Ten Best Girl Bands Ever

Have you heard? Veruca Salt is back.
Have you heard? Veruca Salt is back.

Holy mother of period-prone angst, you guys.

Veruca Salt just got back together and performed for the first time in 18 years on Conan. We were immediately transported to that time when we were 10 and our mom bought us the Eight Arms to Hold You cassette, with the warning not to play it at our friend's houses because there was cursing.

That record changed our lives. We were growing up into little women, looking for the world of rock 'n' roll to save us, but our wide, expectant eyes met only the starshine of men. Some of them were androgynous, but being an androgynous man isn't the same as having a real vagina.

We needed more female rock idols, and Veruca Salt was our first taste of that fem ferocity. Of course, we soon realized there are tons of kick-ass girl bands, especially during the glory days of the '90s. Here are some of our favorites.

See Also: Rock 'n' Roll's Seven Baddest Chicks

For this list, we decided to stick to bands at least 50 percent female, if not all-girl everything. Sorry then to Garbage's Shirley Manson. You surely (ha) get an honorable mention. And we decided not to take the solo route, so no St. Vincent here.

10. CSS

Back in 2006, this Brazilian dance-punk band had the world jumping up and down to their clean, catchy sound with breakout record Cansei de Ser Sexy, literally translated from Portuguese to "I got tired of being sexy." For those wondering, it's apparently a pull from a Beyonce quote, but it makes a pretty raw name for an all-girl band no matter the origin story. Their song "Hits Me Like a Rock" gets a lot of play from superstar-DJ Dillon Francis. Really, who wouldn't want to make love and listen to Death From Above 1979.

9. Tegan and Sara

These melodic and folksy twinsies had young romantic teenagers crying and dancing at the same time since 1995. They're one of the longest-lasting acts on our list, so kudos to them, although they definitely took a strong EDM-turn with this latest release. In real hipster fashion, we prefer their old stuff, but we'll never turn out back on a sister act that helped raise the water for all lady ships at sea.


8. Veruca Salt

Named after the bitchiest little girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this '90s alt rock group is totally shirking Miami on their reunion tour. What gives, ladies? Even still, we'll always love them for introducing us to the wild and wonderful ways of women in rock. Now they're back in all their original line-up glory, sending fans the friendly message: "for now let's just say this: hatchets buried, aces exhumed."


The latest in the long tradition of estrogen-fueled powerhouses is HAIM. They may look like the Hanson kids found punk rock, but they sound like the re-animated dream of the '80s pop-r&b movement. They're sweet on the inside, sour on the outside, and their harmonies are decidedly beautiful, despite yielding almost painfully traditional femme vibes. Girly as they may be, these women are no doubt inspiring new generations of ready-to-rock boss bitches to pick up guitars, sticks, and learn those keys.


6. Heart

Before the days of Riot Grrrl, women didn't have a lot to look up to, but the Wilson sisters of Heart helped shred through the veil of the sexes as early as the '70s. Heavily influenced by acts like Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac, they're guitar-heavy, mystical blend of sexuality and raw power helped shoot them to the top of the rock game with songs "Crazy On You," "Magic Man," and "Barracuda."

5. The Runaways

The Runaways weren't just some ready-for-the-big-screen group of pretty faces. These young sexpots carved the way for nearly everyone on this list. With Joan Jett and Lita Ford on guitar, the noise from the axes alone was the sonic equivalent of El Nino. These girls didn't hide their sexuality (hello, the big hit is "Cherry Bomb"), but they were some of the first women in rock to totally rebuke the whole dainty, pouty act. The world was hardly ready.


4. Le Tigre

Veteran Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hannah couldn't stop rockin', so she went and started another groovy gig with Le Tigre in the late '90s. They rose to indie-darling prominence in the early 2000s, and in real Hannah-band tradition, they wore their liberal sociopolitical ideas on their sleeves. Yes, one of them is a transgender, and that's pretty cool. Rock'n'roll has always been best enjoyed without any gender stereotypes.

3. The Breeders

As if The Pixies weren't enough, everyone's favorite indie band got a sick off-shoot when bassist Kim Deal brought together more homies to form The Breeders. Her penchant for raw hooks and haunting melodies brought the band success, despite an ever-changing lineup, and their legacy continues to inspire men and women alike to write great tunes. They, too, recently got the band back for a very special reunion tour, performing seminal record Last Splash on the road with all recording members. It was freakin' awesome.

See Also: The Breeders' Last Splash 20th Anniversary Tour Brought the '90s Back at Grand Central Miami


2. Bikini Kill

Hot damn! Kathleen Hannah is running this bitch. Before she lit up the dance floor with Le Tigre, she had crunchy guitar on lock with this queenly pioneering foursome. They bring their feminisism to the forefront with punchy lyricism as tongue-in-cheek as it is staunchly political. You don't have to be a "Rebel Girl" to love Bikini Kill, but all good punk rock ladies do.

1. Sleater-Kinney

Before she was famous for being hysterical on Portlandia, Carrie Brownstein was injecting the rock world with some of the greatest riot grrrl riffs ever recorded. Fuck riot grrrl, Sleater-Kinney just totally owns whatever the subgenre. These punk rock baes are pure perfection. Their music is hard-hitting yet sensitive, their vocals are unique and powerful, their lyrics righteous and modernly poetic. If you know a young girl, give her a Sleater-Kinney CD. We could listen to them all day, and honestly, we think that's what we're going to do.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.

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