Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ten bands you may never have heard of ...

... but you should check out as soon as possible.

Is a band unknown if they've sold tens of millions of albums? if they have a gold record? if you can buy their cds at your local cd shop (does such a thing still exist?). If they've been parodied on Saturday Night Live? If they played their own 3 day festival to 70,000 hard core fans?

OK, so they aren't UNKNOWN per se. But they may be unknown TO YOU and that's what I hope to correct.

Here they are in order from most unknown to ridiculous that I need to tell you about them:

old school skate punk of the most 80s risers, rails and clear grip tape variety. some great live clips on youtube. I may own the only copy left of the 1984 Live CD... who knows...

Local hometown favorites from Washington DC. Post-punk formed from the ashes of Minor Threat. Great guitar and rhythms. My favorite album has got to be In on The Kill Taker. $8 post-paid.

"Music Inspired by the Snow Goose" is their big seller but the albums "Moonmadness", "Nude" and "Mirage" are great ones as well. So many awesome songs, many instrumentals, delivered with one of the greatest guitar tones this side of David Gilmour by Camel guitarist Andy Latimer.

Wishbone Ash.
Argus, their best and most famous album, was album of the year in Sounds in 1972 --- yet this is a band which sadly doesn't get enough mention or credit today. I first heard of them when Steve Harris mentioned they were one of his favorite groups in an interview in the 80s. I have to say he learned a lot from them as the bass sound in Iron Maiden is very reminiscent of Martin Turner's sound on the Wishbone Ash albums from 1970-1980. Iron Maiden also had producer Martin Birch who was the engineer on many Wishbone Ash albums. In addition to Argus, I recommend the first album (Wishbone Ash), New England, Pilgrimage, Wishbone Four and the awesome title track of the Number the Brave album (otherwise not their best work).

Government Mule

Founded in 1995 by Warren Haynes, Allen Woody and Matt Abts --- all longtime Allman family sidemen --- Gov't Mule started out as a Southern Rock Power Trio that didn't shy away from covering say... Prince, John Coltrane or The Beatles. These days they are a four piece and have several quality albums to their name. A great one to start with is "The Deep End Volume 1" which features a ton of bass all stars paying tribute to Woody after his untimely year 2000 demise.

I give you the first Mule song I ever saw... from the Bonnaroo DVD of 2002...

I was introduced to this massively heavy band by our drummer Saar Gur. These guys combine southern style leads, hyperactive Keith Moon like drumming and crunching dropped tuning riffs. Heavy.

Here's a hysterical video they did for the last album:

Another band I was introduced to by my friends Roy Berger and Saar Gur. Opeth is the thinking man's Swedish death metal. In fact they are the only death metal I listen to although I do have a soft spot for At The Gates (and Lamb of God if they count as death metal).
Anyway Opeth...
They combine the heaviest playing you'll ever need to hear (the end of Deliverance, Ghost of Perdition, The Lotus Eater, others), with some of the sweetest soloing and harmonic prog-rock styled playing reminiscent of Camel and Pink Floyd. They also have an all-clean vocals album (for those of you who aren't ready for cookie monster vocals)
So without further ado... opeth

but wait! This is also Opeth

A college favorite of mine and many others that just haven't made an impact overseas (yet). I've gone months where I've only listened to this band. Mostly live recordings of their fantastic and off the wall shows where they never play the same set, rarely play the same song the same way, and work in insane covers and jams.
Check out the album "A Live One" or my other personal favorites "Rift" or "The Story of the Ghost"

How can a band who's sold 30 million albums be unknown? Rush refer to themselves as the "world's biggest cult band" and they have a rabid following in the US and Canada and to a certain extent in other places (Rio, Brazil certainly). Three incredibly proficient musicians and gifted song-writers, who have managed to make great music in 4 decades and across a wide range of styles. Their first album sounded a bit like Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith, then they went deep prog, followed by hard rock including their big hits "Spirit of Radio" and "Tom Sawyer" following which they dabbled with new wave and even had a song with a horribly geeky rap in the middle of it. In the 90s they added some grunginess to their guitars but the basic direction remains intact.

Blue Oyster Cult
Ok you've heard of them. But forget about "Don't fear the reaper". Listen to the amazing album SECRET TREATIES.

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