Lately I’ve been trying to transfer most of my music library from iTunes to Windows media so’s I can put it all on my new Galaxy S III (possibly the finest electronic device conceived by the mind of man, BTW) and it occurred to me that there’s sooooooo much good stuff out there that I love that many people have never even heard of, or at least they’ve forgotten about it. That’s easy, the forgetting part. Radio plays the hits (I know, bub. That’s how I earn my livin’.) And Mtv long ago dropped the “Music Television” from their logo. Yep. Go look it up. I’ll wait.
Done? Good. And yes, there are apps like Pandora and Spotify that do an okay job of throwing “similar” music into the mix, but you always run the risk of pigeon-holing yourself musically. You’re listening to your Classic Country playlist/station and it might throw in a Conway Twitty that you’d never heard, but you’re totally missing Hank III. “Wait!” You scream as the internet bus pulls away from the virtual curb. “Hank III isn’t classic country! He plays hellbilly and metal!” He also does some numbers that sound more “country” than anything by that nitwit Kenny Chesney, so shut yer yap or I’ll come over there and spit some Beech-Nut in yer eye. P’TANNNNGGG!!!!
I digress. I figured since we’re all friends here, I’d introduce you to some of my all-time faves and maybe throw in a couple of more recent selections. This way you can spruce up your playlist a bit, yes? ‘Cause it needs some sprucing. You know this. Also, note: Ima try and find the album versions of these songs unless there’s a great video/concert video. I want you to hear these like they’ll sound on your iPod, phone, etc. We’ll start with one of my all-time favorites. So much so that I actually have the lyrics inked on my body. That’s legit, folks.
Rancid. I was late to the party on these guys, first hearing about them when they truly broke in the great punk revival of 1994. I’d heard Operation Ivy, but somehow missed that two of that band’s original members had formed “Rancid.” Blew. Me. Away. I like this song for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it was written by Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day. (Which is awesome, because Green Day have always done a great cover of Op Ivy’s “Knowledge.”) This song is pop punk with a little more snarl than most “pop” acts. Is Tim Armstrong (no relation to Billy Joe, BTW) drunk? Is he handicapped? Maybe both. And it’s awesome.
The next selection is from one of the greatest “Alternative” albums of the early nineties. Concrete Blonde doesn’t get any love in the mainstream world, but you probably heard a snippet of one of their songs in Point Break and their amazing version of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” in Pump Up The Volume.
The closest this band ever came to a “hit” was the single “Joey” from the same album, Bloodletting. There’s not a bad song on this album, however, and I recommend you download the entire thing. Vampire fans should note that this was a sort of concept album, with the Anne Rice vampire saga as the backdrop. Not every song drips with blood, venom, and mossy trees in the French Quarter, but the album as a whole sure does. Check it.
Now for something more contemporary:
This song was like a virus of truth. My friend Ray called me, excited and panting, saying “Dude. Dude! You MUST check out Volbeat! My God…you’ll love them. They’re like…like Social Distortion meets Metallica meets Johnny Cash and Elvis. I can’t…just listen to Sad Man’s Tongue. You’ll thank me.” Of course, Ray is sort of misguided prophet, and he and I have been on many adventures, from pissing in a cop’s driveway in the dead of night in Chicago to nearly being abducted by hot rockabilly chicks in Indianapolis. I trust Ray. Ray was right again. This song really is the best example of the Volbeat sound, and yes, they do range from straight metal riffage to simple acoustic country tunes. This song has it all, and everyone I’ve ever played it for has immediately gone and acquired every piece of the Volbeat discography. Do likewise.
I’ve got one more for ya. I have to stop, or you’ll be scrolling this baby until your mouse wheel wears out. Or your touch screen. Whatevs. Canada’s The Real McKenzies liked the Celtic flavor of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, but apparently felt that neither was Scottish enough. The results are delightful.
What’s a cattieyote? From what I’ve been able to glean from the interwebs, it’s a cross between a coyote and a feral cat. I don’t know if such a thing is actually possible, but there you go. The McKenzie’s version of Loch Lomond is also a rollicking affair, and I have been dying to use the phrase “rollicking affair” for so damned long, it’s great to finally have a reason to do so.
So there’s a starter pack for you. That oughtta keep you downloadin’ and streamin’ for quite a while. Get to it and rock on.