OK, maybe they're pretty big now. Maybe they've "sold out" (which as far as I can tell means "started to make money" so I don't see why it's all that big a deal). But once upon a time they were a dinky little nearly unknown band from Columbia University.
And some may call it a stretch but to that I say "screw you, get your own blog" as I present
Brennan's Top 10 Bands You've Probably Never Heard Of
Years Active. How I discovered them. Choice Track.
Years Active: 2002 - Present
Self-described as "wonky rock," Tally Hall is a band from Ann Arbor, Michigan that has a lot of fun making music, and it's really easy to tell just by listening to their songs. They play around with exotic instruments and weird vocal settings and create a soundscape that's unlike just about anything else.
How I Discovered Them: When I joined drama in my sophomore year of high school, I was friends with a group of seniors who loved them.
Choice Track: "Taken For A Ride"
Also Check Out: "Good Day," "The Whole World and You," "Ruler of Everything"
Years Active: 1995 - 2001
God help me, but I do love Eurodance music. Blümchen (in English, "Small Flower") is a German dance pop artist who definitely isn't for everybody but her bright voice, peppy beats, and general German-ness win me over every time. She is still around today, but now she goes by the name Jasmin Wagner and has moved on from her old image.
How I Discovered Her: I was browsing the German Pop section in iTunes (I know, right?) and discovered one of her English tracks, "Little Satellite." I loved it and bought it, but when I discovered all of her songs had German counterparts, I left that song by the wayside and dove into her German discography.
Choice Track: "Odysee in 3D"
Also Check Out: "Kleiner Satellit," "Verrückte Jungs," "Boomerang"
Years Active: 2004 - 2011
Amber Pacific is just another Warped Tour alt rock band but they ruled my world for a good year in middle school with their tight harmonies and angsty teen music. I ate that sh*t up. I still hold a great fondness for them now that I'm older, and I'll defend them to death. Although once their lead singer left, they crashed and burned.
How I Discovered Them: I actually found them on a Punk Goes 80's album, where they performed a cover of "Video Killed the Radio Star."
Choice Track: "Fall Back Into My Life"
Also Check Out: "Summer (In B)," "Temporary," "Video Killed the Radio Star"
7. Fanny Lú
Years Active: 2005 - Present
If I've ever driven you anywhere in my car, you've heard Fanny Lú. Just like most of my favorite people, she started off as a Spanish language news presenter (the other person I have in mind is Manuela Velasco, the star of the [REC] series). However she successfully transitioned to the music industry and is a fairly successful pop star. She's now a judge on La Voz Colombia, the Spanish language version of the reality show The Voice in her home country. Her best tracks are cheerful songs about heartbreak and she's one of the foreign artists that it breaks my heart they haven't successfully made it big in the States.
Also, during my research I discovered that in the Spanish dub of the movie Tangled, she performed a cover of Grace Potter's "Something That I Want" and I cried tears of joy.
I love Fanny Lú. Look at her hair. Look at her face.
How I Discovered Her: A common project in my high school Spanish classes was memorizing the lyrics to a Spanish song. She was never featured in any of my classes, but my friend Laura gave me a playlist of her class and Fanny Lú was featured prominently. I bought all her albums and never looked back.
Choice Track: "Tú No Eres Para Mi"
Also Check Out: "Fanfarrón," "Corazón Perdido," "Y Si Te Digo"
6. Army of Freshmen
Years Active: 1997 - Present
Army of Freshmen is another alt rock band with an airtight collection of albums. Their LP Under the Radar is one of those albums where every single track is strong enough to be a single, a rare achievement in the world of music. They frequently tour along with Bowling For Soup, another band I love that you've certainly heard of, even if it's just for 1985."
How I Discovered Them: In freshman year of high school, I was writing a musical based on Romeo and Juliet for an English project and I searched "Juliet" on iTunes to see what came up. They did and my life changed forever.
Choice Track: "Down at the Shore"
Also Check Out: "Maybe in the Midwest," "Juliet," "Wrinkle in Time"
5. The Sounds
Years Active: 1998 - Present
How could I not love them? They're from Sweden! I have not encountered a single thing from Sweden in my entire life that I have not loved with an all-consuming passion. The Sounds were the soundtrack to my first semester in college with their creative instrumentations and rocker chick vibe.
How I Discovered Them: Their song "Something to Die For" was used prominently in Scream 4. When I bought the soundtrack, that song dominated, and I eventually researched the band's other tracks.
Choice Track: "Dance With the Devil"
Also Check Out: "Something to Die For," "Painted by Numbers," "Better Off Dead"
4. Joshua Radin
Years Active: 2004 - Present
Of all the artists on this list, Joshua Radin is simply the most pleasant to listen to. His acoustic guitar songs and soft voice are featured prominently on my sister's "Go To Sleep" CD and I listen to him the most when I want to relax.
How I Discovered Him: The first drama production I ever worked on (David and Lisa) closed with his song "Winter." Dave, the drama director is a huge fan of his and it bled over to me.
Choice Track: "I'd Rather Be With You"
Also Check Out: "Vegetable Car," "Winter," "You Got Growing Up to Do"
Years Active: 2003 - Present
Ludo is one of them "funny" rock bands. Their first biggish single ("Good Will Hunting By Myself") features a minute long breakup rant that contains the phrase "Oompa Loompa monkey problem." I actually used it as a comedic monologue for an audition once. But their magnum opus album, You're Awful, I Love You is a masterpiece of baroque alt rock that is absolutely captivating.
How I Discovered Them: My friend Laura loves these guys and she shared them with me.
Choice Track: "Such As It Ends"
Also Check Out: "Good Will Hunting By Myself," "Lake Ponchartrain" "Mutiny Below"
Years Active: 2003 - Present
This British girl band has seen some massive lineup changes since their debut album We Are the Pipettes, but that album blows Britpop out of the water with track after track of solid, danceable, 60's-inspired pop confections. Gwenno, Rosay, and RiotBecki are alternately sweet and somber and lovably British through and through.
How I Discovered Them: My dad was raving about them, and I can't help but agree.
Choice Track: "Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me"
Also Check Out: "It Hurts To See You Dance So Well," "ABC," "Dance and Boogie"
1. Jay Brannan
Years Active: 2006 - Present
After failing to make a splash as an actor (but having an... interesting role as one third of a threesome in John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus), Jay Brannan set out to be a musician despite not actually knowing the names of the guitar chords. To this day he can't even give tabs for his songs because he just makes it up as he goes along, but it works. Trust me. A gay indie guitarist, Brannan's songs are filled with heartbreak and explorations of how to deal with a world that doesn't want you to exist.
Asialani and I got to see him in concert for my birthday last year and it was one of my best live experiences.
How I Discovered Him: Asia and I were working tech for the yearly dance show in our sophomore year and one of the performances was to his brilliant cover of Ani DiFranco's "Both Hands." It blew our minds and now we're longtime fans.
Choice Track: "Beautifully"
Also Check Out: "Both Hands," "Can't Have It All," "Housewife"
Bonus Artist Who You've Definitely Heard of But Probably Never Knew Made Anything of Merit: Paris Hilton
Years Active: 2006
Boy I wish I was kidding. But honestly, I kind of love Paris' self-titled album. It's not even good, but it's so much better than I ever expected. Produced before the advent of "Anybody Can Make Music Because Autotune is God," Paris' vocals lack the robotic thrum of today's reality star hitmakers. Oh sure, her vocals are heavily altered but her music sounds like actual songs, not a sequence of words run through a vocoder.
How I Discovered Her: Come on.
Choice Track: "Nothing In This World"
Also Check Out: "Stars Are Blind," "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," "Jealousy"
So what do you think? Am I a secret hipster? Heard of all these bands? Think I'm a poser? Hate Paris Hilton? Anyone can comment, so please let me know.
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