Friday, November 16, 2007

The Favorite Bands 2007, part two

My "Penultimate Ten" Favorite Bands were covered last Friday.

The Top Ten!

...favorite bands of michael5000, at this particular point in time. Here goes.

Blue Scholars -- Representin' hip-hop on The Top Ten, Blue Scholars hail from the far northern edge of Greater Portland, a suburb called "Seattle." Hands down the smartest raps I've heard, incorporating a horn section over the beats for a fine, fine melodic complexity.

the Books -- Brainy duo from one of those big East Coast cities scrounge around for old reel to reel tapes, home movies, and other sources of thrift-shop found sounds. Put together with beats and electronically modified cello and guitar, it becomes not only trippy and (often) beautiful and interesting, but downright MUSICAL. Which is good, with music.

the Decemberists -- Critics of the Decemberists might argue that mock Edwardian ballads, lyrics that anticipate the "FreeRice" phenomenon, and prolific use of accordian and hurdy-gurdy are BAD things. But they are wrong. The Decemberists ouvre is music by, for, and about dorks, and we all know that dork is the new cool.

Mike Doughty -- Why is Mike Doughty not a household name? It's not like he's pitching to a niche audience. His music is pretty much strightahead rock, albeit with enough melodic and rhythmic inventiveness to keep it highly interesting. Acessible to the masses and the cogniscenti alike. The lyrics are very high in smartitude, which I'm sure you've gathered is big for me. "Haughty Melodic" is one of the best albums ever. Check out a live recording if you can find one; the man dishes out some AWESOME stage patter.

Earlimart -- Earlimart is all about making interesting sounds and noises; music is sonic by definition, but with Earlimart you are always in the presence of experiments in sound. It has been exciting to watch the songs that the sounds are attached to get stronger and more fully realized with each record. On a good day, Earlimart sounds like redemption. (Here's a brief concert write-up from September.)

Jim's Big Ego -- The best introduction to JBE might be the way I originally bumped into them -- an old "All Things Considered" piece on internet music distribution. Three talented, smart, funny guys from Boston make smart, funny, and sometimes surprisingly touching songs. It's you basic drums/guitar/bass lineup, but the drumming is SCORCHING funky, and that has made all the difference.

Mountain Goats -- If you don't know about the Mountain Goats, GO! Now! Find a copy of the Sunset Tree! Stop Reading! Now!

If you know about the Mountain Goats and don't think they belong on a top ten list, there's no much I could say to convince you.

If you are reading this thinking, "Yeah! I love the Mountain Goats!" I suggest you go put on some Mountain Goats. Why not make your day better?

Jennifer O'Connor -- Her record "Over the Mountain, Across the Valley and Back to the Stars" came out of nowhere and kicked my ass. I know nothing about this girl, except that I fell in love with her album at first listen. It's a rare and beautiful thing. Smart lyrics and life and loss and relationships and such, but in a good way, with a smoky voice, an aggressive acoustic guitar, and a drum kit that sounds like rifle fire.

Rilo Kiley -- Smart, sexy, dark, funky, spare, grim, lush, cryptic, vulnerable, weird, and, how to put it: rockin'. The non plus ultra of Los Angeles rock. (Here's a brief concert write-up from September.)

The Thermals -- The second smartest band in Rock City Portland marry an aggressive garage punk with some of the most eloquent lyrics currently out there. These meditations on religion and culture can be hard to hear under all of the sheer noise (not to mention the stoopid title of their second album, "Fuckin' A"). The band seems to be moving towards a less abrasive attack and a slightly cleaner – though not TOO much cleaner – production, putting the songs themselves front and center, where they can more than take care of themselves.


Anonymous said...

uh, Seattle is not a suburb and its 3 hours north of Portland. Just thought I would clear that up. Check it out, its an amazing city.

Michael5000 said...

@anonymous: Thanks for setting me straight. I look forward to getting to know the Northwest better, someday.

Rebel said...

Hey! I saw Arcade Fire on Austin City Limits last night (well, I watched about two minutes of it before I went to bed). They are uh... loud.... and there are a lot of them. But actually pretty good. I think if I heard more of them I'd like them.

Rex Parker said...

I am not kidding when I say that I purchased Jennifer O'Connor's album (via iTunes) within one minute of reading your post. I shall praise or blame you accordingly.


PS I have Got to take a lesson from you when it comes to dealing with anonymous pedantic commenters who can't punctuate. I'm always losing my cool, but you - all class.

Michael5000 said...

@Rebel: They were "loud"? That was your TV set, I think. You can control that with that thing with the little buttons....

I'm glad you kind of liked them! You're right, there are an awful lot of 'em....

@Rex: Well, you tell me this on the day I'm watching "Paths of Glory," so we're even. I hope you like her.

I deeply suspect that anonymous... how should I say this... has a different kind of sense of humor than I do. That's cool. Most people do.

d said...

the decemberists - of course. blue scholars and the mountain goats - definitely. mike doughty? wtf dude? really? he blows like no one has ever blown. and i was a huge fan of soul coughing.

i'll have to check out the books and this jennifer person.

Michael5000 said...

@d: Hmm, loving Soul Coughing, hating Mike Doughty, that does kinda seem like drawing some fine distinctions. But hey, that's jus' me talking. I don't even know where Seattle is. Apparently.

Anonymous said...

Another one I will have to cut and paste and then take to iTunes.

I have heard of some but have not taken much time to research other than the Decemberists whom I do like very much.

d said...

i think anonymous maybe just doesn't have a sense of humor. we should put no more stock into anything s/he has to say.

and i think that finding god sort of destroyed m.d.'s musical talent. no offense to the christians in the room, but his music definitely changed once he was born again.

where's blythe? i bet she'd back me up on this.

Michael5000 said...

@d: Oklahoma lost yesterday, I'm sure she is still drowning her sorrows. I feel her pain.

Dug said...

OK - how can I say this without fisticuffs emerging? - the Mountain Goats seem to me to be a love them or don't kind of proposition. However, I will go home and listen again to "Sunset Tree" and maybe this time I'll learn how to love again.

I'm currently digging the National (the National what?) and Jose Gonzalez - like you care.

BTW - I've heard it said that Vancouver is also a suburb of Portland.