Greatest Albums Made by Women

Back in July of 2017, NPR released a list entitled “The 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women“. As one might suspect, it was controversial. That is the whole point of lists, of course, and it’s why I love making threads about them.

I should note that yesterday, NPR also asked users to formally provide their own damn lists, okay? You can do so here: https://www.npr.org/2018/03/21/594970453/what-do-you-think-are-the-greatest-albums-made-by-women

But let’s also post about it here! And since WordPress has the ability to embed Bandcamp as well as YouTube, you get to listen to my picks! Which you should! Because they’re amazing!

I should point out, that I’ve long ago given up on what seems to be the usual assumptions with these lists, universality. I make no claims to be catholic enough in my tastes, and confident enough in my historical and musical expertise to make a judgement on some objectivity when deciding these. These are my favorite albums. And I want your favorite albums. Compiling a best of all time list just leads to tedium (NPR’s opinion, for instance is Joni Mitchell’s Blue.)

So, without further ado here’s my list in reverse order:

10. Loud City Song. Julia Holter

9. Away with You, Mary Halvorson Octet

8. Roulette of the Cradle, Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House

7. Reaching for Indigo, Circuit des Yeux

6. Penis Envy, Crass

In the liner notes to Crass’s Best Before…1984, Crass points out a need for punk to address feminism, because of a particular obnoxious reception of this record. Essentially the weeklies received the feminism exemplified by saying that the women of Crass were “fit, so you know the meant it.” Ugh.

5. Hounds of Love, Kate Bush

Kate Bush’s first fully independently produced album reveals her true genius. Though the second side contains an excellent conceptual suite, the first side might just be the perfect Side A.

4. Universal Consciousness, Alice Coltrane

Coltrane’s big record is, of course Journey in Satchidananda, this follow up just does it better as far as I’m concerned. Plus it contains Hare Krishna, which is her absolute best as far as I’m concerned.

3. 札幌コンテンポラリー, 情報デスクVIRTUAL

Perhaps more properly a mix tape, 情報デスクVIRTUAL (aka Macintosh Plus, aka Vektroid, aka Ramona Andra Xavier) repositions new age tracks as a sinister soundtrack to a suppresive consumer culture. Almost devoid of the usual chopped and screwed techniques associated with vaporwave, this album places the listener into an inescapable mall stretching across a blighted future landscape. The only possibility is to consume, repurpose and consume.

2. Fetish Bones, Moor Mother

Coming out near the end of a tumultuous 2016, Camae Ayewa gathers all of the anger and frustration of the black experience and explodes in a blast of noise. She traces African American history through the subaltern black woman, and looks to the future with some small glimmer of hope.

1. Ys, Joanna Newsom

Possibly the best second album ever put out, Joanna Newsom expanded her sound and vision for this album. Where her debut was an interesting singer songwriter album, largely played by Newsom herself, this album employed a full orchestra and was composed of 5 long songs that let Newsom breath with her unique and powerful lyrics. I consider Newsom one of the best poets of the young century. She channels aspects of T.S. Eliot’s imagery and lyricism, as well as sometimes obscure allusions to mythology and literature. But Newsom has a great focus on nature and scientific phenomena. Quite possibly my favorite album.

Honorable Mentions

  • Crab Day, Cate Le Bon
  • Voice, Maja Ratkje
  • Middle Cyclone, Neko Case
  • All My Circles Run, Sara Davachi
  • Homogenic, Björk
  • Red Headed Stranger, Carla Bozulich
  • Blixter Toad, Fe-Mail

Giant Statements by Women that I want to mention, but are a little too intimidating to make the main list

Das Wohltempierte Spunk, SPUNK

Started at 8:01PM (2001 hours) on January 20th, 2001 (20-01-2001), taking place at incremental intervals across 12 years finishing at 8:12PM (2012 hours) on December 20th, 2012 (20-12-2012), Spunk played one tone based on the 12 tone scale beginning with B-A-C-H. A lot of this is beyond me, but the result is a beautiful and varied six hour drone masterpiece.

Ballades, Motion Sickness of Time Travel

Another huge statement based on the calendar, Motion Sickness of Time Travel started releasing synthesizer improvisations centered around the full moon of each month on September 19, 2013. Originally released as super limited CDs (which I have all of), and later collected on six cassettes and an even more limited 12-CD boxset.

Taxidermy of UnicornsBirds of Passage, Je Suis le Petit Chevalier, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, Aloonaluna.

This probably means very little to most people, but this is an incredible boxset for me as it features four titans of early 2010s cassette culture on four cassette sides along with a hand made zine. It represents a unique approach to female DIY drones in the new millennium.