In the spirit of uplifting and celebrating the achievements of women, each of us behind the scenes at Akira Records chose one of our favourite albums by a woman artist, along with a few extras for good measure because really, how are we meant to choose? Alongside the Staff Picks and brief history of IWD, we of course reached out to the artists on our roster too, who not only make the most compelling music themselves (find them all here) but who were equally keen to highlight just some of the women they regularly listen to.


This is a light-hearted look at some of our favourite writers and musicians, but the aim here is to highlight the still very necessary, vast, amount of work that International Women's Day represents; over a century on from its inception in 1911. The people at IWD have provided a list of selected charities for those able to donate, all of which we here at Akira Records fully support.

GHOSTLY KISSES

Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia


Future Nostalgia; an album that I've listened to on repeat since the beginning of the pandemic.

I love the melodies, the production, the arrangements and of course Dua's vocals.

My favourite pop album in a long time.


Bonus Tracks

1) Taylor Swift - evermore - coney island ft. The National

2) The Japanese House - Good at Falling - Lilo

THE DAWDLER

Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill


This was the first album by Liz Harris that I heard. It destroyed me - still does. I'm in complete awe of Liz Harris. Ifavourite don't think I can articulate the extent of the emotional response I have to this album and much of Liz Harris' music. For me, it's sublime.


Bonus Tracks

1) Mary Lattimore - Silver Ladders - Sometimes He's In My Dreams

2) Malibu - One Life - One Life

LINYING

Lorde - Melodrama

To me, music's biggest flex as a medium is how it can show you, so viscerally, a feeling once known but never before articulated until heard in song, which is what I love most about Melodrama. I absolutely adore it, it's a modern pop classic. It's unashamed, the stuff of operas: full of quiet nostalgia and pitiful wallowing and deranged angry-screaming. It's a technicolour moving picture encompassing the full range of emotions of a freshly-broken twenty-something crawling out of their first real heartbreak. I think if everyone could make moments into music like that, we'd all allow ourselves to live life a little more.


Bonus Tracks

1) Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can - Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)

2) Ariana Grande - Sweetener - get well soon


CORRE

Estelle - Shine


Not very current, but this is such a nostalgic album for me. American Boy was such a big hit but there are some hidden gems on this albums.

It’s a great feel-good listen and for me I don’t think it could ever get old.


Bonus Tracks

1) Noname - Diddy Bop - Telefone

2) Joy Crookes - Bad Feeling - Influence EP

HENRY GREEN

Sylvan Esso - What Now

I love this album, it’s completely unique. There’s so much space, simplicity and clarity in Sylvan Esso’s music, whilst somehow feeling so rich and intricate at the same time. I love Amelia’s melodies, they create such strong new movements within the tracks and her delivery is so characterful, dynamic & playful. My favourite tracks are the last two ‘Slack Jaw’ & ‘Rewind’. I love the live versions they released on Youtube too, completely flipped the arrangements without losing any magic.


Bonus Tracks

1) Solange - A Seat at the Table - Rise

2) Kelly Lee Owens - KLO - Throwing Lines

3) Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher - Garden Song


OTZEKI

Joni Mitchell - Blue


Not just one of my favourite albums by a woman but one of my favourites of all time, irrespective of gender. It evokes such a wonderful sense of freedom on each listen, and always instils a kind of peaceful melancholy that’s perfect for reflecting on life. My favourite track from it has to be ‘River’.




Bonus Tracks

1) Grace Jones - Nightclubbing - Pull up to the Bumper

2) Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman - Fast Car

PHORIA

Joanna Newsom - Ys

When I first heard this album it completely reshaped what songwriting was capable of in my mind. Every track is a poem that feels like it exists outside of time, somewhere between a Greek epic and an Appalachian folk song, exploring the interlocking heartbreak of love and death, and deftly conveying the mystery of our very being. Musically, the album is a tour de force of boldness, with mind-bending polyrhythmic harp playing, insanely imaginative string arrangements and chord progressions that splinter off like branches on a tree. Whilst this could be overwhelming, Newsom keeps the listener grounded throughout with her humanity and wit. She's a true gift.


Bonus Tracks

1) Kate Bush - The Kick Inside - The Man with the Child in His Eyes

2) Joni Mitchell - Blue - A Case of You

SUPERHEART

I don’t like picking one favourite anything because it doesn’t feel fair when there are so many great albums! These are just some of my current or recent favourites: Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour - I’ve probably listened to ‘slow burn’ about five million times. I also love Taylor Swift - 1989 and Maggie Rogers - Heard It in a Past Life.


Bonus Tracks

1) Odessa - I Will Be There

2) Grimes - Violence

3) Kacy Hill - Unkind

4) Anything by Enya :)

For a full playlist to all tracks featured in artist and staff picks, head to Akira's Spotify page.




Updated: Mar 10


Since its initial inception in 1911, International Women’s Day has grown to be a globally recognised force for change. Heavily and necessarily politicised for the last century, 2021 sees a continued focus on raising awareness of enduring inequalities; highlighting the wealth of barriers to growth, economic stability, and to basic personal safety that many women and gender minorities face every day. According to the World Economic Forum, gender parity will not exist within our lifetime, and probably not that of our children, either. The people at IWD have provided a list of selected charities for those able to donate, all of which we here at Akira Records fully support.


In the spirit of uplifting and celebrating the achievements of women, each of us behind the scenes at Akira have chosen our favourite album by a woman artist, along with two extras for good measure (because really, how can we narrow that down?!). We reached out to the artists on our roster too, who not only make the most compelling music themselves, but who eagerly took the opportunity to highlight just some of the women who’ve influenced them along the way. Keep scrolling to meet the team, and learn more about the artists involved.

STEVIE RED MCMINN - Owner & Director of Akira Records, & founding member of Mt. Wolf

Madonna - Ray of Light

"Madonna is the queen of reinvention, and ‘90s Madonna is my favourite era. With “Ray of Light” Madonna transformed herself by enlisting ambient/electronic musician and composer William Orbit as a producer, creating one of the greatest pop albums of all time. My sister first introduced me to this album as I was only a kid when it came out, and I used to scan MTV after school in search of her iconic music videos for “Ray Of Light”, “Frozen”, “Substitute for Love”, and “The Power of Good-Bye”. I have listened to this album and dissected it over and over and in fact I would say it has inspired the Akira sound; cinematic, ethereal, left of centre pop music."


Bonus Tracks

1) Lorde - Pure Heroine - Buzzcut Season

2) Julien Baker/Phoebe Bridgers/Lucy Dacus - boygenius - Souvenir

HOLLY BROWNING - Designer

Lana Del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell!

"I have been obsessed with Lana since I first heard and watched the music video for Video Games about a decade ago. To me she is a true visionary, she creates a whole world for her music to sit in, where the visuals are as well thought-out and as beautiful as the songs; and she's been consistent with this attention to detail since the start. I love every album of hers but this is clearly her greatest album to date, it sounds like years of experimenting and dreaming came together perfectly at once. The lyrics read like poetry and it features a song that's almost ten minutes long, what's not to love?!"


Bonus Tracks

1) Beyoncé - Lemonade - Formation

2) Taylor Swift - folklore - the last great american dynasty

FIONA HARTE - Label Manager and Independent Artist


Joni Mitchell - Blue

"I love the poetic lyrics and melodies in this album. I feel as though it's such an honest piece of work from start to finish. Joni's music has been a big influence on my own projects and being a singer-songwriter myself makes me appreciate her artistry even more."

Bonus Tracks

1) The Staves - Dead & Born & Grown - Gone Tomorrow

2) Jennah Bell - Anchors & Elephants - John Forbid

VICKY WARWICK - Social Media Marketing

Feist - The Reminder

"This is probably the album by a female artist that has had the most lasting impact on me. It was on repeat throughout my time in music college, and I was obsessed with her ethereal vocal hooks, unusual instrumentation and the way she managed to write song after song that felt like a punch in the guts, yet somehow emanated a warm fuzzy glow. I’m still blown away by the space it puts you in; when I listen to it now I experience an entire spectrum of nostalgia that builds with each track, taking me back to dimly-lit (and damp) London bedrooms that I haven't experienced in years."


Bonus Tracks

1) Aretha Franklin - Oh Me Oh My - Young, Gifted and Black

2) Sharon Van Etten - Every Time the Sun Comes Up - Are We There

STEPHEN ARCHIBALD - Digital Marketing

Heaven Or Las Vegas - Cocteau Twins

"An incredible, genre defining album. Full of lush soundscapes and centred around Liz Fraser's otherworldly vocals, which often abandoned traditional language in favour of Scottish 'mouth music' inspired vocalisations."


Bonus Tracks 1) Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit - Pedestrian at Best

2) Ms Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing)

JOEY ARNOLD - A&R

Lana del Rey - Born To Die

"I can still listen to this album in full whenever, wherever. The production is incredible but it’s Lana’s delivery and melodies that make it what it is. Simultaneously throwback and contemporary, I remember thinking Video Games must be some really tasteful cover of a disco classic or something when I first heard it..."


Bonus Tracks 1) Lapsley - Through Water - My Love Was Like The Rain

2) Celeste - Not Your Muse - Strange

RUTH KILPATRICK - Digital Marketing

Fiona Apple - Fetch The Bolt Cutters

"Fiona Apple’s fifth and best work, Fetch The Bolt Cutters is an incredible record. On FTBC Apple is unapologetic, sharp-witted, clear-eyed and open-hearted - despite all that’s gone before. Apple appears to be at a point in her life where she’s tired of being polite, of giving up space due to fear of offense, or retribution. Under The Table and for that matter the majority of the record, can be individually interpreted, of course, but it’s been encouraging to watch it (publicly) resonate with so many younger women, especially within the music industry.


“I’d like to buy you a pair of pillow-soled hiking boots - to help you with your climb. Or rather, to help the bodies that you step over along your route - so they won’t hurt like mine.”


When asked by NPR what Apple felt she needed to take the bolt cutters to, to be liberated from, Apple explained: “I was just thinking about...the way that I’ve internalised a lot of the things that were said to me, believed them and then as a result, hidden myself away or shut myself up. As much as I don't think that I'm known for being someone who keeps quiet about things, I have really kept quiet about a lot of things…”


This record has been a saviour to so many. Apple discusses her past, her sexual assault, the conditioning that comes with it, the high school girl bullies and the shame of “never being enough”. She speaks of the manipulative men in her life, the women they continue to hurt (Newspaper), keeping them just separate enough, controlling the narrative entirely. The normalisation of abusive, coercive behaviour dressed up as emotion, the indignant “but I’m a nice guy I would never do that” rhetoric, Fiona Apple addresses it all, unflinchingly (Relay) and it's incredible to hear it played out with such class. It feels as though FTBC is not just for herself, but for an endless amount of unheard women (Ladies); afraid to speak, fearful of being so easily cast as deluded, a liar, or worse, unwell. It takes courage to tell the truth, one way or another. More so within a context where it's so easily warped, so often met with disbelief. There's nothing half-hearted about Fiona Apple, and I love her for it. Fetch The Bolt Cutters is a vital album; true catharsis by one of the most important songwriters we have: evidently fearless, and finally free. “Don’t You, Don’t You, Don’t You, Don’t You Shush Me…”


Bonus Tracks

1) Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Everything is Everything. This song always brings me a sense of peace amidst turmoil, it’s priceless. (Notable mentions to the scathing Lost Ones, forever heartache bawler Ex-Factor and Doo Wop (That Thing) is a classic - the whole album is a masterpiece).

2) Lil Kim - Hard Core - Not Tonight. A stunning (double platinum) debut album that still stands up, paving the way for so many. Kim was homeless aged 15, featured on Junior M.A.F.I.A’s Conspiracy and released Hard Core in ‘96. In a career that’s still ongoing, she overcame continued physical violence at the hands of her partners. Throughout this, Lil Kim showed that you can be a woman in rap and not have to stay in one lane, not have to spit a certain way or make a radio record to shift units. Owning her own sexuality and speaking on it just as graphically as her male counterparts, Hard Core’s influence is still felt today, namely in City Girls, early Minaj, even newer artists like Flo Milli - Kim did it first. OG QB.

You can find all of the tracks mentioned in a handy playlist for you, just head to the Akira Spotify page.