The 10 Sexiest Women in Indie Rock: 2012
It's not fair to be this good-looking and this talented.
Sexiness comes in many different forms, and one of my favorites is a woman with a guitar. Sometimes, though, they have microphones or keyboards or drums or cellos or accordions instead, and those are all my favorites, too. I guess what I'm saying is that I have a real thing for awesome women indie rockers. By the time you get done with this list, you will too. Note that all of these women put out (or will be putting out) an album this year, so go buy them and listen as you gaze longingly at their respective visages.
10. Malin Dahlström (Niki & The Dove)
Niki & The Dove are Swedish, and none of them are actually named Niki. But as you listen to their stuttering, glitchy music and Dahlström's seductive, pouty vocals, you'll find yourself less worried about the accuracy of their nom de guerre and more about how you're going to sell your possessions and travel across the world to follow the band like they're Phish or possibly the McRib. Those Swedes and their cheekbones.
Listen: "DJ Ease My Mind"
9. Megan James (Purity Ring)
Purity Ring is the sound of getting weirdly aroused in a haunted house. There's nothing overtly sexy about their music, except for maybe the coquetteish nature of James' vocals, but their dense, layered music is eerily seductive, like a half-remembered wet dream you're kind of scared might have turned into a nightmare if it had gone on longer. "Drill little holes in my eyelids that I might watch you sleep" from "Lofticries" is the perfect lyric to sum up their bewitching sound: devoted, romantic, and deeply unsettling.
We caught up with Este Haim at SXSW this year, and she dropped the following piece of sex advice: "Word to the wise: if you want to get in the pants of the Haim girls, just buy us food." Since then, this trio of sisters (Alana and Danielle are the other two) have continued to catch eyes and ears alike with their mesmerizing blend of R&B-styled girl-group harmonies and expansive, hypnotic beats. You would well-advised to internalize that advice.
7. Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes)
I was at Alabama Shakes' CMJ show last year (their first time playing in New York), and like literally everyone else in the audience that night, I left nursing a crush on frontwoman Brittany Howard. Howard instantly owns any stage she sets foot on with a combination of some truly heroic pipes and some pretty fierce guitar playing to boot. She may not have thought she'd make it to twenty-two (as she sings in "Hold On"), but at only twenty-four, she's got the kind of lived-in sexiness of someone far beyond her years.
Listen: "Be Mine"
6. Bethany Cosentino (Best Coast)
Best Coast's fuzzed-out garage rock is endearingly sunny, as the line "We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair" from "The Only Place" might indicate, and Cosentino's playful vocals add miles of cheery sexiness to the group's joyful California vibe. The group's most recent album, The Only Place, creeps away from the distortion and reverb that kept Cosentino's voice so hidden on the group's early releases. Listening to it is like watching one of those high school movies where the shy, artsy girl turns out to be smokin'.
Listen: "The Only Place"
5. Caroline Polachek (Chairlift)
Polachek is currently neck-and-neck (God, that's sexy) with Class Actress' Elizabeth Harper for the "Most Angelically Beautiful Frontwoman of an '80s-Obsessed Synthpop Band" award. But she's got her hands in all kinds of other fields of sexiness as well: she's collaborated on several projects with lingerie brand The Lake & Stars. Also, she performed live dressed like this at a live show in Tasmania. That is all.
4. Alexis Krauss (Sleigh Bells)
There's something cartoonish about Sleigh Bells' over-the-top vision of noisey pop-metal. But cartoonish or not, seeing a studded-leather-jacket and cut-offs-clad Alexis Krauss power-strut out in front of a wall of Marshall amps, point to the crowd, and yell "Enemies, on your knees!" is not something you're likely to forget. Of course, whether it's more strongly imprinted on your brain or your loins depends on your own preferences for raven-haired, charismatic women. Actually, strike that: everyone loves raven-haired, charismatic women. Enemies, on your knees, indeed.
Listen: "Comeback Kid"
3. Santi White (Santigold)
Santigold's most recent album, Master of My Make Believe, had an outsize scope to it that made it seem like White was hell-bent on making sure no one would ever confuse her with M.I.A. again. "People want my power" she crows on the album opener "GO!," and the rest of the album finds her presiding over a dizzying array of swooning electronic beats and textures like a very sexy, iron-fisted queen. Consider me cowed.
2. Chan Marshall (Cat Power)
In September, Chan Marshall is putting out Sun, her first original music as Cat Power in six years. And that makes all very pants-excited — however erratic her personal life has been, her work has never suffered. Marshall has also dabbled in film and modeling: Karl Lagerfield claims to have seen her smoking outside New York's Mercer Hotel, and on the strength of that image, was moved to sign her as the new face of Chanel. If I were sassier, this is where'd I'd make a cat noise, but I just can't stop staring at her picture.
1. Annie Clark (St. Vincent)
Do not stare directly into Annie Clark's eyes. They are deep limpid pools from which no mortal man or woman can escape. And just when you think she's an impossibly beautiful porcelain doll likely to shatter with the next abrupt temperature change, she'll melt your face with a guitar solo, because that's just how she rolls. If the sexiness of one's company reflects back on oneself, then Clark's reign will only continue: she's slated to release an album with another dashing oddball, David Byrne, in September.
Listen: "Who" (with David Byrne)