In a world where the trappings of gender are becoming less and less rigid or significant, it might seem outdated to highlight the top 5 emerging women in rock. But the truth is, the music industry is still massively dominated by men, and people of other genders still have to work twice as hard to get noticed or recognized. So, today, we’re highlighting the women at the cutting edge who are paving the way for their genre and truly rocking it in the process.

#5 Rhian Teasdale | Wet Leg

Emerging is exactly what Wet Leg vocalist and vibe master, Rhian Teasdale, is busy doing these days. With only four singles released to date, Teasdale’s band, hailing from the UK, has experienced an impressive amount of attention recently, featuring on NPR’s Tiny Desk series and BBC’s popular Later… With Jools Holland. Although Teasdale is admittedly not much of an instrumentalist (she tends to play simple, atmospheric electric guitar parts between singing), her vocals, lyrics, and creative vision are more than enough to lend her a spot on this list. Unsurprising considering the band’s suggestive name, most of Wet Leg’s releases to date are playfully lewd. While one could argue that the band’s fast success could be chocked up to the novel appeal of two cool women writing songs about sex (Teasdale founded the band with friend and guitarist Hester Chambers), I think there’s something far more interesting going on here. Using her smooth talk-singing style to cast a spell on listeners, Teasdale creates an atmosphere in her performances that hints at eras of UK pop-rock gone by (think Miki Berenyi of 90s-era Lush). Wet Leg is clearly playing with a certain aesthetic and managing to entrance audiences at an impressive speed. Based on how fascinating her brief journey has been so far, I’d say Rhian Teasdale is one to watch. Lucky for us, Wet Leg’s debut album is set for release this April (2022).

#4 Molly Nilsson

Billed as a singer-songwriter, Molly Nilsson’s output reminds me more of an understated nod to 80s-era dreamy rock balladry, a la Belinda Carlisle (Go-Go’s) or Kate Bush (but moodier). Hailing from Sweden and currently residing in Berlin, Nilsson has an impressive talent for creating atmospheres that feel enormous despite being a solo creator. Listening to Nilsson’s music almost feels like stepping into a time machine that somehow goes backwards and forwards at the same time. With song titles like “I Hope You Die” and “Absolute Power,” Nilsson certainly has a presence about her that isn’t easily forgotten (her newest album opens strongly with the line “it’s me/versus the blackhole at the center of the galaxy”). Despite actively releasing music for well over a decade, Nilsson’s career has been a slow and steady climb into public awareness. But unlike plenty of artists whose output gets less interesting over time, Nilsson’s connection to her creativity seems to be deepening in its refinement. With a brand-new album, Extreme (released on her own record label, Dark Skies Association, no less), and a feature on Bandcamp daily last month (1/22), Molly Nilsson is one to keep an eye on this year.

#3 Serra Petale | Los Bitchos

Atypical for a woman in the spotlight, Serra Petale of London-based psychedelic cumbia dance rock band Los Bitchos is an instrumentalist through and through. Lead guitarist and primary composer for Los Bitchos, Petale dreamed up the existence of her band through a fascination with old cumbia recordings. Assembling bandmates from around the world, Petale managed to curate her ideal musical atmosphere in which she could bring her emotive, creative, half-traditional/half-futuristic imaginings to life. A highly skilled and unpredictable guitarist, Petale is bound to go places in her career, which is just beginning in earnest. The first ever Los Bitchos album dropped this month (2/22) on City Slang, and judging by this record, I recommend keeping an eye on Petale’s output moving forward. The album’s title couldn’t be more fitting: Let the Festivities Begin.

#2 Adrianne Lenker | Big Thief

Starting out as a singer-songwriter somewhat indistinguishable from the crowd, Adrianne Lenker has steadily grown into one of the most exciting voices and creative forces in the rock, folk, and indie genres over the past ten years. With five full-length studio releases from her band Big Thief and three full-length solo releases, Adrianne shows no signs of slowing down in her creativity and growth as an artist. Informed by American folk and roots music as much as by rock, alt-pop, and country, the young songwriter and performer marries a variety of genres in her unique approach to music, best exemplified in her band’s latest album, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You, released this month (2/22) on 4AD. Adrianne has been one of the most exciting voices on the scene for a few years now, but she keeps succeeding at reminding us exactly why she deserves to stay on our radar.

#1 Amy Taylor | Amyl and the Sniffers

Emerging onto the Aussie music scene just six years ago, Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers has fast earned herself a reputation as one of the most energetic, spitfire rock’n’roll vocalists and performers in the world. Watching Amy perform (through a screen in my case) is like being reminded that some long-lost tradition still exists. Her stage presence, embodiment, and commitment to what she’s singing almost burst beyond the edges of her body. Fans of the legendary Mia Zapata of The Gits will hear reminiscences of the late singer-songwriter and punk rocker in Taylor’s vocals and energy. Awarded Best Rock Album by the Australian Recording Industry Association in 2019, Amyl and the Sniffers came back even harder with their 2020 album Comfort To Me. Mashing straight up rock’n’roll with elements of hardcore punk and d-beat, Amy Taylor and her band might just become your newest musical obsession.

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