What’s In a Voice?

I’ve been thinking about this one for quite some time…music, especially Indie music, is about more than just the music. It’s about the words. It’s about the singer. The genius of Indie is that each band has a distinct personality, that evades the normal “Write about the same thing” nonsense you hear on mainstream radio. For me, good music is about a nice combination of instrumentation AND voice work…In fact, I’ll take a good voice with so-so instrumentation over the opposite. If a song has a boring/horrible singer, I just can’t put up with it, no matter how good the music is. So, here’s my list of my favorite recognizable singing voices, in Letterman-esque descending style:

10. Claude, Anything Box: Raw. Emotional. I love how in one second his voice sounds innocent, the next, wild, untamed, and enraged.

9. Matthew Bellamy, Muse: Does anyone else in music express more emotion when singing? I defy you to find one.

8. Tori Amos: One of my all-time favorite voices. Haunting, simply haunting.

7a. Ryan Miller, Guster: His voice is simple and smooth…and easy to sing-along with, or maybe it’s his songs…

7b. Ben Gibbard, Death Cab For Cutie: Real is the best word I can come up with for Ben’s voice. It’s just plain real. Like you know him. Like he’s talking to you, rather than singing.

6. Harry Connick Jr. : Ok, deservedly, Harry Connick Jr. deserves to be on the top of this list, hands down. But first of all, he’s not Indie, and second of all…well I can’t think of a 2nd of all.

5. Johnny Boyd, Indigo Swing: (see comments for Connick Jr., Harry). Even more so, tragically, Johnny no longer sings for Indigo Swing. Which is odd…how can a band lose a guy commonly referred to as “The Voice”?

4. Rivers Cuomo, Weezer. Don’t know what it is, but I can’t get over the raw clarity and emotion of Rivers’ voice. My favorite example is on a live session their new song Miss Sweeney.

3. Steven Page/Ed Roberts, Barenaked Ladies: Rarely does a band have one good lead singer, let alone two. Ed is the charismatic voice, the accessible voice in a “You could be my best friend” sort of way. Steve is the powerhouse. If you’ve ever been to a BNL concert, you’d know what I’m talking out. He can simply BELT out some powerful melodies.

2. Danny Elfman, Oingo Boingo. Yes, I know the Elf Man left singing on the radio for singing…and orchestrating…on the big screen, but his voice is still one of the very best AND most unique in all of music.

1. John Linell, They Might Be Giants: I love John’s voice. It’s raw. It’s even nasally. But it’s unique, and I can’t help but listen everytime I hear it. I love pointing out John Linell’s voice in obscure instances…like the Dunk’n Doughnuts new commercials, and even on PBS Kids in between shows.

Revisiting an Invasion…(Review of The Host)

I recently launched into a new book….now, before I go on, I have to confess, I was never a book reader as a kid, but, after I got through all 7 Potter books, I said to myself, that was thousands of pages of reading…I have time for this kind of stuff!

So, back to the point. I’ve become quite a closet fan of Stephenie Meyer. Her Twilight series is adored by teenie bopper girls the world over…but, I have to say, I like her writing style (plus, most of her books have some foundation in some really great music. Check out her playlists..she often writes an entire book based on a Muse album, or some other great indie band). It’s riveting and thought-provoking. I just picked up her newest book, The Host, for my wife, the Indie girl.

My first reaction–it’s a new spin on an old theme. She’s basically re-wrote Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, the classic 50s movie, with an angle on romance and mystery. I have to say, I like it. It’s intriguing. She also personalizes the “snatchers” more, which makes the read even more invigorating…from the get go, she has you wondering which side you should really be on. Overall, I’d say it’s definitely worth picking up…Don’t be fooled by the copy-cat story premise, it’s got some deeper plot scenarios and, as usual, the most in-depth development of characters I have seen since Mark Twain.