My Top 5 Favorite Bands

There’s a lot of great music out there.  Here are my top 5 favorite bands of all time.  I like more than these, but these are the ones that really stick.  I always go back to this stuff.  I listen to it over and over again.  It’s all probably embedded, by this point, somewhere deep in the core of my personality.

I thought about not writing this post.  “Your top 5 favorite bands, Ryan? That’s not content.  No one cares about you.  No one cares what bands you like.” Well, maybe they do.  Maybe you’ll discover some cool music.  I’ll do you even one better: I’ll tell you my two favorite songs by the bands.  Eh? Eh? How bout that.

5. Eyedea and Abilities
Eyedea & Abilities is a rapper and DJ duo who were the inspiration for the deadbeat kids that rob John Cusack’s store in High Fidelity.  Frankly, and I don’t say this lightly, as someone who listens to a considerable amount of rap, Eyedea is probably the best rapper who ever lived.  His lyrics are on point and deep.  It’s like listening to a Joe Rogan podcast, but rap.  He was released by a label called Rhymesayers, which also released Atmosphere.  I think, if he had lived, he would have been a cosmic level mainstream success once Eminem fell out of favor and everyone started looking for another white rapper.

Favorite song 1:
Smile. It’s slow, beautiful and honest.

Favorite song 2:
Skydiver. It’s mindblowingly fast and has a spitfire of poetic lyrics. I once spent three days practicing rapping this song and I totally nailed it.

4. Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin is timeless. When I was learning guitar as a kid, I got turned onto classic rock, including Led Zeppelin, and I never looked back. I remember watching The Song Remains The Same in middle school and old bootleg videos of Jimmy performing with the Yardbirds and early shows circa Led Zeppelin 1 in little local venues. There was a time when I could play every song on Led Zeppelin 4 on guitar and I used Ramble On for my audition for advanced jazz band in high school. I went through a short, embarrassing phase in middle school where I tried to dress like Robert Plant with like a mostly unbuttoned dress shirt I stole from my dad.

Favorite song 1:
Immigrant Song. Because of fucking course it is. I used to put this song on loop and play Medievia, which was an old MUD, which I know about because I am a nerd. Incidentally, I have a master’s degree in interactive and new media, so I should know what a MUD is. Stop judging me. I can feel your judgment. >:( Ahahaaaaaa–aaaa I come from the land of the ice and snow…

Favorite song 2:
Night Flight. This song has been stuck in my head for about fifteen years. I sing it in the shower or when I’m waiting for a bus.

3. Twenty One Pilots
It’s a new addition to this list. I hadn’t heard Twenty One Pilots until two years ago, and the rest of these bands are bands I grew up with and spent a lot more time with, but in all the music I’ve listened to outside of this list, and it is a lot, if I’m being honest with myself, it doesn’t compare to Twenty One Pilots. Their songs are personal, emotional and vulnerable. Their lyrics are incredible. Their style, a mix of pop, rock, synth and rap, is original and hugely satisfying, and when I saw them live it was the best live show I’ve ever seen and it was just two dudes on a stage, no special effects or anything.

Favorite song 1:
Holding Onto You. The line “This ain’t a noose, this is a leash and I have news for you, you must obey me” sticks in my brain and turns all the dials up to ten. The chorus in this song is a textbook example in how to write an amazing chorus.

Favorite song 2:
Ode to Sleep. This song showcases what Twenty One Pilots is all about, and it’s not what they play on the radio. It’s edgy, it’s fast, it’s melodic, it’s introspective, it’s experimental, it’s catchy and it’s very, very good.

2. Nirvana
A lot of people don’t like Nirvana. Because they are fucking scenesters or something, I don’t know. Maybe because they always play “Rape Me” on the radio, which is pretty much the flat out worst Nirvana song. The origin story of 90s counterculture. Up in Seattle they have the Museum of Pop Culture which has a whole Nirvana exhibit and I’m not going to lie, it sent chills down my spine. When I was in high school, I liked Nirvana so much that my nickname from my friends was ‘Early 90s’. And ‘Ferris Bueller’ because I ditched a lot of school but still got good grades. Maybe an overshare. I especially like Nirvana Unplugged, but of course I love every album. I wanted to grow up to be Kurt Cobain. When I made my first video game, I did an acoustic cover of ‘Oh, Me’ from Nirvana Unplugged.

Anyway…

Favorite song 1:
Where Did You Sleep Last Night. Unplugged has a bunch of good covers, so it’s hard to pick a favorite, but in terms of the sheer amount I listened to this song, it has to win.

Favorite song 2:
Lounge Act. This, and You Know You’re Right, are the only songs where you can really hear Kurt tap into the depths of his pain and sing from that place. The first half is pretty pleasant and poppy, but then the beat drops. “I don’t regret a thing”

1. Coheed and Cambria
In my opinion, this is the millennial flag-carrier of Led Zeppelin’s legacy. Unfortunately, music like that isn’t too popular anymore. Led Zeppelin wrote a bunch of songs about fucking and Lord of the Rings. Coheed and Cambria is a bunch of songs about Claudio Sanchez (the singer)’s sci-fi/fantasy comic book series. And they are fucking epic. I’ve seen them live a bunch of times. Not only are they incredible, Claudio has this high-pitched Geddy Lee voice and he looks like a straight up viking and is a super nice guy. One of the biggest visual/audio/personality dissonances in music. Not only are they great, but it’s a band that’s been around a long time, constantly evolving, so there’s a lot of range. This one’s really hard for me to pick two favorite songs. I can barely pick two favorite albums. It’s a ten way tie. But I’ll try.

Favorite song 1:
Devil in Jersey City. Probably does the best job of showing what Coheed was like in its earliest days and what they’re all about. Pop, rock, metal, good melodies, weirdly supportive lyrics.

Favorite song 2:
Man, this one’s tough. Here We Are Juggernaut? Three Evils? A Favor House Atlantic? Nah, you probably haven’t heard of Coheed if you’re reading this, so it’s gotta be In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3, which is they’re signature 8 minute hard rock epic.

Honorable Mentions: Billy Talent, Incubus, Jack White, A Perfect Circle