wow. first post in quite awhile. this semester has steamrolled in the last few weeks, and for the lack of activity i do apologize. but here’s to the summer, and here’s to more posts.

no better place to start in quasi-shamanic outlaw country of sturgill simpson. the dude is on some third-eye ish. this cut has subtle-psychedelic instrumental undertones, and overtly-psychedelic lyrical overtones. it’s great. 

http://www.wmuc.umd.edu/

I TOTALLY FORGOT TO PUT UP LAST WEEK’S PLAYLIST BUT CATCH THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE “JAMMED AND WIRED” RADIO OVER AT THE LINK ABOVE ON THE FM CHANNEL. LOTS OF NEW WOODS, DEER TICK, CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH, AND OTHER WARM WEATHER-CERTIFIED GOOD STUFF. (and then i’ll put the playlists up)

"Jammed and Wired" Radio Show Playlist - 4/04/14
THERE’S NO “JAMMED AND WIRED” RADIO SHOW TOMORROW, so…I wanted to make sure I put up last show’s playlist to fill the void. Fitting the warmer weather, we included half folkier stuff and half “don’t take yourself too seriously” pop stuff. We had double the First Aid Kit, double the Fleet Foxes, triple the Mac Demarco, and double the Tweedy (both son + father were represented) on this edition. Without further ado, here was this week’s playlist:
First Aid Kit - "My Silver Lining"
The Tallest Man on Earth - "Troubles Will Be Gone"
Ryan Adams - "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)"
Fleet Foxes - "Ragged Wood"
My Morning Jacket - "Golden"
Andrew Bird - "Three White Horses"
Kurt Vile - "Jesus Fever"
Jeremy Messersmith - "Beautiful Children"
Seabear - "Libraries"
First Aid Kit - "Sailor Song"
Fleet Foxes - "Bedouin Dress"
Panda Bear - "Ponytail"
Spencer Tweedy - "Temple State"
Mac Demarco - "Blue Boy"
Harry Nilsson - "Everybody’s Talkin’"
Yo La Tengo - "Beanbag Chair"
Wilco - "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"
Mac Demarco - "Ode to Viceroy"
Bob Dylan - “Sign on the Window”
The Kinks - "Strangers"
Elton John - "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
Real Estate - "Had to Hear"
Jonathan Richman - "Important In Your Life"
Little Joy - "The Next Time Around"
Wilco - "Summer Teeth"
Mac Demarco - "Let Her Go"

"Jammed and Wired" Radio Show Playlist - 4/04/14

THERE’S NO “JAMMED AND WIRED” RADIO SHOW TOMORROW, so…I wanted to make sure I put up last show’s playlist to fill the void. Fitting the warmer weather, we included half folkier stuff and half “don’t take yourself too seriously” pop stuff. We had double the First Aid Kit, double the Fleet Foxes, triple the Mac Demarco, and double the Tweedy (both son + father were represented) on this edition. Without further ado, here was this week’s playlist:

  1. First Aid Kit - "My Silver Lining"
  2. The Tallest Man on Earth - "Troubles Will Be Gone"
  3. Ryan Adams - "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)"
  4. Fleet Foxes - "Ragged Wood"
  5. My Morning Jacket - "Golden"
  6. Andrew Bird - "Three White Horses"
  7. Kurt Vile - "Jesus Fever"
  8. Jeremy Messersmith - "Beautiful Children"
  9. Seabear - "Libraries"
  10. First Aid Kit - "Sailor Song"
  11. Fleet Foxes - "Bedouin Dress"
  12. Panda Bear - "Ponytail"
  13. Spencer Tweedy - "Temple State"
  14. Mac Demarco - "Blue Boy"
  15. Harry Nilsson - "Everybody’s Talkin’"
  16. Yo La Tengo - "Beanbag Chair"
  17. Wilco - "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"
  18. Mac Demarco - "Ode to Viceroy"
  19. Bob Dylan - “Sign on the Window”
  20. The Kinks - "Strangers"
  21. Elton John - "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
  22. Real Estate - "Had to Hear"
  23. Jonathan Richman - "Important In Your Life"
  24. Little Joy - "The Next Time Around"
  25. Wilco - "Summer Teeth"
  26. Mac Demarco - "Let Her Go"
QUARTERBOY, by QUARTERBACKS

!!!!PRE-ORDER THIS NOW!!!! If anything else, try and cop it just for “Pool.”

RANKING: Tony Molina’s “Dissed and Dismissed” on Melody and Guitar Solos
Tony Molina’s “Dissed and Dismissed” has been making the rounds lately after it was reissued a few weeks back now. Molina’s knack for Weezer-influenced, Guided By Voices-inflected, Brian May-esque guitar solo-packed brand of power pop is undeniable. It riffs like none other, has melodies straight out of the early-90’s playbook, and is shorter than the last sentence. Not really, but this thing is mighty short. Flying by in a little under 12 minutes, no line is underutilized and every chord change comes with enough punch to make this an entirely fulfilling listen. 
I thought I’d take a turn at ranking the songs on this album in two separate lists. The first, is based solely on the vocal melody of each song. The second, is ranked on the guitar solo (which is a lost art by the way, and Molina never hams it up here. Nearly every track here finds the space to lay down a expertly placed unique lick, even when cutting it close to 1 minute in length). Check it out
TONY MOLINA’S DISSED AND DISMISSED,Ranking Based on Vocal Melody
Nowhere to Go (48 seconds long, and nearly the double the amount of plays on my Itunes)
Change My Ways (Mucho multi-layered vocals, at least I think they’re multi-layered)
Don’t Come Back (Apathy never sounded so melodic)
Can’t Believe 
Tear Me Down
The Way Things Are
Spoke Too Soon
Walk Away (this song reminds me of “Jar of Cardinals” by GBV)
See Me Through
Nothing I Can Do
W.B.P (Only reason it’s towards the lower end, is cause I’ve got to give the credit here to good ole Robert Pollard.)
Sick Ass Riff (No vocals to be found here, but still a sick ass riff.)
TONY MOLINA’S DISSED AND DISMISSED, Ranking Based on Guitar Solo
Don’t Come Back (This solo really does it have all. A lil riffage that comes about as close to hardcore as anything on this record, some Cheap Trick inflections, and feedback delight. Check it out. )
Can’t Believe (Straight outta Weezer’s playbook, and it’s damn near perfect. Sounds a little more Pinkerton than Blue Album in this instance)
Walk Away (This is the guitar solo from “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” part two)
The Way Things Are (
Nowhere to Go (If Brian May grew up in the 80s, he would’ve played guitar solos like this in the 90s)
Spoke Too Soon 
Tear Me Down
See Me Through
Nothing I Can Do
W.B.P., Sick Ass Riff, Change My Ways (no real guitar solos here, but still great cuts nonetheless)
A bunch of these tracks definitely have a sort of classical music-tinged influence to them. Like a sort of ballsy-miniaturized version of Pachelbel. This bringing back some major “Canon Rock” nostalgia vibes, in the best way possible. 

RANKING: Tony Molina’s “Dissed and Dismissed” on Melody and Guitar Solos

Tony Molina’s “Dissed and Dismissed” has been making the rounds lately after it was reissued a few weeks back now. Molina’s knack for Weezer-influenced, Guided By Voices-inflected, Brian May-esque guitar solo-packed brand of power pop is undeniable. It riffs like none other, has melodies straight out of the early-90’s playbook, and is shorter than the last sentence. Not really, but this thing is mighty short. Flying by in a little under 12 minutes, no line is underutilized and every chord change comes with enough punch to make this an entirely fulfilling listen. 

I thought I’d take a turn at ranking the songs on this album in two separate lists. The first, is based solely on the vocal melody of each song. The second, is ranked on the guitar solo (which is a lost art by the way, and Molina never hams it up here. Nearly every track here finds the space to lay down a expertly placed unique lick, even when cutting it close to 1 minute in length). Check it out

TONY MOLINA’S DISSED AND DISMISSED,Ranking Based on Vocal Melody

  1. Nowhere to Go (48 seconds long, and nearly the double the amount of plays on my Itunes)
  2. Change My Ways (Mucho multi-layered vocals, at least I think they’re multi-layered)
  3. Don’t Come Back (Apathy never sounded so melodic)
  4. Can’t Believe 
  5. Tear Me Down
  6. The Way Things Are
  7. Spoke Too Soon
  8. Walk Away (this song reminds me of “Jar of Cardinals” by GBV)
  9. See Me Through
  10. Nothing I Can Do
  11. W.B.P (Only reason it’s towards the lower end, is cause I’ve got to give the credit here to good ole Robert Pollard.)
  12. Sick Ass Riff (No vocals to be found here, but still a sick ass riff.)

TONY MOLINA’S DISSED AND DISMISSED, Ranking Based on Guitar Solo

  1. Don’t Come Back (This solo really does it have all. A lil riffage that comes about as close to hardcore as anything on this record, some Cheap Trick inflections, and feedback delight. Check it out. )
  2. Can’t Believe (Straight outta Weezer’s playbook, and it’s damn near perfect. Sounds a little more Pinkerton than Blue Album in this instance)
  3. Walk Away (This is the guitar solo from “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” part two)
  4. The Way Things Are (
  5. Nowhere to Go (If Brian May grew up in the 80s, he would’ve played guitar solos like this in the 90s)
  6. Spoke Too Soon 
  7. Tear Me Down
  8. See Me Through
  9. Nothing I Can Do
  10. W.B.P., Sick Ass Riff, Change My Ways (no real guitar solos here, but still great cuts nonetheless)

A bunch of these tracks definitely have a sort of classical music-tinged influence to them. Like a sort of ballsy-miniaturized version of Pachelbel. This bringing back some major “Canon Rock” nostalgia vibes, in the best way possible. 

WMUC Radio |

ON THE AIR IN HALF AN HOUR. CHECK OUT THE “JAMMED AND WIRED” RADIO SHOW OVER ON THE FM CHANNEL FROM 1-3 THIS AFTERNOON. FEATURING NEW FIRST AID KIT, NEW MAC DEMARCO, NEW MUSIC FROM JEFF TWEEDY’S SON, SPENCER, AND A WHOLE BUNCH MORE.

"Jammed and Wired" Radio Show Playlist - 3/29/14
This is going up way, way super late. Last week’s show featured a set of tunes that occupied the stratified realms of dream pop and garage rock (but, more like garage pop on this episode). Without further ado, here is the playlist from the show (and be sure to tune in tomorrow over at http://www.wmuc.umd.edu/ on the FM channel from 1-3 PM):
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Simple and Sure"
The Bilinda Butchers - "all my friends"
Delorean - "Real Love"
Washed Out - "You’ll See It"
Robyn - "Hang With Me"
Phoenix - "Trying To Be Cool"
Ride- "Cool Your Boots"
The Bilinda Butchers - "THE LOVERS’ SUICIDE!"
The Radio Dept. - "David"
Toro Y Moi - "Still Sound"
Roosevelt - "Sea"
Doves - "There Goes the Fear"
The War on Drugs - "Burning"
Mac Demarco - "My Kind of Woman"
Tony Molina - "Nowhere to Go"
Tony Molina - "Change My Ways"
Weezer - "In the Garage"
Ty Segall - "You’re the Doctor"
King Tuff - "Bad Thing"
Jaill - "How’s the Grave"
Swearin’ - "Crashing"
Harlem - "Friendly Ghost"
Cloud Nothings - "Stay Useless"
Wavves - "Baby Say Goodbye"
Mikal Cronin - "I’m Done Running From You"
Best Coast - "When I’m With You"
Lotus Plaza - "Monoliths"

"Jammed and Wired" Radio Show Playlist - 3/29/14

This is going up way, way super late. Last week’s show featured a set of tunes that occupied the stratified realms of dream pop and garage rock (but, more like garage pop on this episode). Without further ado, here is the playlist from the show (and be sure to tune in tomorrow over at http://www.wmuc.umd.edu/ on the FM channel from 1-3 PM):

  1. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Simple and Sure"
  2. The Bilinda Butchers - "all my friends"
  3. Delorean - "Real Love"
  4. Washed Out - "You’ll See It"
  5. Robyn - "Hang With Me"
  6. Phoenix - "Trying To Be Cool"
  7. Ride- "Cool Your Boots"
  8. The Bilinda Butchers - "THE LOVERS’ SUICIDE!"
  9. The Radio Dept. - "David"
  10. Toro Y Moi - "Still Sound"
  11. Roosevelt - "Sea"
  12. Doves - "There Goes the Fear"
  13. The War on Drugs - "Burning"
  14. Mac Demarco - "My Kind of Woman"
  15. Tony Molina - "Nowhere to Go"
  16. Tony Molina - "Change My Ways"
  17. Weezer - "In the Garage"
  18. Ty Segall - "You’re the Doctor"
  19. King Tuff - "Bad Thing"
  20. Jaill - "How’s the Grave"
  21. Swearin’ - "Crashing"
  22. Harlem - "Friendly Ghost"
  23. Cloud Nothings - "Stay Useless"
  24. Wavves - "Baby Say Goodbye"
  25. Mikal Cronin - "I’m Done Running From You"
  26. Best Coast - "When I’m With You"
  27. Lotus Plaza - "Monoliths"

Anonymous said: Hey Matt, who is your favorite rapper?

That’s a tough one. Honestly, I’d probably have to go with Kanye West. Besides releasing some of my favorite albums ever (The College Dropout, Late Registration, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), he has one of the most consistent, eclectic discographies of any rapper, period.

Quick shout out to Schoolboy Q though, who has my favorite rap album of the year so far. 

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i want this album to come out now. the soderberg sister’s career has taken such a natural progression towards perfecting their folk-tinged sound. stay gold has now replaced any other album, as my most anticipated of the year (for the foreseeable future). the swedes prevail once again.

also, check out the first single “my silver lining.” it’s perfect.

The “Kate Bush” Theory
First post in a lil while, but we’re coming back stronger than ever. Thought I’d start it off with a little theory, The “Kate Bush” Theory. Or maybe it’s more of a syndrome, who knows. With Bush recently announcing a string of live shows in London this August and September, her first in 35 years, I decided to revisit a few of her albums; a task that ended up bringing this theory to light. 
I distinctly remember listening to Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” about 3 years back now, and having it go completely over my head. Those piano plinks, the Bronte’d lyrics, the melodrama, the theatrical orchestration, and that voice. Oh, that voice. Something about that piercing soprano just threw me right off. I gave a few other tracks a listen and could not get a grasp of her music. That voice just seemed too icy, almost too “perfected.” 
But an interesting little phenomenon occurred when I went back through her discography. I could suddenly enjoy it. Now, the voice that through me for a loop originally, invited some insatiable melodies and seemed to suit each track perfectly. Was this a product of ignorant listening beforehand, or an immaturity that couldn’t grasp such an idiosyncratic style finally breaking down. Who knows? 
Either way, I realized that this phenomenon had occurred before, with more than just a few bands of artists. Here’s a list of those “voices” that upon initial suggestion were too much to handle, but have slowly morphed into some of my favorites. Let’s start with Kate Bush and go in semi-alphabetical order:
1. Kate Bush
Read above, homie. Trust me. That impenetrable voice will go from grating to ethereal, stone-cold to angelic. Her discography is just too deep. 
A good track to start off: "Running Up that Hill (A Deal with God)"
2. Allo Darlin’
The first track I ever heard from this London-based twee pop group, “Dreaming,” starts off pleasant enough. It sounds like the brightest, lightest of Camera Obscura songs, with vocalist Elizabeth Morris doing her best Tracyanne Campbell impression. But then, the second verse kicks in and Monster Bobby’s vocals land with a cement thud. It comes out of nowhere and literally sounds like the crooner version of a bass guitar. It took a solid 4 or 5 listens before it became digestible, but Allo Darlin’ really do churn out some of the best twee pop nowadays.
 Good tracks to start off: "Dreaming", "The Polaroid Song"

3. The Antlers
I love Hospice. It’s emotional torrent that will you leave drained but exalted. However, that sentiment wasn’t my first thought after listening to the 2009 album. Peter Silberman’s vocals are hazy at best in the mix of these tracks, and even harder to distinguish during the louder parts of certain songs. It doesn’t help that his voice is already so fragile.
But it’s that fragility that hooked me in, when I gave it a second listen about a year later. It’s haunting in a cripplingly sad kind of way, but it works.
Good track to start off: "Two"

4. Danny Brown
Oh, naive little me. The first time I heard XXX, I didn’t know what to think. The production was on point, but that voice. That register was just too much. But it grew on me, slowly but surely. I didn’t even realize that half of the tracks weren’t delivered in the goofily endearing voice we’ve all come to appreciate, but instead were in this low, subdued flow. 
Danny Brown is gifted with a tool most rappers have to craft and hone; a unique flow that is natural and personality-encapsulating. 
Good track to start off with: ALL OF EM, but “Party All the TIme” was the first time I realized there was more to Brown than simply that voice.
5. Devendra Banhart
The modern freak-folk pioneer is a tricky one. I first started with “Lover,” a track off his album Smokey Rolls Thunder Canyon, that’s a soulful take on a usually grating voice. With Banhart, I feel that his earlier records, notably Rejoicing in the Hands and Nino Rojo, best suit his impish warble of a voice. When paired with finger-picked guitars and minimal percussion, her can flourish. Under more instrumentation, he seems to tame it down a little as seen on Cripple Crow. In a genre full of idiosyncratic singer/songwriters, Banhart’s carved out a nice niche.
Good track to start off with: "A Sight to Behold"
6. The Knife/Fever Ray
Karin Dreijer Andersson’s musical projects are already obtuse enough, that her apocalyptic ice-wail of voice only adds to the intrigue on records by both The Knife and her solo project, Fever Ray. At first, it can come off as alien, barely reaching for melody; following the random ebbs and flows of each song. But, this effect can become intoxicating. It’s not the traditional use of a voice. Especially present on her solo debut Fever Ray, she has the unique ability to contort her voice in every direction to work on both mood and tone in a way most vocalists veer away from.
Good track to start off with: "When I Grow Up" (Fever Ray)
7. Fugazi/Rites of Spring
Minor Threat. Check. Ian Mackaye. Check. The D.C. hardcore pioneer’s first band was one I surprisingly could dig on first listen. While not a huge fan of hardcore punk, his guttural revelations sat well with me. As for his Fugazi counterpart, Guy Picciotto, not so much. When I first started listening to the seminal DC group, Mackaye’s voice was a sign of relief after Picciotto’s nasal-heavy yelps. 
Over time, I could see how their voices would meld perfectly together as I delved deeper into the Fugazi discography. They complement each other in a way that had orginally forced me to toss off about half of their tracks. (That’s what starting with “Waiting Room” will do to you). In due time, I could even get a grasp on the vastly influential Rites of Spring, a group completely sans-Mackaye. 
8. Joy Division
I always wanted to enjoy Joy Division’s music. While not a huge fan of the more gothic-tinged post-punk groups, there’s always been a kind of impulse to dig into their two records and appreciate them as unique treasures. But Ian Curtis’ voice was just a roadblock. An impenetrable bellow that turned me away every time I gave them a chance.
I attribute this “Kate Bush”-ian rediscovery to maturer ears. Sometimes it just takes time to digest a sound before you can toss a certain group aside.
9. Los Campesinos!
Take Allo Darlin’, give them a shot of adrenaline, move them to Wales and give their male vocalist a tank of helium and you get Los Campesinos! Okay, that’s a hyperbolic simplification of this band, but you get the point. Gareth Campesinos! Welsh yelp used to have me running in the other direction. 
However, this was an example of the wonderful transformation from grating side-note to endearing quality that took time, rather than more listens, to occur. Take away Gareth’s signature vocals and the group would be missing a vital ingredient in the mix that makes their brand of punkish twee-pop work so well.
10. The National
I’ll admit it. The band that has released a string of some of my favorite albums over the last 10 years or so, used to put me off completely. Plain and simple, Matt Berninger’s wine-soaked baritone rumble was public enemy #1. The first National song I ever heard was “About Today,” off their EP, Cherry Tree. And I loved it. Those strings, that hypnotic guitar pattern, the subdued drum march. The next natural step in the National-listening progressing would be to check out their breakout 2007 album, Boxer. But nope, that was not going to work.
Maybe I was expecting an album full of “About Today“‘s, but I just couldn’t get past Berninger’s voice. So, I put them away for a little while. And just before they were about to release 2010’s High Violet I thought I would give them another chance. Eh, why not?
I had missed out. My ears were older, wiser, more fine-tuned. I had let the National slip past me once and I would not let it happen again. Suddenly, this melancholic grumble, was filled with melancholic revelry. 
Music tastes change significantly over time as experiences shape our perception of lyrical content, tone of sounds, emotions we search for in albums, etc. Letting a band slip by you because of an off-putting vocalist is justifiable, but give them a second spin a little while later and you may discover an entire sound you left behind. 

The “Kate Bush” Theory

First post in a lil while, but we’re coming back stronger than ever. Thought I’d start it off with a little theory, The “Kate Bush” Theory. Or maybe it’s more of a syndrome, who knows. With Bush recently announcing a string of live shows in London this August and September, her first in 35 years, I decided to revisit a few of her albums; a task that ended up bringing this theory to light. 

I distinctly remember listening to Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” about 3 years back now, and having it go completely over my head. Those piano plinks, the Bronte’d lyrics, the melodrama, the theatrical orchestration, and that voice. Oh, that voice. Something about that piercing soprano just threw me right off. I gave a few other tracks a listen and could not get a grasp of her music. That voice just seemed too icy, almost too “perfected.” 

But an interesting little phenomenon occurred when I went back through her discography. I could suddenly enjoy it. Now, the voice that through me for a loop originally, invited some insatiable melodies and seemed to suit each track perfectly. Was this a product of ignorant listening beforehand, or an immaturity that couldn’t grasp such an idiosyncratic style finally breaking down. Who knows? 

Either way, I realized that this phenomenon had occurred before, with more than just a few bands of artists. Here’s a list of those “voices” that upon initial suggestion were too much to handle, but have slowly morphed into some of my favorites. Let’s start with Kate Bush and go in semi-alphabetical order:

1. Kate Bush

Read above, homie. Trust me. That impenetrable voice will go from grating to ethereal, stone-cold to angelic. Her discography is just too deep. 

A good track to start off: "Running Up that Hill (A Deal with God)"

2. Allo Darlin’

The first track I ever heard from this London-based twee pop group, “Dreaming,” starts off pleasant enough. It sounds like the brightest, lightest of Camera Obscura songs, with vocalist Elizabeth Morris doing her best Tracyanne Campbell impression. But then, the second verse kicks in and Monster Bobby’s vocals land with a cement thud. It comes out of nowhere and literally sounds like the crooner version of a bass guitar. It took a solid 4 or 5 listens before it became digestible, but Allo Darlin’ really do churn out some of the best twee pop nowadays.

 Good tracks to start off: "Dreaming", "The Polaroid Song"

3. The Antlers

I love Hospice. It’s emotional torrent that will you leave drained but exalted. However, that sentiment wasn’t my first thought after listening to the 2009 album. Peter Silberman’s vocals are hazy at best in the mix of these tracks, and even harder to distinguish during the louder parts of certain songs. It doesn’t help that his voice is already so fragile.

But it’s that fragility that hooked me in, when I gave it a second listen about a year later. It’s haunting in a cripplingly sad kind of way, but it works.

Good track to start off: "Two"

4. Danny Brown

Oh, naive little me. The first time I heard XXX, I didn’t know what to think. The production was on point, but that voice. That register was just too much. But it grew on me, slowly but surely. I didn’t even realize that half of the tracks weren’t delivered in the goofily endearing voice we’ve all come to appreciate, but instead were in this low, subdued flow. 

Danny Brown is gifted with a tool most rappers have to craft and hone; a unique flow that is natural and personality-encapsulating. 

Good track to start off with: ALL OF EM, but “Party All the TIme” was the first time I realized there was more to Brown than simply that voice.

5. Devendra Banhart

The modern freak-folk pioneer is a tricky one. I first started with “Lover,” a track off his album Smokey Rolls Thunder Canyon, that’s a soulful take on a usually grating voice. With Banhart, I feel that his earlier records, notably Rejoicing in the Hands and Nino Rojo, best suit his impish warble of a voice. When paired with finger-picked guitars and minimal percussion, her can flourish. Under more instrumentation, he seems to tame it down a little as seen on Cripple Crow. In a genre full of idiosyncratic singer/songwriters, Banhart’s carved out a nice niche.

Good track to start off with: "A Sight to Behold"

6. The Knife/Fever Ray

Karin Dreijer Andersson’s musical projects are already obtuse enough, that her apocalyptic ice-wail of voice only adds to the intrigue on records by both The Knife and her solo project, Fever Ray. At first, it can come off as alien, barely reaching for melody; following the random ebbs and flows of each song. But, this effect can become intoxicating. It’s not the traditional use of a voice. Especially present on her solo debut Fever Ray, she has the unique ability to contort her voice in every direction to work on both mood and tone in a way most vocalists veer away from.

Good track to start off with: "When I Grow Up" (Fever Ray)

7. Fugazi/Rites of Spring

Minor Threat. Check. Ian Mackaye. Check. The D.C. hardcore pioneer’s first band was one I surprisingly could dig on first listen. While not a huge fan of hardcore punk, his guttural revelations sat well with me. As for his Fugazi counterpart, Guy Picciotto, not so much. When I first started listening to the seminal DC group, Mackaye’s voice was a sign of relief after Picciotto’s nasal-heavy yelps. 

Over time, I could see how their voices would meld perfectly together as I delved deeper into the Fugazi discography. They complement each other in a way that had orginally forced me to toss off about half of their tracks. (That’s what starting with “Waiting Room” will do to you). In due time, I could even get a grasp on the vastly influential Rites of Spring, a group completely sans-Mackaye. 

8. Joy Division

I always wanted to enjoy Joy Division’s music. While not a huge fan of the more gothic-tinged post-punk groups, there’s always been a kind of impulse to dig into their two records and appreciate them as unique treasures. But Ian Curtis’ voice was just a roadblock. An impenetrable bellow that turned me away every time I gave them a chance.

I attribute this “Kate Bush”-ian rediscovery to maturer ears. Sometimes it just takes time to digest a sound before you can toss a certain group aside.

9. Los Campesinos!

Take Allo Darlin’, give them a shot of adrenaline, move them to Wales and give their male vocalist a tank of helium and you get Los Campesinos! Okay, that’s a hyperbolic simplification of this band, but you get the point. Gareth Campesinos! Welsh yelp used to have me running in the other direction. 

However, this was an example of the wonderful transformation from grating side-note to endearing quality that took time, rather than more listens, to occur. Take away Gareth’s signature vocals and the group would be missing a vital ingredient in the mix that makes their brand of punkish twee-pop work so well.

10. The National

I’ll admit it. The band that has released a string of some of my favorite albums over the last 10 years or so, used to put me off completely. Plain and simple, Matt Berninger’s wine-soaked baritone rumble was public enemy #1. The first National song I ever heard was “About Today,” off their EP, Cherry Tree. And I loved it. Those strings, that hypnotic guitar pattern, the subdued drum march. The next natural step in the National-listening progressing would be to check out their breakout 2007 album, Boxer. But nope, that was not going to work.

Maybe I was expecting an album full of “About Today“‘s, but I just couldn’t get past Berninger’s voice. So, I put them away for a little while. And just before they were about to release 2010’s High Violet I thought I would give them another chance. Eh, why not?

I had missed out. My ears were older, wiser, more fine-tuned. I had let the National slip past me once and I would not let it happen again. Suddenly, this melancholic grumble, was filled with melancholic revelry. 

Music tastes change significantly over time as experiences shape our perception of lyrical content, tone of sounds, emotions we search for in albums, etc. Letting a band slip by you because of an off-putting vocalist is justifiable, but give them a second spin a little while later and you may discover an entire sound you left behind.