Hello dearest reader. I hope you are well today on this fine Sunday afternoon. Today is an exciting day because from now on, I am dedicating Sundays to America! No not to Donald Trump, but to the outstanding music being produced by this captivating creative country.
From Michigan to Texas, Washington to Delaware, every Sunday I will be bringing you a different post focusing on different factors of the American music scene, primarily peeping into the indie genre as well as a dive into emo, post-punk and a whole plethora of incredible genres!
I will be sharing my thoughts on classic albums from bands such as Interpol, Neutral Milk Hotel and The National, as well as exploring the conflicts of 90’s Hip-Hop. Furthermore, I will be sharing information on some of my favourite American artists and acts, as well as a heavy focus on alliteration (you can probably tell that already).
So then as I sit down in my dimly lit uni accommodation bedroom, with a piping hot coffee at precisely 21 minutes past 12, I shall begin to walk you through my top five favourite American bands of all time so you can get a bit of an understanding of who I am.
First of all, some honourable mentions. Bon Iver, Beach Fossils, Pixies, Cage The Elephant, Soccer Mommy, Beck, MGMT, Whitney, YeahYeahYeahs,
- 6 – LCD Soundsystem
“New York I love you..”. The Big Apple has produced a plethora of impeccable talent during the 2000’s ( More NYC bands are on this list) and this lot kick starts my list at number 5. LCD Soundsystem is the dance-rock alternative dance act, masterminded by front man James Murphy. Their unique style of sounds blends disco, funk, indie and more into a wealth of complex and enthralling songs which cannot be faltered. LCD Soundsystem pioneered indie dance.
They released one of the greatest albums of that decade in ‘Sound of Silver’, a record which includes one of my favourite songs of all time ‘All My Friends’. After their sudden split in 2011, the band resurfaced in 2015, playing a number of shows, then in 2017, the band finally returned with the breathtaking and ever brilliant ‘American Dream’, arguably one of the best records to come out in 2017.
- 5 – Midlake
Some lo-fi, sombre indie rock now from Denton, Texas. Midlake formed in 1999 and quickly caught the attention of record label Bella Union and they haven’t looked back since. The band rose to prominence in the mid-2000’s and quickly developed an adoring fan base. The band are inspired by the likes of Radiohead, Granddaddy and Bjork and their unique style of indie rock is emotional and breathtaking.
In their long history, the band have only released 4 albums, yet each one is remarkable in its own right. Instead of going for quantity, the band went for quality and with each record, their sound is improved and made much more elegant and proven. I grew up with this band being played in the living room my house ever since their debut record came out. They will always stand close to my heart, not just for personal reasons, but because their music is so goddamn good.
- 4 – DIIV
Another act from the city that never sleeps, DIIV blend grunge and shoegaze bliss to create a concoction of beautiful soundscapes that never fail to raise emotion within me. The solo project of Brooklyn born front man, Zachery Cole-Smith, DIIV began in 2011 as a way for Zachery to release his own songs and start his own project. His dreamy representations and emotion led sounds were first introduced to the world in 2012 with their debut album ‘Oshin’. The record itself is a truly remarkable listen from start to finish. Each track takes you on a different melodic journey of blissful sounds and reverbs maiden vocals and guitar. In a way, I see it as one of the greatest debut records of all time (the greatest is in this list).
Smith, however, has had a troubled personal life. his addiction to drugs landed him in hot water in 2013 as he was arrested for possession of drugs and in January 2014, he entered rehab. By July of the same year, Smith revealed he had over 150 songs ready for his next record and in 2016, Is The Is Are was released to the world and it was as truly stunning as everyone had hoped it would be. With a more polished sound, DIIV cemented themselves as a truly remarkable, and brilliant young band.
- 3 – The War On Drugs
We’re sticking with the east coast for now but were taking a sonic cruise down the coast to Philadelphia, and this band would and should be the soundtrack for that journey. The War On Drugs are the kings of highway bangers. Blending the sonic perspective of Bob Dylan and the guitar call of Sonic Youth, The War On Drugs were formed in 2005 by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile (who could have featured on this list). Their debut, ‘Wagonwheel Blues’ arrived in 2008, yet it would be their latest material that would cement their success.
2011’s ‘Slave Ambient’ paved way for their sonic progression and elevation in sound. Songs like ‘Come To The City’ were a clear shot at their future direction, and when ‘Lost In The Dream’ came along, The War On Drugs rose to the top. The album’s opener, ‘Under the Pressure’ instantly became my song of the year in 2014. It’s loud, exciting and a thrilling listen, especially in the sun. in 2017, we were treated to more of the same. ‘A Deeper Understanding’ was released and i was in shock by how incredibly outstanding the record was. I wasn’t expecting a strong release after ‘Lost In The Dream’ because of how god damn incredible that record is. But my oh my is ‘A Deeper Understanding’ just a phenomenal listen.
- 2 – The National
Apart from Radiohead, The National fill me with the most emotion I have ever experienced with music. I don’t even think the band have made a bad record let alone a bad song. Forming in 1999 in Ohio, The National quickly became a phenomenon. Their debut record was released in 2001, but it would be their ‘Cherry Tree’ EP that would set their tone and style for years to come. Seminal heart-tugger ‘About Today’ and the melodic instrumentals on ‘Cherry Tree’ caught the attention of fans across the world.
In 2005, the first of the bands critically acclaimed albums was released ‘Alligator’ went down as one of the greatest indie albums of the decade. The increased exposure gained worldwide attention, and the record was featured highly on ‘Albums of the Year’ lists. ‘Boxer’ was released in 2007 and they’d done it again. Possibly my favourite National record, ‘Boxer’ joined ‘Alligator’ as yet another classic indie record and cemented The Nationals place amongst the greats of Indie-Rock. The next two records, ‘High Violet’ and ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ both allowed the same trends as the previous two. Four critically acclaimed albums in a row, growing global acclaim and instant hits, The National became a true titan in indie music across the world.
In 2017, after 4 years of waiting, The National unveiled their 7th record ‘Sleep Well Beast’ to the world. It topped charts, won a Grammy, and became my Album of the Year for 2017. ‘Sleep Well Beast’ saw the band expose their experimental side with the addition of some roaring and beautiful synths and soundscapes, yet keeping to their stunning melodic approach.
- 1 – Interpol
The band that in my eyes, kicked off the indie revival (Alongside The Strokes). Interpol formed in 1997 and very, very quickly became one of the most iconic, and important bands of the 21st century. Their debut album ‘Turn on the Bright lights’ is argued as one of the greatest debut records of all time. The record rose straight to the top of everyone’s talking points and spawned in a huge wave of talent from across the world who were inspired by Interpol’s character and sound. The band’s iconic look of shirt and tie, sleek suit jackets and professional attitude only iconised the band even further.
‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ should be a record every human deserves to listen to at some point in their lives. It is essential for any music fan or any fan of indie in general. The bar was truly set with this album. From its opening tracks of ‘Obstacle 1’, ‘PDA’ and ‘Say Hello To The Angels’ to its final chapters with ‘Leif Erikson’ and ‘Roland’, the album from start to finish is nothing but magnificence.
In the years after ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’, Interpol has gone on to record 4 more records, each charting highly, and further cementing the band’s recognition and status. I was lucky enough to see the band perform what could be my favourite record of all time in full last year. I can honestly say that gig was a truly special and incredible night. Interpol isn’t just my favourite American band of all time, they are so much more than that. I see this band as rubbing the shoulders of the Gods.
This concludes the introduction part of State Side Sunday’s. I hope to see you next week where I will be talking about a couple of extremely talented young women who are about to take over the world …
and as always, “Live in the now” – Garth.
Words by Piran Aston (Twitter – @PiranAston_)
All images in cover photo are courtesy of their respected photographers and right holders.
- Interpol – https://www.musicbar.cz/program/interpol-usa/
- Midlake – https://www.songkick.com/artists/66246-midlake
- The National – http://www.nme.com/news/music/national-missed-grammys-theyre-busy-working-next-album-2232969 (Getty Images)
- LCD Soundsystem – https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/lcd-soundsystems-james-murphy-were-done-with-the-record-w484868 (Nicola Fare Silver)
- DIIV – Sandy Kim
- The War On Drugs – Adam from The War on Drugs LOVE YOU | It’s Raining Men | Pinterest …