bands for young folk

So before a lot of people start to assume that I listen only to hip hop and rap, or others that I’m an over-aged angry punk rocker, here’s a list of newer folk music I really enjoy. I think deep down when all is said and done, I am really just a big time hippie.

I don’t know what folk music really is, nor do I like putting music into genres, but this is just what I think of when I think of folk music, and I really like the fact that it seems to be coming back, at least commercially it is much more visible. There is no order to this (and that’s just the way I like it) list.

1. Bowerbirds 

I heard this band with my wife, then girlfriend, after one of her best friend’s weddings. They had planned for those that were still up for partying to accompany them to the show. We bought their album that night, and fell in love with this band. But besides the emotional connections to our memories, their music always makes me yearn for a good walk through a forest away from the city for a bit, which is probably intended since they have been known to write a few songs, and albums in fact, amongst nature’s wilderness. They also use an accordion, which is very cool when it is made to rock.

2. Devendra Banhart 

This guy’s music just blows me away, not because it’s so complicated, but because it seems so simple and effortless. It just seems like so much fun. It’s also very worldly, and if you read any information about him, you’ll understand why. He might be a bit theatrical for some, but I find it comically refreshing.

3. Beirut 

His electronic stuff might not be so folky, but his music displays the sounds of the world and of the past. He delves heavily into eastern European sounds, a bit of Paris mixed in, and has even recorded half an album with a Mexican folk band. I include him because he plays the ukulele.

4. Y La Bamba 

I must admit that this is a band that I have only found recently and am a bit disappointed with myself for not having found them earlier. Their name was something that kind of scared me away at first, but after watching a few videos on Youtube, I was impressed. Their from Portland, which, no way, really, but yeah, they are very cool. I just really liked all the harmonizing that this band has going on.

5. Animal Collective 

This band is a whole different animal if you will. The collective is really just four guys, that pretty much exchange leads on songs, and not always with all four members. Though they include a lot of electronics, I find their approach to be very folk, especially at how songs sound like jam sessions. As they’ve gotten bigger, their projects have gotten more ambitious, but their is still a lot of soul to their music. Avey Tare and Panda’s solo projects are also very good, and in my opinion much more focused than Merriweather Post Pavilion.

6. Andrew Jackson Jihad 

I will admit that the name was the first thing that made me want to check out this band. Let’s face it, it’s evocative. And sometimes, there music is as well, but for the most part their music is a lot of fun. There’s a lot of videos where you can check them out using a stand up bass and a washboard. They have a song about people that eat people being the luckiest people of all. Check them out if you have a sense of humor.

7. CocoRosie 

Two sisters. Something about Americans going to live in Paris, and making music. They use children’s toys as instruments, and often sing in child like tones, which are actually more haunting than soothing. This is hippie music for the ex-goth kid.

8. Kimya Dawson 

As half of The Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson demonstrated quite a sarcastic wit. With the soundtrack for Juno, she demonstrated a much softer and mature side, which is where she is usually at now as a solo artist. She also creates children’s music, which she performs where half of the show is meant for the kids, while the second half is aimed at their parents. I’ve also heard a few songs from a project she’s working on with Aesop Rock, which I have been eagerly anticipating.

9. MGMT 

These guys’ music makes me very happy. It is a bit commercial at times, and sometimes I do feel it’s more about aesthetics with them, but I must admit that they put on a good show.

10. Akron/Family 

Although since losing Ryan Vanderhoof the band does not sound completely the same in my opinion. They are still a very good band, which jams out like the best bands of the 60’s and 70’s. I guess I really like bands that have a lot of harmonizing.

Maybe the only thing these bands have in common is that they fill me with nostalgia.

bands for a young punk

One of my favorite things has always been to recommend bands to younger people. As I’ve been getting older, sometimes they recommend music to me, but for the most I have still been able to keep with new bands and new music, but still I think it’s important to get a taste of the range in different genres, and especially to learn what has come before.

Below is a list of bands I like that I’d burn or recommend to a student that told me he liked punk (whatever that really means now) music. In no particular order…

1. Sex Pistols 

So I will admit that anytime I sang in high school with the Scrubs and later Crying Laurel, I was always pretty much just trying to sound like John Lydon, (Johnny Rotten). These guys have been written about enough, and love or hate their attempt to continue to tour while being the same age as my parents, their emergence was prolific.

2. The Clash 

As I got older, I really began to appreciate the Clash more and more. Once I became politically aware, the Clash’s message becomes much more radical than that of the Sex Pistols. The Clash also managed to age much more gracefully probably because of their point of view is much more informed and mature.

3. Bad Religion 

I love this band. They’re intellectuals. They’re political. Greg Graffin is a college professor, and his solo album Cold as Clay, was also pretty damn good. I used to ride the train in high school, and while I listened to “Stranger Than Fiction”, I felt like I was listening to stories about the future that we are still all becoming.

4. At the Drive-In 

This band became Mars Volta, which is also an awesome band, and a lot of the newer stuff that Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is doing is just way ahead of its time. But there was a certain energy to At the Drive-In that is only found in those albums.

5. The Jesus Lizard 

Being that they never reached the success of Nirvana, those of us from Chicago always felt like the Jesus Lizard were our own secret. The energy. The angst. The noise. And a hint of weirdness.

6. The Blood Brothers 

The combination of vocals is freakin’ awesome. They’re from the Seattle area for whatever that’s worth, and though I found about this band pretty late, they quickly became one of my favorites.

7. Nirvana 

Perhaps over-rated for some, but I was 12 when Nevermind came out and barely discovering music. Nirvana changed my life, and made high school so much more tolerable because those that identified with not identifying could easily identify each other because of our identification with the band and what they stood for.

8. Green River 

This band determined who were the posers, and who was really into grunge and punk for my friends and me. The members went on to form Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. Anyone interested in what was going on in Seattle in the early 90’s had to check these guys out to understand the full story.

9. Rage Against the Machine 

Rage Against the Machine’s members all had roots in hardcore scenes. So it was easy for someone like me that really didn’t like rap music at the time. Rage changed all of this for me. The music still had the energy and edge of the bands I liked, but I was also able to appreciate Zack de la Rocha’s rapping style, which at moments had more in common with hardcore screaming than rap. Their politics also introduced me to the history of the world.

10. Iggy Pop 

Without sounding too much like a punk snob, but if you don’t check out Iggy Pop then you have no business saying you like punk rock music. Yeah he’s old, but this is where punk started, especially his work with the Stooges. Fortunately, the movie, Trainspotting, helped him become relevant again.

I know there are a bunch of other bands I could have named, but these are the ten bands that I chose today, maybe if someone had asked me yesterday or two days ago, I would have said something else.