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10 Best Female Indie Singers 2014

by Photo of Luke Thomas

If you already know more than 3 of these female vocalists then you my friend are indie.

10 Best Female Indie Singers 2014

Maybe it's the years I spent listening to Whitney Houston growing up, or some latent mother issues that I've yet to sort out, but I love female indie singers. And while there's no shortage of them, or top ten lists, I thought I'd share some of my favorites. So from Brooklyn to Scandinavia, here's a list of some of the great bands that sport noteworthy lead singers.

Monica Martin of Phox

This 6-piece indie folk band out of Baraboo, Wisconsin had a big year in 2013, playing Lollapalooza and SXSW among other big festivals. They recently released their debut self-titled album on June 24, 2014, which you can read reviews of over at CoS. They're on tour now, and I'll have the pleasure of seeing them on July 22nd at Glasslands in good ole Brooklyn. 

Try to see them if you can, because Monica Martin rocks. She's got a velvety smooth voice that's really inspiring. It's the kind of voice that can turn your Monday commute around. This album also features some of the best clarinet I've heard on an indie album (bet you didn't see that coming). 

Juliana Ronderos of Salt Cathedral

Indie-electronica. Colombian-tribal. Brooklyn-based. That's a perfect storm. We like them so much that we included them in an earlier required listening post. Juliana Ronderos' distinct voice and stage presence make this band a definite winner. Take a listen below to find out for yourself, and for another perspective check out what the guys at Bushwick Daily had to say. 

Asli Omar of The Tontons

H-town represent! If Bun B calls them the "greatest band in Houston" then you know they keep it real. And real they keep it. Asli Omar is a born performer. She slides around stage leaning against her counterparts with friendly intimacy, running her hands through her bodacious fro and wrapping herself in the mic chord as she belts harmonies over the crash of drums, bass and tastefully used guitar effects. We recently had them in for one of our in-studio sessions, and you definitely shouldn't miss them if they come through your city. 

Monica Birkenes aka Mr. Little Jeans

This Norwegian-born indie-pop princess stole my heart when she decided to take her stage name from a character in the Wes Anderson film Rushmore. This whimsical, charismatic songstress has enjoyed some commercial success recently, most notably being used in Hewlett Packard and Ace Hotel ads. The song you might know is the fuzzy guitar-soaked, stuck-in-your-head-all-day "Angel" which you can check out below (threw in a remix just for fun). 

Phaedra and Elsa Green of The Casket Girls

I'll defer to Last.fm:


"I dropped off a shit ton of songs to the girls to work on one night," Graveface says of the genesis of Tru Love, the follow up to the Casket Girls' critically acclaimed 2012 debut. "I went back to check on their progress, because they weren't answering their phones. I don't know if they dropped acid or what, but I walked in and Elsa was sobbing and reciting poetry while Phaedra was just staring straight ahead writing it all down, like catatonic. The next day they dropped off a CD and said, 'We don't even know what's on this. You can throw it in the garbage if you want.' I sat down and listened all the way through and cried. I was like 'Holy shit! They actually wrote a record like that!'"


Clearly, these ladies have powerful, moving voices to go along with their obvious songwriting chops.

Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon

Scandinavian women have got it going on! Most of you probably know about Little Dragon by now, but it was news to me that they formed way back in 1996. This indie electronica group has gotten around too (and they're getting around a bit this summer, check out the tour dates).  

First, they collaborated with Damon Albarn on the Gorillaz album Plastic Beach. Then in 2011, they hit it big with an awesome collaboration with British producer SBTRKT, putting out the trunk-thumpin' song "Wildfire". 

Yukimi Nagano has a driving, soulful voice that you can really get a feel for below on the track "Klapp Klapp" from their 2014 release Nabuma Rubberband

Joahanaa and Klara Soderberg of First Aid Kit

Having signed to Columbia Records recently, Johanna and Klara Soderberg may not be pure indie anymore, but I thought they deserved to be on this list. You wouldn't guess it from listening to them, but these Fleet Fox-esque girls hail form, well, Scandinavia (Sweden). Part of me thinks I should have titled this post differently. 

They hit it big covering Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" on YouTube, and they've been snowballing ever since. 

Now they enjoy the company of Conor Oberst and Jack White--all while opting out of high school to hit the road! Expect big things from them and check out their song "Emmylou", which Rolling Stones included in its Top 10 Singles of 2012. Find out more here

Angelica Bess of Body Language

Put on your dancing shoes and double-knot them, because this band brings the funk! If you live in NYC, you might already know about them because they sell out local shows pretty often. If not, then definitely check them out if you like indie-disco slash synth-pop slash I dare you not to dance while listening to them slash even if you don't dance just bop with it. 

While Angelica Bess shares the mic on a lot of songs, she brings an electric, exciting vibe when she has it all to herself. Check out their site or listen to more stuff at Bandcamp.  

Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen's voice is dark and brooding at times but always enchanting. She hails from St. Louis, Missouri but has spent the last few years perfecting her lyricism in Chicago. Her latest album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, received an 8.3 on Pitchfork, and when I saw her perform recently in Brooklyn I thought it was worth that and more. Her songs make you feel like you're sitting around a fire hearing ancient tales of lost love and grief. Keep and eye out for her and take a listen below.

Molly Hamilton of Widowspeak


To close out this list is Molly Hamilton, another haunting, melodic singer that leads the NYC-based group Widowspeak. This is indie pop that's dialed back a bit. It's good for road trips and laying around  your room (but who am I to tell you what to do with your music).

Their style probably derives form their personality. They actually went into seclusion in the Hudson River Valley to record their most popular album, Almanac. You can really hear the effect that the injection of wilderness, and lack of bars, had on this magical album. Have a listen, though, and decide for yourself. 

Want great tickets but hate paying fees? Check CHARGED.fm to find indie tickets for less and NO FEES!

Comments (1)
  1. Mike Benedetto's profile

    Mike Benedetto

    July 16th, 2014 @13:42

    Daymn mayne! This mix is killer!

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