Female Alt-Pop/Rock Singer-Songwriters

A friend has gotten me into heavily listening to music again and over the past few months, I have discovered I have predilection for female singer-songwriters, especially of the nebulous “adult alternative pop/rock” genre, and I have been having lots of fun branching out and finding new favorites but I’m also doing this pretty blindly and was wondering if anyone here might share in my enthusiasm for this particular subset of music and be able to point me towards some similar artists?

My favorite bands and artists of this type at the moment are, in no particular order: Anna Nalick, Anouk, Emiliana Torrini, Emm Gryner, Imogen Heap (and Frou Frou), K’s Choice (and Sarah Bettens), Mirah, PJ Harvey, Poe, Sarah Fimm, and Vienna Teng and, obviously, recommend them all highly. Especially Anouk, K’s Choice, Mirah, Sarah Fimm (as evidenced by this previous thread), and Vienna Teng. Would anyone be able to point me to some similar artists? Men are welcome as well but I definitely prefer women.

And, if you like, click here and here for the official sites of Vienna Teng and Sarah Fimm to listen to some of their music if you’re unfamiliar with it.

I was always fond of Leah Andreone, but you may have a little bit of trouble finding her stuff. You’d also do well to check out Jill Sobule.

You might also like Tori Amos, Sarah Mclaughlin, Dido, Sia, Natalie Merchant, Jewel, Natalie Furtado (before she went all Gangsta-bitch), Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette

Hoo boy.

Cat Power is incredible. Freakwater is marketed as more alt-country-ish, but I think they’re brilliant (as a rule, I don’t like country.) A lot of people adore Sleater-Kinney, and while they’re not my favorites, I see the appeal. Erin McKeown makes some amazing music - her songs have an almost inexplicable theatrical quality about them. They sound like they should come from a musical…in a good way. Aimee Mann, Kristin Hersh, and Beth Orton all have treasured places in my CD collection.

I could go on…

Also Bic Renga, Liz Phair and and Abra Moore.

Please do. Finding new musicians is one of my favorite activities.

Also, if (generic) you have particular albums or specific songs to reccommend for the artists you’re suggesting, please feel free to share them as well. That can be really helpful sometimes. Buying the wrong album or downloading the wrong song(s) can sabotage your chances of enjoying an otherwise fantastic artist.

Thanks to everyone sharing. This is all being saved for future use.

I’ll second Cat Power. Also check out Isobel Campbell, former singer of Belle & Sebastian. If you like a little twang without being all-out country, there is always the flawless Neko Case.

second Aimee Mann (everything she’s ever done), Beth Orton (Trailer Park) and Liz Phair (first three albums).
I’d like to add: Neko Case, a stunningly good singer, labelled alt-country but much more than that, on her own and with the New Pornographers. This site has some video of her, saying “Without succumbing to hyperbole, we’ll just mention that she is the greatest singer that has ever lived in our universe or any other.”
Jolie Holland and her former bandmates from the Be Good Tanyas are also good, although more on the Americana/folk side of things and less rock.
On preview, I see i’ve been beaten to mentioning Neko Case… Oh well, I can second her as well then.

I’ll third the stunning Neko Case and add the brilliant and beautiful Jenny Lewis, the female lead from Rilo Kiley.

All this way and no one’s mentioned Jill Sobule? That’s a crime!

When it comes to quirky alt-pop girl-with-guitar she’s the best.

I really like Carrie Akre’s debut album, Home. Listening to a brief clip of Vienna Tang, it sounds like Ms. Akre would be up your alley. She has a newer one out (Invitation) that I haven’t heard. The Amazon reviews are good, even though there are only three of them. :wink:

Perla Batalla has a great voice and has a couple of albums out. She was showcased recently in the documentary Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man as one of the back-up singers. I had her album Mestiza for a while and liked it, but I didn’t listen to it enough and ended up eBaying it in a moving-sale purge.

Lucious Jackson, Natalie Imbruglia, Sarah Brightman

Metric is pretty good. Check out “Combat Baby”, “Torture Me”, “Grow Up and Blow Away”, and “Calculation Theme.”

Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, is one of my favorite. Her latest CD “The Greatest” has some really good songs: “The Moon” and “Lived in Bars” are the ones I really like right now. From other CD’s, I like “Cross Bones Style” and “He War”. She also does a lovely cover of Oasis’s “Wonderwall” if you can find it.

Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley also sings in The Postal Service with Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie. “Nothing Better” is a great duet betwen them, but “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” and “We Will Become Silhouettes” also feature her to great effect.

Stars has a male and a female singer. Check out “Elevator Love Letter” and “Death to Death”.

Arcade Fire’s CD “Funeral” is mostly male vocals, but “Haiti” and “In the Backseat” have female vocals. Their older CD “Us Kids Know” has a more even mix between male and female vocals.

I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned Ani DiFranco. Her albums run the gamut from folk to rock, but I recommend Dilate and Little Plastic Castles.

In my neck of the woods that nebulous genre has a name, “Ecto music.” It encompasses women like Happy Rhodes (please give her a try), Kate Bush, Bjork, Emiliana Torrini, Jane Siberry, Bel Canto and hundreds (thousands) of others, including most of the ones you named, as well as men like Peter Gabriel and Jeff Buckley. If it can’t fit easily into one specific genre, it’s very possibly Ecto. To us, anyway.

To see a whole web site devoted to Ecto (and some other) artists, visit The Ectophiles’ Guide To Good Music. The Ectoguide has been around since 1996, compiling opinion posts from the mailing list ecto, which has been around, talking about mainly female artists of that ilk, since 1991.

To hear a lot of Ecto artists you might take a look at my Suspended In Gaffa podcast website. That’s my speciality and generally what I play. At the web site there are short snippets from each song so you can spot check and get a feel for the music before you download the whole show. To hear streaming versions of the shows, go to my show’s MySpace page.

Happy listening!

I’m a little surprised that no one has mentioned KT Tunstall yet – I know of at least two other Doper fans of hers. “Black Horse & The Cherry Tree” is currently getting radio play, but I got hooked last year when I heard “Suddenly I See” on Virgin UK radio online. :slight_smile:

The Breeders
Letters to Cleo
Save Ferris
Tribe 8
The Lovemongers (Anne and Nancy Wilson, briefly)

The 90s were kind of a renaissance of women’s alt.rock

If you’re in the mood for something a little DIY and teetering dangerously on the edge of pretentiousness without quite falling over, you might try Boston’s own Dresden Dolls. Amanda Palmer, the pianist/singer/songwriter of the group, first got my attention (and how) as the Eight Foot Bride. She used to literally stand there for hours in Harvard Square, and if you dropped money in her tin, she’d suddenly come to a kind of slow, fluid life, and hand you a daisy. Freaky, but I dug it, and, unlike other Hahvahd Square buskers, if you didn’t like the act, you at least didn’t feel aurally assaulted by it. There was a time when she seemed like a fixture, but then just as inexplicably as the Eight Foot Bride appeared, she vanished, and I didn’t hear about the Dresden Dolls until a couple years later. I only saw them live once, but, uh, what a show. I mean, truly, just not at all like most club acts or club crowds you’re liable to encounter in the Beantown scene, love 'em or hate 'em. I think reading the press on their web site will give you a better idea, and you can download video of their shows. And yeah, she really is (or was) quite the exhibitionist.

Check out Belly, Throwing Muses, 4 Non Blondes or Linda Perry’s solo stuff.
I will post more as I think of them.

Try Rachael Yamagata’s album Happenstance which you can still find sitting lonely at most Border’s, Best Buys and the like.

If you were to look for more unorthodox ways to hear her music, her signature radio cut was “Worn Me Down”, “Letter Read” sounds very Fiona Apple-esque, “I Want You” is an upbeat tune and “I’ll Find A Way” is a slower, more emotion-driven number.