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More of My Favorite Music

My Favorite Music

 

Here you'll find a whole bunch of my favorite bands, in no rational order. I didn't include details on my favorite "big names" (Like Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Metallica, Oingo Boingo, or Johnny Cash, to name a few) because, well, you've heard of them. I didn't include the genres I love (Like old Delta blues, early 50's rock and roll, Motown and New Orleans jazz) because there are too many artists to name. I've listed mostly bands and artists that are a bit obscure, because I want you to discover them, too. Some you've probably heard of. Some nobody's heard of. But they're all fantastic. I hope you find some music to get obsessed with for awhile.

Warning:

Some of these artists--well, okay, a lot...oh, all right, MOST of these artists' music contains some explicit content. Parents, please preview, and use your discretion.


 

Unknown Hinson

Unknown Hinson

Musically brilliant, darkly hilarious, Unknown Hinson is a trip into a deep-fried Southern gothic Twilight Zone. How can you not love songs like "In the Trunk of My Cadillac Car" and "I Make Faces When I Make Love"? Plus, the man plays guitar like the bastard child of Jimmi Hendrix and Brian Setzer.

 

The Reverend Horton Heat

The Reverend Horton Heat

The Rev has reigned as the high priest of psychobilly for a dozen years. This high-octane trio plays songs about cars, sex, steak, above-ground pools, corn dogs, kicking ass--all the finest things in life.Jimbo's bass flies like a hotrod. The Reverend is a wicked hot guitarist. I've been in lust with him for many years. (Damn, did I say that last bit out loud?)

 

Visceral Stasis

Visceral Stasis

You could say that Visceral Statis is an electronic industrial band, but that wouldn't be quite right. They also throw in some hardcore, metal, darkwave, and anything else that crosses their twisted little minds. Theirs is a dark, frightening world of hard science fiction and dystopia, with a generous helping of horror.

 

E.J. Wells

E.J. Wells

Some folks call it Spookabilly, and some call it Spaghetti Midwestern. I call it kickass. E.J. Wells plays a fantastic mix of rock, pop, and western music with lyrics about evil doings in moonswept, dusty ghost towns. "Downstairs at the Funeral Home" and "Hearse Driver" are two of my favorite songs ever.

 

Ruby Shuz

Ruby Shuz

A fantastic Seattle indie-alternative-pop-rock band. Jessie McKenna has one of the most beautiful voices in rock, and her lyrics are alternately funny, thoughtful, angry and enlightened. If you get the chance to see them live, do it! "Candy Angel" is my all-time favorite love song.

 

Jinx Titanic

Jinx Titanic

Loud, raucous, punk-rock queercore that makes you want to get up and dance. Funny, sexy, raunchy and delightful lyrics, with a liberal splash of dark humor. This band is fantastic, and frontman Jinx Titanic is a one-man media event. Plug your ears, I'm about to sing along with "Your Hearse is Here" at the top of my lungs...

 

Dragstrip Riot

Dragstrip Riot

Ass-kicking Seattle rockabilly band with a wide gothabilly streak. You've got to love a band that writes songs like "36 Inch Wheels of Death," "My Baby Can Rest In Peace", and "American Sicko." They absolutely rock live.

 

The Dirty Birds

The Dirty Birds

Hard-driving garage-rockabilly band with a strong punk influence. Frontman Jimmi plays a wicked sax. Plus, he drives a really cool hearse called The Big Sleep. My kinda guy! The Dirty Birds put on a helluva show, and their albums kick. Listen carefully; their music is surprisingly complex.

Captain Bogg and Salty

Captain Bogg and Salty

Yarr! It's pirate-core! Captain Bogg and Salty perform a lot of kids' songs, but this pirate band is for everybody. Excellent music, rip-snorting vocals, and plenty of swashbuckling. I'd listen to them if I didn't have kids. Even better if you do--these guys aren't the Wiggles. There's nothing quite like hearing your six-year-old singing about scurvy, rum, and blowing up British navy ships.

 

Oscar Brown Jr.

Oscar Brown, Jr.

Okay, I know I said I wasn't going to list my favorite older music here. I lied. I just had to mention Oscar Brown, Jr. For one thing, one of his songs, "Rags and Old Iron," inspired the title of one of my novels. For another, he was a fabulous songwriter with a voice like rich velvet. Plus, he was a totally wonderful and talented guy--a playwright, actor, composer and director as well as one of the finest soul singers who ever lived.

 

Nekromantix

Nekromantix

One of the first and best psychobilly bands, the Nekromantix have an intense, hard-driving sound and deliciously morbid lyrics. Kim Nekroman's signature coffin-shaped bass practically catches fire during their live shows. Kim's wife and Nekromantix band member Patricia Day is also the lead singer of the Horropops.

 

Hank Williams III

Hank Williams III

Hank III is gorgeous, wildly talented, and totally pissed off. What a great combination! With a face like an angel and a voice like his grandpa's, III is slashing out new territory in the realm of alt-country. There's more than a bit of punk in his hellraising music, and his lyrics range from hilarious to bitter to heartbreaking. Not for the faint of heart, III's CDs are filled with sex, drugs, rage and sorrow. It just doesn't get much better than this.

 

Th' Legendary Shack Shakers

Th' Legendary Shack Shakers

Describing the music of the Shack Shakers just isn't easy. This is rockabilly/hillbilly music mixed with punk, polka, delta blues, and Southern rock. They seem to be getting weirder as time goes on. Their latest release, Pandelirium, ventures into a creepy/cool carnival vibe. Think "Something Wicked This Way Comes" with a deranged punkabilly soundtrack. Sweet as poisoned cotton candy, baybee.

 

Neko Case

Neko Case

Neko Case is often dropped into the alt-country category, but that's not quite accurate. She's a gifted singer-songwriter with a strong Americana undertone. She does some traditional country covers, but somehow they never come out sounding quite like country. She has a remarkable voice, powerful and expressive. Her lyrics ranges from wistful to humorous to bawdy.

 

Dead Vampires

The Dead Vampires

Omigod, how can you not love this band? They play in monster masks! And one of them is a chainsaw bunny! Oh yeah, they sound great too. They're an excellent, mostly instrumental psychobilly/gothabilly/punk band with a playful, outrageously catchy sound. Go to one of their shows and just try not to dance...

Rot 13

Rot 13

Punk/psychobilly/gothabilly band with a kickass female vocalist. The Widow's snarling growl is perfect for the hard-driving sound of Rot 13. "Roadkill" is the best road rage song ever. Listen to it a couple of times and see if you aren't screaming the chorus at your fellow drivers on your way to work. YOUR CAR! SOUNDS LIKE! SH*T!

 

Deadbolt

Deadbolt

It's the Scariest Band in the World! At least according to Deadbolt themselves. Adored by psychobilly and gothabilly fans, they're often called "voodoobilly." Their signature sound is a combination of rocking instrumentals with droning, semi-chanted vocals. The lyrics are darkly hilarious, involving voodoo curses, tiki men, serial killers, homicidal clowns, and wholesale hippie slaughter.

 

The Handsome Family

The Handsome Family

The Handsome Family plays incredibly gorgeous gothic bluegrass. The husband-and-wife team of Brett and Rennie Sparks create music that is mournful and often creepy, and yet sometimes playful and humorous. The combination of Brett's haunting melodies and Rennie's spooky, even surreal lyrics are a perfect mix. Rennie also has a book of short stories out called Evil. I recommend it to all you horror fans out there.

 

The Hungry Ghost

The Hungry Ghost

The Hungry Ghost, aka Blake Chen, is a young man who's so talented he's almost scary. A writer and digital artist as well as a musician, his work is tied together by a dark, brooding undertone. His music is a lush blend of goth/industrial and trip-hop with a dash of blues. The lyrics are dark, mysterious, and often spooky. His sound is gorgeous and engrossing--you just want to close your eyes and listen.

 

Jill Tracy

Jill Tracy

An evil torch singer--does life get any better? Jill Tracy's lovely, expressive voice is perfect for her weird but beautiful dark cabaret sound. Backed by a piano, cello, violin, double bass, bassoon, and drums, she croons songs like "Diabolical Streak," "The Fine Art of Poisoning," and "Let's Spend an Evil Night Together." This is some top-notch makeout music.

Carol Lipnick and Spookarama

Carol Lipnick and Spookarama

How to describe the sound of Spookarama? The name comes from the old spookhouse at Coney Island. Spookarama's sound invokes abandoned amusement parks and haunted carnivals. This music has roots in Delta blues and New Orleans jazz, with a spooky, dreamy vibe. Clever lyrics and unusual instrumentation and percussion make Carol Lipnick's music unique and wonderful. And her website absolutely rules.

 

Jonathan Coulton

Jonathan Coulton

This guy is just freakin' hilarious. He's an accomplished musician, but his folk-rock musical style is an utter counterpoint to his totally twisted lyrics. Among my favorites are "Your Brains," about a zombie trying to talk his co-workers into giving up their gray matter, and "Skullcrusher Mountain," about a lunatic and the object of his undying love.

Meat Purveyors

The Meat Purveyors

The Meat Purveyors play high-powered bluegrass with an edge of punk. They frequently stray to the dark side of Americana, with original songs and excellent covers. Vocalist Jo Walston's high, clear, powerful voice is the perfect counterpoint to the band's mandolin, guitar, and bass. There's an underlying twisted sense of humor to the Meat Purveyors' music that I just love.

 

The Horrorpops

The Horrorpops

Badass grrrl-fronted psychobilly/punk/gothabilly band! Lead singer and bassist Patricia looks like Bettie Page if she joined a biker gang and spent her weekends kicking drunken sailors' asses. She's got a powerful voice that rips through the band's high speed psychobilly with ease. The quality of her vocals almost reminds me of 80's punk divas like Siouxie Sioux.

 

Ministry

Ministry

Ministry is the granddaddy of dark industrial metal. They've gone through phases and changes since they formed in 1983--even a techno-dance phase. But they've returned to their hard-edged roots, this time with a serious political bent. How can you not love a band that plays a song called 'No W"?

 

Skinny Puppy

Skinny Puppy

Skinny Puppy are the gods of the electronic industrial sound. Their music is multi-layered, involving keyboards, synthesizers, random noises, tape splices, drums, and anything else they can get their hands on. Their live shows are usually bizarre and confrontational, dragging the audience into the performance. Skinny Puppy is always challenging, and never, ever boring.

 

Nick Cave

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

If you're the least bit Goth, you're probably a fan of Nick Cave already. The gorgeous Aussie songwriter and his band create music that is dark and moody, with complex, narrative lyrics (often about death, murder, obsession, and other happy subjects). The ultra-creepy song "Red Right Hand" has been used in several movies. Just try listening to the "Murder Ballads" CD when you're alone and night, and see how fast you get the shivers.

 

Stan Ridgway

Stan Ridgway

This brilliant songwriter started out fronting the early-80's band Wall of Voodoo, but went solo in 1983. His music is fantastic; melodic, moody, and sometimes infectious. But it's his lyrics that you'll remember. Stan Ridgway's film-noir world is filled with con men and nefarious plots, bad guys and fall guys, supernatural weirdness and dangerous dames (not to mention plenty of off-center humor). This is my favorite music for long, nighttime drives.

 

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

BBVD is the band that kicked off the mid-90's swing revival. Their sound was pure retro-swing, with touches of jazz and blues. Lately they've been drifting more towards a New Orleans blues flavor, boiling over with slink and spice. These guys are among the very best at what they do. Put on one of their CDs and feel your whole body start moving.

 

Primus

Primus

Primus isn't easy to describe. Their sound has been described as "funk-metal," "alternative metal," and "thrash funk." Well, kinda. What they are is a whipass band. Founder Les Claypool's weird vocals and funky bass style and guitarist Larry Lalonde's spectacular, flashy and bizarre riffs help make up the unique Primus sound. EEEE hee hee hee heeeeeee!

 

Squirrel Nut Zippers

Squirrel Nut Zippers

The Squirrel Nut Zippers are usually described as a swing band, and to one degree, they are. But a lot of their music defies description. Listen and you'll hear the influence of Delta blues, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, zydeco, and more. Their best known song (and my personal favorite), "Hell," is a weird fusion of calypso, Harlem Hot music, and big band swing. Well, eternal damnation is supposed to be sizzling...

 

Cherry Poppin' Daddies

Cherry Poppin Daddies

This Oregon-based band got popular during the swing revival of the mid-90's, but their sound is more a fusion of swing, ska, and rock and roll. Their lyrics can be harsh and edgy--kind of a surprise when paired with a retro-swing. Adorable lead singer dances like Cab Calloway onstage, and curses like a sailor. But let's face it, if Cab could have gotten away with cussing onstage, he totally would have.

 

Shriekback

Shriekback

Shriekback's rock/new wave/dance sound was utterly unique when the band formed in the early 1980's, and it still is. Although they're not still officially together, the band reunites from time to time to record an album. Frontman Barry Andrews' expressive, sexy growl is the perfect complement to the band's dark, moody compositions and frenetic dance tracks. Shriekback's lyrics are poetic and sometimes intellectual. I've never heard another group use the word "parthenogenesis" in a song...

Tom Waits

Tom Waits

Tom Waits has been recording unique and fascinating music since the early 1970's. A fine songwriter and gifted lyracist, his songs are populated by shady characters, dangerous situations, and noctural plotting (although he's been known to write soulful and sweet ballads as well). His musical style is always experimental. Over the years he's veered toward jazz, blues, vaudeville, cabaret and more. Fenris is wild about his industrial period. Waits is also a gifted actor, and can be seen in quite a few movies.


Rhapsody, a fantastic music service

The Rhapsody Digital Music Service

I admit, I feel a little weird about recommending Rhapsody, because, uh, I work for RealNetworks. But that's not why I think every serious music enthusiast should get Rhapsody. It's because I love the service, I'm addicted to it, and I've found more fascinating bands, artists, and even whole genres there in the past year than I've found on my own in the past ten years. Rhapsody has more than two million tracks, and they're always adding to the catalog. You can use Rhapsody to rip, burn, manage a portable device, share music with your friends--all kinds of great stuff. All I can say is that a subscription is SO worth it, for what you'll save on album purchases alone. Click the pic, baby...

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