Friday, April 29, 2011

Part I: Top 11 Best Active/Current Bands

I'd rather be floating in a life raft than sinking in a cruise ship.
So, In order to get over my writers block due to a creativity rut; I feel it is necessary to write something down. I have decided on listing the best music to be heard from current bands (Part I) and current singer-songwriters (Part II).

Honorable Mention (In Order)
: Shout Out Louds, The Decemberists, Counting Crows (Haven't been current in awhile), Death Cab for Cutie, The Avett Brothers, Weezer, Seabear, Alkaline Trio, Augustana, Phoenix, Bloc Party, The Weakerthans, Wilco, The Weepies

11. FUN. “Indie Pop/ Progressive Rock”

The name really says it all, this band is fun. Fun. formed when lead singer, Nate Reuss, broke up with his previous band, The Format (an awesome band), and got together with Andrew Dost of Anathallo and Jack Antonof of Steel Train. The depression over The Format’s break up was quickly obliterated when Fun’s first singles became available. Their sound is similar to The Format’s “Dog Problems” record (probably due to Nate’s distinctive voice), but it’s even more theatrical. With three talented musicians all the songs on their debut album “Aim and Ignite” are very artistic and catchy, but what sets this band apart is wonderfully colorful lyrics.
Favorite Lyrics: “I swear when I grow up,
I won’t just buy you a rose.
I will buy the flower shop,
And you will never be lonely.” The Gambler (Aim and Ignite) Album in parentheses.
(“All the Pretty Girls” Video)

10. The National “Indie Rock”
The National has been together since 1999, but like most good bands didn’t find much fame until much later. In 2005, The National’s third album “Alligator” brought them their first bit of popularity. Many reviewers added it to their Albums of the Year list. “Boxer” The National’s fourth album increased their popularity and produced numerous hit singles. Finally, their latest album “High Violet” reached #3 on the Billboard Top 200. Their baritone lead vocalist, Matt Berninger, and projecting bass and drum lines make this band stand out in their genre.
Favorite Lyrics: “You know I dreamed about you
For 29 years before I saw you
You know I dreamed about you
I missed you for, for 29 years” Slow Show (Boxer)
(“Bloodbuzz Ohio” Video)

9. Trampled By Turtles “Bluegrass”
Along with having one of the best names in the business,Trampled by Turtles might be the most instrumentally talented bands on this list (at least at their particular instruments). They have an amazing mandolin, banjo, and fiddle player along with great lead vocals, guitar, and bass. This Minnesota bluegrass outfit is most famous for the high energy, fast paced songs. However, some of their best stuff is the slower lyrical ballads from lead singer, guitarist Dave Simonett. Their latest album “Palomino” charted at #1 on the U.S. Bluegrass top Albums. They are definitely one of the more entertaining bands to see live.
Favorite Lyrics: “My home is with the hills and trees around me
My ceiling holds the moon and stars above
So I'll never be a lonely man a'walking
I'll never live one day without love.” Whiskey (Songs from a Ghost Town)
(“Wait So Long” Video)

8. Radiohead “Alternative Rock/Electronic”
Who doesn’t know Radiohead? They’ve been prominent since the early 90’s and even though their sound changes every decade, they’re staying relevant and producing great music. The only reason they aren’t higher ranked (lower numbered) on this list is because their latest album “King of Limbs”is not yet quite as influential as their previous work. “Not Yet” are the key words here, Radiohead has a knack for being a little ahead of the time, and I’m sure the more it's listen to it, the more everyone will realize how genius it is. Moreover, you have to respect a band that has been together since 1985 and has maintained the same members. Loyalty goes a long way.
Favorite Lyrics: “Jigsaw falling into place
There is nothing to explain
Regard each other as you pass
She looks back, you look back
Not just once, not just twice“ Jigsaw Falling Into Place (In Rainbows)
(“Fake Plastic Trees” Video)

7. Kings of Leon “Alternative Rock/Southern Rock”
Most people are familiar with the Kings of Leon by now, but when they first started in 1999 very few knew who they were. It wasn’t until the second album “Aha Shake, Heartbreak” that they started to get noticed. Songs like “Taper Jean Girl”, “The Bucket”, and “King of the Rodeo” really started to launch the Kings of Leon… at least in the UK. In fact, they didn’t really become the superstars they are until their fourth album “Only By the Night”, which of course is pretty great even if it has been played way too much. Their newest album “Come Around Sundown” did not disappoint and they continue to make hit singles like the song “Pyro”.
Favorite Lyrics: “Get back on track, pick me up some bottles of booze
Fickle freshman probably thinks he's cooler than you
A hay ride, a fire, everybody's coming around
So go press your skirt, word is there's a new girl in town.” I Want You (Only By The Night)
(“Pyro” Video)

6. The Kooks “Indie Pop/Rock”
The Kooks are simply a lot of fun, and their lyrics are ubber catchy…when you understand them. Much of the time you’ll end up “mumble singing” where you sing the sounds you hear even if you aren’t sure what the lyrics are saying. Their songs are just so contagious you can’t help but “sing-a-long”. Other than their catchy rhythms, they really are very talented song writers and instrumentalists. But probably the best thing about The Kooks is that they appear to be having a good time, and they sound like they enjoy what they are doing and want to share it with everyone else.
Favorite Lyrics: “a-b-c-d-e-f and -g
Oh that reminds me of when we were free
Before life began to tear us apart
Remember those classes when we thought we were so smart” One Last Time (Konk)
(“Na├»ve” Video)

5. Coldplay “Alternative Rock”
Is it gay to like Coldplay? Maybe, but who could resist those lyrics and anthems, and let us not forget that beautifully charming voice of Chris Martin. So yeah maybe I am a little gay… gay for Coldplay. They produce hit song after hit song, and each album has its own unique feel. There is a reason why every new English, alternative rock band gets compared to Coldplay and it’s because they're simply the best in their genre. I would say “A Rush of Blood to the Head” is probably one of the best albums out there. Straight up!
Favorite Lyrics: “A warning sign
It came back to haunt me, and I realised
That you were an island and I passed you by
And you were an island to discover” Warning Sign (A Rush Of Blood To The Head)
(“The Scientist” Video)

4. Modest Mouse “Indie Rock”
Modest Mouse is crazy good, talented, and unique. Also, they may be just a little crazy (they get pretty intense live). Anywho, they know how to make good music. They are another band that’s been around forever and only became really popular with their last two albums: “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” and “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank”. Every song on each of these albums is noteworthy. However, some of their best stuff came from their earlier work. “Gravity Rides Everything” is one of those songs that can never get old. It’s so easy to listen to and almost perfect in every situation.
Favorite Lyrics: “Tiny curtains open and we heard the tiny clap of little hands
A tiny man would tell a little joke and get a tiny laugh from all the folks
Sitting drifting around in bubbles and thinking it was us that carried them
When we finally got it figured out that we had truly missed the boat” Missed the Boat (We Were Dead Before The Ship Ever Sank)
(“Gravity Rides Everything” Video)

3. Frightened Rabbit “Indie Rock/Folk”
Frightened Rabbit is a Scottish indie rock band with a landslide of talent. They are very rhythmic and every song builds on itself getting more and more momentous. Moreover, the lyrics from songwriter and lead singer Scott Hutchinson are matched by none. Every song tells a great story or poem containing elaborate illustrations. The album “Midnight Organ Fight” is pretty much a perfect album through and through and their newest album “The Winter of Mixed Drinks” is close to as good. Rumor has it they will be touring with Death Cab for Cutie this summer, which includes Red Rocks.
Favorite Lyrics: “I’m Drunk, I’m Drunk
And you’re probably on pills
If we’ve both got the same diseases
It’s irrelevant girl.” Keep Yourself Warm (The Midnight Organ Fight)
(“Head Rolls Off” Video)

2. The Killers “Indie Rock/Heartland Rock”
The Killers debut album “Hot Fuss” remains their biggest success and it deserves all the praise. So many big hits come from that album and it came out at just the right time. “Hot Fuss” became 3x platinum in the United States, and it has lasted the test of time. The follow up album “Sam’s Town” is grossly underrated. It is an album that just fits so perfectly together, and similar to “Hot Fuss” produced some amazing hits, however, these hits never became quite as big. The Killers know how to make a hit song, and even more their B-sides and unreleased materials are just as good. “Sawdust” is their compilation album of B-sides and rarities, and it has been compared to classic albums like The Smith’s “Hatful of Hollow”. The Killers are killing it.
Favorite Lyrics: “Now Cinderella don't you go to sleep, it's such a bitter form of refuge.
Why don't you know the kingdoms under siege and everybody needs you.
Is there still magic in the midnight sun, or did you leave it back in '61?
In the cadence of a young man's eyes.
Out where the dreams all hide” A Dustland Fairytale (Day & Age)
(“Read My Mind” Video)

1. Arcade Fire “Indie Rock/Art Rock”
Everything about this band is terrific. They have a great name, great sound, great lyrics, and great presentation. All of their songs are so powerful and absorbing. Each song is passionate and intricate with complex analogies and meaningful lyrics. Each song grows and grows to a triumphant finish. Furthermore, their albums tell stories. Arcade Fire’s most recent album “The Suburbs” (Grammy winner for Album of the Year) tells the story of suburban living. Something that seems like it could be so mundane they make an epic story out of. Need more proof they are the best working band? The band plays guitar, drums, bass guitar, piano, violin, cello, double bass, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard, French horn, accordion, harp, mandolin, and hurdy-gurdy (whatever that is).
Favorite Lyrics: “My body is a cage
That keeps me from dancing with the one I love
But my mind holds the key” My Body is a Cage (Neon Bible)
(“The Suburbs” Video)

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