Listen up, kids. Claire and I have been writing this blog for years now, and we love it. Sure, we take off vast chunks of time sometimes for no reason, but we do love it. What has begun to bug me, however, is how little some of you actually listen to the stuff about which we talk emphatically. This is evident because I will put the music on, and you will say, emphatically (yeah, I used it again.), “Damn, this is really good.” And because I’m often a dick, I will Rob Gordon you and say only, “I know.” But what I really want to say (and occasionally do say) is, “You dummy! I’ve been talking about this band for so long now!” So here are the top 5 bands you should’ve already been listening to, if you took our recommendations seriously. And each band will be explained as if you have just told me you’ve never listened to them.
I cannot stress how good their debut album is. I’m not sure where you’ve been since it came out. It’s been all over the place – literally every music publication has a big ol’ hard on for them. And how can you blame them? It’s such powerful music, all punctuated by the unbelievably strong and sexy voice of lead singer Brittany Howard. The band sounds like a modern version of Otis Redding, and there is literally nothing wrong with that. And while Redding’s songs were often carried on his voice alone, Howard has an excellent band backing her. No, you’re not going to get rollicking solos akin to, say, the Hold Steady, but you are getting probably the best name in modern soul – and they do this without a horn section. So suck on that, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings! Wait, you’ve never heard of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings?
Seriously? I know I’ve played you their songs before. It’s a super group comprised of the dudes from Dawes, Deer Tick, and Delta Spirit….None of them? Really? Well, I mean, I guess I can’t blame you, because it took me hearing this album before I got into all of those bands, but I’m the one in the right here, so you have failed. This album has all the makings of perfection: soaring harmonies, rocking licks, and that bit of folksy twang that’s just so irresistible. I have described them before as if The Beatles were somehow American, grew up in Wyoming, and had a drinking problem….I haven’t? Well, the description fits. And honestly, if that description doesn’t make you want to listen to the album right now, I’m not sure we can be friends.
Are you sure I haven’t told you about this band? They were my first musical obsession of the new year. I previously totally wrote off the album because it didn’t sound exactly like the single I had heard on the radio, but I’m willing to bet it was because I was totally hungover when I listened to it. This is another band that has such amazing harmonies that they alone should sell you on the band. But the instrumentation is also wildly compelling – they manage to blend electric and acoustic so well I’m never exactly sure when I’m listening to each. And yes, the album does hit kind of a rough patch in the middle (actually, maybe it’s just the song “Red and Blue” – that song does suck), but it’s so worth it to stick it out to the aforementioned single, “The John Wayne,” because the song sounds like a happier Arcade Fire, like a happier, Irish, less full of themselves Arcade Fire.
Oh, you like the Lumineers or perhaps Mumford and Sons? Perhaps you have been annoyed by both bands’ absolute failure at creating cohesive and compelling albums that make you listen all the way through. …You don’t listen to albums all the way through? You just have a few of their singles? Well…you suck. But, wait, just because I insulted you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to the album they have called Through the Deep, Dark Valley. This brother-sister team can really make folk music. And their harmonies are amazing, and they only get better by being bolstered by what sounds like the entire choir from their Texas church. (The siblings are from Texas, so I just assume they go to church with more regularity than me going to shul, which is for weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs only). But yeah, speaking of folk, there’s only one name in folk rock, and also happens to have the best concert ever recorded:
The Band! No, not which band, this isn’t a fucking Abbot and Costello bit. The Band, you asshole. So you haven’t seen The Last Waltz? That’s a real shame. I could go on for hours about why you’re all sorts of idiotic for having not seen the finest concert movie ever made, but I do have to ask – are you even familiar with them? Because it seems like most people these days only know their most famous song, “The Weight.” ….Yes, I mean what you have mislabeled in your iTunes as “take a load off fannie by bob dylan.” Wait, Bob Dylan? I know they were his backing band for a bit, but come on. There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to start. Ok, here’s what we’re gonna do. Here’s my personal copy of Music from Big Pink….and, you don’t have a record player. Well, I give up. Have fun at your Ke$ha concert.