The unsung heroines of Punk/Post-Punk/No Wave/New Wave

Since its beginning, rock music has been a male dominated affair. Women, such as Wanda Jackson, were not just anomalies but curiosities. By the ’60s there were plenty of girl groups, female soul singers and a few female-fronted rock bands, but the few actually female-dominated rock bands like Ace of Cups, Fanny, The Girls, Goldie & the Gingerbreads (the first all female rock band to sign to a major label) and even the Shaggs aren’t exactly household names. That seemed to change in the ’70s, when Suzi Quattro and The Runaways seemed to lessen the shock of seeing girls wielding instruments. Whether he was joking or not, Roger Ebert took credit for the girl rock revolution by creating the Carrie Nations in his screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Things really began to change with onset of the new wave of the late ’70s. Not only were there female-fronted bands like Siouxise & the Banshees and Blondie, but there were also bands integrated in various ways, like Talking Heads and later The Mekons, Gang of Four, &c. Now, although you could still listen to the radio for a year without hearing an all-female rock band, it’s not entirely out of the question. These bands aren’t all entirely comprised of women, but they definitely broke the mold.

The Au Pairs “Come Again”

The Bloods “Button Up” (audio only)

Bush Tetras “Too Many Creeps”

Cambridge Apostles “Can’t Fight the Feeling”

Delta 5 “Anticipation”

Dolly Mixture “Been Teen”

Edith Nylon “Edith Nylon”

ESG “Moody” (audio only)

Fatal Microbes “Violence Grows” (audio only)

The Flying Lizards “Money”

Girls At Our Best! “Warm Girls” (audio only)

Kleenex “Nice”

Lizzy Mercier Descloux “Torso Corso” (audio only)

Look Blue Go Purple “Circumspect Penelope”

Malaria! “Geld”

Marine Girls “A Place in the Sun”

Martha and the Muffins “Echo Beach”

Mo-Dettes “White Mice”

Penetration “Don’t Dictate”

Pulsallama “Devil Lives in My Husband’s Body”

Pylon “Crazy” (live)

The Raincoats “Black and White”

Romeo Void “Never Say Never”

The Slits “Typical Girls”

Stinky Toys “Birthday Party”

Suburban Lawns


Tappi Tíkarrass “Dúkkulísur”

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks “Race Mixing (Live in 1979)”

Ut “Sham Shack” (audio only)

Y Pants “Favorite Sweater” (audio only)

Young Marble Giants “Colossal Youth”

Apologies to fans of Unknown Gender, whose YouTube fans have sadly chosen to disable embedding on the videos which they’ve uploaded…


Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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