When we travel, we always try at least one excursion where everyone else doesn’t go. There are exciting places everyone has been to, but then there are those trips found sometimes by luck, sometimes planned, that are cherished more than the well-worn itinerary. The popular destinations tend to be easy to get to, crowded, and designed for visitors. And so it is with music. I find myself seeking out lesser known bands since, as it is with travelling, it is the exploration beyond the Top 40 where you find the memorable moments. It’s not about being different, it's about finding things that resonate more with me than the typical. So I thought I would share a list of albums that you may not have ever heard of. Travel is best enjoyed over a few days and the songs on each album are your itinerary for each journey. They are not concept albums but rather those in which I can say contain a complete set of songs that reflect the artists’ amazing breadth of talent. I hope each album is a vacation away from the ordinary, each song a day trip to a different city, an inspirational piece of art, or breathtaking cathedral. Enjoy your vacation!
Keep Color by The Republic Tigers - The first album from this talented Kansas City band in 2008 is an inspired collection. The layered vocals and rhythms with brilliantly memorable lyrics are the drivers in this tour de force. To be so young and so creative! My favorites are “Golden Sand”, “The Nerve”, and “Fight Song”. Listen closely to all of the words to “Golden Sand”.
Post Electric Blues by Idlewild - No list of mine would be complete without this unknown band from Edinburgh. I am dumbfounded how these crazy talented musicians are not superstars. Delivering alternative rock with style and confidence, Post Electric Blues is a perfect anthology of that genre. Their last and maybe final album, I contributed to the production of this CD and in return I have my name (Cheerleaders for Creative Writers) on the liner notes! While there are individual songs from other albums I would also recommended, this is the most complete work. My favorites include “City Hall”, “Dreams of Nothing”, and the long singing ending of “Younger Than America”.
Our Love To Admire by Interpol - Ok ok so maybe you've heard of this band, but probably not a lot off of this album. While I have to recommend every one of their four albums, this is my favorite. This NYC post-punk band destined-for-fame-but-didn't-quite-make-it-just-like-The-Strokes has a distinct but beautifully married sound that is now influencing the next wave of alternative bands. My favorites are “Pace is the Trick” and “Who Do You Think” with the classic Interpol guitar.
Ganging up on the Sun by Guster - - What is not to love about this album by an environmentally conscious band formed in the early 90’s. These guys just make all-around irresistible foot tapping guitar driven tunes with catchy lyrics. “Manifest Destiny” is so much fun and if you run into me in town, I might be singing “The Captain”.
Broken Bells by Broken Bells - Fans of The Shins got an inkling of this album listening to “Sea Legs” on Wincing the Night Away. Little did we know that we would be treated to this incredible collaboration between James Mercer and Danger Mouse. This may be the quintessential GenX album. “The High Road” and “The Ghost Inside” are favorites.” Vaporize” is so groovy, backed by lyrics that resonate for a generation reflecting on where they are in life. Adult music can be cool. This is.