January 13, 2011

Let's play a game: Music! Challenge!

So, I have a confession to make. A really embarrassing one.

And no, it has nothing to do with tequila. Well, this time.

It's about music.

Aside from a brief flirtation into the world of grrrrl bands and indie rock in college, I...am kind of a music lame-o. I blame New Kids on the Block for starting me down this run-of-the-mill, frothy pop/rock road. I was an impressionable young 7th grader, and their fresh-faced questionable harmonies just roped me right in. Before I knew it, my bedroom was plastered with life-sized pictures of Joey McIntyre and that other one with the girly voice, and they were the only music that ever graced my giant boombox.

And even when Nirvana came along and yanked me out of the boy-band doldrums, it was a short-lived victory before I was peer-pressured away by my friends' love for mid-90s country music. (Yeah, I know. I still have a soft spot for Collin Raye, though. Leave me alone.)

But here's the thing: After college? Music wasn't really on my radar -- at least not cutting-edge music. As a lifelong singer and music lover, this probably seems like a travesty of epic proportions, but...I was busy. I had my first job, my first apartment. I moved to the city, I met my husband, reality TV was invented... Before I knew it, I hadn't purchased a CD in years and I found myself listening to middle-of-the-road Columbus pop mush and classic rock stations on the way to work. Then I started listening to Bob and Tom.

(Let's please pause for a moment of silence while I regret this phase of my life.


OK. Moving on.)

With the advent of satellite radio, it's almost gotten worse. There are too many choices, so I fall back on the old reliable pop stations. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, the Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce -- it's all there. And it's fine. I guess.

But there's some part of me that's longing to recapture a little of that college indie rock phase. Or at least listen to something that isn't played in my trying-to-be-hip dentist's office and replayed on pop stations every 15 minutes to the swooning of pre-teens. Justin Bieber and his stupid, stupid hair make my soul cry, and I don't think I'm alone in this.

Recently, I started listening to a satellite radio station that plays some old faves from the '90s (The Verve, anyone?), but also throws on some folks I've never heard before. I'm intrigued by these new (to me) bands, but aside from looking them up on Wikipedia, I know nothing about them. And, more importantly...I don't know if they're really any good, or if I'll just like that one song.

So here's where you come in. I trust you much more than Wikipedia, after all, and I know some of you are serious music junkies/aficionados. So I'm asking you, please: Help me? Help me stop being a middle-of-the-road, music lame-o? Broadening my musical horizons means that, somewhere, Ke$ha (ugh) loses a little bit of her dubious magical powers.

Working together, we can make a difference.

So. Your challenge is twofold: First, I've listed some of the bands I've recently discovered below. Familiar with them? Tell me, in the comments, what you think. Are they worth my time and, possibly, cash? Or just a flash in the pan and/or into devil worship? (Now, before you get all up on your too-cool-for-school musical high-horse, all, "WTF, woman, {X Band} came out 15 years ago! Where have you been?!" -- I get it. I'm lame. That's kind of the whole point here. So just humor me, OK?)

And second, do you have a super-great indie hipster band in your back pocket that I just HAVE to know about/listen to/follow obsessively around the country? Tell me about it. I promise to listen with an open mind and report back to you. Don't worry about what I may or may not like, music-wise -- my tastes are pretty eclectic -- but if you're concerned, the bands I've listed below should give you a reasonable idea of what I enjoy.

Let the challenge begin! (And thanks, in advance, for your help.)
  1. The Black Keys: I'm listing them first because I just saw that they hosted SNL last week, which means they probably are more middle-of-the-road than what I'm going for here. But I want your opinions nonetheless.
  2. Cage the Elephant: I thoroughly enjoy "No Rest for the Wicked." Anything else?
  3. The Decemberists
  4. Ray Lamontagne: I have a sneaking suspicion he's one of those "This guy has been around FOREVER -- HOW have you never heard of him?" dudes. (And I'm pretty sure he sings that version of "Trouble" that's in the commercial about the dog hiding his bone.) But I like the guy's voice, so...he makes the list.
  5. The Midway State
  6. Spoon: I swear I've heard of them before, but I don't know why. Help?
  7. Coconut Records
  8. Eric Hutchinson: Not exactly the most badass rocker name, but I'm willing to give him a try if he's worth it.
  9. The Thrills
  10. Imogen Heap: Now, I'm not completely dense; I HAVE heard of Ms. Heap, and I've thoroughly enjoyed what I've heard. But I'd like your thoughts -- is she worth an extra look? Any of her stuff better than others?

15 backtalk:

Erika Jean said...

They've become more popular of the years... but I <3 Deathcab for Cutie

Amber said...

I'm in! Music is my thing. Like, almost obsessively. I'm sure there are some fellow bloggers who can attest to that.

As for your list, I LOVE Ray Lamontagne and Spoon. (You might be familiar with Spoon from Stranger than Fiction, if you've ever seen that movie.) I have multiples CDs of each and would be happy to burn for you. You can then buy them at your favorite music store if you like them. That way the artists aren't hurt if you like them and you aren't out cold, hard cash for giving them a whirl.

My husband and a coworker really like Cage the Elephant. I do, too, but not to the extent they do.

Also, if you're comfortable e-mailing me your address, I'd be happy to send you some mixed CDs. (Yes, I make mixed CDs.)

If your tastes are eclectic, I'd like to suggest Mumford and Sons and The Stellas for a start. They're my current faves.

Megan said...

If you still have a place in your heart for country (albeit hipster country- and actually good) I recommend the Avett Brothers. Excellent to sing along to and beautiful.

Iris Took said...

I love this post!

Ok - don't hate on Bob and Tom, they have great guests sometimes but I have to admit, their songs like "Tang" make me want to vomit.

Second OK - I am so not edgy with my music, I am obsessed with Guns N Roses, Def Leppard and Metallica. I need some new tunes.

BUT - My sister burnt me a mixed CD (Amber style) and it had some tunes by Vampire Weekend on it and that was cool. Also, Scarlett Johanssen can SING! No idea! She's good. Relator is the best one.

That's my contribution!

PS Secretly (well, not now) I am in love with movie scores. I even work out to them since it drowns out everything else and I can picture the movie. LOTR, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Harry Potter. I love John Williams as a composer. NERD! I know, I know. But I like it.

Anonymous said...

Check out:

The Wooden Sky
Florence & The Machine

Wendy said...

Ok. I got all excited reading this because I'd love to give you recommendations. My husband was a DJ in college and has THE BEST music taste. Simply the best. Our music collection is quite vast and varied.

The Black Keyes freaking rock. I love their music so much. In fact I was just listening to them in the car today. Dan Auerbach (one of the Keyes) did a solo album and it is great. Brothers is their latest album but you will want to check out The Big Come Up and Rubber Factory also.

OK here's my recommendations. Not sure what your style of music is but these pretty much are all over the place anyway:

1. SPOON. Amber already said it. But I second it. (actually I FIRST it because I actually introduced Amber to Spoon, but who's keeping score? XOXO) When we were in college Britt Daniel, the lead singer of Spoon, stayed in my husband's apartment after playing a show at a local bar, and we all hung out a bit. (I find Britt quite dreamy, BTW) After that night, the Girls Call Tell album came out and the song "Take the Fifth" has MY NAME in it. Hah! Love it. I like to think that I'M the Wendy in that song. Anyway, Spoon can do no wrong and we have their entire discography and I'll gladly share it!






7. BON IVER (very mellow - love them a lot!)







14. HAYDEN (I can't say enough good things about Hayden)








22. RADIOHEAD (duh)

23. ST. VINCENT (loooooooove)



Annnd with that I'm done. WOW that's a ton. Sorry for the overload. I told you I was excited about giving you rec's. I can make you a couple sampler CDs if you want? If so shoot me an email!

Summer said...

Love this post, not because I have advice, but because I need to see the responses. My method in picking music is as follows:

1. Listen to Satellite Radio while driving.
2. Hear a good tune, take a picture with my phone.
3. Go home, look at picture, look up artist and enjoy.

Yep, I need help.

Love this post!

4becks said...

Hey little sis....my son is a music junkie and listens to so many bands it's nuts! I have never heard of a lot he likes, but trust his judgement on what I like. Here are a couple he recommended for you!

1. Framing Hanley
2. Taking Back Sunday
3. Come Wind
4. Shine Down

He does like Cage the Elephant. Let me know if you try and like any of these!


Nadja said...

I need to tell you that you are more current than I am with music. Does that help? There IS someone out there lamer than you. Here are some reasons why:

1. I don't know who ANY of these bands/artists are.
2. I love Lady Gaga, and she is absolutely the most current artist I know.
3. My most recent CD (not even download) purchase was Men at Work.

B. said...

Most of what I wanted to say has been said but here is a link that my friend gave out with some of his favorite music from 2010 http://picciuto.net/my-favorite-songs-2010

Big fan of everything Jack White does, White Stripes, Dead Weather, Raconteurs.

Written Permission said...

I just have to say: Y'all are freaking AWESOME. :) (Especially the new commenters -- yay!) I have enough new music here to last me the next five years, and I'm SO EXCITED to spend the upcoming three-day weekend looking up as many of these folks as I can. I swear I will do just that and then report back to you in the next week or so.

@Wendy and Amber: I will take you up on your offer to share some mixed CDs (Yay! This makes me feel like I'm in college again), but only if you let me reimburse you for the postage. (Feel free to charge me for materials/your time, too. :))

@Iris: It was precisely Bob and Tom's songs that drove me away. "I See Your Camel Toe" to the tune of "Kokomo"? Just...no. But no disrespect if you enjoy their guests. :)

@Summer and Nadja: THANK YOU for making me feel not quite so alone in my musical lameness. We can all expand our horizons together. Or just listen to Lady Gaga together. (She's ridiculously catchy.)

@Stacey: Please tell your boy "thanks" for me, big sis! :) I will check these out!

SketchDon said...

I have a lot of bands in my iPod mix that literally no one has ever heard of... but I must admit I haven't sampled many of the bands listed here.

Mumford & Sons is one that I've come upon recently... About half of their CD is worth your time. 'The Cave' and 'Awake My Soul' stand out to me.

The National was recommended to me recently, but I only really like the song 'Vanderlyle Crybaby'.

My wife is into Florence & the Machine, but me.. not so much.

One of my music rituals is to head over to alternativeaddiction.com every month or two... download their latest free singles and just sample. Trash what I don't like and keep the diamonds in the rough.

Some of my most-played (in no certain order) include Needtobreathe, Radford, Painkiller Hotel, The Invisible, Newton Faulkner, Eddie Vedder's solo stuff on the Into the Wild soundtrack, Dave Gahan, Brandon Flowers, Crash Parallel, Fallzone and Big 10-4.

wrestling kitties said...

FUN!! I LOVE this post!

I have not heard of many of the bands mentioned above as I tend to be in a holding pattern with the type of music I listen to. However, I know Wendy & Amber have some good taste, so I am going to look into some of the ones I haven't heard of!

I don't know if I have NEW suggestions, but this is what I am listening to right now in my car that is in constant rotation.


Ray Lamontagne (got all his CD's for Christmas and they are great)


My Chemical Romance

Raconteurs (I am with B. I am a huge fan of everything Jack White does.)

The Killers

Indigo Girls

Rush (preparing for the concert!)

Abbe said...

i know i'm a bit late to this little game of yours, but give joshua radin a bit of your time. i think you just might like him. :)

ps -- i've really enjoyed reading all these recommendations too. i think i've found some new tunes as well!

Kendra said...

This is a GREAT post!

I'm going to have to check some of these out. My music repertoire only goes as far as Pandora Radio's custom stations. I like A Fine Frenzy and that's clued me in to some other female vocalists I like such as Regina Spektor.

But that's just me. :)

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