A lot of indie and alternative bands are making the move back to rock ‘n roll, and there are some amazing female guitarists that are hugely influential on this movement. A recent study conducted by Fender revealed that women account for half of their sales, and it’s clear that artists like St. Vincent and Tash Sultana are paving the way for new styles of indie rock guitar.
From dreamy psychedelic rock to killer solos and sweet riffs, these axe players are some of the best in indie rock right now.
Annie Clark (St. Vincent)
Annie Clark, A.K.A. St. Vincent is a guitar angel sent down from the guitar gods to bless us with sweet riffs and killer solos. Not only does she have her own line of guitars that are custom made for women, but she knows how to make them wail, moan, and cry like no other. Clark can play an elaborate line and sing without even batting an eyelash, and she knows how to make an audience go wild when she slides on her knees while hammering away at an unreal solo.
Six-string superhero Tash Sultana is creating new tones and textures in indie rock with layers of guitars and effects. Their edgy street vibe shines through in their live performances where they create the backing tracks live with loops at every show. As a solo artist on stage, Sultana’s presence is impressive, creating a full bodied groove that can’t even be touched by a five piece band.
Kylie Miller (The Beaches)
Kylie Miller is a killer Canadian guitar queen with an edgy flare. She started learning to play music just after she finished preschool, and is influenced by heavy guitar riffs from Nirvana, The Strokes, and St. Vincent. Her squealing, catchy guitar lines drive fans of The Beaches crazy, and their recent album The Late Show is a very powerful guitar-centric record.
Lindsey Jordan (Snail Mail)
Lindsey Jordan’s hazy guitar lines are dreamy and intricate. Her songs are very guitar-heavy, as she writes the guitar melodies before moving to the vocal melody or lyrics. Jordan, and Snail Mail as a whole, are one of many bands making the move back to rock ‘n roll, and as a result Jordan really shreds in her tunes.
Marissa Paternoster (Screaming Females)
Marissa Paternoster is widely considered to be one of the top rock guitarists in the world. Her live albums are a must-hear for any fans of the power punk trio, the Screaming Females. She started playing guitar at age 14, and her energy-fuelled solos are influenced by rock bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Pixies, and a lot of riot grrrl music.
Hannah Joy (Middle Kids)
Hannah Joy has an interesting style of playing guitar. As a left-handed kid, she picked up her dad’s right handed guitar and began to play it with the strings in reverse order. She’s been doing so ever since, and this abstract way of playing translates to the band’s unique guitar lines.
Julien Baker’s reverb drenched, guitar driven tracks are often created with a loop pedal to create clean melodies that are strengthened with her powerfully straightforward lyrics. The standout tracks on her heart-wrenching albums are often created with simple, yet clever guitar lines that drive the songs forward.
Sophie Allison (Soccer Mommy)
Sophie Allison of Soccer Mommy is a frontrunner in the movement toward the female revival of forward-thinking guitar tunes. Her debut studio album Clean features faraway guitars with gentle drones, and Allison’s riffs feature a lot of pop-punk influences that give Soccer Mommy a unique sound.
Elena Tonra (Daughter)
Elena Tonra, frontwoman of Daughter, is a powerful guitar player who knows how to make catchy, memorable, melancholic guitar lines with riffs like the ones in “Youth,” “Landfill,” and “Tomorrow.” Her soft, heart wrenching melodies are accompanied by sweet and dreamy vocals with wistful lyrics.
Angel Olsen is more than your average folk-rock guitarist. Her grittier, jangly tones add a soft yet heavy quality to her quiet tunes. Although she’s not a solo guitarist, she is great at making elaborate, edgy riffs with finger plucking and creative strumming patterns. Olsen’s dreamily devotional tracks wouldn’t be the same without her iconic imperfect guitar playing.
Kelley Deal (the Breeders)
Kelley Deal has some pretty crazy guitar skills, and has gained a lot of traction as a member of the Breeders and through her solo efforts. She is renowned as one of the most creative indie rock guitarists out there with her complex instrumentation and unique tonality.
Liz Phair can really rip it with an ear for melody and her ability to bring music to life with her gritty riffs. Phair is well known as a source of inspiration for aspiring female guitar players across the world with her distortion-heavy guitar lines and powerful persona.
The raw sound of PJ Harvey’s guitar playing has been exciting music lovers for decades. She is constantly developing her instrumental style by tackling different musical genres from electronica to folk to indie rock. Harvey really knows her way around a six string and she can casually play a series of dreamy rock notes that’ll have you swaying in your seat.