Chris’s Top 30 Current Favorite Artists

In honor of KLYAM’s two year Birthday (June 27) I decided to make a list of my 30 favorite bands at the moment with the criteria being that they had to have released material since the inception of KLYAM that I enjoy very, very much. I don’t plan on writing about all of them, especially when it is so obvious to anyone that frequently visits this site why I love some of these bands. Okay, here we go!

30) Those Darlins: You think Country music is dead?! You clearly haven’t heard Those Darlins. This four piece band rocks like a Punk band but with the sweetness of an old school Country act. A great example of a modern band incorporating traditional styles of music into their own unique sound.

29) The Strange Boys

28) Smith Westerns: I had heard the name Smith Westerns tossed around like a hot child in the city and they just seemed like another hype band, and for some reason (at least to me) they kind of have that look to them. Eventually, I sat down and gave them some eartime and realized I had been missing out on one of the finer pop bands around today. When you listen to SW you can tell these guys want their music to just consume you and rest deep in your psyche for as long as possible. Their songs are epic, perhaps even over the top, but in that nice way, you know where you fear they are coming too close to pretentious, but then all of that evaporates when you realize just how catchy, emotional, and ultimately memorable the music is. Definitely, one of my new favorite bands, all hype bullshit aside.

27) Atlas Sound: If you asked most music fans what they look for in artists I’m sure sincerity is pretty damn high on the list. Bradford “Atlas Sound” Cox is one of the most sincere artists in the whole world. Instead of making his music a premeditated script, Bradford lets the music flow as he is recording it; he does not write lyrics ahead of time and this really shines through in his songs. There is an uncany vulnerability in his music. For example, in “Holiday,” when he moans “I’m desperate, don’t try to get away” you really believe him. He offers the genuine emotion and conviction a “proper” musician would simply fuck up. Not to mention the vast amount of music he makes freely available for everyone!

26) Arctic Monkeys

25) Peach Kelli Pop: A notable trend on this list is the vintage, “garage,” if you will studio production sound in most or many of these artists, and I think PKP is no exception to that. I love the sound of their self-titled record and how simple it is (or at least appears to be); thee simplicity is key to these tunes. Also the exuberence and joy placed in every song is enough to make even the grouchiest killjoy start shakin’. PKP is like bubblegummy, teeny bopper music for Punkers. “Eeenie Meenie Minie Moe” is my top jam; I could blast that forever.

24) Gentlemen Jesse and His Men: I’m often shocked that some of the music I love is not as big as I would expect it to be. But, as Hunx says to the nay sayers of Rock and Roll: “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with a world that doesn’t enjoy or worse has never came close to hearing the pleasant power pop of Gentlemen Jesse. These Atlanta rockers represent more of the sweet side of Rock and Roll, but they ain’t pussies! and whenever I see them live I’m thinking this is ALL I NEED TONIGHT!

23) Arcade Fire

22) Shannon and the Clams: I think Shannon and the Clams are the youngest (in terms of my excessive fandom for their music) band on this list. In the past month, the clams have been in heavy rotation on my ipod and it’s not hard to see why; if you love balls out, no fucking around, sometimes soft, sometimes crazy Rock and Roll, then this band demands your attention. Shannon Shaw has a gorgeous voice filled with variety- she can belt out loud, Punk inspired vocals or send your ears to musical heaven in the form of more sensitive singing. A lot of great ballads, straight up rock songs, and everything in between. One of the funnest bands I’ve come across as of late.

21) Cumstain: Wow, what a fucking band right here. Cumstain is the kinda band where your not sure if it’s just a joke or if you’re going to write your college thesis on their work and life philosophy. Well, it’s neither, but something has to be special if one were to make this contemplation. Seriously though, I can’t promote this band enough, it really dissapoints me that so few people know of their music. In terms of the songs, they are quite strong, stronger than most of their “garage” peers, but really that’s just the beginning. I have often described them as an unintentionally conceptual band. Their eponymous deubt record feels like an odd, off kilter concept album. A loose, dirty story of what it is like to be a young, sexually frusturated and confused male in this world. Overall, the music is fun and rocks, not to be taken too seriously, but honestly I rarely ever hear anything so visceral. Cumstain’s lyrics are often vulgar and licentious (who would have guessed?!) but beneath the unsavory language there’s a lot of truth. It’s a truth most pop songwriters would save for a private conversation with their buddies instead of documenting their thoughts and emotions via music. The classic ballad (it’s a ballad to me anyway) and final track “Cum Stain” really wraps things up and sums up the album as a whole. Countless bands have written about wanting to fuck girls and do naughty things to them, but few have ever taken the time to explain why, in an astonshingly direct manner, they feel this way. And as stated in the song, the relationship between men and women- the most discussed subject matter in just about all of art, is humorously and accurately reduced to being just another cum stain on a girl’s floor. I couldn’t think of a better way to put it myself, I can imagine Bill Shakespeare would be proud. With that being said, you could eschew all that philisophical analysis as utter nonsense and that would be perfectly fine because at the end of the day these songs are really great rockers to toss on while you get drunk and rowdy and dance/mosh around to or however you like to spend the time in your bachelor’s life.

20) The Almigthy Defenders: Man oh man, if I attended the show on the above flyer it would be salvation for sure! There are a lot of side projects in Rock and Roll especially when it comes to my faves, but without a doubt The Almighty Defenders brought a whole new meaning to the words side project and supergroup. Honestly, I don’t know if I could have dreamed up a more heavenly super group. If anyone reading this is a fan of The Black Lips, The King Khan & BBQ Show or just good old fashioned, analog sounding, early roots, gospel inspired- pre-popular, mass machine based music and you haven’t listened to defenders, do yourself a massive favor check them out ASAP.

19) Harlem: The word “garage” gets tossed around way too much and admittedly we are part of that over usage; Harlem has often been categorized as a garage band and certainly they have elements of said genre, but as far as KLYAM tastebuds go, they have totally surpassed 95% or more of the bands that fall under that label. Despite their Matador Records deal and other widespread acclaim, alas it seems Harlem does not gain the recognition they deserve. Who knows maybe the “indie” music “scene” just wanted to build Harlem up and look for the next Black Lips or Jay Reatard and didn’t find them. Well, fuck that Harlem is Harlem! And you know what Harlem probably doesn’t care anyway. They have that Maine Coonsy-Beetsy “I don’t give a fuck” kinda attitude to them. Even live this persona was completely intact- though they were also on shrooms when I saw them… But there’s really sentiment and heart to this trio’s music- a character lacking in their fellow “garage” comrades. They remind me of that guy that acts all nonshalant about getting laid (“yeah, I fucked her..”) but deep down that’s all that’s on his mind.

18) Mark Sultan

17) Girls

16) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: It seems pretty obvious just with a few quick glances of this list that there are virtually no original artists in the truest sense of the word. Most of them wear their influences on their sleeves and you know what that is more than fine by me. Most bands aren’t close to original to begin with, so I’d rather hear a band mimic an existing style and add their own flavor to it. Pains are a great modern example of this- they sound like they belong on an 80s teen flick soundtrack with a little bit of the distortion and harsh noise of The Jesus and Mary Chain spinrkled in the mix. Easily one of the strongest debut LPs I have had the pleasure of hearing.

15) Magic Kids

14) The Maine Coons: If you react to music the way I do, then when you hear a band described as “cum punk” then it is a MUST that you hear them. Definitely the most obscure band on this list- which just like another “cum punk,” band, if you will, Cumstain deepely saddens me. These guys need to be acknowledged because they have the creepy, but catchy, freaky, but funny song dynamic down to a tee. Seriously their music is in the same league as Nobunny and Mark Sultan. I will constantly promote these guys any chance I get. Perhaps some of the greatest song titles ever- “Pull the Plug On Grandma,” “Hey Dickhead,” “Ghetto Queen,” “I Am a Motherfucker,” and the uplifting, missonary anthem, “How Long Is It Going to Take For You to Find God.” Maine Coons for life! You won’t find pussy this good anywhere else, I assure you.

13) King Khan & the Shrines

12) Ty Segall: Yeah yeah, I know that’s not a pic of Ty, but rather Steven Segal. But, if Ty and Steven got into a brawl, the former would totally win because Ty Segall is thee definition of badass. He’s a badass in that cool, laid back kind of way- not the I’m a tough guy and I have to prove it to everyone including myself kinda way; real gangsta ass niggas don’t start fights. And to top it off, Ty’s music is the sexiest music created in decades. Think about it, next time you want to get it on with a lady friend, play some Ty Segall. You can thank me in the form of KLYAM promotion!

11) Nobunny: Nobunny is for the children. Nobunny is for the geezers. A great man once told me that Nobunny is everything and at the same time Nobunny is nothing.

10) Best Coast

9) Animal Collective: I mentioned earlier that the artists on this list lack orginality (not as a flaw, but as a basic observation), well Animal Collective is an exception to that. I have always argued that they are the greatest and most groundbreaking band of the past decade and even if you don’t agree with that high praise you can at least admire them for their vast experimentation which is juxtaposed with their ability to break into a more accessible sound without totally abandoning those chaotic tendencies. AC was the first modern band that really struck me and got me into listening to other modern artists. Before them, I listened to only older artists for the most part. In other words, they destroyed the musical time barrier for me.

8) No Age: Whenever people ask me about noise music I typicall drop two names: Lightning Bolt and No Age. I don’t consider myself a noise aficionado by any means and I don’t consier NA a pure noise band, but one cannot help but notice the direct link between the cacophany, energy, and volume of LB and other noise bands and Dean and Randy’s ever growing project. The only difference is that this duo has an extreme devotion to pop music. From the beginning, NA has made it clear (not so much verbally) that they are pop songwriters and great ones at that! Their catchy tunes and overall light hearted, positive demanor offer a sense of inclusion, which is very much apparent in their recordings, but all the more alive during their awe inspiring live shows. No Age can be appreciated by old school punkers (or fans of old school Punk/Hardcore) but at the same time their music feels welcoming to all.

7) Box Elders: When one of your favorite bands break up it’s like when your parents divorce.* “It’s just going to end like that! Did you even consider how this would affect me?!” Even though it saddens you, you have to be a bigger person and realize its probably for the best and they need to work things out for themselves. A book on teaching music fans how to cope with their favorite bands’s splits will be available in bookstores shortly… Plain and simple, the Box Elders were one of the greatest- live, in the studio, and everywhere else. When I heard that they were through it was a dark day for KLYAM. At least, we have the music! Alice and Friends (2009) is one of the finest LPs from the past decade and probably my favorite Goner release. It’s funny with a lot of small bands you have to pay close attention to truly appreciate the pop song sunk beneath the sea of noise with the BE it was the exact opposite: you had to look for that home recording “lower” quality sound because (at least for me) their pop hooks and musical excellence dominated each and every song.

* This is just a joke, for I have never had to deal with a divorce in any way whatsoever.

6) Wavves: King of the Beach (2010) was KLYAM’s #1 album of the year brah, a title we don’t take lightly around here haha. Thanks (along with Best Coast) for bringing back good teenage angst music- at least for my tastes.

5) Hunx an His Punx

4) The King Khan & BBQ Show: I’d like to think of King Khan & BBQ as a little microcosm for my entire taste in music and more significantly my personality as a whole. Sexy, but sweet. In your face and crazy at times, but usually just ready to party and Rock and Roll. Complete soul, sentiment, and integrity, but don’t take shit too, too seriously or else it tastes bad. No bullshit, keep it as real as real can get and keep an eye on all the hunnies. Mark Sultan’s definitely my favorite singer right now- pumping up various vocalists of the 50s, 60s, and 70s with steroids and BBQ, a neat combo.

3) Deerhunter: Tru Gangsta. Tru Gangsta. If I ever saw any they would be the four gentlemen that comprise Deerhunter. Deerhunter in many ways are the group that links many of these bands together. The experimental pop aspect of their music can be associated with Animal Collective and No Age and their fun loving, Rock and Roll, “Garage” esque- simple music aesthetic and background connects them with the like of their hometown boys, The Black Lips, Jay Reatard, and The King Khan & BBQ Show, amongst others. I was discussing music with a friend and I pointed out what makes Deerhunter special and separates them from most artists is the fact that their music is extremely emotional and they deal with love in their songs, but they don’t write “love songs” or songs about sexual relationships between people. This allows the band to tap into an entirely different universe, often much greater, deeper emotions other artists never enter; they create a different kind of love song. I constantly use the word emotional to describe their music and obviously any good music has to be emotional in one way or another, but I feel like people give Deerhunter a bad name when they say they are “depressing.” Their music perhaps takes people to a place in themselves that they would rather not face, but that’s precisely what I love about them. I credit this band with helping me out a lot when I was depressed; in many ways they were the soundtrack to my evolution to happiness- that’s the only way I can describe it. My favorite song is the Microcastle (2008) closer “Twilight At Carbon Lake.” I love how it starts off sort of “sad,” and then just explodes into this wall of noise till the very end of the record. To me that song is like going through personal hell, going from totally hating yourself to totally loving yourself. As if that massive increase in volume is akin to a nervous breakdown and the end of the song is a sign that you made it out alive, stronger than ever, like the noise was just you destroying everything you hated about yourself and everything that brought you down in the first place. I’m not saying that’s what the song is about or what I think the song is about, but rather what it means to me. It’s not so much about thoughts, it’s about emotions.

2) Jay Reatard: First and foremost, with The Ramones as a possible exception, Jay wrote the catchiest songs ever. The man could sit down with a guitar and his voice alone and unleash a mini pop symphony that the most sophisticated musicians alive could never create. I can imagine one of his legacies will be the fact that he serves as a model for how much one can do with how little they have- giving hope to many a young guy and girl alone in their bedroom making music seemingly no one wants to hear. In both his music and lyrics, Jay eschewed the tough guy image a lot of people placed on him, instead cutting open his heart and sharing his blood visions for you and me, and for all to see. If you look at his songs, he really doesn’t shield himself from the rest of the world like most people do. For a guy with as much balls and strength in him, he wasn’t shy to reveal his feelings through his music in a non gay reatard way, i.e. “I look in to your eyes and try not to cry,” from his classic “Oh, It’s Such a Shame.” And indeed it is a shame, but it would be an even greater shame if we let his music fade all away into obscurity. RIP.

1) Black Lips!: Most of this site is why I love the Black Lips and why they are my favorite band, so this explanation, if you will, will be as brief as possible. In fact, the namesake for this site, for you newbies, descends from the lyrics to the lips’ anthem and their most popular song, “Bad Kids.” It’s funny, I don’t remember how this all came about, but from what I’m told a friend of ours, actually KLYAMer, Ben Tan, came up with the title knowing Glen and I were such massive fans of their music. Honestly, what a perfect title- it works on many different levels and makes sense, even if you can’t catch the reference. I think had it been Glen or me that came up with the title we probably would have called it something stupid like “Everybody Loves a Cocksucker” to prove we’re die hard Black Lips fans. Which we are- the hardest working fans in show business, but we are certainly not OG and never claimed to be. We stumbled upon the Lips in April of ’08 and slowly we became psychotic devotees, grabbing everything we could listen to, read, or watch on the band. I don’t know about Glen, but for me perhaps the greatest characteristic of the Black Lips is the fact that they satisfy the classic image and idea of what Rock and Roll band should be. That heroic, do whatever the fuck you want, Rock and Roll all night and party every day, image that I honestly thought was dead before the Lips came into my life. I thought it died with popular Rock and Roll music. But, it is alive and well and has been for a long time, just nestled in the underground. Will the Lips be the band that brings this music above ground again? Who knows? I hope the best for them, but I honestly don’t care, I will be satisfied as long as they keep it simple, stupid.

3 Comments

  1. There’s news on the marksultan.com about the new release due with King Khan. Both songs are about fish and or the ocean and the b-side is a Syd Barrett cover. I would never have thought that this would ever happen but that’s what it says over there.

  2. psh as hardworking as me? HARDLY. ;) AND you totally got the K.I.S.S. reference from my Joe interview!

  3. XYZ- Nice! I’ll have to check this out. I hope Mark comes back to Boston.
    Lauren- I am the hardest (working) KLYAMer in showbusiness… okay I stole that from Ron Jeremy :) excecpt the KLYAMer part and my K.I.S.S. reference was absolutely from the Joe interview- that was me being “cute,” it’s what I do best honey!

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