Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Dude, the soundtrack for your biopic sucks!" Part IV

Hello, Fellow Audiophiles!

The late 90's continued to be slim pickings for people who's musical menu board was culled from radio and Much Music.  Amidst all the Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and date-rape frat-boy rap metal courtesy of the shockingly talentless Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit there emerged a second wave of popular alternative music to remind us that hope springs eternal.

Leading the renewed garage band assault was New Yawk City's The Strokes.  Their entire debut album Is This It? is as catchy as audio ebola.  Try getting this out of your head after a listen:

Another biggie is alt/rock/blues duo The White Stripes.  Alternately referred to as the most fake (due to their thematically omnipresent characteristic red, white and black garb and the debatable connection between Jack and Meg White) and the most genuine band in the world thanks to their stripped down sound and live musical assaults, they are certainly one of the most exciting outfits out there today.  Here's a great clip:

The U.K. was well-represented by a couple of acts.  Bloc Party impressed, particularly with the frenetic drumming of Matt Tong:

From Glasgow, Scotland Franz Ferdinand's guitar-heavy new-wavy sound was particularly noteworthy:

Punky Swedes The Hives blasted onto the scene introducing themselves as "your new favorite band".  Their energetic live shows and raw demeanor makes for a convincing argument:

Several Canadian acts also distinguished themselves, such as earnest n' angry Billy Talent, seen here entertaining a s#$&-load of Germans:

Orchestral Quebecois army Arcade Fire also made a concerted effort to eke out an original sound.  Here they are earning their pay (split sixteen ways) on David Letterman's show:

And I'd certainly be lapse if I didn't give a shout-out to gloomy, local geniuses Wintersleep who's uncanny ability to create aural tapestries live is unmatched:

Just between you, me and the wall if I had a grain of musical talent, these dude's would have to keep looking over their shoulders since I'd steal from them mercilessly.  I'm just sayin', is all.

There are certainly other bands of note that have been percolating just underneath the surface.  Such as B.C.'s Hot Hot Heat and The New Pornographers, Toronto-based musical collective Broken Social Scene, from Iceland (the wellspring of weird) the very spacey Sigur Ros,  Portland Oregon's one-of-a-kind tale-spinners The Decemberists, Hamilton Ontario's The Marble Index, Los Vegans (?) The Killers, Tokyo Police Club from Newmarket , Ontario, Washington-state's Death Cab for Cutie and a band that proves Southern Rock need not be synonymous with crap: Nashville's now-regrettably coiffed Kings of Leon.

As we moved deeper into the 2000's (man, that's unweildly.  Why say we just call 'em the "The Oh's", a'ight?) the face of popular music began to improve somewhat.  For each instance that Beyonce sent her gender back to the Dark Ages, Maroon 7 and the Goo Goo Dolls tricked people in picking style over substance, Creed uncomfortably fused "inspirational" Christian music with cock rock (!) and The Black Eyed Peas single-handedly lowered IQ's across the nation, there were a million other good choices for every taste imaginable.  We just had to get off our lazy asses and make some sort of effort to look for them!

Seriously!  If you like pop, there's Lily Allen.  If you like hard rock there's Queens of the Stone Age.  If metal ye be seekin', set a course for Avenged Sevenfold or Alexisonfire.  If you like R&B there's Amy Winehouse or Erykah Badu.  If you like rap and hip-hop, check out The Roots, k-os and Wyclef Jean.  If you dig punk, there's Propagandhi.  There's something out there for everyone, folks, so just go look for it!

Which brings me to perennial whipping-boys Nickelback.  I really do sincerely believe that there are much worse things you can to listen to, but my point in doing all these entries is simply this:

There's also so much better.  

Trouble is, the mainstream media doesn't make things easy.  They want all of us subsisting on their payola-flavored industry gruel.  Frankly I think it's pretty sad that I've relied more upon free 'zines and video game soundtracks to find good music versus local radio and music video channels.  Here are three bands I've discovered from unexpected sources:

From NHL 2K7's "Sub Pop" Soundtrack, my current favorite group, Seattle's (what is in the water out there!?) Band of Horses:

From "Exclaim" Magazine, Canada's free music periodical, readily available everywhere, pride of High Green, Sheffield, England...Arctic Monkeys:

From the video game "Rock Band", bratty Manhattanites The Yeah, Yeah Yeah's:

From it's sequel, Brit-pop influenced Bostonian's The Sterns:

Internet radio is also a great source for hearing music that's new or new-to-you.  Here's just one possible hub:

And I've always relied on the kindness of people with taste to bring good bands to my attention.  I gotta thank Messrs. Buchan and Woodworth for bringing to light for me such diverse acts as The Black Keys, Wilco, MGMT, Silversun Pickups, Tegan & Sara, and The Flaming Lips.

So why did I dedicate four pages of my blog space to music?  Because music to me isn't just background noise during a party or something to keep you motivated at the gym.  It's a source of memory, solace, fortitude, conviction and my personal link to the human experience.

And I'm convinced that if you could hear good, soulful, original music everyday you'd feel just like I do...

Is This ItWhite Blood CellsWelcome to the Night SkyEverything All the Time
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not




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