What should I be listening to?

While I once owned hundreds of vinyl discs and counted them among my most cherished possessions, I’ve become an old fogey, married with kids, who hasn’t kept up at all with the music world; it’s been at least five years since I’ve seen a live band, and I’ve probably purchased less than a half-dozen CDs in the last four or five years (except for old stuff I used to have on vinyl). In a nutshell, I’ve gone from being too hip for my own good to being completely clueless about current music.

I have a forty minute commute every morning, and I’ve reached a point where I’ve exhausted most of the viable audiobook options from my local library. I don’t have the patience anymore for morning drivetime radio or for college radio, and much of my commute occurs after the end of “Morning Edition” on NPR. I don’t do “oldies”, “classic rock”, or any other standard radio format. In short, I need something new and interesting to make the drive a little more bearable.

My musical tastes will be familiar to those who’ve read my posts in music-related threads before: late '70s/early '80s power pop, pub rock, early punk, '60s garage bands, '80s neo-psychedelia, Elvis Costello, TMBG, The Pooh Sticks, Teenage Fanclub, Jonathan Richman, Kirsty MacColl, The Pogues, pop standards (Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Rogers and Hart or Hammerstein, etc.) done by great vocalists (Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, etc.), the rawer Delta blues artists, etc.

So given all that, what have I missed out on in the last few years that you think I’d like?

Well, I’ve heard there’s this great new band called NSYNC that is supposed to be really good…


Belle & Sebastian

great britpop (or scotpop, as it were)

Phish, a little bit of everything rolled into one band.

The Ultimate hip list…

Of the Country/Bluegrass/Alternative/Blues genre
Uncle Tupelo
Old 97’s
Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Of the Hip Hop genre…
Black Star
The Roots
Outkast (they have a new album coming out. try and pick it up)

These bands are all really good. I would go out and buy the Old 97’s album “Fight Songs”. Most of the music reviewers didn’t dig it, but I enjoy it.

I really like VNV Nation and Apoptygma Bezerk. Both are upbeat and will keep you awake on the drive to work.

Vocalists: Run out right now (oh, well, drive if you must) and buy Susan Tedeschi’s Just Won’t Burn. I saw her live on tour with B. B. King and she just blew me away. Tiny little white woman with a voice like Etta James. And she can crank that axe, to boot. Oooh! And I really need to mention Patty Griffin. I have her album Flaming Red: pure listening enjoyment. Apparently, her first album had a very different sound, very sparse, but still very good. Haven’t heard it, though, so I can’t say for sure.

Blues: Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. The title track off their latest album, Burn to Shine, sounds like the second coming of Lynyrd Skynyrd. In a good way. The prior album, The Will to Live is great, too. So many different sounds coming out of this group. Is there such a category as Progressive Blues?

Power Pop: I’ve been grooving to Tonic’s Sugar for the past week and have been very happy with it. Very tight, very strong. Lotsa good stuff on Eve 6’s horrorscope, too.

Acid House: Beck’s Midnight Vultures. Someone has been doing a lot of drugs. Not for everyone. For those who dig it, a must-have.

Hip-Hop: Can we call it a classic yet? Fugees’ The Score is the cream of the crop, IMHO.

The Red Elvises! Kick ass rock and roll from Siberia!

Not really new, but check out…

Tom Waits - Everything the man touches turns to gold (even that “Black Rider” soundtrack).

Shonen Knife - Power pop from a Japanese trio, try “Let’s Knife.”

Sugar - If you liked Husker Du, try Bob Mould’s follow-up band, even the clunkers had their merits.

Pavement - weird but addicting group. Try “Wowee Zowee.”

Pansy Division - Okay, if you’re even the least bit homophobic or easily offended, you’re going to hate this band. But if you can get past that, this is a truly great power pop band. The CD “Pile Up” contains a whole passel of B-sides and covers. Hearing their version of Liz Phair’s “Flower” or the Xmas classic “Homo Christmas” always makes me happy.

Radiohead - it’s trite to mention it, but buy “OK Computer” now. No hit songs, but taken as a whole it is a great experience.

Happy listening!

My Waits collection is pretty complete. Don’t know if I’d go so far as to say everything he touches turns to gold, but close.

Love this one. One of the things I’ve dubbed from CD to listen to on cassette in the car.

Thanks for the other suggestions as well.

I’m not sure if you’ll like my suggestions but this is what I listen too.

Bare Naked Ladies…almost everything from them is great.

Crash Test Dummies…their latest effort, “Keep a Lid on Things” is truly dy-no-mite!

The Cult…'nuff said.

Tom Petty…excellent driving music.

Kate Bush

Tanita Tikeram (sp?) The “Twist in my sobriety” song is fan-flippin-tastic.

Lenny Kravits…bizarre, obnoxious, and thouroghly entertaining.

Just to name a few. I have access to over 3000 compilation CD’s…any questions and I’ll probably be able to help you.

The Dead Milkmen.

Recent stuff I would recommend:

Guided By Voices - Do The Collapse and/or Under The Bushes, Under the Stars
Ass Pony’s - Some Stupid With a Flare Gun
Sebadoh - Harmacy
The Mother Hips - Later Days
Frank Black & The Catholics - self-titled
Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen
PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love
Any Sparklehorse release

I’ll have to second The Cult. Maybe Green Day, but they may be over with by now. Verb Pipe maybe. Don’t listen to too much other than “classic”.

I had a question for you yesterday over here. If ya got a minute, could ya take a look?

If you like late 70s/early 80s power pop, pick up “Dear 23” and “Amazing Disgrace,” by the Posies (and also “Frosting on the Beater” and “Success,” if you’re so inclined.) They combined the best of Beatley pop music, psychedelia, and hard rock. They were the heirs-apparent to such bands as Big Star and Cheap Trick: Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen play on “Hate Song” on “Amazing Disgrace”; and Posies founders Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow played with Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens at the Big Star “reunion” at Columbia, MO and have recorded covers of “Feel” and “I Am the Cosmos.”

Also pick up:

–Anything by Aimee Mann, particularly “Whatever”
–Anything by Jellyfish
Everything by Matthew Sweet, and I mean everything. He is a power pop god. In fact, he has a brand-new “Best Of” collection out that will give you a good representative sample.
–A band called the Figgs, who are a nice combination of American and British post-punk sounds.
–Fuzzy, a female-fronted pop band from Boston, who not only do great originals, but have thrown in such terrific covers as the Beach Boys’ “Girl Don’t Tell Me” and Neil Young’s “Losing End.”