rather their undeniable cohesion in being able to tear down the construct and crippling societal misogyny without compromising sincerity. The album opens with a shrill “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, HUH? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” which feels more like a dare than a question. The words bleed into the opening track “Beauty Queen” where McCollum delivers the first of many deafening blows with repeating the lines “I am more than my body.” Although the album clocks in just over 23 minutes, don’t mistaken its brevity for a shortcut. Quite the contrary. Cheerleader is free of filler or watery withdrawals, saying what needs to be said without finding polite euphemisms to spare feelings. Closing out the track “Friday Night Bites” during an Addams Family worthy bass line, McCollum exclaims: “No one cared about you then/no one cares about you now,” a testament to that one thing we have always wanted to say to that person we’ve always wanted to say it to. That’s the beauty of the anti-beauty of Cheerleader’s debut album. They have found a way to inspire without the squishy connotation.

To say this is an important record for women is like saying it’s wet when it rains. The overarching message of reprisal through rebellion and tenacity channeled by audacity is what, when conjoined with their tightly woven, Bikini Kill sludge, elevates Bitchcraft from an argument to an uprising.

Listen to Bitchcraft in its entirety here and check out the track “Beauty Queen” below:

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PLAYLIST: A Playlist to Celebrate “Riot Grrrl Day”

 Bikini Kill photo

April is known for rain, taxes, rabbits, and silly pranks, but now the month has a new, much cooler holiday: Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, has designated April 9th “Riot Grrrl Day” in honor of Kathleen Hanna, the front woman of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. Born in Portland, Hanna’s interest in feminism came at an early age. After dabbling in spoken word performance, she realized that her message would be louder if it was delivered in music.

How can you celebrate “Riot Grrrl Day”? Start by listening to this playlist of badass female-fronted acts.

1. Sleater-Kinney “Bury Our Friends”

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After a long hiatus, Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss, and Corin Tucker reunited Sleater-Kinney with the album Bury Our Friends. Check out the title track above: “Exhume our idols and bury our friends/ We’re wild and weary but we won’t give in.”

2. Speedy Ortiz “Raising The Skate”

Speedy Ortiz is fronted by vocalist/guitarist Sadie Dupuis, who created the witty, anxious “snack rock” that rocked SXSW this year.

3. Screaming Females “Hopeless”

New Jersey’s Screaming Females is actually just one female. She may not exactly scream, but guitarist/singer Marissa Paternoster has earned the description by belting rock vocals that defy her size.

4. Bikini Kill “Rebel Girl”

Of course, we couldn’t make this playlist without including the person who inspired the holiday: Kathleen Hanna, the original rebel girl.

5. Le Tigre “TKO”

Hanna’s next project, Le Tigre, is more polished, but just as fierce:“I’ll say my piece and when it’s over you’ll be on your knees,” she sings, while rocking a suit in the video for “TKO.”

6. White Lung “Down It Goes”

These Canadian punks are led by singer Mish Way, who is also known for writing edgy articles and putting douchey audience members in their place. 

7. Perfect Pussy “Work”

Meredith Graves is the woman behind the heavy-hitting, possibly-unsafe-to-google punk band, Perfect Pussy.

8. Waxahatchee “Under A Rock”

Waxahatchee is named after a creek in Katie Crutchfield’s hometown in Birmingham, Alabama. Now living in Brooklyn, the singer-songwriter just released her third album, Ivy Trip.

9. Tacocat “You Never Came Back”

Tacocat is here to prove that cat ladies can be cool, too. The Washington State surf-pop group plays upbeat songs that address feminism, as well as topics related to cats and everyday life.

10. She Keeps Bees “Saturn Return”

The husband and wife duo has a name that almost seems like a warning- as in, “watch out for that chick; she keeps bees.” Their sound is a slow, bluesy creep that builds and sneaks up on you.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

YEAR END LIST: AF’s Guide to Riot Grrrl’s Influence in 2013

Body/Head at St. Vitus

It is a goddamn golden age for girl-fronted punk.  It’s not that there haven’t been important works by women in the ensuing years, but 2013 saw a Riot Grrrl Renaissance unlike anything since its early ’90s inception.  Back then, Kathleen Hanna had to make safe spaces at Bikini Kill shows for female attendees by calling out aggressive dudes.  The ladies at the forefront of the movement had to blacklist the mainstream media that painted them alternately as fashion plates, dykes, or whores (sometimes all three, and always with negative connotations; it shouldn’t be implied that to be any of these things is bad or wrong in the first place).  By all accounts, they “couldn’t play” anyway, so the medium and its messages were barely worth discussing as anything more than a passing trend.  Meanwhile, riot grrrls preached their radical politics one Xerox at a time.

If the wisdom of these women seemed to skip the generation that adored Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time” without criticism, it has finally come full circle in a way that feels vital and urgent now.  Not only are we as a culture stepping up to finally examine sexism and exploitation and appropriation within the industry, there are more acts than ever completely unafraid to do their own thing – be it overtly political (see: Priests) or revolutionary in its emotional candidness (looking at you, Waxahatchee).  Maybe it has to do with direct influences of stalwart ensembles like Sleater-Kinney and Bratmobile, and maybe it’s a thing that’s happened gradually as those first voices carved out room for other female performers (for instance, in establishing Rock Camps for young female musicians throughout the country, a project that initially came about through discussions and direct action in riot grrrl communities).  There’s no way to make an inclusive list of all the phenomenal bands (punk or otherwise) now blazing their own trails through their various scenes but taking a tally of at least a few of these acts felt like a necessity for me as someone whose entire life was informed by music like this, and girls like them.  And because fifteen years after I discovered it for myself, 2013 feels like one giant, celebratory dance party/victory lap.


If 2013 is the year female-fronted punk broke, it has to be said that not all 90’s era veterans burned out or faded politely away.  In fact, two of the grunge scene’s most influential women put out intensely personal releases this year.

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Kathleen Hanna Kim Gordon
Hanna and Gordon in 1994’s “Bull in the Heather” video

Body/Head, Kim Gordon’s noise project with Bill Nace, created a moving exploration of feminine and masculine tropes in the form of a noise record.  I wouldn’t want to reduce Coming Apart to a document of her split from long-time partner Thurston Moore, but the whole thing feels every bit as raw and awkward as a life change that catastrophic must have been.  It’s Gordon’s most powerful, wild moments in Sonic Youth distilled down and then blown up.  Her vocals can sound desperate and strained at times, but this is ironically the most forceful aspect of the recordings – the anger and the vulnerability existing together in all its anti-harmony.

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Body/Head at St. Vitus
Kim Gordon and Bill Nace perform as Body/Head in June at St. Vitus

Likewise, Hanna’s record is not a chronicle of her late-stage Lyme Disease, the chronic illness that forced her to quit touring with socially-conscious electro outfit Le Tigre (for that, check out Sini Anderson’s brilliant Hanna doc The Punk Singer) but a testament to the triumph that creating it had over her sickness.  Reviving her moniker from ’97’s bedroom-recording project Julie Ruin by adding a “The” to the front and four incredible musicians and co-conspirators at her back, the band released Run Fast in September.  It manages to meld every one of Hanna’s prior sonic sensibilities, burnishing the the dance-punk of Feminist Sweepstakes with the sass and cacophony of The Singles and adopting the confessional tone of that first solo record.

This is riot grrrl all grown up; though neither project should necessarily bear that particular label, it feels like a continuation of the story that in turn validates its importance.  And the influence of Gordon and Hanna and others of their ilk can certainly be heard in a whole host of bands with break-out records that landed this year.  Again, it’s not that anyone in these bands are running around calling themselves riot grrrls, just that they’d be right at home on a playlist with bands who did (and bands of that era, from Red Aunts to Discount to that dog., that demanded my affection as equally).


Katie and Allison Crutchfield have been making music since they were teenagers, most notably in P.S. Elliot before splitting up to pursue creative projects as separate entities.  Katie released American Weekend in 2012 and Cerulean Salt in March, Allison released a self-titled record with her band Swearin’ last year and followed it up with Surfing Strange a few months ago.  The girls are mirror twins, meaning they’re identical but that their features are reversed in some instances, and that’s a good approximation of how their musical projects merge and divide.  Cerulean Salt is stripped down sonically and hyper-focused on thematic subject matter, dealing directly with her family history and its personal stories.  Swearin’ takes a music-making approach more classic to pop punk, its subject matter just as earnest but with a broader focus.  The two have reunited for one-off projects (like an incredible cover of Grimes’ Oblivion for Rookie Mag) and live together in Philly with their boyfriends (both of whom play in Swearin’).  In interviews and in their song lyrics they espouse feminist ideas unabashedly and have talked openly about finding inspiration in the riot grrrl movement.

Speaking of Alison’s boyfriend, Kyle Gilbride produced girl-punk supergroup Upset’s debut album, She’s Gone, out this year on Don Giovanni.  Uniting Vivian Girls contemporaries Ali Koehler and Jenn Prince with Patty Schemel of Hole, She’s Gone is a quirky collection of catchy, rapid-fire jams that at first listen might come off as slightly superficial.  But at the crux of the record is the idea of examining female experience, in particular the formative teenage years, in which break-ups and female rivalry loom large.  Taking what might be written off as juvenile and giving it its due importance in song is what makes the album both accessible and relevant.  If it seems precocious to compare one’s dreams to a dinosaur, at least it validates them by re-calibrating the scale.

Don Giovanni put out another astounding release in The Worriers’ Cruel Optimist.  Fronted by Lauren Denitzio of Measure, the project seeks to combine her interests in literature, art, and queer activism in a way her past musical projects have not.  Over hooky guitars and crashing drums, Denitzio talks about privilege in feminism and the need to re-evaluate personal politics with growing older on “Never Were”, references Jeanette Winterson as a way to talk about androgyny and gender identity on “Passion”, and ruminates on the toll that conservative politics took on a personal relationship in “Killjoy”.  The album closes with “Why We Try”, a triumphant reminder of the reasons these discussions still need to happen in music and elsewhere.  “If we expect something better / things won’t just move forward / Remember why we try“.

In talking about New Brunswick’s esteemed DIY circuit, we’d be remiss to not include Marissa Paternoster, active for several years now in the punk scene there, releasing work under solo moniker Noun as well as with her band Screaming Females.  It’s the latter’s most recent release, Chalk Tape, that sees the band going in some very interesting melodic directions with their particularly searing brand of guitar rock, recording most of the songs without revisions based around concepts scrawled on a chalkboard.  Paternoster’s commanding vocals, gliding easily between out-and-out aggressive and tender, looped sophistication, paired with her exceptional guitar work, make Chalk Tape a tour de force.  Here’s hoping a few misguided Miley fans accidentally stumbled on the wrong “Wrecking Ball”.

Nestled in another well-respected DIY scene, Northampton-based Speedy Ortiz represent a collective of 90’s-era rock enthusiasts with a poet at the helm.  Sadie Dupuis feels more comfortable behind a guitar than on open-mike night, but the lyrics she penned for Major Arcana and delivers with brass are practically worthy of a Pulitzer.  Razor sharp wit, slyly self-deprecating quips, and vitriol marked by vulnerability characterize the general tone of the record, its particular lyrical references so nuanced and clever it begs about a million listens.

Potty Mouth sprang out of the same scene when Ally Einbinder, frustrated with the difficulties of booking shows and playing in bands with men who rarely asked her input when it came to songwriting, decided to form and all-female punk band.  Einbinder and her cohorts are frequent participants in Ladyfest, which has sought to showcase feminist artists across different mediums for thirteen years running.  Bursting with energy and attitude, Potty Mouth’s debut Hell Bent calls bullshit on punk scene bravado, questions obsessive tendencies, encourages punk girls in small towns “it-gets-better” style, and delivers acute, sharp-tongued kiss-offs to any doubters.

Though the pun alludes to classically trained harpist and witchy-voiced weird-folk patron saint Joanna Newsom, Alanna McArdle and her compatriots in Joanna Gruesome stray pretty far from that reference point.  Instead, the UK band cherry-picks from shoegaze, twee, and thunderous punk with Adderal-fueled ferocity.  McArdle is a study in contradictions, one moment singing in a sweet-voiced whisper and the next shouting psychotically, often about crushing skulls or some other, equally violent way of expressing her twisted affections. The group met in anger management, and every second on Weird Sister sees them working out some deeply seated issues, the end result proving what a gift anger can be.


This particular calendar year, it seems, is only the beginning.  With a record crate’s worth of amazing releases from 2013, there’s a bevvy of bands with bandcamp profiles, demos, EPs, cassettes and singles that hold a lot of promise for future releases.  Across the board, when asked how their bands formed or when they started playing, the response is “I wanted to do it so I got a guitar and I just started playing.”  The DIY ethos and “fuck it” attitude are what make these projects so vital and exciting.


The DC group are explosive live, in particular thanks to Katie Greer’s spastic growl and Daniele Withonel’s revelatory drumming.  The band’s been known to spout off about anti-consumerism between songs, out of breath from the high-energy set, but there’s plenty of radical content in their self-released tapes, too.  Those searching for manifestos need look no further than “USA (Incantations)”, a spoken-word bruiser that skewers the non-inclusive founding of America and ends with “this country was not made for you and it was built on lies and murder”; it kind of makes me want to vote for Priests for president.  Elsewhere on Tape 2, Withonel steps from behind her drum kit to flip the script on the male gaze, with perfect Kathleen Hanna pitch. Whether they’re singing about Lana del Ray or Lillian Hellman, these self-described Marxists provide an electrifying listen.

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Perfect Pussy

Perfect Pussy plays notoriously brief shows – if you blink during their set, you’ll miss ’em – but all have played the Syracuse scene for years now.  The quartet got a lot of attention this over I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling, a four song EP with walls of guitar fuzz and synths and some forceful vocals from Meredith Graves buried low in the mix.  Trained in opera but trying out punk, she’s said that because she’s insecure about her singing they’ll likely stay that way when the band records a full length.  But it’s not because she’s trying to hide her words – you can read them by clicking through each song on Perfect Pussy’s bandcamp.  They are well worth extracting from the sludge, coming across like a Jenny Holzer send-up of rape culture, mixed in with some personal meditations on growing past a female betrayal and catharsis through relationships thrown in for good measure.
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Ellen Kempner writes off-kilter lyrics that perfectly distill the wonder and worry that comes with being a teenager, but with a wise, almost nostalgic tone that does not belie the fact that she is, actually, a freshman in college, living these experiences for the first time.  Her musician father taught her how to play guitar, and in high school she was in a band called Cheerleader before releasing some solo recordings that morphed into Palehound.  Their excellent Bent Nail EP came together this year, featuring the quintessential “Pet Carrot”, which seesaws from sing-songy folk to scuzzy 90’s grunge more reminiscent of Liz Phair than of Lorde.
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The Philly trio are a perfect picture of female solidarity, repping other girl bands from Philly in interviews and inking their bodies with matching arrow tattoos, as well as getting involved with Philly’s Ladyfest.  They sing about friendships and loss and the city around them with a raspy roar, holding back just enough on their three-song demo to hint at the spaces they’ll grow into.
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All Dogs

Coming out of Columbus, Ohio’s great lo-fi scene (which bands like Times New Viking and Psychedelic Horseshit helped build, and contemporaries Sex Tide and Connections will only continue), All Dogs take that same energy and clean up the grime just a bit to let Maryn Bartley’s hopelessly catchy vocal melodies shine.  There’s a youthful exuberance and earnestness that propels the material on their split cassette with Slouch and their self-titled 7″ released on Salinas Records.  The Crutchfield sisters have been big early supporters; Katie booked them as openers on an upcoming Waxahatchee tour after saying they “made her cry”.
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About an hour south in Cincinatti, Bridget Battle takes an endearing 60’s girl group intonation and spits it snottily into a microphone while her bandmates in TWEENS play messy, immediate punk rock.  Their CMJ performances earned them rave reviews and helped them release a bit of the energy they’d pent up during the recording of their first full-length in DUMBO, set to see release sometime this spring.  Until then, they’ll be touring with fellow Ohioans the Deal sisters for The Breeders’ extended reunion shows.
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Heavy Bangs

“I don’t care what you think as long as I can’t hear it / I’ll be a fly some other place.  / I don’t care what you do / As long as you stay away from me / I can’t stand the way you do the things you do.”  So begins “All the Girls” from Heavy Bangs’ bandcamp demos.  It’s a departure from the quirky indie pop Cynthia Schemmer played as guitarist for Radiator Hospital, but it takes cues from the same attention to clever melody.  The best indication of what might come from her solo project are the artful and contemplative postcards she posts to her tumblr ( before sending them to to friends, apologetically explaining why Philly drew her back after time in New York, or recounting conversations she had with a therapist over the loss of illusions.  Like the two tracks she’s shared, these can feel sad but are intently self-aware, the attention to detail speaking volumes between the lines.
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Are those alive in a golden age ever able to really realize it?  Or can it only be understood by looking back?  With the passage of time we grow older and wiser and we’re better able to put things into context, but there are some moments that are simply meant to be lived.  If you’re not screaming at the top of your lungs to these records or dancing in the front row at one of these shows, you’re doing it wrong.