So I have been lacking on my posts over here at EB. Chalk it up to actually having some paying freelance work, and a musical gig looming on the close horizon to prepare for. Here is an idea that maybe can start some discourse. I will attempt to list IN MY OPINION what I feel are the top 10 working bands currently. I will earmark this by stating these are predominately alternative rock type bands, because my experience is more rooted in this genre…My opinion is only that, and is validated by 20 years of playing this type of music in bands, some good, some not so good, as well as listening and reading, and going to shows…take it for what it is, and feel free to speak up and offer your suggestions as well. I am trying to narrow it down to bands that are currently working, and that i feel are at their peak or producing the best of their best stuff, FULL albums of material all worth listening to. These are in no particular order.
LCD Soundsystem: Both full length albums released by this band are exceptional, full of innovation, as well as showing a good amount of homage to many of the great pop electronic masters of the past 30 years. James Murphy has that rare gift of being able to deliver often questionable lyrics in a heartfelt manner which if sung by any one else might come off as simply silly. The music is often simple, and yet sometimes thickly layered with harmonies and many riffs playing off each other, which gives me the ability to discover new things in it upon repeated listenings.
Deerhoof: I’ve been a huge fan ever since the Milkman album. They have recently reduced their size to a trio, and honestly I think the last album showed a new sense of maturity. The songs still contain the same happy chaos, but overall they seem more listenable. The real magic of Deerhoof is the sheer creativity and freedom in vocal melody, and song structure, combined with some kickass drumming, that is not afraid to fly off the tracks occasionally.
Peaches: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again Peaches IS Rock and Roll. She’s 100% attitude, she’s raunchy on a consistent basis, completely unafraid to offend. Combine this with an ear to the streets of NYC and the ability to rock the fuck out of a simple electronic riff…I’m not willing to Impeach her Bush, I’d rather make her President. President Peaches, has a nice ring to it…no?
Sufjan Stevens: Can anyone combine lyric and song like this guy currently? He plays numerous instruments, banjo seemingly being his preference, and he is on a mission to write and album for each state in the good old USA…Two done so far, and each one has been a masterpiece.
Wolfmother: I’m only hesitant to add these guys because they have only released one album so far and it’s been a LONG time between that one and new one. That being said, the first album was so damn good they make the list. It was nothing original, it just seemed like a breath of fresh air, good solid Black Sabbath worshipping rock from the land of ACDC. Let’s go guys, bring us some more!
MIA: She’s super sexy, she’s a bomb that is set to repeat explode, she has hip hop chops that put any punk ass gangster wannabees to shame. She’s MIA and I can’t get enough of her. Mixing ethic beats and political lyrics without coming off corny is no easy feat, and miss thing here does it with ease. The energy in her music is hard to match, it’s simply fierce.
Mastodon: Brutal aggressive music is always welcome in my collection, and these guys are no strangers. They have three albums under their belt and the latest one Blood Mountain is their first major release, and this has not hampered their intention to keep on cranking out amazing, skull crushing metal. They are definitely the evolution from the great power thrash and speed metal bands from the 80s, and they have avoided pretty much all the crappy things that plague modern metal.
Decemberists: I wasn’t totally enthralled with their last release, but it was entirely listenable so they still make the cut. Colin Meany’s lyrics are simply incredible, and he is obviously a guy who favors books over TV in a good way (each medium has it’s own merits, no reason to snark on tv). The band is chock full of incredible musicians all of whom lend a helping hand to the overall folksy pirate sounds of the Decemberists vast catalog.
Devendra Banhart: He’s not for everyone, is he crazy? derivative and annoying? a smelly hippie? Well all of this maybe true, but he has grown on me as a quirky songwriter who pushes the boundaries of folk and weirdness with a required amount of honesty and dedication. He has inspired and collected like minded folks such as Joanna Newsom into another revival of weird folk music that, while not entirely original contains some very talented worthwhile people.
Andrew Bird: He’s a true ladies man, an alternative rock swooner who continues to stump the dictionaries of this world with his use of obscure words, and lyrical references. He also happens to have some mighty admirable chops on the violin, and when paired with the looping smart drums/keyboards of Martin Dosh, the result is some immensely enjoyable thickly layered art/pop.
a few other random ones didn’t quite make the cut:
Arcade Fire: extremely popular i like them ok.
Blonde Redhead: New record coming out soon.
Of Montreal: Good clever stuff
Will Oldham: He really should be on the list I just don’t have time
Spoon: Pretty much everyone loves these guys right?
These are some of the great artists that help me make it through long hours of work, as well as helping me to enjoy this vehicle as i drive on down the road. Please post your list, and provide links so we can all discover new untapped resources!