Nik’s Music Almanac

Totally Irrelevant and Off-Topic

Welcome

This is a list of bands that I think are really good. There are a few big names, but I try to post mostly smaller acts. This is because:

  1. If they're huge, you've already got your own opinion on them anyways and you don't need to hear mine.
  2. They don't need me to write about them since they've got people they're paying to do that sort of thing.
  3. Nobody needs to read another article about Nickleback, or Green Day, or the Beatles, or whatever. Nobody.

I'm going to keep each page brief and topical with quick links to where you can hear more about a group. I've also got a list of all artists with just name and rating for those of you in a hurry.

Field Mouse

A really strong indy band that I first heard about from Hear Nebraska though they were also at SXSW. They alternate between “Wall of Sound” shoe-gazer stuff and more up tempo rock. What makes them work is the combination of Rachel Browne’s amazing voice/lyrics and some solid guitar work. The rest of the band is good too, but damn…

Their newest album, Episodic, has a slightly different lineup and less shoe gazer than their first. But it still has the same music and vocals that make the band so good.

Sounds like: MBV but with better vocals and less noise.

Lyrics:

wait
are we ever going to meet
I feel you creeping out my feet
shadow on the balance beam

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Status: Touring now!

Links: Band Page, Bandcamp

Video:


The Academy Is...

Four piece band singing about young love/lust, growing up, and other perennial music topics. But for some reason Fast Times at Barrington High, their best album, contains just enough self awareness to not suck 5+ years down the line.

Sounds like: Something you'd hear on the O.C. or Dawson's Creek, only a few years after they've been cancelled.

Lyrics:

This charade is never going to last,
So pick your poison and pour yourself a glass…
these are the fast times.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Status: Inactive. No wait, doing a reunion tour. Maybe?

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Dum Dum Girls

Big time band that I like, but don't love completely. Only in Dreams, specifically “Bedroom Eyes” is very good, but they had a few noisy and indulgent tracks that were a miss. YMMV, so check them out anyways!

Sounds like: Blondie, The Go-Gos, mixed with a smudge of punk.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Status: Big Time.

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


My Bloody Valentine

So yeah, one of those bands that started the genre of loud, noisy, cool, experimental stuff. But this was the 80s and 90s, and everyone was listening to Rick Astley, or whoever (how do I know, I'm not that old). So they didn’t make tons of cash.

Then they took a 10 year hiatus, came back, and released a new album a few years ago. Which critics loved, and fans loved, and I liked okay.

And Loveless, their first album, is their best album. Give it a chance or two, but if you don't like it you're not alone. I enjoy their stuff, but can't listen to them over and over like some bands. Still, there's nothing else like them if you're in the mood for it.

Sounds like: My Bloody Valentine.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Status: Legend. With a legendary break in between.

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Amy Macdonald

Really good singer with a sound that sits on the border between Rock and Pop. Her lyrics work, but they tend to be sappy at times. Her best songs are pretty dang good though.

Sounds like: KT Tunstall (also Scottish), but with more of an accent and a little more Rock & Roll.

Lyrics:

And you're singing the songs,
thinking this is the life,
and you wake up in the morning
and your head feels twice the size.
Where you gonna go, where you gonna sleep tonight?

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Status: Playing gigs, watching the footy, jogging. She’s not Kanye.

Links: Official Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Bikini Kill

So basically they’re the BAMF queens of 90s punk rock! With a huge chunk of feminism thrown in. Why? Because they feel like it!

Sounds like: Joan Jett × 2, with extra punk and a dash of grunge.

Lyrics:

Rebel Girl, Rebel Girl, Rebel Girl you are the Queen of my world!

And I am not some lame, sorority queen, taking you home to see my Daddy.

Rating: ♀♀♀♀♀

Status: Broken up years ago. Still legend though.

Links: Band Page, Bandcamp, Wikipedia

Video:


Blood Red Shoes

Rock Duo with a bigger sound than most five piece rock bands. One of the many bands I heard on the Scott Pilgrim Soundtrack and then immediately had to buy/borrow/steal all their music. Their first two albums are more grunge/punk while their newer stuff is closer to the MBV end of the spectrum.

Sounds like: The Kills, only better. The White Stripes, only not sucky.

Lyrics:

Made a mistake, made a mistake, I wear the scars to show my shame.

What should I do? What should I do, when I'm the one to blame!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Status: Touring, working on their next album, being awesome.

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Bright Eyes

As much a “project” as a band. This is a difficult group to categorize. It’s basically Conor Oberst + other people, doing whatever he feels like doing.

I enjoy the two albums I have, but like poetry, it's the kind of thing you need to experience in small doses. Unless you're really in a bad/sad place, then you need lots of it. This Urban Dictionary definition sums it up better than I can.

Sounds like: Conor Oberst, and Friends.

Lyrics:

And I hang like a star, f-ing glowing in the dark, for all the starving eyes to see.

Rating: ✶✶✶

Status: Being Ernest, in a way only Midwesterners can be.

Links: Official Page, Wikipedia

Video: You would like that, wouldn't you…

Brown Bird

A really cool band that proves Folk still has some punch. Not going to be everyone’s thing, but worth checking out.

Sounds like: The Devil Makes Three. Something off the Hunger Games soundtrack.

Lyrics:

You could be right, they might come for me at night. An angry mob with torches by the door.

For all my spite, I might never win the fight, but I will rage against the light forever more!

Rating: ✝✝✝✝

Status: Inactive.

Links: Band Page, Bandcamp, Wikipedia

Video: