10 Femme and Non-Binary Rock Bands You Need to Know

Featuring Hello Mary, The Pinky Rings, Softcult, The Linda Lindas & more

Music Lists Bands You Need To Know
10 Femme and Non-Binary Rock Bands You Need to Know

As a former insufferable DJ at my college’s radio station, I have spent my fair share of time digging through the virtual record crates of Spotify in search of the best new act you’ve never heard of. In post-grad, this is now considered a special interest of mine—since I no longer have a show where I can subject people to my music taste which, over the last five years, has consisted mainly of women screaming their lungs out. I have always loved rock music, but as I’ve grown, I have found myself creating playlists explicitly packed with women and non-binary artists as I relate more to what their music is saying.

Men have led rock music for decades, but women and non-binary artists keep the subversive spirit alive by bringing oppressive truths to the ears of anyone who will listen. In honor of sharing those shouts of rage, we’re bringing you a mix of folks who have been swinging around the scene for years—and some newer acts who’ve captured lightning in a bottle. Here are 10 all-women, femme and non-binary rock bands you need to know in 2023.

Die Spitz

If you are looking for a renaissance of hardcore femme rock, look no further than Austin’s most ferocious act: Die Spitz. Ava Schrobilgen, Kate Halter and Ellie Livingston birthed Die Spitz in the forgotten art of suburban garage band practices and, later, added Chloe Andrews to complete the group. With the essence of all the shit-stirrers who came before them, Die Spitz’s gigs are filled with messy chaos and consensual mosh pit violence. They released their debut album, Teeth, at the beginning of this year. Lead single “Grip” was a taste of real kick-to-the-teeth, grimy shredding, and the following six tracks featured those guts and more. Each member contributes to all aspects of production, with a rotating cast of characters at the mic, guitar and keys—bringing in a diverse powerhouse of grit. Livingston speaks on their debut: “It’s a very versatile album, but it also all goes together. Chloe’s songs are the catchiest, Ava’s more straight-up punk, and I’m a bit more metal-ish. We all have different writing styles, and that makes everything more open.” It hasn’t even been a whole year since they released Teeth, and I’m already dying for more.

Jigsaw Youth

When you think of hardcore punk music, Staten Island probably doesn’t immediately cross your mind—but it turns out there is some incredible talent hiding in NYC’s forgotten borough. Inspired by the spirit of riot grrrl’s most iconic work, the band took their namesake from the song “Jigsaw Youth” off Bikini Kill’s Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah. Bassist/vocalist Maria Alvarez met guitarist Nastacha Beck on Tumblr and later they formed the trio after meeting drummer Alex Dmytrow in college. Guttural vocals, slamming riffs and pounding drums create the perfect storm on Jigsaw Youth’s most recent EP, The War Inside Me. The stinging opening riff on “Skin” got me into the band, as I was looking for tracks to play on my college radio station. It’s loaded with fuzz and heavy distortion—the hallmarks of any good punk track—and Alvarez’s growl of “I’m giving everythin’ I’ve got. The world doesn’t seem to stop and how can I survive, when you buried me alive?” always makes me want to smash anything and everything in my vicinity. As the Bikini Kill song says, these women “won’t fit your definitions,” and they surely continue to exceed my expectations.

The Pinky Rings

With their raw and unedited sound ripped right out of the 1990s, the Pinky Rings are Austin’s best-kept secret—until now. The quartet comprises vocalist Bella Borbon, drummer Leah Primeaux, bassist Simone Maresh and guitarist Laurel Freuhling. With the playfully condescending tone of Bratmobile’s Allison Wolfe and the quick and dirty riffs of Red Aunts’ Terri Wahl, the quintet’s self-titled debut is the smack-in-the-face riot grrrl nostalgia I was desperately searching for. The group released their self-titled debut a year ago, and a song like “Ur so Small” stands out for Burbon’s snarled screams and Freuhling’s catchy riffs. In “Girl Creep,” the rockers ask “Isn’t this fun?” And, to answer simply, I’m having a blast.

Pom Pom Squad

I like to think of Mia Berrin as my Olivia Rodrigo: unapologetically feminine but with an edge that comes with age and experience. Berrin is the frontwoman of the solo project Pom Pom Squad, which features permanent members drummer Shelby Keller and guitarist Alex Mercuri. Her sophomore endeavor, Death of a Cheerleader, nods to 1999’s queer cult classic But I’m a Cheerleader—similar not only in name but in theme through its scrutiny of the stereotypical perfect cheerleader image. The 25-year-old explores femininity and sexuality in a way that resonates with me at 22 in a different way than it did at 19 when Death of a Cheerleader came out. The record has grown with me in a way many albums haven’t. Sonically, it has a vast range of influences from riot grrrl, classic ‘60s girl groups, indie pop and grunge. The album’s second track, “Head Cheerleader,” is a classic, queer coming-of-age story told over punchy riffs and an anthemic melody; Berrin confesses, “Just ’cause you know what you want doesn’t mean you get to choose. Squirming out of my skin, I’m in love with you.” In coming to terms with her own identities, Berrin is carving out more space for queer women of color in the rock scene.

Hello Mary

Sitting in the pocket of melodic grunge is a young Brooklyn trio—Hello Mary. Helena Straight and Mikaela Oppenheimer grew up together, spending their middle school days swapping their favorite old rock music and bonding over Taylor Swift. They then added a third member—Stella Wave—when their love of listening to music transformed into a desire to make it. These twenty-somethings would go on to cut their teeth in the heart of NYC. After years of touring across the city’s iconic stages, they dropped their self-titled second album—showcasing a polish made possible through continuous experimentation and learning. “Evicted” opens with a riff that swings like L7’s “Pretend We’re Dead” and punches with the catchy chorus “I’ve been evicted from the sun. Going out today was a grave mistake.” Wave speaks about the growth in their sound from Ginger to Hello Mary: “It’s more mature on all fronts. Most of the songs on ‘Ginger’ were written when Helena and Mikaela were 14 years old,” she says. “Our ‘sound’ has become more unique since we have been playing together for longer. It’s more Hello Mary.” If this refined sound is what Hello Mary has in store for their future, I’ll be first in line for their third record.

The Linda Lindas

So good you have to say it twice, the Linda Lindas are the reincarnation of early punk’s politically charged, shouty, anti-establishment lyricism with sharper instrumentation. With band members Bela Salazar, Eloise Wong, Lucia de la Garza and Mila de la Garza ranging in age from 13 to 19, these bleeding-heart punks live in different stages of girlhood. Young in spirit and age, they aren’t afraid to spit the unflinching truth in a big way on their aptly named debut, Growing Up. “Racist, Sexist Boy” in namesake is reminiscent of absurdly literal titles from fiery feminists Lunachicks. During the track, these Los Angeles rockers call it as they see it, chanting, “You are a racist, sexist boy, and you have racist, sexist joys. We rebuild what you destroy.” It’s raw and honest and exhales the rage of youth in a way I wish I could have captured when I was their age.

Dream Nails

Dripping with attitude, the punk witches of Dream Nails aren’t afraid to hex those perpetuating oppression. Ishmael Kirby, Anya Pearson, Lucy Katz and Mimi Jasson make up a four-piece hell-bent on dissecting what gender means and how it affects all of us. This is evident in “Femme Boi,” an exploration of Kirby’s trans identity and how the gender spectrum can blend beautifully in euphoric self-expression. “This song began as a catchy hook, a trans daydream about the power I could hold as a boy embracing femininity,” Kirby says. “Our guitarist Anya had to really coax the idea out of me because I was fearful it wouldn’t make sense. I wanted to protect this precious truth I knew about myself but hadn’t vocalized.” These London punks are keeping the disruptive history of rock alive and thriving.

the aquadolls

Self-described as glittering mermaid rock, these Orange County dolls are a stunning portrait of hyper-femininity. the aquadolls began as a bedroom solo project by Melissa Brooks—now the primary singer, songwriter and guitarist—but has blossomed into a trio, with the addition of bassist Keilah Nina and drummer Jacqueline Proctor. Their most recent album, Charmed, cements them as purveyors of all things girl, from 60s girl group doo-wop to nasty ‘90s punk. It’s a short but oh-so-sweet album packed with tales of love and heartbreak that play in my head as a grainy movie with these songs as the soundtrack. Bratty pop punk finds a home on “Burn Baby Burn,” something I imagine playing over a revenge scene in a Y2K teen movie, whereas the “Spotlight” is ripped from a candy-coated 60s feminist fantasy akin to 1966’s Daisies—reliving the same bubbly melodies as the Ronettes. Whether their music makes me want to lay on my bed giggling and kicking my feet in the air or set fire to an ex’s car, I can count on them to provide the tunes to back me up.

Big Joanie

Although Big Joanie aren’t new to the scene, the trio’s voices in the punk genre have been grossly overlooked. Composed of Stephanie Phillips, Estella Adeyeri and Chardine Taylor-Stone, Big Joanie has been around for almost a decade—and their experimental sophomore endeavor, Back Home, indicates years of self-exploration. The album’s eighth track, “Happier Still,” riffs out the melodies of Sleater-Kinney and the raspy wails of Hole. The entire album is a love letter to the women’s musical inspirations with clear influences of dark wave on “Sainted” and dreamy shoegaze on “I Will.” Centering intersectionality has always been at the core of Big Joanie’s ethos as a band, but their main goal continues to be seizing the representation they needed when they were younger. “It wasn’t an explicit political act,” says Taylor-Stone on the band’s creation, “But making music with other Black women felt cool. To no longer be the only Black musicians in a group meant there was no need to code-switch whatsoever—we could be our full selves.”


Softcult’s music can only be described as ethereal gloom grunge—angelic vocals accompanied by the lo-fi buzz of sludgy riffs and pensive lyricism. Canadian twins Phoenix and Mercedes Arn-Horn left their former punk band Courage My Love in 2020 for more creative freedom. Seeking to break away from the unsubstantial lyricism of their ex-group, the Arn-Horns started releasing music packed with social and political commentary while keeping some of the punk edge they rocked with for years. Their most recent EP, See You In The Dark, delves into those heavier themes they were suppressing before embarking on their new indie project. Opening song “Drain” is a cynical, shoegazey heaven with the fuzz of grunge riffs grounding the bleak yet catchy chorus: “Why should we dare to live forever, if nobody cares to change for the better.” Determined for their fury to be heard, Softcult are bringing the feminism of the riot grrrl movement back—one self-made zine at a time.

Listen to a playlist of songs from these 10 artists below.

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