Music is Sex for the Ears
My Top 11 Bands of 2011–in no particular order
This is always a difficult question to answer: “What’s your favorite band?” JUST ONE?! Impossible. I toiled and toiled over this list for a grueling 15 minutes or so and finally came up with this one. I’m pretty happy with it. Though I can most definitely keep the list going to about 50 or so, easily, with credible bands that may or may not have made any kind of impact on the music industry or influenced other musicians, but ones that hold a special place for my ears to listen.
1. Nine Inch Nails
Unfortunately, I’ve never seen this band in concert and I regret passing up that opportunity about a year and a half ago. Shoulda done it! Who knows when they’ll come around again. Hopefully Trent won’t be going back to rehab and he can continue making more new music and go back on tour. Some of their music can be a little on the depressing side, like their album With Teeth, but nonetheless they’re an electrifying band that gets you from all sides. Their heavy, dark beat with an industrial sound does it for me. Then again, who doesn’t love “Closer”?
I’ve been sparingly listening to this German metal band for years now, but after seeing them live at Madison Square Garden I’m set for life with them. They blow you away with their insane pyrotechnics including lighting people on fire on stage, if there’s even a safe way of doing that. Amazing band live, one of the best I’ve ever seen. The lead singer’s vocals are unreal—Till Lindemann. His deep, strong girthy voice will just leave you in awe, especially in their song “Weiner Blut”, about Josef Fritzl, the Austrian psycho who jailed and raped his daughter for 24 years. Maybe awe isn’t the right word—more like, creep you the hell out. But their music really is astounding and it’s not for the sweet and innocent by any means. They make me want to learn German.
Old school 90’s alternative techno, if there’s even a way to describe their wide variety of music. We all know their songs “Firestarter”, “Breathe”, and of course “Smack My _____ Up” from the late 90’s. Another underground band brought mainstream, with a completely different style.
You want weird, electrifying, energetic, industrial music? You got it. Ministry’s just your thing. Let’s just say when I saw them in concert about 2 years ago at Irving Plaza they performed behind bars on stage. Yea. Their sound is a mix of electronic meets industrial coming at you at about 90 miles an hour. It’s invigorating. They’ve been around since the 80’s and still rockin’ it hardcore.
5. System of a Down
100% pure energy for 2 hours straight was what I experienced when I saw these guys play live at MSG. Insanity. Amazing show. These guys perform live as well as their albums sound—and that is not done nearly as often as it should be. Not all bands and musicians are capable of performing so well. My favorite song of theirs will always be “Sugar” from their self titled album back in 1998. Another awesome song is “Bounce”, from their album Toxicity which was released in 1998. Here are the silly lyrics, but for the real effect you’d have to listen to the song in full:
Jump! (Pogo!) Bounce! (Pogo!)
Down! (Pogo!) Up! (Pogo!)
Jump! (Pogo!) Bounce! (Pogo!) Up! (Pogo!) Down (Pogo!)
I went out on a date
With a girl, a bit late
She had so many friends
Gliding through many hands
I brought my pogo stick
Just to show her a trick
She had so many friends
gliding through many hands
Unannounced twister games
All players with no names
They lined up double quick
With just one pogo stick
Everyone gets to play
It was so exotic
With just one pogo stick.
(lyrics from sing365.com)
Here’s a YouTube link to listen to the song. Have at it! (sorry there’s no pretty video to look at)
A lot of System’s songs also rage about the US political system, its irony and injustice. So if you’re cool with that, their music is quite original, passionate, and you can hear their Armenian roots and you’ll learn to love them too.
This metal band makes nothing but extreme music. What’s even better is they don’t scream out their lyrics—most of them are actually comprehensible. Most of it sounds angry, but I guess it’s an acquired taste. I’ve seen them at least 3 times in concert and I’ve never been disappointed. Another band with nothing but pure energy. Unless it’s full of energy and then some, chances are I won’t dig it. Anyways, you should check out these songs by them: “Permanence” and “Push It” to see if you’ll like their style. And how could you not love Wayne Static’s signature hairstyle that’s completely in a vertical position?
7. Alice in chains
Back to old school 90’s grunge music. These guys blow Nirvana away. Nirvana’s overrated anyway. Unfortunately, thanks to another self-destructive personality, I’ll never see these guys perform with their original lead singer, Layne Staley. But I did get to see them perform twice a few years ago with the new singer, William DuVall. They’re back, after a 6 year hiatus, and another 3 following the death of Staley in 2002. And let me tell you, the new singer sounds just like Layne Staley. A similar occurrence happened with ACDC’s replacement singer, Brian Johnson, who took over after Bon Scott’s death—he sounds just like him. Alice in Chains may be one of the most depressing bands I listen to, aside from Bush’s Razorblade Suitcase album, but it’s sad yet interesting to tap into someone’s self-destructive personality through their music, as their life spiraled downward from addiction.
It’s quite ironic—Bradley Nowell (lead singer) sings about “losing the war” in the song “Pool Shark” and that’s exactly what happened due to his addiction. I can’t credit this band for being original as a lot of their songs are remakes, including “Scarlet Begonias” originally done by The Grateful Dead and endless songs originally done by Bob Marley. So why do I love these guys so much? It’s all I listened to during my undergrad days where I blissfully spent endless days with amazing people many of whom have become some of my closest friends. Also, they remind me of the summertime, cruising down to the Jersey shore in my 1997 Jeep Cherokee packed with friends, good music, and good times. Ahh, I miss that. And that’s what Sublime is all about—chillin’, with good people, good music, making good times to remember and just hanging putting our worries behind us.
I listen to these guys and it’s time to turn up the music!
Another great summertime band. I would put these guys in the same category as Catch 22, Less Than Jake, Face to Face, Face First, and other such bands that just couldn’t make the cut this time. 311 is another alternative band with indie, funk, and reggae. I hope we can all reminisce on such songs as “Come Original”, “Down”, and “All Mixed Up”. A completely feel good band, their music will just “put you in the mood” til you start moving to the beat. An awesome song by them that never really got too popular was “Feels So Good” which I was lucky enough to see them perform live. Here’s the chorus:
In your face
And it feels so good
Choose a lock y’all
In your face
It feels so good
Yo P-Nut, beat that thing
(lyrics from sing365.com)
I listen to these guys and it’s time to head to the beach.
Definitely not your typical metal band—these guys are crazy. Unique doesn’t cut it. If you’ve ever seen a music video of theirs you’ll know what I mean. How can I describe such an obscure style of music? Their music has the tendency to just make your mind drift away into this other warped parallel universe. I saw them perform at Liberty State Park in Jersey City 2 years ago, and their stage performance was an art form rather than just your typical band performing their music. They’re known for their unusually long songs and the odd and changing meters within their songs. The odd and abstract thoughts that their songs present make you think.
Hard rock + industrial = Dope. I first heard of these guys when I was 13, but didn’t really get into them until I was in high school a few years later. Since their start in the late 90’s they’ve come out with 5 albums, and there’s no clear distinction between any of them—their music is consistent and doesn’t fade over time. The 5th one is still as intense as their first. Heavy drums, heavy guitars, and strong lyrics are all I need.
KMFDM has been around since the mid 80’s and still performing. They were amazing in concert a few years back when they performed at the Gramercy Theatre. Originally, their name was “Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid”. According to Google translate, this means “No Majority for the Pity”. I have no idea if it’s right. Any German speakers? Anyway, this band’s ultra-industrial sound is combined with synthesizers, adding a more ‘electronica’ effect.
Though more of an underground band, I feel they were never given enough credit. Their industrial and alternative sound gave way to a strong beat, a softer sound, with more melodic lyrics, yet still maintaining a semi-dark sound throughout the 90’s. Most of their songs deal with the loss of a relationship and other more general human behaviors. You may remember their late 90’s singles, “So Far Away” and “Save Yourself”.
Judging from the time these bands were around, it’s rather obvious I’m pretty much stuck in the 90’s and early 2000’s for when my taste in music is palatable. It’s changed less and less over time, but good music is hard to come by these days. Bands don’t last half as long as they used to. But by all means, I’m always up for new suggestions!
What are your favorite top 10 bands? It’s not as easy as you think…