Having trouble finding a good album in our collection? Then check out these great selections from various subgenres of rock! We all know and love Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, but many bands from various subgenres of rock have also produced great music. So check out the albums that you somehow missed! Happy listening.
List of Contents:
Note: Other great CD's by these bands are not listed because the library does not own them. Feel free to request them through the Inter-Library Loan department and pay a dollar for them to deliver it to your BCLS library.
Though independent labels has always coexisted alongside the majors, it was the punk-inspired "indie" boom of the late 1970's that introduced the idea of a unified and viable "alternative" market. Musically, though, it was far from homogenous. The Smiths (in Britain) and R.E.M. (in America) spearheaded an almost exclusively guitar-based indie scene built on "classic" rock values, from beat-boom craftsmanship to elements culled from psych, punk, and hard rock. Since then the line between alternative and the mainstream has blurred further to become virtually meaningless.
Arcade Fire's emotional debut is brave and empowering. These are songs that pump blood back into the heart as fast and furiously as it's draining from the sleeve on which it beats.
Arcade Fire show themselves capable of Big Rock, as original, and potentially marquee-topping.
Beck brags here that he's "got two turntables and a microphone." He also has a sweeping aesthetic that sees no reason why musical allusions to hip-hop, the Beatles, James Brown, punk, Gram Parsons, cool jazz, and Dylan can't coexist in the same song. Throughout, he rap-sings with sincere irony and Odelay's rich collage of sound may very well prove a prediction of the future.
Technology and stuff, and the way it gets in the way of human interaction, is the subtext if not the full-on concept at play here. The trappings of minimalist pop, fuzzy folk, click-hop, hip-hop, baroque psychedelia, and funky pop are to be found on this endearing release. Beck is an artistic chameleon whose greatest gift is knowing which artists to borrow from, and when.
In the last few years, Beck has freely sailed the seas of electronic and alternative music, but he is now back on land with Modern Guilt, an album that gravitates mostly toward electronic music.
It's hard to believe that For Emma, Forever Ago is the work of one man. Vernon's voice grabs the ear from the start, switching easily into a smooth falsetto. He layers his vocal harmonies, while a gently strummed acoustic rhythm guitar just about holds the center. All else from horns to slide guitar is mere detail. Vernon is apparently a straightforward and friendly guy, but For Emma, Forever Ago genuinely sounds like something from a far off place.
Bon Iver's Bon Iver is Justin Vernon returning to former haunts with a new spirit. The reprises are there – solitude, quietude, hope and desperation compressed – but always a rhythm arises, a pulse vivified by gratitude and grace notes. The winter, the legend, has faded to just that, and this is the new momentary present. The icicles have dropped, rising up again as grass.
Music doesn't come more touching than this. Coldplay prove they can shift between elated and crushed in a breath, as singer Chris Martin pours out music's oldest chestnut (unconditional yet unrequited love) with the shakiest of voices and a backdrop of epic guitars. For 10 tracks on Parachutes, he adds newfound meaning to the most tired and overused rock sentiments--love found, love lost, love unrequited--over acoustic guitars and emotionally fraught rock. It's a beautifully tender balance that comes as close to perfection as anything that's come before it.
Coldplay required a lifetime to make their wonderfully assured debut, Parachutes. But it took less than two years for the moody British quartet to deliver a masterful follow-up. As a band, Coldplay have advanced to a stage where they outshine nearly every one of their rivals in terms of imagination and emotional pull. A Rush of Blood to the Head is a soulful, exhilarating journey. Singer Chris Martin takes his voice on soaring flights, reaching places only Jeff Buckley previously dared to go. And the music is nearly flawless, a persuasive cross between Pink Floyd and the Verve. This is exquisite stuff.
It's now twenty years since grunge emerged from then culturally isolated Seattle and Fleet Foxes, the eponymous debut album from the city's latest heroes, demonstrates just how much American independent rock has mutated in that time. The five young members of Fleet Foxes make up a very different sort of rock band, describing their own music as "baroque harmonic pop jams". Even that understates the depths of the quintet's effortless vocal harmonies and gently woozy, folky feel.
Helplessness Blues sees Fleet Foxes heighten and extend themselves, adding instrumentation with a focus on clear, direct lyrics, and an emphasis on group vocal harmonies. One of the prevailing themes of the album is the struggle between who you are and who you want to be or who you want to end up, and how sometimes you are the only thing getting in the way of that.
A major criticism of the Foo Fighters' self-titled debut was its supposed lack of passion despite the well-crafted songs and well-crafted rock. This time out, if it's wreckage you want, it's wreckage you get. The Colour and the Shape grows deeper the more it's played, with the band's ripping power is more than matched by Dave Grohl's fascinating examinations of pain and divorce. There is even a convincing long slow ballad, "November Stars", whose intensity should win over doubters. If that doesn't work, then the screaming "My Hero" will.
Produced by Butch Vig and mixed by Alan Moulder, Wasting Light was recorded entirely on analog tape in the garage of Grohl's home in California's San Fernando Valley. The no computers/no software back to basics approach has resulted in arguably the strongest and most cohesive effort of the band s 15-year-plus career: From first single Rope to the frenetic opener Bridge Burning to the beautifully bipolar These Days to stunning guest spots from Bob Mould ( Dear Rosemary") and Krist Novoselic ("I Should Have Known"), Wasting Light is a singular triumph: a band that's headlined arenas, stadiums and festivals the world over stripping itself down to the bare essentials and coming up with a world class band's finest hour.
While Radiohead saw its stock rising in 1994, it wasn't until 1995's The Bends that it really became a blue chip band. And for good reason. The quintet honed its talent for bombastic Brit Rock, yet still preserved an edge of unpredictability. Even singles like the title track didn't give in to the kind of swooning guitar clichés usually embraced by commercial radio. If the CD proved anything, it was that Radiohead could find solid ground between pop experimentation and the tradition of born-in-the-bone, balls-out rock.
Radiohead's third album got compared to Pink Floyd a lot when it came out, and its slow drama and conceptual sweep certainly put it in that category. OK Computer, though, is a complicated and difficult record: an album about the way machines dehumanize people that's almost entirely un-electronic; an album by a British "new wave of new wave" band that rejects speed and hooks in favor of languorous texture and morose details; a sad and humanist record whose central moment is Thom Yorke crooning "We hope that you choke." Sluggish, understated, and hard to get a grip on, OK Computer takes a few listens to appreciate, but its entirety means more than any one song.
Radiohead fearlessly explore dissonance and structure, melding twisted, sonic landscapes with utter discontent in the world around them. Their commitment to restless creativity also yields pleasures that don't fade but instead become more resonant upon repeated listenings. If OK Computer was rock's most relevant expression of millennial angst, Kid A is the opposite; it's the 21st century's first record that sounds like the future, barely caring what that Y2K fuss was all about and much more worried about what the hell we're all supposed to do now.
On the deliriously satisfying In Rainbows, Radiohead returns to a more straight-ahead (though subdued) rock sound. This is not a record that hits you over the head with how far this group is pushing the envelope; it's simply a phenomenal, well-crafted, and exciting album. As soon as it's done, you're playing it again.
Though critics swamped R.E.M.'s 1983 full-length debut with country-rock comparisons to the Byrds, Murmur sounds like no one else. The title is an apt description of Michael Stipe's singing style, although his smooth pop vocal mannerisms sweeten the enigmatic poetry. Like all great bands, R.E.M.'s individual parts (Peter Buck's ringing guitar, drummer Bill Berry's persistent thumping, and Mike Mills's unifying bass) are as interesting as the collective sound. The album-opening "Radio Free Europe" and "Talk About the Passion" endure as its radio singles, but the rest of the songs hang together well taken as a whole.
Wilco's fourth album sounds like a late-night broadcast of some weirdly wonderful pop station punctuated by static and the sonic bleed of competing signals. Songs that begin with simple, elegiac grace--"Ashes of American Flags" and "Poor Places"--end in a cathartic squall of distortion. The results can be initially jarring, but it's these tracks more than the sturdy jangle pop of "Kamera" or "Heavy Metal Drummer" that demand, and reward, repeated listens. Mixed by studio experimentalist Jim O'Rourke and produced by the band, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot harkens back to a time when the words "pop" and "sonic adventurism" weren't mutually exclusive.
The infectious twang and pop hooks of Wilco's former efforts may be fading fast, but A Ghost Is Born is still a rewarding effort that demands repeated listening. The group's fifth album extends upon the experimentalism of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with angular, blues-soaked guitar riffs, a handful of sparse, yet catchy tunes that will surely keep college radio stations smiling, and a lengthy track that descends into mere static. Frontman Jeff Tweedy's songwriting continues to evolve: "Hummingbird" is a dreamy Randy Newman-styled love song; "The Late Greats" is a sly ode to the world of pop. Meanwhile, producer extraordinaire Jim O'Rourke manages to make the most complicated arrangements here sound minimalist and laid-back. All told, it's another great addition to the Wilco canon.
Despite the advances in technology, guitar-based rock has never really gone away. By the end of the twentieth century, guitar bands once again seemed to sound tired and orthodox in the face of hip hop's continued advance and a new teen-pop revival. In 2001, the guitar evangelists in the rock press had found their cause--New York-based power poppers, the Strokes. Despite the group's near bubblegum approach to a sound clearly inspired by the Clash and Iggy Pop, the phrase "post-punk" was plucked from its 1980 heyday, reclaimed, reinvented, and was soon everywhere.
Akron, Ohio's Black Keys offer crunchy, riff-heavy blues-rock that is remarkably rich and textured, particularly when one considers that they are merely a duo. Continuing in the vein of their 2002 debut, The Big Come Up, this sophomore CD leavens their garage blues with enough innovation to keep things interesting, taking full advantage of Dan Auerbach’s full-throated growl. The Black Keys might be covering familiar territory, but they do it so well--and with so much invention--that one is inclined to yield it to them and see what they do with it.
The performances are inventive and impassioned: Auerbach extends his vocal range to falsetto on the lead-off track 'Everlasting Light' and 'The Only One'; 'Howlin' For You' opens with a Gary Glitter-style drum riff and the chorus practically invites singing along. The tunes offer a surprising amount of lyrical candor and more than a little dark humor; the grooves alternate between ballsy swagger and bluesy rumination.
El Camino boasts a no-nonsense brilliance: The pace is fast, the mood is upbeat, the choruses unfailingly addictive made for shouting along, preferably in a large crowd. This record is more straight ahead rock and roll raw, driving, and back to basics. In a time of global austerity, The Black Keys work simply and efficiently, with a minimum of tools and a wealth of ideas, to produce the richest, fattest, coolest music around.
Is This It is one of the most exciting and energetic debut albums to spring from New York's long-dormant club scene. Their singer-songwriter, Julian Casablancas, delivers his lyrics with a weary nonchalance that belies his age on songs like the title track, "Soma," "Hard to Explain," and the altogether wonderful "Barely Legal." Let's hope this stylish and undeniably cool band is the future of rock & roll.
Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas and his cohorts have a Cars-like knack for sly riffs that creep deeper into ones consciousness with each listen. Not much longer than a half hour from start to finish, this 11-song is modest in intent and execution, and succeeds quite nicely on its own terms.
Icky Thump is the most sonically bombastic album that the White Stripes has made. While revealing the band's roots in American folk music, Icky Thump is an explosive, revolutionary assault that brings together garage rock, every blues style of the past 100 years, nouveau flamenco, Jack White's fastest guitar solo ever recorded, hard country, speed metal, a slide guitar epic, surf music, spoken word and even bagpipes to create a modern rock 'n' roll masterpiece.
Grunge is synonymous with "the Seattle Sound" for good reason. All the major bands came from the Pacific Northwest state of Washington, with most enjoying the early platform of the Seattle-based Sub Pop label. Although the roots of grunge can be found in the mid-1980's U.S. underground, the "slacker" style emerged in earnest in the late 1980's. By 1992, post-Nirvana's Nevermind, grunge had redefined alternative rock. Metal, too, never quite sounded-or looked-the same again, as the new philosophy of sonic rawness and unfussy performance style soon rendered the "hair-metal" bands virtually obsolete.
Alice in Chains were initially tagged with the "grunge" moniker, when in fact their haunting, ponderous sound was far closer to the progressive rock of Queensryche. Their second album, Dirt, is a moody, portentous affair, filled with occasionally inspired riffing from guitarist Jerry Cantrell and hair-tossed wailing from singer Layne Staley. Perhaps the band got lumped in with Generation X because their lyrics focused upon depression, death, and drugs. Ultimately, Dirt is classic angst rock.
While not their most definitive album, Jar of Flies represents an important step in Alice in Chains' recording career. Witness "I Stay Away," which is made up of equal portions of hummable guitar riffs and the spookier, scarier, more grinding elements that most fans associate with Alice in Chains. This song most clearly delineates the dichotomy that was a highlight of the band's sound--Jerry Cantrell's listenable tunes and often gorgeous arrangements (just listen to what he does with "Whale & Wasp"!) and Layne Staley's growling vocals, which are just the teeniest bit flat. The collection as a whole, brief as it is, has an elegance that's unusual for metal.
If Nevermind's sound is familiar now, it's only because thousands of rock records that followed it were trying very hard to cop its style. It tears out of the speakers like a cannonball, from the punk-turbo-charged riff of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" onward, magnifying and distilling the wounded rage of 15 years of the rock underground into a single impassioned roar. Few albums have occupied the cultural consciousness like this one; of its 12 songs, roughly 10 are now standards. The record's historical weight can make it hard to hear now with fresh ears, but the monumental urgency of Kurt Cobain's screams is still shocking.
The last Nirvana collection recorded before the untimely death of Kurt Cobain, Unplugged caught many by surprise with its stripped down, neo-acoustic offerings with a bridled fury. When Cobain sings, "I swear I don't have a gun, I don't have a gun" with clenched teeth (instead of an open howl) and when the haunting strains of "About a Girl" chills even with quieted guitars, you discover a new appreciation for the nuances of one of the greatest bands of recent times.
Vitalogy reaffirms the Seattle quintet's status as the principled, proudly confused voice of a generation. On their third album, they've found their footing as a raw, forward-looking '90s rock act that fearlessly tackles the Biggest Questions. Lead track "Spin the Black Circle" celebrates the healing power of Eddie Vedder's LP collection, but it is overshadowed by such masterstrokes as "Immortality" (which can be read, right or wrong, as a reaction to Kurt Cobain's suicide), the Lennonesque "Tremor Christ" and a thrilling anthem for the pro-choice movement, "Whipping."
A 1990's phenomenon that managed to eave its influence into rock, hip hop, and electronic dance, industrial metal was spearheaded by Nine Inch Nails, with archetypal bogeyman Marilyn Manson emerging as the figurehead later in the decade.
As a placeholder between the full-length Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral, Broken packs a serious punch. Angrier and less poppy than Machine, this EP is full of noisy hooks, if such a thing is possible (check out that guitar riff on the full-throttle "Wish"), and much closer aesthetically to the industrial subgenre that informs Trent Reznor's music. As song titles like "Help Me I Am in Hell" suggest, Broken is a work of undiluted rage, which is, of course, a big part of its appeal.