By Conner Yarbrough
Blog Content Contributor
Part two of a four part series.
For those of you that don’t know, March is Women’s History Month here in the good ol’ U.S.-of-A and March 8th was International Women’s Day. Each of these events exist to celebrate the contributions of women throughout society in whatever role they fill in their daily lives. And, what better way for a college radio station employee (like myself) to celebrate than by sharing my favorite female-led albums of 2017 and my most anticipated female-led albums of 2018.
This mini-series, Fav Females, will take you through my music library, genre-by-genre, to feature my favorite female artists from this past year and the female artists that I think everyone should be on the lookout for this year. Each week, for the remainder of Women’s History Month, will be dedicated to a different genre of music and will come with a Spotify playlist (curated by me) filled with my favorite songs from the female artists that I write about – and probably a few honorable mentions. This second edition will feature my Fav Females who make killer Electronic music.
Yaeji, yaeji + EP2
Yaeji is a Korean-American dance/electronic artist based in Brooklyn who I just recently stumbled upon when she released the video for her breakout song, Raingurl. I was mesmerized by the colors and styling, and quickly found myself addicted to how soft her music is. In 2017, she released two EPs. One titled yaeji and the other EP2, both of which I kept coming back to over and over again after my first listen. EP2 reminds me of one of those naps you have in the middle of the afternoon where you wake up to the sunset coming through the windows before going out for the night – a little specific, I know, but seriously. Then, yaeji, reminds me of a calm rainy day at home right as the sun is starting to come from behind the clouds – relaxing and fresh. Both of these feature a mixture of English and Korean lyrics and are bound to put you in an irresistibly happy mood.
Little Dragon, Season High
I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve put this album on shuffle and booked through homework without a care in the world. Following their 2014 album, Nabuma Rubberband (the album that made me fall in love with Little Dragon), Season High seems to continue to build on the formula that the band has developed together. Similar to Yaeji, Little Dragon seems to work in a dreamstate – though they are noticeably more production heavy than they are dance-y. The Swedish group, led by their singer Yukimi Nagano, was founded during their years in high school and continues to create music that borders on alternative-electronic. Though they use a multitude of electronic samples, I never feel lost in an electronic world that many electronic artists seem to love to make. Little Dragon feels more based in reality and could easily be categorized as psychedelic rock.
Personally, it is difficult to deny the influence that former-Sugarcubes member Björk has on electronic music. The Icelandic legend was the first artist that I know of to venture into the world of VR and 360-degree music videos, and her original sounds and samples can be heard throughout the genre following any release that she does – though no one utilizes them in quite the way that she does. She has garnered enough recognition to headline alongside hip-hop/rap legend Missy Elliot, and she continues to found groundbreaking ways to change music as a whole. In her latest release, Björk teamed up with Arca to create an entirely new world full of strange birds, insects, creatures and love. It seems to pickup where her previous album, Vulnicura, left off; Utopia seems to focus on the transforming world around her following her divorce from her husband, which Vulnicura told the story of. I am always excited to hear what this creative, artistic legend has to say and for her to still be pushing music forward after decades of being in the industry. Utopia marks the third album by Björk to earn the title of “Best New Music” from Pitchfork.
Fans of the ever-changing Claire Boucher, otherwise known as Grimes, are going on three years without any new music – if you exclude the track “Medieval Warfare” the Canadian producer released as part of Suicide Squad: The Album in 2016 (but still, that’s almost two years ago). Her last release, Art Angels, showed Grimes going in a more electro-pop direction, showcasing more of her songwriting ability than any of her previous albums. It was a step that was shocking to many fans, but impressed nonetheless, earning “Best New Music” from Pitchfork. Currently, there is no official release date for a new Grimes album this year, however, it has been reported that she actually has two in the works – one that is described as being her darkest work yet and another which is said to be “highly collaborative.” After looking at her Instagram and seeing artists like Purity Ring, Marina Diamandis of Marina and the Diamonds and past-collaborator Janelle Monáe, it would not shock me to see any of them on the album. But, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what “unexplored sonic landscapes” she has up her sleeve.
Again, there is no official announcement of a SOPHIE album, however, with three groundbreaking singles (It’s Okay To Cry, Ponyboy, and the haunting Faceshopping) already pushed through every music service, there is no doubt in my mind that an album is just around the corner. You may know SOPHIE’s 2015 single, Lemonade, from McDonald’s commercial for their frozen lemonade drinks, but this abrasive/strangely-bubbly artist is more than some 30-second ad. Besides having some of the most unique music I’ve heard in years, she has produced alongside artists like Cashmere Cat, Le1f, MØ, Brooke Candy, and another Fav Female, Charli XCX – it is rumored that upcoming Brooke Candy and Charli XCX music is also produced by SOPHIE. Whether we get SOPHIE’s debut album in 2018 or not, there is bound to be more to come from her in the months to come.
I guess I’m really running on rumors at this point because this next artist, yet again, has not announced any music yet this year. However, with huge success on her debut album, LP1, and followup EP, M3LL155X (pronounced “Melissa”), both which were named “Best New Music” by Pitchfork upon release, there is bound to be something in the works – or at least I hope so. FKA twigs has worked with the likes of Boots (who helped produce Beyoncé’s self-titled album) and Arca (one of Kanye West’s go-to producers) to create an environment of sensuality and vulnerability that, I feel, she has revolutionized. Twigs is on an artistic plane unattainable to many, and is one of the few artists I know who is completely distinguishable from others in her genre. She recently was featured in the Spike Jonze-produced Apple Homepod music video for Anderson .Paak’s new song, Til It’s Over.
Now, I know I already talked about Little Dragon, but, despite a release just last year, they are already pushing their new singles, Sway Daisy and Best Friends. While the two may have been released for the hell of it, it is possible that the group has another album in the works.
Listen below to this week’s Fav Females: Electronic Spotify playlist to get a sense of how these women are redefining and pushing the boundaries of their genre. Then next week, be on the lookout for the next edition of the Fav Females mini-series!
Featured image by Conner Yarbrough.