Owensrivergirl is pleased to welcome guest blogger Mark. Mark is a San Diego-based theater director, and proud papa of an eight-year-old boy.
Mark and I go way back – we met in the eighth grade in eastern San Diego County. Mark has always had his finger on the pulse of the arts, from performance, film, literature, and television, to symphonic, pop, indie, and rock music. Recently I found my music collection in dire need of a positive refresh. Like many people self-isolating, I find myself just plain bored, uninspired, and feeling blue as I watch the world continue to suffer through this pandemic.
Mark came to the rescue with the following wide-ranging, creative, joyful, and eclectic list that has provided much-needed energy to my dog walks and runs. I download something different each day and feel like we are back in high school, talking late into the night while listening to mixed tapes and CDs.
Mark’s list is so good that I couldn’t keep it to myself. Here are parts one and two. I hope you find something you like, whether new or familiar. Mark, over to you! ~Owensrivergirl
Mark: Oh, boy. This is gonna be quite the list. I’ll have to break it up into three parts actually.
This will keep your readers busy for weeks. We’ll begin with the Old & the New, The Newish & Electronic in Part I, The “weird stuff” for Part II (actually, MOST of these picks might be considered “weird,”) and then in Part III we can conclude with some fantastic female artists that have hit the scene in the last decade.
PART I – The Old and the New
Some older bands and artists putting out great stuff right now
Psychedelic Furs (Made of Rain) – The post-punk rockers of old that brought you Pretty In Pink have re-emerged with a stunning album filled with evocative lyricism.
Robert Plant (Carry Fire) Plant is of course destined to live in Zeppelin’s shadow till he dies. His solo career has consistently offered well-crafted songwriting though. His latest is so delicately arranged and his vocals have an intimate quality of a well-worn traveler returning to bring tidings of reflection and awe.
Hum (Inlet) – This was a “sonic wall” 90’s band that has recently returned again with their unique sound.
Grandaddy (Last Place) – Like Radiohead’s scrappy younger brother, with a sense of humor
Tori Amos (Native Invader) – After settling down through the 00’s and 10’s, Tori has been able to finally retrieve some of her artier sensibilities to make this latest entry rise above your average adult contemporary fare.
Beck – Who would think that the guy who sang “Loser” would still be making such smart pop? “Dreams” and “Colors” are perfect pop songs and the ridiculousness of “Wow” will elicit some chuckles.
Spoon (Hot Thoughts)
Queens of the Stone Age (Villains)
Alain Johannes (of Queens of the Stone Age) – his latest album Hum is beautiful.
Field Music and particularly their spinoff group, School of Language.
90’s Power Pop Lives On
Brendan Benson (of the Raconteurs)
THE NEWISH, THE NEW and the ELECTRONIC
These three, not counting my new fav’s forthcoming in Part II), along with LCD Soundsystem are artists I continually come back to:
The National has beautiful and dryly comical lyrics with clever arrangements. Matt Berninger, the singer for The National, also has some solo work worth checking out.
Elbow is like modern-day Peter Gabriel. Brilliant lyrics and arrangements
Wolf Parade is also one of my favorite current bands. They’re from Montreal. Their spin-off bands are also great (Operators, Moonface, Sunset Rubdown).
Arctic Monkeys (Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino). Like a lounge act on the moon. Don’t miss this brilliant chill tongue-in-cheek album.
Car Seat Headrest (Twin Fantasy was an amazing indie debut from a young lad exorcizing his past and working through his fears and relationship anxieties with raw emotion)
Perfume Genius’s No Shape album is really great too. Moses Sumney is in a similar vein. They’re like crooners for millennials.
Htrk (dreamy shoegazer stuff)
In Tall Buildings (bedroom pop)
The Relationship (kinda like early Elvis Costello)
Father John Misty
The following artists have developed some mesmerizing textures, grooves and rhythms:
Against All Logic
LCD Soundsystem has consistently put out some amazing Afrobeat dance funk stuff—very much like classic Talking Heads in their heyday. American Dream is fantastic, but be sure to check out his other stuff.
Grizzly Bear has an amazing recent album called Painted Ruins.
Chair Lift is lovely hipster pop, Caroline Polachek has a good solo album.
Metronomy (smart pop stuff)
PART II – And now for the Weird Stuff…
Mostly Psychedelic Bands
Thee Oh Sees, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Slift. King Gizzard is a crazily prolific wacky eco-conscious Australian band with many diverse styles per album. A mellow one would be Fishing for Fishies, whereas Polygondwanaland (one of my favorites) has a very prog rock feel, which stands for “progressive,” and is all about taking rock and roll to a higher art form. Their latest is a throwback to 80’s metal, Infest the Rats’ Nest. The single “Mars for the Rich” is a funny jab at Elon Musk optimism. They have crazy young energy—check out their KEXP performances on YouTube.
Ty Segall is a great rocker from LA, again with some psychedelic/stoner rock vibe; this dude rocks like it’s 1969.
Black Angels (really like these guys)
King Buffalo (jammy)
Tame Impala (“Elephant” is a song I could play on loop for days; so catchy; ” ‘Cause I’m a Man” makes me giggle)
Oneohtrix Point Never
Of Montreal – a zany psychedelic pop group/band from Georgia.
More electronic, somewhat avant-garde
Matthew Dear (Bunny)
Darker, more industrial/goth style—both excellent albums
Young Knives (Barbarians)
The Soft Moon
Great chill/romantic stuff (to calm down from all the other awesome music I’ve suggested—hee hee):
Big Thief Capacity album is wonderful, a bit softer & folkier
Khruangbin – Thai guitar style is really cool
Phosphorescent (C’est La Vie album is recommended; similar to Bon Iver)
These New Puritans (Inside the Rose)
Sleater-Kinney The Center Won’t Hold, a 90’s female punk band that dropped their drummer and made a really interesting more electro-rock sounding album.
Idles (The Ultra Mono album is fantastic. “Mr. Motivator” makes me laugh so hard! Their earlier album, Joy as an Act of Resistance made heads spin too.)
Parquet Courts is another recent favorite, kinda pop-punk lo-fi stuff.
Stay tuned for Part III of Mark’s List!