Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 2, 2009
POP CULTURE: Music Bleg

As part of my recent effort to locate new-ish music worth listening to, I have finally decided once and for all to listen to some songs by three of the biggest "rock" acts of the past decade - Nickelback, Linkin Park, and Coldplay - and decide whether they have made anything worth listening to (my suspicion for some time has been "no," especially as to Coldplay, but I may as well see if I am missing out on anything. Also on my list are Wilco and the White Stripes).

Anyone have suggestions as to where in their catalogue a beginner would start?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:20 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (34) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Crank, not a big new music fan either, but I've got to admit I like the White Stripes. I've got Seven Nation Army and Icky Thump on my IPod...might want to start there. In a similar vein, Cage the Elephant's new tune Ain't No Rest For the Wicked is pretty good too.

Posted by: Paul H. at September 2, 2009 3:34 PM

For Coldplay, "A Rush of Blood to the Head" is probably the accepted starting point. Their latest one, "Viva la Vida (or Death and All His Friends)" is critically acceptable too I believe.

For Nickelback and Linkin Park, don't bother.

Posted by: KR at September 2, 2009 3:41 PM

Here's what I like over the last decade:

Belle and Sebastian
The Shins
Pavement
Yo La Tengo.

If you are looking for new music, I recommend eMusic, which allows you 30 songs per month for something like 12 dollars a month. This service forces me to get into new stuff.

Posted by: Steve at September 2, 2009 3:42 PM

i know you're a lawyer and i assume your time is valuable. please do not waste any of it on nickelback.

Posted by: rew at September 2, 2009 4:38 PM

I've long felt that Nickleback gets a raw deal from many music fans. They're not anything original or cutting edge, just a bunch of guys who write and record hard rock tracks that are catchy and get airplay. But holy hell do people trash them as if they're the 2nd coming of the Plastic Ono Band. Ever since Creed went away, they've gotten the lion's share of bad will among rock fans. It could just easily been 3 Doors Down or Matchbox 20 who took the brunt of the abuse.

You'll be getting a bunch of suggestions, but if I may, I'd recommend that you check out Drive-By Truckers. Start with either their double-CD Southern Rock Opera, or it's follow up Decoration Day (the first album recorded with Jason Isbell, who has since left the band).

Posted by: Mark D at September 2, 2009 4:49 PM

What I'm looking for is a 2- or 3-song shortcut to make a decision whether these are bands worth listening to. Believe me, I have had plenty of people already tell me that all three of them suck, I just want to make up my own mind. Ditto for the bands other people are touting.

Thus far, in the past year, I've gotten into two pop/rock acts (Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5), and kinda-sorta into some songs by Kings of Leon and Fountains of Wayne, plus I still mean to pick up the Chickenfoot CD at some point. Otherwise, I hadn't gotten into anybody new since the Saw Doctors and Black47, and that's a while ago. So, I'm catching up here on what passes for the rock scene these days.

Posted by: Crank at September 2, 2009 5:00 PM

My contribution

Incubus - Nice To Know You
Phoenix - 1901
The Killers - A Dustland Fairytale

Don't let a few singles or someone elses' opinion judge an act as a whole.

I didn't like Viva la Vida that much but I like the rest of Coldplay's album (Life in Technicolor is my favorite)

Posted by: Sai-Kit Hui at September 2, 2009 5:10 PM

Wilco - Being There - highly recommend I've worn out multiple copies of this two disc album that is really one album in length. Be careful of stumbling on adult contemporary Wilco, it's awfully disappointing.

If you want good, loud, around now music - Big Business or Harvey Milk both still tour some, I believe hell I think both have toured with the Melvins in the past few years. All the kids are into the Mastodon now too.

Drive By Truckers are alright I just don't like Patterson Hoods voice.

I will neglect to reiterate the warnings against Coldplay et al.

Posted by: Euruproktos at September 2, 2009 6:31 PM

Coldplay is very listenable. Try their first album. Also they had a live album a few years ago. From that album, download "Moses" from iTunes. Great song. I can't vouch for the more recent albums, but the first album and "Moses" are quite good.

Posted by: Steve at September 2, 2009 7:12 PM

Try listening to Jet -catchy guitar riffs, cool lyrics

Posted by: dch at September 2, 2009 10:30 PM

I feel like you really should listen to a new (to you) band in chronological order. It seems a safe bet to just check out the singles for each of the listed bands, listening in roughly chronological order. I can't help you on the first two bands, but on Coldplay the particular tracks you should check out are "Yellow," "In My Place," "Speed Of Sound" and "Viva la Vida." They're among Coldplay's biggest songs and will give you a strong handle on how you feel about the rest of their catalogue.

Given that you've said you like Kings of Leon, I'd suggest the Killers. They're less southern and more dance-y, but along the same lines. Particular track suggestions are "All These Things That I've Done," "When You Were Young," "Spaceman" and "I Can't Stay." (Leaving off "Mr. Brightside" because I assume you've heard it, and because it's not terribly representative of the rest of their stuff.)

Posted by: Elliot S at September 2, 2009 10:32 PM

The first White Stripes album is the best place to start because when you listen to it you get what all the excitement was about - I think Broken Bricks is one of the greatest rock n roll songs I have ever encountered. I also recommend everything by the Killers - every song is memorable - as well as the album Once We Were Trees by Beachwood Sparks and the first Strokes album. Anything by Pavement is also worth your time, as someone mentioned above.

Posted by: Fr. Gregory Christakos at September 2, 2009 10:45 PM

I've recently become interested in Local H, a two-piece (yes!) Midwestern outfit who last year put out an actual concept album called Twelve Angry Months, a dozen songs in more or less Kubler-Ross order about the demise of a relationship.

Posted by: CGHill at September 2, 2009 10:59 PM

Crank, I also am not a big fan of any of the band mentioned. I do make an exception for the Nickleback "Never Again". A real rockin tune. I don't care for the rest of their library that I ahve heard, but my kids like them.

Posted by: maddirishman at September 3, 2009 12:07 AM

I think that The White Stripes' opus is "Ball and Biscuit," really excellent for a couple of hipsters trying to play delta blues.

You can get a good feel for Coldplay with "Fix You," where they cover pretty much their whole range in one song.

As for Linkin Park, I like a lot of their stuff, but it all sounds the same, so you could start anywhere.

Posted by: Jason at September 3, 2009 8:32 AM

Crank,

As someone who was raised on classic rock, these days I am finding that I might like a song or two by a certain band, but I haven't found a band upon which I can consistently rely for good songs. Nickleback is just dreadful. Coldplay - I can listen to a few of their songs, but that's about it - and the same goes for the White Stripes and bands of that ilk.
In fact, I have to go back to the 1990's to find reliable bands, namely, for my tastes, the Black Crowes and Oasis (believe it or not). Ok, Oasis had a clunker album or two, but you'd be surprised how many good rock songs they have. Shock of the Lightning last year was a great tune. Of course, Noel Gallagher just left the band, so they might be giving it up.

It was interesting to see the Drive-by Truckers brought up. You really do have to like the guy's voice, and I don't, but My Sweet Annette was a great song.

Posted by: MVH at September 3, 2009 10:11 AM

I have the one Oasis album, the Morning Glory album, which is great, and the Black Crows were a good band.

Another guy I recently picked up a few songs by at a friend's recommendation is Ben Harper. Try "Burn to Shine" or "Why Do You Always Dress In Black." Good stuff, when he's on he's very old-school blues-rock. But he is also, apparently, a raging Maoist.

I've caught a few songs by Daughtry that are listenable but nothing I'd spend money on. My impression thus far of Nickelback is that they're the same basic sound.

Posted by: Crank at September 3, 2009 10:19 AM

I don't know your taste in music but I can suggest some newish stuff that I enjoy:

Raconteurs, especially if you like White Stripes(Broken Boy Soldiers, Consolers of the Lonely)

Porcupine Tree (Deadwing, In Absentia)

If you like blues/rock at all, check out Joe Bonamassa (Sloe Gin; So, It's Like That)

Along a similar vein, to Joe Bonamassa, Sonny Landreth has been around for awhile but can really shred a guitar (The Road We're On, From The Reach)

If you're into Mark Knopfler at all (yeah I know he's been around forever and isn't exactly new but his solo stuff is great) try Kill To Get Crimson, Sailing To Philadelphia, Shangri-La, and The Ragpicker's Dream.

Finally, I saw JJ Grey & Mofro live this past winter, and picked up their CD Orange Blossoms - the title track is good but I haven't listened to the rest enough to pass judgement.

Good Luck!

Posted by: Crusher at September 3, 2009 12:26 PM

I sometimes feel bad that I am not a listener to the music other than from my own era (60's-70's). But then I listen to some stuff and realize I am not missing much.

That being said, some "newer" artists/groups I listen to:

-Naturally 7
-Smithereens
-Chris Isaak (not really "new")
-Black Crowes (especially the live CD with Page)

Let us know what you find out there!

Posted by: Lee at September 3, 2009 12:40 PM

Skip all that junk and listen to Gogol Bordello. Start with "Super Taranta!" and then back fill with "Gypsy Punks." The best combination of Eastern European rythms and head-busting hard rock (not metal, hard rock) you'll ever come across. Truly something new under the sun.

Posted by: peterike at September 3, 2009 12:48 PM

Diana Anaid. Last Thing is her best known.

Posted by: John at September 3, 2009 1:05 PM


I stopped watching Saturday Night Live in 1983, MTV in 1986, and listening to FM radio in 1988. I read through these comments, and not only have I not listened to any of these bands, I've never even heard of the vast majority of them.

Of course, when I listen to music, it's more likely to pre-date the 80s than post-date them. 1880s, that is...

Posted by: Lyford at September 3, 2009 3:26 PM

I'm a big Nickelback fan. Try listening to some of these: Savin Me, Someday, Too Bad, Follow You Home, Woke Up This Morning, Burn it to the Ground, Just to Get High, Feelin Way Too Damn Good, If Today Was Your Last Day.

Posted by: Lynn at September 3, 2009 3:56 PM

dave matthews band. start with live at red rocks 8/15/95, then go to see a show.

Posted by: kvnmnnng at September 3, 2009 5:26 PM

PJ Harvey

Posted by: Greg Schreiber at September 3, 2009 8:17 PM

I actually saw PJ Harvey in concert when she opened for U2. Meh.

I've got two Dave Matthews albums, some decent stuff there but he doesn't excite me.

Seriously, I appreciate all the suggestions.

Posted by: Crank at September 3, 2009 8:21 PM

Ah, this is my topic. I have an iPod with an eclectic collection with songs from the 50s (Sinatra, Bing Crosby, etc.) to today's stuff, including the bands you mention, and crossing lots of genres.

First, if you are interested in finding new music you like, try Pandora Radio (www.pandora.com). You plug in a series of bands and/or songs and it plays music that shares similarities with those. Great way to find new music. And it is free.

Second, since you live in the New York area, there is an independent radio station call The Peak at 107.1 FM. I'm not sure if it comes in where you live being a smaller station, but they also have a free Internet feed. They play rock with some blues, reggae and related stuff, both old and new, both popular and under the radar. They play Bruce often - I think you would like it. Wilco and Coldplay show up there, as do the Raconteurs which is another of Jack White's bands (the most famous being the White Stripes).

Now for your big three. These are the three songs I would recommend:

Nickelback
"How You Remind Me"
"Photograph"
"Gotta Be Somebody"
Also of interest, the lead singer Chad Kroeger has done lead vocals for some songs with Santana which could interest you. You may also wish to check out "Rockstar", which is more of a novelty song, but with a great music video. One other thing. Their albums do not have the same type of music as their singles. I listened to a bit of the most recent one and outside of the radio stuff the music is a lot harder and often filthy.

Linkin Park
"Bleed It Out"
"Numb"
"What I've Done"
The band has gotten a bit softer recently which is why I included the last song so you get a taste of it. If you want to try a ballad, go with "Shadow of the Day".

Coldplay
"Clocks"
"The Speed of Light"
"Viva La Via"
My favorite of the three. If you want to try the first album, listen to "Yellow".

Posted by: Paul at September 3, 2009 11:31 PM

When I got my Ipod a couple years ago, I constantly borrowed CD from another old geezer friend. Really helped me get back into music. I still know relatively nothing, but at least I'm no longer completely clueless.

Anyhow, a quick list worth checking out (based on a VERY unsubstantiated sense of what I suspect Crank might like):

White Stripes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather

Strokes (don't fear the hype. Is This It, especially, is a great album)

Kings of Leon

Spoon

Arctic Monkeys (I can handle them in small doses)

Libertines (same)

Belle & Sebastian (someone else mentioned them, and I love them; not sure they're Crank's speed though)

Wolfmother (distillation of the best 70's-era metal/progrock - think Sabbath meets Deep Purple with a smattering of the more rocking side of Yes)

Shins (not really crazy about them, but lots of folks are, so maybe worth a try)

Of Montreal (if you're feeling more adventurous)

Apples In Stereo (Beatle-ish pop; think Badfinger)

Probably forgetting dozens that I should mention, but those come to mind.

Posted by: Mike at September 4, 2009 8:47 AM

That Coldplay song I recommended is "Speed of Sound", not "Speed of Light". Doh!

Posted by: Paul at September 4, 2009 1:25 PM

Pandora.com is a great way to hear new music.

Posted by: steve at September 5, 2009 10:26 AM

I've been listening to a lot of alt.country lately, which generally lacks the schmaltz that makes me want to barf whenever I hear mainstream country. The instrumentals are also generally edgier than the pablum that gets airplay on country radio. I'd recommend you try some Steve Earle, James McMurtry, Brandi Carlisle, Lucinda Williams, Kathleen Edwards, to start. If you don't mind a little more twang, Robert Earl Keen and Elizabeth Cook are also quite good.

If you like Wilco, you might also like Uncle Tupelo, as Wilco was formed by some of the members of Uncle Tupelo. Son Volt was also spawned from Uncle Tupelo.

I've also recently discovered an obscure band called Prydein. I think they're Scots, but I'm not sure. They're a rock band that features the prominent use of bagpipes. If you told me I'd like that before I actually heard them, I'd have said you were nuts, but surprisingly, it works rather nicely.

And I second (3rd?) the Pandora recommendation.

Posted by: Jim Nelson at September 5, 2009 10:23 PM

You might want to try the Fleet Foxes or the Avett Brothers. Our law clerk recommended them to me and I enjoyed both of them.

Posted by: Mike at September 5, 2009 10:27 PM

Crank - forget Coldplay - highly overrated. You are on the right track with Wilco. Also check out Gomez and the Killers.

However, nothing wrong with staying old school with Jackson Browne and Neil Young

Posted by: Greg at September 6, 2009 1:51 PM

Wilco and the White Stripes are great.

Also check out
The Flaming Lips
Yo La Tengo
The Shins
Arcade Fire

Posted by: Jon at September 9, 2009 2:24 PM
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