My 10 Favorite Modern Bands (In No Particular Order)

 

There is no way around it: modern music has quite the negative reputation for people who prefer the tunes of earlier decades. It is known for being inauthentic, cheesy, and made simply to add to the bank accounts of already-affluent producers and corporate money-eaters. However, if one were to dig deep enough into the current music scene, it would soon be obvious that the glimmer of past generations has not completely dulled away. As an avid rock fan, I personally have trouble with the music that attacks my ears every time I turn on the top 40 radio station. It doesn’t take much energy, though, to travel to other stations and discover songs and musicians who still believe in the way music should be made: authentically, and with passion.

To ease the pain of those of you who are slowly losing hope in the new music in the world, I put together a list of my top 10 favorite modern bands. The only qualifications to make the list were they had to be a band (not a solo musician) and they had to have released their debut album after 2000. Obviously, these are not all of the modern bands I like, there are dozens I had to go through to make this final 10 list; these are simply my favorites (in no particular order).

 

Grouplove

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Formed: 2009 in Los Angeles, California

Debut Album: Never Trust A Happy Song, 2011

What Makes Them Special: Grouplove’s distinctive sound is one I have not been able to stop listening to since I first discovered them in middle school. The first song I ever heard of theirs, “Hippy Hill,” hooked me instantly with its hollowing lyrics and powerful music. I’ve happily had the same experience with each song of theirs I’ve come across since. The thing that really makes them stand out is their distinctive blend of upbeat musicianship mirroring that of the 60s and 70s combined with thought-provoking lyrics suck you in and leave you begging for more.

Some of My Favorite Songs: Hippy Hill, Standing in the Sun, Colours

 

Cage the Elephant

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Formed: 2006 in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Debut Album: Cage the Elephant, 2008

What Makes Them Special: Another band I first came across in middle school, Cage the Elephant has a rebel tone I have been vibing with since I first heard them through the speakers of my favorite alt. rock radio station. Their carefree attitude unexpectedly produces meaningful lyrics, even making their song “Cigarette Daydreams” a little anthem of mine when I was 17, due to its lyric “you were only seventeen / so sweet, with a mean streak.”

Some of My Favorite Songs: Cigarette Daydreams, Halo, Aberdeen

 

The 1975

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Formed: 2002 in Manchester, England

Debut Album: The 1975, 2013

What Makes Them Special: Oh, The 1975…were you even an edgy/alternative teenage girl in 2013 if you didn’t have a tumblr account and obsess over The 1975? Although their quick popularity among young girls when their debut album came out led many to believe they were an overrated one hit wonder, their second album proved otherwise. Their sophomore album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, came out in 2016. Now those young girls who were first infatuated with hits like “Robbers” and “Chocolate” are three years older and, unsurprisingly, still love the band and their music, although they went through a complete change of style. I happily include myself in the group of fans still incredibly pleased with their music. The 1975’s dedication to their aesthetic, whether it be black and colorless or pink and pastel, is something anyone can admire, regardless of musical preference. Their music, of course, with its individuality and Matty Healy’s irreplaceable vocals, adds an unforgettable element to The 1975. They are here to stay.

Some of My Favorite Songs: Paris, She Lays Down, She Way Out

 

The Arctic Monkeys

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Formed: 2002 in Sheffield, England

Debut Album: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, 2005

What Makes Them Special: Another alternative rock band that made young girls feel edgy in 2013 with the release of their album AM, The Arctic Monkeys carry a mysterious bad boy vibe that is hard not to be intrigued by. 2013 not only brought an extreme style change to the band, with the lead singer Alex Turner trading in his long curly hair and flannel shirts for a slicked back look reminiscing on that of the 1950s and a leather jacket, but also commercial success. It was impossible to turn on an alt. rock radio station in 2013 without hearing “Do I Wanna Know” at least once every hour. Their chilled out and mesmerizing lyrics and sound left me hooked from the first time I heard them. Although they haven’t released anything since AM, Alex Turner’s other band The Last Shadow Puppets have produced enough music to keep Arctic Monkeys fans happy. However, I’m still eagerly awaiting the follow-up to AM.

Some of My Favorite Songs: No. 1 Party Anthem, Love is a Laserquest, Suck It and See

 

alt-J

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Formed: 2007 in Leeds, England

Debut Album: An Awesome Wave, 2012

What Makes Them Special: As with my past bands mentioned, alt-J has dominated the alt. rock radio stations again and again. The average person can most likely sing along to songs like “Breezeblocks” and “Left Hand Free” without even completely acknowledging who alt-J is. The vocals of Joe Newman, the lead singer, was the first thing to draw me in. There is no way to describe his distinctive way of singing other than simply enthralling. The vocals combined with their endless use of unique instruments to create a hypnotizing overall sound keeps me returning to their discography. Their songs they have made about films, like “Matilda” for Leon: The Professional give the band a whole new depth.

Some of My Favorite Songs: Matilda, Something Good, Tessellate

 

Kings of Leon

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Formed: 1999 in Nashville, Tennessee

Debut Album: Youth & Young Manhood, 2003

What Makes Them Special: I oddly fell in love Kings of Leon when I went to their concert in 2014 for one of my favorite bands, Young the Giant, who was opening for them (and sadly did not make it onto this list). Although I obviously enjoyed Young the Giant’s set, I was transfixed on Kings of Leon. Caleb Followill’s deep voice cascading into the night air mixed with the everlasting guitar solos completely stole me away. I feel like its appropriate to also add that it starting storming during the outdoor concert, yet I chose to stand out in the cold September rain to watch the entirety of Kings of Leon’s set. Kings of Leon obviously hold classic rock close to them as an influence, and it shows in their authentic sound. And, of course, everyone knows their song “Use Somebody.”

Some of My Favorite Songs: Pickup Truck, Beautiful War, 17

 

The Kooks

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Formed: 2004 in Brighton, England

Debut Album: Inside In/Inside Out, 2003

What Makes Them Special: A band named after a David Bowie song, how could I not love them? The Kooks not only named their band after a song from one of the greatest musicians of the past, but they also obviously hold the music of the past, especially the 60s and 70s, as influences. Their endless drum and guitar solos paired with Luke Pritchard’s rockstar-quality vocals leave me feeling as if I had just heard a song from The Kinks, or maybe even The Stones. I find myself continually returning to their debut album due to the fact that I have yet to find a single song on it I do not love. I have enjoyed their music since their debut, but to me nothing will compare to Inside In/Inside Out; it may even be my favorite album of all the bands I mention on this list.

Some of My Favorite Songs: She Moves In Her Own Way, Seaside, Got No Love

 

Rainbow Kitten Surprise

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Formed: 2013 in Boone, North Carolina

Debut Album: RKS, 2013

What Makes Them Special: Created at my future home of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, Rainbow Kitten Surprise are a truly unforgettable band. Their creative name is not the only element that make RKS a special band. The lead singer Sam Melo’s deep voice singing about everything from lost love to a society falling apart give RKS a unique edge.

Some of My Favorite Songs: All’s Well That Ends, Cocaine Jesus, Devil Like Me

 

 

The Lumineers

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Formed: 2005 in Denver, Colorado

Debut Album: The Lumineers, 2012

What Makes Them Special: Keeping to the reoccurring themes of this list, I discovered and fell in love with The Lumineers in middle school (8th grade to be exact) and they have also repeatedly dominated alt. rock radio stations. “Ho Hey” was their first big hit, and chances are anyone can sing along to the chorus. Their debut album as a whole, with its overall theme based in the 50s and 60s, served as backdrop to time as a fourteen-year-old. My younger self simply couldn’t resist songs alluding to John F. Kennedy and authentic hippies, two things I still find myself obsessed with. Specifically, the song “Flowers in Your Hair” spoke to me while I attempted to figure out who I was. My high hopes for their sophomore album Cleopatra were not wasted, as the album did just as well as their debut. In turn, it seemed to be the perfect soundtrack for my junior year of high school as I struggled with the ever-pressing pressures of deciding what to do with my life. I am currently impatiently awaiting their third album and its endless possibilities as background music to my life.

Some of My Favorite Songs: Flowers in Your Hair, Sleep on the Floor, Charlie Boy

 

Vampire Weekend

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Formed: 2006 in New York City

Debut Album: Vampire Weekend, 2008

What Makes Them Special: Yet another band I discovered and loved in middle school (I really did go through quite the musical awakening), Vampire Weekend has remained one of my favorite bands ever since I discovered their enthralling, and somewhat depressing, tune “Hannah Hunt.” Their lead singer, Ezra Koenig, was actually an English teacher until 2007, when the band received a record deal. His teaching background explains the profound and somewhat haunting lyrics hidden within Vampire Weekend’s songs. To this day, any Vampire Weekend song transports me to the streets of New York City in the early 1960s; I’m wearing oxford shoes and my hair is in loose curls complimenting my delicate dress and, of course, Vampire Weekend is playing indefinitely from unseen speakers.

Some of My Favorite Songs: Hannah Hunt, Obvious Bicycle, Don’t Lie

Music isn’t the way it was forty years ago. It isn’t even the same as it was ten years ago, or even one year ago. It is always changing, evolving. Change can be frightening because we are scared to miss what we love and have become accustomed to, but it is also exciting. Although music appears “worse” than it was years ago, if anyone searches hard enough, there are still hardworking and deserving bands out there trying to keep the true spirit of music, specifically rock ‘n’ roll, alive.

Remembering George Harrison on his 74th Birthday

Whether or not you consider yourself to be a fan of The Beatles, there is no denying the impact they had on the world, not just music. Eventually with help from The Rolling Stones and other members of the British invasion, The Beatles helped pioneer a new wave of rock music. They may have started out as a pop boy band, with the craziness of Beatlemania often overshadowing their true talent, but with the influence of people like Bob Dylan, The Beatles soon began writing meaningful songs that completely captured the ideals of a whole generation in the 1960s.

Often times, bands become popular with a certain age group or demographic, simply because it’s hard to please large groups of people. In the 1960s, however, everyone was listening to The Beatles. They had songs for everyone; slow, introspective songs like “Blackbird” for the parents who want something easy on the ears, and fast, upbeat songs like “I Feel Fine” for the younger people who wanted something to dance to. Other songs, like “Come Together” and “Revolution” were perfect for the misunderstood counterculture movement. The Beatles introduced numerous innovations into the world of popular music, making it impossible for us to have the music we have today if it weren’t for them. The Rolling Stones, as influential as they are in their own way, even took concepts that were working for The Beatles and shaped them to fit the Stones.

Each Beatle brought one forth of an equation the other three did not have; John was witty, Paul was charismatic, Ringo was quirky, and George was effortlessly cool. Without one of them, the other three could not have climbed the charts the way they did the in the 1960s. Decades have passed, and people still listen the albums The Fab Four released. Longevity is The Beatles’ middle name; they did not just create good music for their time period, they created good music for eternity.

On a day like today, February 25th, one can’t help but think of the impact of The Beatles. After all, it is George Harrison, “the guitar player’s” 74th birthday. Or, at least, it would have been.

No, George is not the one who dated Yoko Ono; or the one who went on to create The Wings in the 70s; or even the one who now always wears sunglasses and cool earrings. No, George was the quiet one. George was the one who may have been easy to overlook if you weren’t looking for him. He was the first to become annoyed with the generic questions reporters consistently asked the Fab Four; “What’s your favorite color?” “What do you eat for breakfast?” causing George to become silent in most interviews. However, if you have heard the songs “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Something,” or “Here Comes the Sun,” you have heard the work of George Harrison. Through various trips to India, George developed a love the Eastern World, causing him to introduce the West to sitars and synthesizers. George played the sitar in songs like “Norwegian Wood” and “Within You Without You,” the latter of which he actually wrote.

George passed away November 29th, 2001 at the age of 58. George did not gain the attention John did through his relationship with Yoko Ono and call for peace, or the later consideration for being the last two surviving Beatles, as Paul and Ringo now do. George did not bask in publicity; he was the shy one, the quiet one. He lived with an air of mystery around him that he kept until he left the world. George slipped away quietly, leaving the ripples of the brilliant music he made to leave a message he himself rarely vocalized.

credit to whomever the beautiful photo of George belongs to