Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Top 10 List: (Modern) Singers (in no ranking order)

Given that some of my favorite artists of forever have come through town recently (with many more on the horizon), I thought that it would be appropriate to compile a shortlist of sorts for my Top 10 (Modern) Singers that I have come into contact in my life. Of course, it is completely unfair to put these in any ranking order since they all have different talents, and gifts that all need to be praised differently.

1) Jeff Buckley
Grace is one of those lasting records for me. I thought that it just fell into my hands at the right time, until I realized that a lot of people have had such a similar experience. For me, Buckley’s music was a realization that a voice was also an instrument, rather than just a tool to get your thoughts across. I remember sitting in my Volkswagen bus in high schoo,l and just trying to understand how he could possibly hit those notes at the end of this song. Just when you think he had reached his limit, that’s when he pulled the rug out from under you.

[mp3] Jeff Buckley - Grace

2) James Grundler
I think James Grundler (Golden State, Paloalto) gets too much flack for sounding like Thom Yorke. The truth is that a lot of his older songs really do sound like Radiohead knockoffs. This fault many times distracts listeners from hearing the massive lungs that this guy has, which allows him to belt notes with precision and ease. We have given him the nickname “the Ramp” for the way his voice launches into these jaw dropping high spots.

[mp3] James GrundlerMade of Stone (Live)

3) Jimmy Gnecco
The first time I heard Gnecco sing was at the Troubadour in LA, where by the end of the show he was climbing up the railings oscillating between his head voice and falsetto. His voice could be called Jeff Buckley’s banshee at moments, yet his voice can downsize into a Bono-like warble. His scream is the craziest vocal performances I have ever witnessed. Yeah…the craziest…ever.

[mp3] OursFallen Souls

4) Thom Yorke
It’s impossible not to have Yorke on this list. In Radiohead’s early years he was known for his range that translated into being emotionally effective. Of course, it is hard not to get the chills when he hits and holds in “Creep” and “Sulk.” But as Yorke has matured, his vocals have separated themselves from having to rely on his “power lung,” and yet still trying to hit the emotional bull’s-eye. I think that he has damned good aim at this point in his life.

[mp3] Radiohead2+2=5 (The Lukewarm)

5) Bono
As a living legend of vocal rock, as well as full-time do-gooder, it is hard to discount the influence that such a voice has had. In other words, how many of the listed artists secretly used, “Where The Streets Have No Name” as vocal practice when they were growing up? I bet that number is higher than we might want to believe.

[mp3] U2 - Acrobat

6) Bjork
Only one female makes the list this time around; yet, this little Icelandic princess could probably out huff, out puff, and blow down any freakin’ house that stands in her way. Only a true vocalist can tour with an orchestra without being cheesy (sorry Metallica), and make an album with only vocals and not come of pretentious. Bjork’s voice during the outro of “Joga” seems to be continually on the rise, and reaches the realms of impossibility.

[mp3] Bjork - Joga

7) Cinjun Tate
Way before Garden State, Remy Zero was one of my favorite bands (I guess Zach Braff and I do have something in common). Cinjun makes you hurt with the ease that his voice weave its way into harmonies and up scales seamlessly. “Hollow” might be my favorite RZ tune of all-time, and possibly the reason they were deemed the American Radiohead when Villa Elaine was released. If you dig, check out Cinjun’s heartbreakingly beautiful new band Spartan Fidelity.

[mp3] Remy Zero - Hollow

8) Jeff Mangum
Mangum isn’t the guy that should be picked for the team, and yet when you see him out on the court he has some crazy insane skill, like being able to speak at a louder volume than anybody else on the playground. Before you realize it the whole school is sitting around mesmerized by the, “I-can-sing-louder-than-you” boy who is sitting atop the basketball hoop. And then we applaud and he runs away. Forever? For some reason I have a really good feeling that he will be back for the second half.

[mp3] Neutral Milk HotelTwo-Headed Boy

9) Nick Urata
DeVotchKa’s Nick Urata is the type of guy who sings his way out of problems as well as into heartache. Your mom would get a crush on Urata as soon as he opened his mouth, and started warbling in his Spaniard goes eastern-European accent (no don’t go thinking Borat now). That is all before your girlfriend started drooling and the lesbian in the corner decided to switch teams. Don’t believe me? I have experienced it with my own eyes, and us lonely guys are the ones who have to deal with the heartache. Thanks Nick.

[mp3] DeVotchKaTwenty-Six Temptations

10) Maynard James Keenan
First off, I can’t believe I am actually putting A Perfect Circle song up on the Content. But being a true Maynard fan (and Pushit was 15 MB) I couldn’t help myself. Maynard’s voice is as good a croon as it is a growl, and at 40-ish he still has it in him. Since Tool looks to be on the out and A Perfect Circle is kaput, I would like to see Maynard try to do something outside of the whole power chord, art-rock genre. Just imagine if he pulled a Beirut.

[mp3] A Perfect CircleThree Libras (Acoustic)


Blogger francis said...

what? no mariah carey?! just kidding. nice list

12:50 PM  
Anonymous vjb2 said...

Wait, what? Who says Tool is on the outs? Because they only put out an album once every five years, which inevitably blows up huge? Where are you getting this?

1:32 PM  
Blogger BWH999 said...

Multiple interviews with Maynard talk about this most likely being Tool's final album.

1:43 PM  
Blogger the_KING said...

And also since there contract with Volcanoe was for three albums (after Undertow) it is hard to know if they are done with their contract (not knowing if Salival, a live/rarities comp, is going to count).

I am sure their is going to be something more though from the Nard.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerwin...are you sure this is not in chronological order? Hmmmmmmm

6:28 PM  
Blogger the_KING said...

Definately not in chronological order Mr. Anonymous. Come forth from the shadows and show yourself. If it was in chronological order then Maynard would have come first followed by Cinjun and then Yorke. Since my lifespan in music isn't all that long I can see why you could make that assumption.

Anyways, if this is the G-Love (or anybody else for that matter), it's okay to say its you. The Anonymous comment with my name in it is kind of freakin' me out.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

Intersting choices on your list. And some of them I am firmly behind - Bjork, Thom Yorke and Jeff Mangum. I have to be careful not to listen to Neutral Milk Hotel while driving, as I always end up throwing back my head and howling along, scaring the crap out of the other drivers.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous (and the special sauce) said... (and the Special Sauce's) TOP 10 list of Modern Day singers (IN particular order thus reordering the KING's). Warning: this is coming from a highly novice listener with untrained ears and no musical talent to boot...

1.) Jeff Buckley - the KING hit the right note, enough said...

2.) Jimmy Gnecco - Who doesn't like a pony-tailed man in mascera and tight ass jeans?

3.) Cinjun Tate - the Scrubs guy is right and who can argue with a doctor or male nurse, whatever? Did anyone say Gaylord Focker? Let's just hope his vocal career isn't "shattered". Btw, that's probably one of THE best RZ songs to date.

4.) James Grundler - Anyone who can get a consistant showing at the Viper room while changing his band name every other week tops my list. And besides, he performs the theme song to my absolute favorite show. I know Ryan and the late Marissa would agree.

5.) Bono - I think it's his sweet ass purple shades that gave him the edge over the Yorke.

6.) Yorke - Just because everyone and their mom thinks RH is good, so do I. And what's good for them, is good for me. AMEN!

7.) Mangum - He comes in at #7 only because he's got a kick ass band name. What the hell does it mean? Oh and btw, I'm lactose and tolerante so I can't really subcribe to his music, anyhow.

8.) Bjork - Who? All I know is that she is a female and HOT one at that. I think the KING should have included someone with real musical talent like Miss Simpson and I'm not talking about Jessica.

9.) Urata - My what? He comes ahead of the Tool only because I've never heard of him or his band.

10.) The Tool - Probably the worst band to ever hit the airwaves! Enough said...Thank the Good Lord the Tool shed is leaving us and our ringing ears alone, at least for a little while. Phew! Finally some peace and quiet.

8:39 AM  
Blogger the_KING said...

Are you trying to outshine me Special Sauce? "Probably the worst band to ever hit the airwaves" is a blatantly inappropriate comment and you should be repremanded. Of course, my loyalty to MJK has thinned over the years but its undeniable the talent in his vocal chords.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous (and the Special Sauce)... said...

Your holyness, NO one could ever out shine the King. I was only trying to point out and pick apart your short comings, which are few and far none. And my Tool commment, well it's the TRUTH. Hahaha I just love stirring up controversy because I know the whole world is infatuated with this band. But I most point out that there are only a few select individuals who can seen beyond the smoke and past the mirrors to the promise land...and the likes of the newest great Mister's and musical revolutionaries (in no particular order, of course): Mr. Mayer, Mr. Blunt, Mr. Powder, and Mr. Day. What GREAT sounds these fellows are producing!

P.S. I forgot to mention the wonderful hip-hop music being turned out and spun these days. I think the newest artists are comprobable if not better than the OG's or rap (or should I say hip-hop) the Sugerhill Gang. Yeah yeah...

2:16 PM  
Blogger the_KING said...

You are freakin' me out.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Will said...

Holy shit, g. love up in the comments ... i dig the list, but would have to find a way to get neko case and rufus wainwright in there.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous (and the special sauce) said... boy! At least someone appreciates me on here. Thanks for keeping it real. ouuutttt!

2:25 PM  
Blogger music is art said...

what an amazing list of music. i agree with every single one of yr top 10... theres a sense of sadness and beauty is each of them. they all share it. glad someone else understands :)

3:06 PM  
Blogger music is art said...

p.s. pushit is one of my favorites too!~ the live version of salival is wonderful too.

3:07 PM  
Blogger the_KING said...

Ooooh,Rufus Wainright is good call. And Antony is also one that accidentally got left out. The next time around this list might change up a little bit or at least take a new angle.

P.S. And no Mr. Blunt, Powder, Day, or Mayer will be on the list. It's hard for them all to be revolutionary when they all are equally abusive to women's feelings in order to sell records.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Roonie said...

I can only agree with a few on your list. What about Tori Amos? Notable omission. Whoever said Rufus Wainwright's missing is dead on, too.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Evangeline said...

Thanks for the Devotchka!

10:03 AM  
Anonymous g.latss said...

If we are going to add T. Amos we might as well add the other Amos and possibly even Sarah the Great. Who said I was serious when I mentioned all the Misters of pop music these days. Not I...

5:39 PM  
Blogger the_KING said...

Good, I'm glad you weren't serious because we only speak in serious terms here on the content.

9:48 PM  
Anonymous g.latss said...

But KING, I suspect that over staidness is a cause for concern.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:42 AM  
Anonymous said...

It can't succeed in fact, that's what I believe.

2:11 AM  

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