26. The Judybats
Four beautiful CDs of jangly power pop in the nineties. They were the darlings of the Chapel Hill triangle series of band, but didn't get much airplay outside of college radio. That's a shame, because their songs are wonderful. There was a resurgence of singer-songwriters in the early part of this decade, but that kind of faded. I'm hoping the idea of solid song construction comes back - I'm getting a little tired of nonsense songs with throwaway lyrics, like everything by Justin Timberlake. He once bragged that he invented all his lyrics in the hallway right before he recorded his songs. Um... Justin... I hate to break it to you, but it *shows*. Please grow up. Real writing is HARD, isn't it?
I'm a huge fan of the Alan Parson Project. Ok, there it is... I've said it. I know it's not hip to like that band - I'll have my rock critic card taken away. Rolling Stone once said, "They must shit chartreuse." But I love the over-produced studio tricks, and the precise way each sound is layered to millisecond perfection. Hell, Stuart Elliott's drums are so *perfect* they sound fake. It's amazing to hear studio musicians doing what they do best - playing music as impeccably as any concert symphonist.
Keats is the "Project" part of the Alan Parsons Project. That is, everyone in the band but Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson. Still, they do a great job of recreating the APP sound, down to the guest vocalists. I've wanted to track down CD by the Zombies, Camel, and Pilot, just based off the work from this album.
28. Kirsty MacColl
Amazing songwriter and singer who sang the "Fairytale of New York" with the Pogues. But she recorded some great songs by herself, including the fantastic "Walking Down Madison" and "In These Shoes". She died tragically in 2000 by being hit by a speedboat while snorkeling with her childen in Cozumel. It's too bad, because I would have liked to hear what more music she was going to create in the future.
I have a soft spot for chunky English girls. I love Elaine Paige, Alison Moyet, and Robert Smith for the came reason. (just kidding about the last one) Something about the way those women sang about love and loss, with a sense of funky humor. I think it's the same magic people see in Susan Boyle, recent internet sensation from "Britan's Got Talent". I think we all like to cheer for the underdog, and realize that having a soul and voice and a will makes someone incredibly beautiful.
I know we're supposed to hate Mormons now, but this band gives me hope the Church of Latter Day Saints isn't populated wholly but ignorant soulless monsters. Just most of them.
Low are the masters of "slowcore" - moody atmospheric rock made with grinding guitars squealing feedback at amazingly slow tempos. But trust, me it works. The problem is that for the last two CDs, they have purposefully avoided becoming a cliche but speeding up the tempo. Now the husand-and-wife-plus-one band seems like the Raveonettes, and we already have one of those. Low, please go back to what you do best, even if you've already done it before. When you're from Duluth, Minnesota, everything moves a little frozen.
30. Meryn Cadell
Hey! He's Canadian, and on LiveJournal, and will actually answer questions from fans. How cool is that. But he also recorded and amazing CD "Angel Food For Thought" back in the nineties. You maybe remember the sweetly funny-and-sad song "The Sweater". Maryn is currently going through an interesting transition process, and I'm hoping that it turns into a new CD of songs. There's a trap where audiences accept humor before pathos (see Cheryl Wheeler earlier), but Meryn really nailed some emotions with his first three CDs, so I'm hoping...