Ten Bands I Put In Every Playlist I Make
Honorable Mention-Sara Bareilles
Ten Bands I Put In All My Playlists
In the age of mp3 players, it seems everyone has a playlist for everything. I, myself, listen to music almost constantly during the day. So, I decided to put together my "have to have" list of bands. They are in no particular order, hope you enjoy it.
Band #1 Maroon 5
Maroon 5 debuted in 2002 with their album Songs About Jane. I think I kept this cd in my player for a solid month on repeat. I could not get enough of it. The melding of rock, alternative, hip-hop and pop music was so refreshing to my ears. I just loved it. Each song had it's own unique sound. It was their lyrics, however, that really kept me coming back for more. I harrassed my friends and made them listen, converted them into fans as well and waited impatiently for their next endeavor to be made public.
2007's It Won't Be Soon Before Too Long didn't disappoint. It had more of a poppy/dance feel to it. Usually, that wouldn't go over too well with me, but when I heard "If I Never See Your Face Again" I couldn't stop shaking my booty. The rest of the album was just as good. They toured last summer with Counting Crows and Sara Bareilles and honestly, though I'd always said Counting Crows was one of my favorite bands, Maroon 5 stole the show, hands down. You just can't go wrong with these guys.
My pick for best playlist song with these guys is "Sunday Morning". Whether you need something to pick you up after a long day at work or you're just puttering around the house; this song makes you grin and kind of groove and sing along no matter what you're doing.
Maroon 5-Sunday Morning
Band #2 Sugarcult
Sugarcult is a pop/punk band who first got recognized in 2001 with the release of their album Start Static. Songs like "Pretty Girl" and "Stuck In America" made it an instant staple in my cd rotation. I just loved their sound and couldn't wait to hear what they'd come out with next. In 2004, Palm Trees and Power Lines came out and I was struck anew at how completely I loved this band. There wasn't a bad song on either disc and that, in itself, was amazing to me. 2006's Lights Out was better than the other two, even though, if asked before hearing it, I would've said that was impossible. I'm anxiously awaiting news that these guys are working on something new.
Essential track from Sugarcult is so much harder to pick for me, but since it's the one that hooked me from the beginning I'll say "Pretty Girl" with "Shaking" coming in a very close second.
Sugarcult-Pretty Girl (The Way)
Band #3 The Cure
I think The Cure is one of those bands that people either absolutely love or completely hate. I adore them, they are one of my very favorite bands ever. They released their first album, Three Imaginary Boys in 1979 and have since released 12 other studio albums. Robert Smith, their frontman, is really the only constant throughout the past thirty or so years. How's that for longevity? I never really thought of them as Gothic (though I know they had their moments) I think it's mostly because their music just makes me want to bounce around, dance, sing, and be silly. In short, it makes me happy. Even the sappy or sad songs, like "Lovesong" or "A Letter To Elise". I just can't help but grin when I'm listening to their music. Their 2004 self- titled album was one of my all-time favorites. In my opinion, it showed the music world, hey, guess what, we're still here..
I cannot pick just one song by The Cure to put on a playlist. Ever. It just doesn't happen. When I try to make myself choose, I end up with at least four or five in there. I'll try and narrow it down a little for you, though. If you want the 80's flashback go with either "Let's Go To Bed" or "The Lovecats". Both are a great representation of their work during that period. For the 90's, my hands-down favorite is "Just Like Heaven" (of course, I mean, who doesn't love that song??) and off the more current albums I'd say "The End of The World" is a classic representation of their complete body of work.
The Cure The Lovecats
The Cure-Just Like Heaven
Better Than Ezra
Band #4 Better Than Ezra
Better Than Ezra kind of fits into the alternative music genre. They have great versatility and a unique sound. I can honestly say there isn't another band out there that sounds like them, in my opinion. Based out of New Orleans, Louisiana they have acutally been around since the late 80's but lost their lead guitarist, Joel Rundell to suicide in 1990. After a brief hiatus they released Deluxe in 1993 on their own record label, Swell Records. This garnered them the attention of radio and Elektra Records who signed them and re-released the album in 1995. The single "Good" became a huge hit for them. In 1996, they released Friction, Baby; which was, in my opinion, a much better album than Deluxe. I can put Friction in the cd player and just listen for hours, whereas Deluxe has a few tunes on it I'm kind of ambivalent towards.
They broke the mold with their next album, 1999's How Does Your Garden Grow? experimenting with new sounds. I loved it, especially "One More Murder". They parted ways with Elektra Records after this album and have released albums with several different labels since. They are one of those bands that just keep pushing their limits and getting better. 2001's Closer was fanstastic, they did some collaborative work with DJ Swamp, which was a first for them and it resulted in some really cool tunes. They've released three more albums since then and I've enjoyed them all. Kevin Griffin is their lead vocalist and I really like his voice. Also, the lyrics to their songs are great. None of their music is just noise like so much of what gets played on the radio these days. Every song tells a story, everything is fresh and original and I adore that about them.
Must have track on the playlist for Better Than Ezra is "A Lifetime". It's sad and it's made me cry at weaker moments but it's wonderfully evocative and thought provoking.
Better Than Ezra-A Lifetime
The White Stripes
Band #5 The White Stripes
The White Stripes. In my opinion, they are just amazing. Each one of their albums has a distinct and different sound from the others. Their sound can be described as anything and everything from blues to alternative to punk. They are utterly original and defininitely a creative stand out in the music industry today. I believe Jack White, the songwriter, is a musical genius. More on him another time.
The White Stripes debut, self-titled album was released in 1999 and was followed up just over a year later with De Stijl. Again, just over a year later they released White Blood Cells, which was the first to garner major attention with the single "Fell In Love With A Girl". They jumped to a major record label and in 2003 released the Grammy winning Elephant. Their first single, "Seven Nation Army" won the Grammy for Best Rock Song. Their fifth album, Get Behind Me Satan was recorded in Jack White's home and won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 2006. It contains mostly piano and acoustic guitar instead of the electric guitar the fans were used to. It's a great album, even though other fans had mixed reactions. In 2007, Icky Thump was released and won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. I'm noticing a trend here. Since then, Jack White has been working with The Raconteurs and a new side project called The Dead Weather. A 7th White Stripes album is currently in the works.
My essential White Stripes song is hard to pick. 9 times out of 10, however, when I have to choose, I end up with "Hello Operator" from DeStijl, it's one of my absolute favorite songs.
The White Stripes-You're Pretty Good Looking & Hello Operator Live
Band #6 Matchbox Twenty/RobThomas
Matcbox Twenty is another one of those great bands that, for me, just keeps getting better. Frontman, Rob Thomas, is one of my favorite musicians/songwriters ever. He doesn't seem to ever make a musical misstep. In 1996, Matchbox Twenty released their debut album, Yourself or Someone Like You. The album was a huge success and hits like "Push", "Long Day" and "3 AM" helped them sell over 12 million copies in the US alone. There is not a single, even, mediocre song on that cd. I believe it should be a staple in every music lover's collection, without a doubt one of the best bands to come out of the 90's.
Before recording the band's second album, Rob Thomas collaborated on "Smooth" for Santana's mega-hit comeback album Supernatural. He won 4 Grammy's for his writing and performance on the song. Mad Season was released in 2000 and produced hits "If You're Gone", which helped them cross over into the adult-contemporary genre and "Bent" which went to #1 on the Hot 100. I really enjoyed this album; songs like "Rest Stop" and "Last Beautiful Girl" made it special for me.
Their third album, More Than You Think You Are was received with mixed reviews but I enjoyed it immensely. It returned to the harder "rock" sound of their 1st album but still had a sound all it's own, which appealed to me. Some other band members shared songwriting duties with Rob on this one and Mick Jagger helped write their hit single "Disease". In February 2005, Adam Gaynor, the rhythm guitarist officially left the group, then on hiatus. Rob Thomas released a solo album, Something To Be, which shot to number 1 on US Billboard 200 the first week of it's release. The album had more of a pop sound but still had Thomas' excellent lyrical talent & I thoroughly enjoyed it.
In 2007, Matchbox Twenty released Exile On Mainstream, again, I felt they really pushed their boundaries further forward. In my opinion, this kind of music is what more artists should be looking to emulate. Talented musicians plus fantastic songwriting equals qulaity music. *Someone please explain to me why 19 year old Taylor Swift understands this, she's amazing, when there are so many adult artists who do not. I won't name names.
Rob Thomas just released his second solo album, Cradlesong and I haven't stopped listening to it yet. The band plans on releasing a new album next year. I can't wait. Picking one essential track by Matchbox Twenty is hard for me. They have so many wonderful songs to pick from. I usually end up with at least ten. I'll give you one from each album. "Push" because it really was what turned me onto the group to begin with. "Last Beautiful Girl", "Bright Lights", "These Hard Times" and by Rob Thomas I'd say "Ever The Same" although his new single, "Someday" is an awesome tune, as well.
Matchbox Twenty-Push live on VH1 Storytellers
Band #7 Counting Crows
I have to say it. I absolutely love Counting Crows. They have been one of my favorite bands since I was 14 years old. From the very first time I heard "Round Here" off of 1993's August and Everything After, I just loved their sound, their style, lyrics, music, everything. I owned this on cassette tape and I'm pretty sure I wore out two copies and eventually made my way to a cd version. There was not a single bad song on that album. I wasn't the only one who thought so, though. The album was a huge success and put them in the spotlight. Under the pressure, unfortunately, the band fractured and started falling apart. Frontman, Adam Duritz (lyrical genuis) suffered a nervous breakdown and drummer Steve Bowman left the group.
Recovering The Satellites, released in 1996 had a much harder edge than their first album nd it's songs dealt mainly with the band's uneasy acceptance of their fame. In my opinion, it was just as good as August, another disc I can still throw in and listen to without interruption. It did well, their hit, "A Long December" getting a lot of attention. 1999's This Desert Life gave us the phenomenal song "Colorblind" and the radio-friendly "Hangingaround". It was another excellent addition to their repertoire. You can't miss "Mrs Potter's Lullaby", excellent tune. In 2002, came my personal favorite of all their albums, Hard Candy. They do a great cover of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" but my favorite song on the disc is "Good Time". "Carriage", "Up All Night" and "Goodnight LA" are all amazing as well. 2003 brought us Films About Ghosts, a greatest hits collection with some fresh tracks as well. I personally love the Grateful Dead cover, "Friend of the Devil". Then in 2004, Adam was approached to write a song for the movie Shrek 2 and out came "Accidentally In Love" The pop tune earned them and Acadamy Award nomination. In 2008, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings was released with more great tracks like "You Can't Count On Me".
Sadly, the one time I got to see these guys live I wasn't very happy with the performance. Don't get me wrong, they sounded incredible but they just didn't live up to my expectations. They performed their first album, in its entirety, and turned each song into a ten minute mini-drama. My husband joked about Shakespeare and said "to sing or not to sing". I wasn't amused. For a playlist I usually have to give myself a whole section of Counting Crows because I can never pick just a few.
Good Time by Counting Crows Live
Band # 8 Weezer
Ah, Weezer, how I love thee..seriously, they combine quality musicians with great lyrics and a fantastic sense of humor. What's not to like? 1994 saw their self-titled debut cd, later to be dubbed The Blue Album with 'Undone" and "Buddy Holly" both getting heavy play on MTV. Hey, on a sidenote, remember when MTV used to play music videos?? Crazy, right.
Their second album, Pinkerton was released in 1996 and didn't get the push from the record label it was supposed to due to legal entanglements over the title. 2001 gave us The Green Album and the always awesome "Island In The Sun". In 2002, their fourth album, Maladroit came out to mixed reviews; it remains their lowest-selling album to date. Almost immediately, the band started work on Make Believe. When released in 2005, the first single, "Beverly Hills", became a big hit, getting tons of radio play and a nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Song. The Red Album was released in 2008 and was a step in a completely new direction for the band. It worked out well for them, their single, "Pork and Beans" topped Billboard Modern Rock Tracks charts for 11 weeks and it's music video won a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video.
My essential Weezer track is actually a collaboration between them and Soul Coughing ( a wholly under-rated band) ; "American Girls". I love everything about this song, it's rare, but if you can find it, it's worth a listen :)
Weezer-Pork and Beans
Coheed & Cambria
Band # 9 Coheed and Cambria
Some of you may be surprised when I tell you that a concept band about a science fiction story (told in The Amory Wars graphic novels written by lead singer, Claudio Sanchez) is my absolute, 100%, favorite band of all time. The band Coheed and Cambria is from Nyack, NY (only a couple of hours south of me) and I'll be honest, I didn't know anything about the unfolding story when I first heard them. The song was "Welcome Home", the first single off their third studio album (their first with a major record label), Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One:From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness. I only knew that I absolutely loved everything about that song and hastened to find out everything I could about them. I listened to their third album, heard the story in the songs and was completely hooked. I loved the way the entire cd flowed-from the first track to the last it sounded like one long, continuous song. It was amazing and I went right out and hunted down their first two albums. 2002's Second Stage Turbine Blade and 2003's In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth:3 didn't disappoint. I couldn't stop listening to their music. They are an eclectic mix of musical styles; everything from indie rock to heavy metal. Overall, just a collection of great songs that are amazing even if you don't want to follow the story's progress. Some standouts are "Heartshot Kid Disaster", "The Light and The Glass", "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth:3", "Welcome Home" and "The Final Cut" just to name a few.
In 2006, Claudio Sanchez released an acoustic/electronic wonder My Brother's Blood Machine from his side-project, The Prize Fighter Inferno. This is actually a prequel to Coheed and Cambria's albums. If you like to shake your booty, go grab this album. Drummer, Josh Eppard left Coheed and Cambria for personal reasons and Dillinger Escape Plan's Chris Penne stepped in and helped write the drum portion of their upcoming fourth album, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 2:No World For Tomorrow. Unfortunately, due to contractual restrictions Penne couldn't perform on the recording. The Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins recorded the drums instead. The album was released in October 2007, debuting at #6 on the Billboard charts. This album was just as amazing as the other three. Right now the guys are at work on their next album which will be a prequel to the other four.
As far as I'm concerned all four albums are essential but a couple good tunes to try for a newcomer to their work would be "Feathers" or "Mother Superior".
Coheed and Cambria-Feathers
Last but certainly not least Tori Amos
Tori is hands down, my favorite female artist ever. While I haven't loved everything she's ever done-ie, Strange Little Girls, her album of all cover songs. I'm more of a fan of her original work. Lyrically, no one's ever moved me like she does. She gives new meaning to the phrase "dig deep" to get what you need creatively. This woman is amazing, the things she with a piano are just awe-inspiring. There's no one else out there like her. Period, end of story. One of the things I love most about her is her complete refusal to conform to satisfy the music industry and record labels. Eight of her ten studio albums were self-produced.
1992's Little Earthquakes was epic-there's just no other way to describe it. From the first song to the last-it's raw, emotional and thought provoking; dealing with the trauma of her rape, feminism and other issues near and dear to her through song. 1994's Under The Pink was more radio friendly. My favorite song is definitely "Past The Mission" where we get to hear her collaborate with NIN's Trent Reznor. Amos then went to Wicklow, Ireland where she recorded her third album, Boys For Pele in a church. It's amazing from start to finish, really, a masterpiece. "Caught A Lite Sneeze" is just one great song off this album. From The Choirgirl Hotel was released in 1998 and dealt a lot with her miscarriages and marriage-songs like "Playboy Mommy" which just cuts me to the bone when I hear it, you can hear her pain in every word. It's a very intense and emotional album, one of my personal favorites.
The next album she released that I really connected with was 2002's Scarlet's Walk; a concept album about Tori's alter ego, Scarlet, and her trip across post 9/11 America. It really gets into American and Native American people and history, touches on pornography, homophobia, masochism and misogyny. The song "Pancake" is exceptional as is "Taxi Ride", "Amber Waves" and "A Sorta Fairytale". In my opinion, it was phenomenal. She released The Beekeeper in 2005 and though I really enjoyed it, it seemed more "pop" to me than anything she'd ever done before. Great songs off this album-"Ribbons Undone", a song about her daughter and "Martha's Foolish Ginger". I'll admit I didn't care for 2007's American Doll Posse. I gave it a listen and while it's not bad, I didn't necessarily think it was good either. I might try it again, though. 2009's Abnormally Attracted To Sin was a different story. It reminded me of the greatness of Boys for Pele; it was edgy and new. I really enjoyed it.
When putting Tori on a playlist, a lot of the time my decisions depend on what kind of mood I'm in that day. A few that always show up, though, are "Hoochie Woman", "Crucify", "A Sorta Fairytale", "Past The Mission", "Talula", "Father Lucifer", "The Power of Orange Knickers" and "Pandora's Aquarium".
Well, those are the ten bands/artists I put on every playlist. i hope you enjoyed this hub-please let me know what you think & tell me what your choices would be. Thanks for reading!