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I Don’t Like the Top 40 Bands in America

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Stone blogs for The Couch Sessions.

The Couch Sessions

Other than Bloc Party, or some Deftones and some At The Drive-In, I haven’t been listening to much rock lately. No offense to the rock heads out there, but we all know that genre has been lacking lately.

Like 2004, the year 2005 has been a terrible year for rock music. A lackluster release by Coldplay, and a so-so release by the White Stripes round out the years dissapointments. It seems every year, rock music falls further into obscurity.

So that’s probably why I don’t even recognize some of these bands on The Top 40 Bands in America Today list by Information Leafblower. The National? Who? The Hold Steady? Huh?

Of course, hipster favorites like Sufjan Stevens (I still haven’t heard any of this dude’s stuff), LCD Soundsystem, and The Decemberists made the list. Even Kanye West and MF Doom represented for the hip-hop side. But no Bloc Party? No Doves? I’m sorry but the people who assembled this list are on crack.

Oh, and please tell me what the big deal is with Death Cab for Cutie?

Anthony and the Johnsons? I want to slap him. First for winning the Mercury Music Prize, and second for being a whiny bitch.

So anyway, I decided to make my own list of the rock music I’ve been listening to this year. Hate it or love it, it’s what you need to be listening to right now.

  • Bloc Party – People have been sleeping on this band too much. They need to wake the hell up! Silent Alarm is the best album to come out of the UK in a long time, and dare I say, one the best album of ’05. And yes, they got shafted for the Mercury Music Prize.
  • Saul Williams – Saul’s self titled album has been revolutionary to me. He is the Black version of Rage Against the Machine, combined with lyrics of self-identity, despair, and hope (think Def Poetry Jam). Make no mistake, Saul is hip-hop, but since he tours with System of a Down and Nine Inch Nails, he’s got rock cred too and therefore makes the list.
  • BeckGuero was one of Beck’s best albums. Have people forgotten that this thing came out in ’05? The dude went back to his roots for Guero, after scaring me with that Sea Change album (good, but too depressing). This is a solid release that was overlooked by the rock community. Beck fans need to pick it up.
  • The GO! Team – This group came to me from left-field. Remember the Avalanches from a few years ago? Well, The GO! Team is along those lines. It’s a combination of a random sounds (like a old school MC and cheerleaders) and noise that somehow works in the end.
  • El Pus – Their album, Hoodlum Rock, Vol. 1, stayed in my CD player for about a month after I copped it. You would never think that ATL crunk and Blink-182 style punk would work, but somehow it does. Check out our interview with Cufi and Cosmo from the band.
  • The Dears – I just discovered this Montreal-based band just as they announced their breakup. Sad. They have a mainstream sound with a touch of random Canadianess. It’s like Our Lady Peace without the annoying singer.
  • The Exit – This is what rock music should sound like. Period. This band makes tight payola-free music that doesn’t try to cop anyone’s style yet still pays tribute to such bands like The Police. Why these guys haven’t gotten any buzz escapes me.
  • Laura Burnhem – Damn, what can I say about this woman? If you like Fiona Apple AND Coldplay, then you need to buy this album. This chick needs to be famous. Period. Check out her song “Helicopters” and be amazed.
  • Fiona Apple – Speaking of Fiona, her resurgence in ’05 has earned her a spot on the list. If it wasn’t for these so-called Internets, Extraordinary Machine wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
  • The Black Keys – These guys are a complete rip-off of the White Stripes (Midwest duo ripping off blues music…hmm), but it’s not entirely a bad thing.
  • Doves – Another band that’s getting completely slept on in the US and the UK. The Last Broadcast was a disappointment for me, but they resurrected themselves this year with Some Cities.
  • The Mars Volta – Another band that gets no respect from the rock community. The evidence: they’re not on the list. Which is not really a surprise because it seems that these guys never make “the List.” But its also sad, because although Frances the Mute isn’t as good as De-Loused in the Comatorium (they went crazy on this album), Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala still bring the fire.
  • Coldplay – I added them because I’m running out of bands and I need to even the list out. I really WANT to like X&Y, but unfortunately I know that it cannot hold a candle to their previous efforts.

So there you go. These are the bands that you need to be listening to in 2005. Got some beef about this? Let me know.

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About Stone

  • Instead of showing your ignorance you may want to actually listen to some of the albums being raved about that you admit not hearing.

    The fact that you put Coldplay on your list (no matter what the reason), but have not heard Sufjan Stevens or the Hold Steady shines a bright light on your complete lack of credibility.

  • I second Sufjan Stevens. I totally dig the Illinoise album. The new Doves CD is solid, too.

    You should definitely try Stars – Set Yourself on Fire and Twin Cinema by The New Pornographers.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Sufjan has enormous talent. Illinoise is fascinating, weird, smart, gorgeous, self-indulgent and infuriating all at the same time. I love it.

    The Decemberists’ album is just perfect, smart guitar pop — all catchy, catchy songs and subtle humor.

    The National play intelligent, somewhat retro 60’s-style pop, kinda like another cool currrent band, the Clientele. I think if you gave these bands’ new stuff a chance, you might have a higher opinion of 2005 from a rock perspective.

  • See, this is why I hate writing these lists (and why I didn’t put numbers on this one). People who don’t see their favorite band/rapper/dj on these lists somehow take it as a personal offense.

    Did you even read the list? So what if I don’t like Sufjan Stevens. How in the hell does that invalidate the rest of my pics? And who in the hell determines who has credibility?

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Well, if you hate writing them, don’t.

    And you have never heard Sufjan, but now you say you don’t like him. That’s confusing.

  • If all fans of rock music are as whiny, judgmental and as absolutely sure of their infallibility as this group of “critics”, no wonder rock has just wheezed out it’s death rattle. Consider this a personal attack. 😉

    BTW, most of these groups are so derivative, (as “rock” has been around for fifty years, you can’t help but regurgitate your influences these days) it’s no wonder you haven’t heard / heard of any of them.

  • There is nothing wrong with you list. I agree with all your picks except for Coldplay.

    However, how can you say you “don’t like Sufjan Stevens” when you admitted in your article that you haven’t even heard his music?

    That my friend, is exactly what gives you zero credibility. Now if you had actually LISTENED to the album and explained WHY it’s not a great album you would get some slack.

    In fact, “Illinois” will be on the top of most cirtics “Best of the 2005” lists. And it will be there for a reason. The fact that you have not made an effort to listen, even with all the critical acclaim this album has received, speaks volumes about your “credibility”. A real critic will listen to the records his peers are praising to stay abreast of what’s happening. You obviously have not.

  • Stone, you also said “See, this is why I hate writing these lists (and why I didn’t put numbers on this one). People who don’t see their favorite band/rapper/dj on these lists somehow take it as a personal offense.”

    I find this freakin’ hilarious, since your whole column was whining about YOUR favorites not being in someone else’s list.

  • First off, the beginnng paragraphs of my article is intended to be funny. In my next few rock music posts, I’ll make sure to be less humorous.

    And for the record, I don’t think the music bloggers (some of whom I’ve met personally) are smoking crack.

    I was simply disagreeing with this list, and offering suggestions of my own. I’m not offended if The Exit or The Mars Volta aren’t on the list. My day will go on. I’ll still wake up in the morning.

    One of the problems I have with indie music is that each year, some tastemaker (Spin, Pitchfork) will decide that some group/band is the “hot new thing” and the rest of the music community will follow without question.

    I think sometimes people will leapfrog onto something just because its cool, and not because they feel a personal connection to it.

  • The Last Broadcast by Doves is a great, great album. N.Y., There Goes the Fear, Pounding and Caught By the River are all great songs.

  • It is a terrible shame Doves can’t get the time of day in the US. I love “Some Cities.” It’s one of my favorite albums of 2005 but I still think “The Last Broadcast” was Doves’ best album by far.

    Shameless self-promotion time: I actually did a review of Some Cities when the album was released. In fact, I even did a steel cage match between “Some Cities” and “Don’t Believe the Truth.”
    And wait… there’s more: Episode 5 of my podcast featured extensive Doves’ music. Point being… I love Doves.

  • “Guero” is another fantastic fabulous album, too. Love the hell out it.

  • Guppusmaximus

    So true, The Mars Volta don’t get credit today just like Watchtower didn’t get any credit back in the day. I’m am definately not a fan of the garbage being spewn today nor do I have the money or time to sort through this crap to find one single decent release. But,Dude,mentioning S.O.A.D. is bad… They are a joke.

  • I give your article a 92–it has a good beat and you can dance to it.

    Your list: I can’t stop listening to the new Fiona Apple—it’s great. Coldplay, though, is pretentious crap–Chris Martin must die!

  • The Mars Volta had critics orgasming for months in ’03 before everybody woke up and realized it was just a weak prog dry-wank that was more “retro” than any “neo-garage” band you could name. I’d say they’ve received their critical due, and those days are rightfully past.

  • Alright, Mr Stone, simply mentioning Coldplay in the same sentence with the glorious White Stripes marks you as an enemy of The People. But this is beyond the pale: “a so-so release by the White Stripes.”

    Get Behind Me Satan is obviously the album of the year, and only a Godless commie Limp Bizkit fan would speak so ill of our Dear Leader’s work.

    Mr Stone, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Green Day fan club?

  • I admit that I have not heard every album released this year, but my favorite so far has been ‘Feels’ by Animal Collective.

  • zingzing

    i second on sam’s animal collective comment. most creative band around, i’d say. even if they do fall flat on their face from time to time, that’s what you get for stumbling about in the dark… music doesn’t go to where they’ve gone all that often.

    outhud put out a great album this year, so did wolf eyes, stars, broken social scene, devendra bahnhardt, cocorosie, antony and the johnsons, akron/family, excepter, no neck blues band, bonnie ‘prince’ billy, hold steady, new pornographers, lcd soundsystem, the national, the books, six organs of admittance, mt. eerie, the residents…

    i’d say that’s a pretty good haul for rock music in ’05! not bad at all. and that’s just north american artists in the list above… the rest of the world loves rock music too. oh yeah- new order, the fall… it’s been a great year!

  • Gary Kool

    The Jonas Brotherz should be on the top 40 list of best bands. They Rock, ps im a guy

  • frank from the future

    I bet the author of this feels pretty dumb now for passing over The National and The Hold Steady