Sleater-Kinney was a fabulous band, no doubt about it. Janet Weiss pounded the drums like they owed her money, Corin Tucker played rhythm guitar and sang like nobody’s business, and Carrie Brownstein played lead guitar so well that Rolling Stone acknowledged her as one of the “25 Underrated Guitarists of All Time,” which is surprising given the publication’s usual sexism. (Yes, this list was decided by a reader poll, but that doesn’t make the appearance of awesome female guitarists in Rolling Stone any less rare.)
Carrie Brownstein redefined what a rock star looked like. An androgynous woman wearing modest button-down shirts and jeans in an industry that emphasized sex appeal, her love of music always showed through in the way she played. She did high kicks, jumped up and down, and swung her guitar around with infectious energy. Not to mention, she wrote great songs. I can listen to “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” over and over without getting sick of it. I’m pretty excited about her new project, Wild Flag, which just released an album.
Check out Sleater-Kinney and Brownstein’s other bands, like Excuse 17. You won’t regret it.
This is Sleater-Kinney’s song “Jumpers.”
One of my favorite Sleater-Kinney songs.
Wild Flag’s new music video for “Romance.”
(This article and many of the YouTube links in it feature profanity, impropriety, and half-naked girls rocking out. If you are under 16 or just averse to inappropriate things, please consider exiting the webpage.)
I must admit, when I first saw Ruyter Suys (pronounced “Rye-ter Sigh”) play, I thought I was in love.
The lead guitarist of the highly inappropriate Southern rock band Nashville Pussy graced my computer screen in a marvelous YouTube recording of the song “Go to Hell.” She played riffs that were loud, in your face, and simply badass. Her stage presence rivaled that of Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page. I truly wish I’d discovered her when I was first learning to play guitar—then again, my seventh-grade self might not have appreciated a band with song titles such as “Struttin’ Cock” and “Go Motherfucker Go.”
One of the wonderful things about Suys is her ability to play in her underwear and look all the more awesome for it. It remains far too easy for many people to look at stars like Katy Perry and disregard them as serious musicians because of their apparent hatred of clothing. But Suys’ fiery mastery of her instrument makes her impossible to write off as just another tart-of-the-month. Even when she solos in nothing but a leopard-print bra and underwear, she is impossible to disregard. She is sexy in the way Robert Plant was in his Led Zeppelin days: blonde, tanned, undeniably skilled, abundant with talent, and untouchable. When I first saw her, I felt as though I’d waited my whole life to find a guitarist like her: a woman who rocked the way that the cock rockers I grew up on do, but had her own style.
But I don’t want to portray Ruyter Suys as a woman first and a musician second. You cannot deny that she’s a woman working in a man’s industry, but too much emphasis on her gender could downplay her playing, which is the last thing I want to do. I simply feel that she’s the role model I never had when I was learning the ropes as a guitarist, and I think many other girls (and guys!) would also find her musicianship to be inspiring.
Please check out Nashville Pussy; they have a new album out called From Hell to Texas, and you can hear some of the songs for free on their website. Or you can just click on a few of the links below.
(Suys is actually fully-clothed in this one in a badass leather outfit. No wonder she stripped down—she must have been roasting underneath the stage lights. The band has wonderful energy. Blaine Cartwright–the lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and Suys’ husband–seems to enjoy watching his wife rock out.)
(Ruyter Suys and Karen Cuda [the bassist] are really badass in this one.)
(This is the one where Suys plays in her underwear, if you’re interested in that. It also happens to be an awesome song.)