The Music I’m Not Listening To

Not since shortly after college have I felt particularly comfortable with broadcasting my taste in music. To be sure, I have deep-seated biases towards certain artists and musical genres and probably no shortage of opinion on what ‘good music’ is, so it’s not as if I would be at a loss for words.

But by and large I’ve come to learn that music can be such a misleading indicator of who a person is. Forming an idea of someone’s character based on his or her musical preferences is a bit like meeting a person in a nightclub; what’s communicated over the din of loudly played music and under the cover of strategically dimmed lighting is often not an entirely accurate portrait of who that person is in the light of day.

The Media Is the Message

For instance, there are people whom I consider to have essentially atrocious music libraries, and many of them are unquestionably smarter, more successful and more cultured than me. And then there are those whose eclectic, impeccably curated music libraries I might covet; many of those people are bores or bastards. They usually dress better than me, too.

All the same, in response to suggestions by readers in response to my post about, I’m going to go out on a limb and reveal some of my recent favorites — going back into last year, to give a slightly broader sense of my listening habits — to see what we can make of this idea that people are better recommendation engines than machines. And I’m going to do so without commentary — I’ll leave that up to readers!

Okay, readership, let’s see what you have to say. Let me know what I could be rockin’ to.

  1. I’d highly suggest Pinback, if you’ve never encountered them before. I’m a big fan of the song “Tripoli” off their first album. I noticed you like The Con, so I’ll also suggest Shout Out Louds and Peter, Bjorn and John. Both great Swedish pop groups that have a bunch ridiculously catchy tunes.

  2. Depending on what your current listening patterns and stylistic interests are, you might also like The Weakerthans, The National, Great Northern, The Long Winters, Ron Sexsmith, New Pornographers (see also Neko Case, AC Newman, Destroyer, etc. solo work). I concur with Matt about Feist and Metric (also see Emily Haines solo).

    And I think you meant “massage” not message. That was a misprint 🙂

  3. These are fine choices, but you’re missing out if you’re not listening to The National.

    Their last two albums — Boxer (the latest) and Alligator (before that) — are brilliant. And, based on what you’ve said you like, I think they’d both be up your alley.

    But I could be way off. Which I think is kind of the point.

  4. Haha, very exciting!
    I guess Feist could fit you, but you can even check her buddies called Do Make Say Think.
    And in a more shogaze-meets-krautrock style, don’t miss Steeple Remove’s Radio Silence.

  5. Thanks everyone. I’ve got “The Reminder” by Feist. I think it’s good; I just haven’t got into it very heavily. I’ve also had “Alligator” by The National for a while. That one I can’t figure out though. I find it really boring, but maybe I need to give it another chance — it seems to be leading the recommendations here.

  6. The problem with Feist’s album is true of many of my favorite albums these days: a few brilliant tunes among quite ordinary ones.

    Looking at your list, I think you might like The New Pornographers’ “Challengers,” Modest Mouse’s “We Were Dead…,” and maybe even Battles, not because the band resembles the ones you’re listening to, but because it looks like you might be open to thier quirky sound.

  7. I second Scott’s recommendation of the New Pornographers, as a group or as individuals they’re all super talented folks.

    Another to add to the mix is Blonde Redhead – 23. Definitely worth a listen.

  8. I would highly suggest Voxtrot due to the light-indie, poppy, soulful selections you’ve listed. They’re on iTunes and other places.

  9. Sorry for the double-post but I also second The Long Winters recommendation. I couldn’t stop listening to their latest when I first got it.

  10. You might like a band by the name of The Fratellis, they’re a Scottish group similar-ish to Futurehead. Also maybe Jet might be along your tastes, just from the bands you have listed up there.

  11. Thirded for New Pornographers, seconded for Modest Mouse. There’s a bit of a Britpop vibe going on in your list (see The Pipettes live if you get the chance!) – so how about The Young Knives’ Voices Of Animals And Men, or the new Super Furry Animals album, Hey Venus? Or, less similar musically, but similar(ish) in attitude to Jarvis and Futureheads, try Malcolm Middleton’s A Brighter Beat or Brakes’ The Beatific Visions. And if you like Von Sudenfed, maybe try LCD Soundsystem.

  12. Feist, Voxtrot, and Silversun Pickups are all great suggestions that make me wish I’d have read this post last night instead of this morning!

    I still think Athlete’s “Vehicles & Animals” is one of the best albums that very few ever heard, and their new release ain’t bad, either.

    Francis Dunnery is a love him or leave him kind of artist, but if you find you dig him you’ll want everything he’s ever put out.

    Northern Room and Fever Marlene are two Milwaukee bands making waves, and you can check out Northern Room live in NYC at CMJ next week. (full disclosure, I produced the latest Northern Room CD, so I may be just a wee bit biased…)

    And party playlists lately have been including Galactic and Fat Freddy’s Drop. Both quite fun.

  13. The more recent releases by Guster and The Trashcan Sinatras and the new release by Matthew Good might be near the edge of your musical taste, but they may fit nonetheless.

    If you want something completely out of left field, check out The Iron Horse, especially “Fade to Bluegrass”. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been impressed with them.

  14. I’ll back up everyone who’s been saying that “Challengers” is worth a listen. I really enjoyed it.

    You might also like Band of Horses (“Cease to Begin” is their newest and I think it’s quite good. So is their first album, “Everything All the Time.”

    Oh, and Iron and Wine. He’s an excellent singer/songwriter, if that’s your bag.

  15. KV- on the Feist, really “My Moon My Man” is the best song of the album. The rest are ooookay. Oddly enough, I found Feist through this video.

    And, most of your tunes I haven’t heard of. I’ll have to check them out to be able to make accurate recommendations. Because I just know you’re dying for opinions of a stranger.

    By the way, is there any way to crash that conference you’re speaking at in Boston? I’m going to be in the neighborhood.

  16. Two more just sprang to mind (thanks to iTunes!). I’ll second the new Athlete album “Beyond The Neighbourhood” and add the recent Bloc Party album “A Weekend In The City”.

  17. Okay, New Pornographers go on the list. I’ve been indifferent to what I heard in the past, but I’ll certainly give it another shot.

    I like Iron & Wine quite a bit already, and from what I’ve heard of the new album I’ve been impressed with. Same goes for LCD Soundsystem; what I most want, I think is new tunes though.

    Bloc Party is another mystery I can’t unravel. I tried many times to understand what everyone found so enjoyable about “Silent Alarm,” but it always left me cold. For yer staccato, Gang of Four-influenced revivalism, I much, much prefer Futureheads.

  18. New album by Ruby Lament is avail for free at

    One review

    ЉCirculation’ is a fantastic, seamlessley flowing collection of effortlessley cool and dark atmospheric songs, with a dancey heart beating through it. It’s like an electronic twilight trip through the late sixties and early seventies accompanied by Lou Reed and Jim Morrison.

  19. Another vote here for New Porn; and another for Modest Mouse, but please, BY GOD, do not get We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. I would recommend anything from The Moon and Antarctica and back. Good News for People Who Love Bad News is definitely a good album, but the songs were written by a post-druggie Isaac Brock and just aren’t quite the same.

    Pinback is always a great choice, I can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t like them. I’d say check out their CDs chronologically, their newest one, Autumn of the Seraphs, is excellent but might sound kind of washed-out without context.

    Boo to LCD Soundsystem. There’re better dance-electronica people out there who aren’t complete assholes. (“You Are Invited” by the Dismemberment Plan and “Losing My Edge” are pretty much the same song, only “You are Invited” is half as long and 100 times better. Not to mention the lyrics aren’t obnoxious, irony-filled or not)

  20. Because of the Feist mentions, I’ll throw in Regina Spektor – I think the first 4 tracks on Begin to Hope are outstanding. I’ll recommend The Broken Family Band (sort of a folk/country/blues/indie blend) to anyone that’s listening. And because of the britpop that’s bouncing around hereabouts, how about The Cribs? Perhaps best described as somewhere between The Strokes and the Libertines.

    Finally, my personal favourite song of 2006/7: You! Me! Dancing! by Los Campesinos! (exclamation marks are obligatory). Infectious.

  21. Sorry for double posting.

    A couple other suggestions:

    CSS for indie-electro-dance-rock.

    Depending on which parts of the Tegan & Sarah CD you enjoy you might also like Ladytron or, if you like darker stuff, Becoming X by the Sneaker Pimps

  22. Try: Tokyo Police Club, Cajun Dance Party, Joan As Policewoman and maybe the new Babyshambles, though I haven’t heard it yet.

    Also, it’s been around for ages, but I loved the Wolf Parade album.

    Oh, and a band called Radiohead have released a new album or something.

  23. I personally love loud and abnoxious music that the majority of the masses despise.. however, I can be very polite and professional in real life. You can’t really judge a person on their musical tastes. Not saying that you are, just reinforcing the fact.

    But people judge me over my musical tastes all the time… and I welcome it. It just shows how ignorant they really are. If someone is really that shallow, well they have their own mess to deal with, but not me!

    Take care, and I love your web design posts. Great stuff. Got me using a grid for the first time. 🙂

  24. Les Savy Fav is my favorite band ever and their new album is their best yet, although I guess they can be an acquired taste for some.

    If you’re gonna try The National, I’d suggest The Boxer. They are a bit boring the first couple of listens but they grew on me. The New Pornographers are great pop-rock, although I prefer Destroyer’s depth and quirkiness if I had to make a choice.

    I’ll second the boo to LCD Soundsystem—cheap, hollow 70s pastiche. Make yourself a mix of early disco and Elton John tracks. It’ll be much better.

  25. “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” by Brian Eno

    “Holy Fuck” by Holy Fuck

    “Your Mom’s Favourite DJ” by Kid Koala


    “Emperor, Tomato, Ketchup” by Stereolab

  26. Completely agree with the Holy Fuck recommendation. Their EP is good, but you will be reciting their name after seeing them live.

    I’ll pass on Augie March, and Australian quintet that just finished up an American tour with The Aliens (ex-Beta Band) and should be back here in Feb 08. Traveled to NYC and DC this year to see them and it’s been worth it both times. Their singer is easily one of the best songwriters living today.

  27. If you like the Pipettes you may also enjoy Tilly and the Wall, Lily Allen and The Go! Team — all head off in different directions from ‘upbeat + female vocals + energetic’. Also: the Phil Spector collection “Back to Mono” and “One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found”, excellent collections of 1960s girl groups. “Back to Mono” was #64 in Rolling Stones’ Top 500 albums, one of the few compilations on there.

  28. >>”My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” by Brian Eno

    …and David Byrne. Hear, hear! One of the greatest albums ever. I still play this every now and then, decades after it was released.

  29. I’d say…

    Elbow (any record, they’re all good)
    Doves (ditto- any record)
    Spoon (the last three have been stellar)
    Charlotte Gainsbourg (“5:55” – Jarvis Cocker wrote all the lyrics, IIRC)

    Other stuff you might dig:
    Neko Case
    Asobi Seksu
    John Vanderslice
    Arcade Fire

    I would also say Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, despite your not liking the new Rilo Kiley. I can’t say I much cared for the new RK either, but I really enjoy the JL&TWT record.

    The new Radiohead is pretty great, too, IMO.

  30. If you enjoyed Feist, I highly recommend checking out Ingrid Michaelson.

    Also an Australian band called Angus and Julia Stone. It’s very chilled, kind of do-nothing music, just sit there and relax music. I’m going to see them live next week and I’m very excited.

    I’ve been listening to a lot of Emiliana Torrini recently. Her album Fisherman’s Woman makes me melt inside.

  31. To add to the chorus: Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Pinback, New Pornographers/Neko Case, Spoon and “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” are all excellent ways to spend your t/dime. Broken Social Scene’s “You Forgot It In People” album is, in particular, an utterly life-changing experience.

  32. Lots of good stuff already suggested, but I’ll add The Rakes: Ten New Messages. ‘We Danced Together’ is the stand out track.

    Also big ups to the Aussie bands mentioned – I think you would dig Architecture in Helsinki too (check out their recently released ‘Places Like This’ and their prev release ‘In Case We Die’, fun stuff 🙂 Also check out Gotye (eg ‘Hearts a Mess’) too.

    Some others to check out which you may or may not be of interest: MIA, Klaxons, Kings of Leon, Editors, Martin Craft… so much good stuff out there 😉

  33. In spite of the possibility that I’ve been rated as bore or bastard, Љcause I certainly dress better than you, Khoi (well sometimes identically, but anyway), I’m sending you Joan as Police Woman and Jens Lekman. Both are sleepers that should rate high given your taste. Each comes with quirky, intelligent lyrics. Jens with a dose of twee that would be too saccharine for many. Joan with a skillful and odd musicality that might cast her in a 00’s version of our 80’s broadcast favorite, Fame. Come to think of itЁ someone should really do a remake of that show.

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