16 Albums By Female Artists You Gotta Hear Before 2015

Clockwise, above from left. Photo: Courtesy of Atlantic; Kitsuné; Cleopatra; Wichita Recordings.
Between now and the end of the year, labels big and small will roll out their hottest product. It’s the fourth quarter, y’all, and much of the hubbub thus far has centered on the forthcoming records by Weezer, Foo Fighters, T.I., Rick Ross, and TV on the Radio. Not to mention, Kanye West, who’s getting ready to one-up Beyonce and U2 and break us off with fresh jams in some insane fashion.
Amid all this streaming testosterone, the final 12 weeks of 2014 will bring loads of great releases by female artists. What follows are 16 lady-centric records you ought to check out before ’15 rolls around. Because “women in music” isn’t a genre unto itself, the list spans psych-folk for freaky people to pure pop for everyone. Step aside, fellas, and see how it’s done.
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Photo: Courtesy of Kitsuné.
Buscabulla, Buscabulla (Oct. 6, Kistuné)

This duo’s name is Spanish slang for “troublemaker,” and its debut EP, produced in part by Blood Orange mastermind Dev Hynes, is about to muck up your day. Mixing traditional Spanish music, Cuban psychedelia, and other boss sounds from tropical locales, these four songs scramble the brainwaves and activate those invisible ants in your pants.

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Photo: Courtesy of Slumberland.
We Come From the Same Place, Allo Darlin’ (Oct. 7, Slumberland)

Since we last heard from this indie-pop foursome, Australia-born singer and ukulele-ace Elizabeth Morris moved to Italy and got hitched. No wonder the first single is called “Romance and Adventure.” Despite the major life changes, Allo Darlin’ returns with its signature pluck, sass, and jangle. It’s the sweetest, smartest guitar music we’ll hear until January, when Belle and Sebastian make their triumphant return.

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Photo: Courtesy of Merge.
Rips, Ex Hex (Oct. 7, Merge)

Nice of indie-rock lifer Mary Timony and her new two-woman wrecking crew — drummer Laura Harris and bassist Betsy Wright — to save critics the trouble of writing reviews. If the album title doesn’t say it all, the name of track two, “Beast,” does. It’s classic riff rock with plenty of punk ‘tude and pop savvy. There’s only one song longer than 3:30, and it’s called “War Paint.”

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Photo: Courtesy of OFF TEMPO.
Glossy Recall, Hungry Cloud Darkening (Oct. 7, OFF TEMPO)

Whether singing solo or sharing the spotlight with bandmate Nicholas Wilbur, Allyson Foster gives this Pacific Northwestern shoegaze trio its gorgeous ghostly edge. HCD’s shimmery jams linger in the air like faint scents of lovers and good times past. Their tune “Hold This Moment” damn near stops time in its tracks.

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Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault, Stevie Nicks (Oct. 7, Warner Bros.)

What do Jenny Lewis, the Haim sisters, and Courtney Love have in common? They, like you, like your mom — like everyone — wish they were Stevie Nicks. Alas, there can only be one, and with 24 Karat Gold, classic rock’s witchiest woman serves up new versions of tunes she wrote between ’69 and ’87. The title track is an old-school Mac attack she could’ve called “Dreams, Pt. II.” Thunder only happens when it’s raining; lightening sometimes strikes twice.

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Photo: Courtesy of Mute.
Taiga, Zola Jesus (Oct. 7, Mute)

There’s a little Stevie in Nika Roza Danilova, a.k.a. Zola Jesus, the synth-pop conjurer behind some of the most bewitching tunes of the last 10 years. On her fifth album, Zola lightens the mood ever so slightly, beefing up the beats and pushing the melodies to the fore. Should Bally Total Fitness endeavor to get goths on its treadmills, it should use “Dangerous Day” in its TV spots.

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Photo: Courtesy of Mexican Summer.
The Innocents, Weyes Blood (Oct. 21, Mexican Summer)

Psych-folk meets Renaissance faire when this former Ariel Pink associate takes the mic. “Hold On,” Blood’s latest single, is brighter and crisper than the stuff on 2011’s The Outside Room, but her lovely warble still suggests storybook castles more than it does stuffy coffeehouses. That said, the bleak and beautiful “Bad Magic” hits like a giant mug of cold-brewed reality, no artificial sweetener.

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Photo: Courtesy of Bella Union.
The Other I, 2:54 (Nov. 11, Bella Union)

On their sophomore effort, British sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow examine “the duality of the human experience,” according to a press release. Their means of investigation: brooding post-punk—the pretty kind that never goes out of style. It’s always 2:54 somewhere.

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Photo: Courtesy of Island.
Tough Love, Jessie Ware (Oct. 21, Island)

Two years after her excellent debut, Devotion, this understated British R&B riser returns with some Tough Love. Check out the Prince-style vintage drum machine on the title track — then marvel as Ware murders a big old ballad on “Say You Love Me,” precisely the kind of thing that might break her in America.

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Photo: Courtesy of Cleopatra.
Bonfire Beach, Bonfire Beach (Oct. 14, Cleopatra)

While her dreamy psych-rock outfit Magic Wands wraps album its sophomore set, singer and guitarist Dexy Valentine goes all skuzzy L.A. vampire with this side project. “Spit U Out” is flirty and dirty in all the right ways. Call it the Jesus and Katy Perry Chain — then pray Dexy doesn’t deck you.

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Photo: Courtesy of Big Machine.
1989, Taylor Swift (Oct. 27, Big Machine)

Just think, all this time you've been getting down about looking cool and forcing yourself to listen to bogus indie records, you could have been getting down to Taylor Swift's sick, sick beat. On album number five, the rhythms will be iller than ever as Swift ditches the last traces of country twang and goes full-tilt pop. Let the haters hate and fakers fake. At this point, you're either with her or against her, and the pro-Swizzy party's way more fun.

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Photo: Courtesy of Willow Willow.
Listening to Music, Willow Willow (Nov. 11, self-released)

The ladies behind this L.A. duo have been besties since kindergarten, and their closeness comes across in the music. Theirs is sunny ‘60s pop specked with indie and psychedelic rock and sweetened to perfection with effortless vocal harmonies. Thirty years ago, they’d have had the Bangles running (like Egyptians) for cover.

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Photo: Courtesy of Wichita Recordings.
Girlpool, Girlpool (Nov. 18, Wichita Recordings)

When some dude named Tommy messes with the titular heroine of “Jane,” the lead single from this L.A. twosome’s awesome debut EP, he gets a fist in the mouth. Musically, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad do some light pummeling of their own, using scraggly guitars and fat bass tones to keep skeevy guys on the ropes.

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Photo: Courtesy of Capitol.
The London Sessions, Mary J. Blige (Nov. 24, Capitol)

God save the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. For her 13th studio LP, Mary J. Blige heads to the U.K. and gets down with some of Blighty’s biggest stars. “Stay With Me,” a collaboration with Sam Smith, has a soulful Amy Winehouse feel, while “Right Now” starts a ‘90s dance party with its slick Disclosure house beat. Here’s hoping Mary returns stateside with loads of inspiration and never ever leaves us again.

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Photo: Courtesy of Young Money.
The Pink Print, Nicki Minaj (Nov. 24, Young Money)

The title is a nod to Jay Z’s The Blueprint, though Nicki is way closer to Kanye or Lil Wayne in terms of batty genius. So far, Minaj has previewed the album with “Pills n Potions” and “Anaconda,” singles that couldn’t sound less similar. One’s about forgiveness, the other fat asses. It’s great to have Nicki back.

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Photo: Courtesy of Atlantic.
Sucker, Charli XCX (Dec. 12, Atlantic)

Somehow, “Nuclear Seasons,” the standout single from this British pop ingénue’s 2013 disc True Romance, didn’t melt the planet and make her a massive star. That’s our fault, not hers. Following her monster summer — guest vocals on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” a hit in her own right with “Boom Clap” — Charli promises to finally go global with Sucker, a tasty wad of gourmet bubblegum for the palate-less masses.


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