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Monday, August 29, 2011

Music Review: Little Known Bands You Should Know

Music is a big part of my life, probably as much as writing. I’m classically trained on two instruments and taking lessons on a third. More importantly, I listen to it voraciously.

I should disclose before we begin that my tastes tend to rest with lesser known alternative bands. Many happen to crossover into the Christian genre which tends to be a goldmine for small bands trying to make a start, but I listen to anything edgy with quality lyrics and musicianship. I like a good hook as much as the next person and a little screaming is perfect but not required. Not too much though. I need a melody. Other than that, I’m not picky and will latch on to anything well-done.

I also have a heart for smaller up-and-coming bands that deserve a chance. Here are some you probably don’t know, but should. Feel free to jump on the bandwagon while you can still get a seat.

After Edmund:
This band tops my list for several reasons. First of all, their sound is unique and addictive. They have it all: the lyrics, the hooks, the musicianship. They also are quickly making a name for themselves in the alternative world, even nominated for a Grammy.

But the icing on the cake is the fact that they have the humility and talent to back up their rising fame. They’re just plain good people you’d love. The closest I ever came to star-struck was my encounter with this band. Not because they act like the rock stars they are, but because they don’t. Not at all. You wouldn’t know they weren’t your long lost friends from junior high.
And don’t let the drums and electric guitars fool you. This is not a band that learned a few chords and stuck a song together. They put my musical training to shame. After one conversation with lead Mitch Parks while I was demonstrating my own instrument, it was clear that he was way over my head. I’d bet they can take on the best in the musical theory department.

“Clouds” is a song that I can only describe by saying it makes me jealous. I wish I wrote it. I wish that every time I hear it, which is often. It’s pretty much the perfect song. Darkly emotive, catchy, and a chorus that will blow you away.

“Backwards” is another gem. It’s one of those songs when you hear live for the first time before it’s out, you just have to smile because you know your favorite band is still serious about making amazing music. You can’t wait for the next album. You just have to hear that song again as it repeats in your head after the show.

If you like alternative with a twist, check out After Edmund.

The Almost:
If you prefer your less famous alternative a little more mainstream, this is the band for you. That is not a criticism in any way. That’s just shorthand to describe this band as bursting with catchy hooks and choruses. The album “Monster Monster” has been playing in my car non-stop for about a year. It’s now my four-year-old’s favorite record. He gets upset when I play anything other than “the Monster song” as he calls it. If you only want a taste, check out the songs “Monster Monster” and “Young Again.” That should tell you everything you need to know about this band that deserves every penny of our $.99 of support.

Balance and Composure:
If you really want to delve into the alternative world with a rising star, this is it. That’s not to say they don’t have hooks, but they don’t seem as concerned with following the traditional musical formula. Every song feels like its own adventure. It’s almost exhausting to listen to, but in a good way.

I know some of these band members personally and they have the integrity and earnest devotion to their craft that deserves every bit of their increasing popularity. I always love supporting musicians who are still in it for the love of music despite the fact that fame and money haven’t validated them yet. Like the others on this list, they don’t need anything else to validate their worthiness. They’ve got the love, the talent, and the benefit of being humble dreamers still in awe of their steady climb up.

Kimber Rising:
This is so not my usual genre, but I’m a fan of talent in most forms and these women could sing the crap out of a dictionary if they wanted to. They’re also amazing people you want as your friends. If you like catchy melodies, sick harmonies, and just listening to a song that makes you smile, check them out. I guarantee you they were smiling when they sang it. I’m sure there are times they aren’t happy and thrilled to be doing what they love, but not that I’ve ever seen or heard about.

There are plenty of other bands I could highlight, and maybe will in subsequent posts, but for now, this is a good start.

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