Sometimes I force my terrible music tastes on other people by curating playlists on Spotify. Some of those playlists are featured below for your listening pleasure (or agony, depending on your musical tastes).
Introductions to weird or unusual subgenres of music.
Country music is incredibly divisive, and even amongst country aficionados, certain types of country music such as Swing Country or Bouncy Country aren't as popular as their cousins. This is a look at a subgenre dedicated to western themes with a little extra spring in their step.
One of the best parts of the 1980's was the music -- at least, that's the theory behind this musical genre. Known as Outrun, Drive, Synthwave, Futuresynth, and a million other names, this genre captures the vibrant and hard hitting synth sounds of the 80's to create new, awesome music.
Christmas might be my favorite holiday, but the sheer happiness and peppiness of the holiday is enough to make anyone tired. Melancholy Christmas is the subgenre of Christmas tunes that are a little sadder than their cousins. Enjoy a little bit of bitterness with all your sweet and blast these jams at your family Christmas party.
Live Twee or Die
Based on the way that a small child would say the word 'sweet' (yes, seriously), Twee is a subgenre dedicated to the do-it-yourself aesthetic, catchy and enthusiastic melodies, and lyrics about perpetually being awkward. If you like cardigans, tea, and feelings, you'll love twee music.
COOL CATS & ROD RATS
Rockabilly, a type of rock and roll music with bluegrass and R&B roots, was one of the earliest subgenres of rock. Even the name itself references this -- rockabilly is rock and roll music for hillbillies. If you like classic cars and greasers, you'll like rockabilly.
Space Age Pop, as the genre came to be known, isn't quite elevator music. Nor is it lounge music. Instead, it's the kind of music that an eligible bachelor in 1955 might have playing on his radio when he brought a swell gal home. An oddity and possibly the most 'dead' musical genre, it's still fun to listen to.
HEY, DO YOU LISTEN TO...
Introductions to some of my favorite bands, five tracks at a time.
BRIGHT EYES / CONOR OBERST
One of the most authentic singer/songwriter voices to come out of the early 2000's, Conor Oberst (also known as Bright Eyes) delivers thoughtful lyrics on the human experience combined with an unsteady, ultimately human voice.
Formerly one of the creative geniuses in Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell is probably the closest thing to the 'common man' in the recording industry today. Soulful, practical, cynical, and maybe a little bit hopeful, Isbell writes and performs Americana from the heart.
Hated, mocked, and often parodied, Kanye West is one of the most creative and experimental performers in hip hop. West's skill in reincorporating existing samples with his biting satirical lyrics creates catchy, memorable hip hop, regardless of his personal politics.
RILO KILEY / JENNY LEWIS
As both the guitarist and vocalist for Rilo Kiley, as well as in her solo career, Jenny Lewis provides solid alternative rock tunes with playful lyrics about life, love, mortality, and gender politics. Her music is catchy, memorable, and the definition of perfect alt rock.
Terminally shy, timid, and hopelessly romantic, Keaton Henson is the physical manifestation of every love note you ever wrote as a teenager. His music is deeply personal, incredibly vulnerable, and more raw than virtually any other singer/songwriter out there.
Electropop pioneers Khaela Maricich and Melissa Dyne are The Blow, a catchy, upbeat electronic band with lyrics about love, grammar, deli aisles, and an imaginary conversation between Lindsay Lohan and her mother. Trust me, it's much catchier than it sounds.
GOD HELP THE GIRL
A musical side-project from Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian, a slew of talented female vocalists perform the soundtrack to a low budget indie movie that Murdoch released a few years back. The movie didn't break any records, but the album is highly memorable.
Japanese girl punk has never sounded cooler than it does coming from 80's underground favorite Shonen Knife. Three kickass ladies with attitude deliver both American punk covers and pure Japanese originals with an energetic, bouncy style.
BADLY DRAWN BOY
British singer-songwriter Damon Michael Gough, better known as Badly Drawn Boy, has had a wide career composing instrumental soundtracks for movies while still independently producing dreamy, beautiful indie pop rock.
An American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Sufjan (whose name is Persian for 'comes with a sword') combines thoughtful and introspective lyrics about his life with a bold sense of experimentation spanning multiple genres and styles... even within the same song.
José González has two things: an incredibly soothing voice, and extensive training in classical guitar. He combines the two in order to create beautiful, flowing melodies that seem to transcend genre.
Matt Nathanson is considered by some to be a 'one hit wonder' based on the strength of his 2008 platinum selling single, 'Come On Get Higher'. But anyone who dismissed him that way would be missing out on some of the most memorable pop rock of the last decade.
Wisconsin-based Peter Mulvey has become famous for two things: his spoken word pieces that sometimes appear between tracks in his albums, and an absolutely grueling tour schedule. Until he's back in town (in, what, a week or two?), enjoy this cut of some of my favorite tracks from him.
Brett Dennen is one of the few artists who actually lives by what they sing about; as a folk pop artist who is deeply concerned with both people and nature, Dennen's music often focuses on both, and his tour dates happen to coincide with humanitarian projects that he asks his audiences to engage in.
An artist whose music tends to defy genre (I guess we could call it danceable indie rock pop?), Jaymes Young produces catchy tracks that tend to stick around in your head, and on your favorite playlists. His debut album JUST came out, so get in on the ground floor now before he blows up.