Friday, January 6, 2012

Favorite Bands of All Time - Honorable Mention

A few years ago I documented on here my Top 5 Albums of all time and now I'm going to do the same with bands (or musical acts, let's say, as I'm not discriminating against solo performers). What does it mean to be a favorite of all time? What does it take to stretch into the upper echelon of LoToMojo's admiration?

First, it needs to be a band that I was able to experience during their heyday, both live and on record. I could say the Ramones or Husker Du were my favorite band of all time, but I never saw them live and wasn't able to experience the true magic of their existence in their times. Each of the top bands I've identified I have seen live at least several times at different venues (mostly intimate, small rock clubs). We gain a far greater appreciation when we can relate to an artist in the context of their times, as well as when they prove they have staying power by producing music that also transcends their times.

So second is staying power. For 20 years I've been diligently digging and digging to find good music, for quality music is not delivered through commercial radio (they care about making money, not supporting quality artists). I'm not interested in flashes in the pan or bands who put out only one great album or a couple hit songs. The bands I've selected were both cutting edge in their time and carried a lasting artistry.

Third, they had to bring the rock and deliver those moments of pure listening elation, both live and on record. One thing all my top bands have in common is that I was introduced to them in my 20s, a time when I was most impressionable to music and art. They hit me where it counts, and because they have staying power they still elicit those same feelings in me. I recently realized that the combination of a little alcohol and some great music brings me some of my greatest joys. It just takes me to another level emotionally that I rarely reach.

Honorable Mention
The phenomenal bands that didn't quite make the cut


  • Alejandro Escovedo - brilliant musician but I've only seen him a couple times (including a Top 5 show of all time, that for another post) and his albums aren't quite as consistently deep as I'd like.
  • Buffalo Tom - kickass indie rock band, but I think I was a couple years behind the curve on them and I only saw them live once.
  • Calexico - very close to making the cut, but I've only seen them live once and that was at an outdoor festival so it doesn't really count. Still need to travel to Tucson and see them in their element.
  • Cows - groundbreaking noise rock band with amazing live show, but I don't really listen to their albums much anymore.
  • Golden Smog - Mpls supergroup that provided many phenomenal live moments, but it's not really a serious effort so hard to bestow the golden ring upon them.
  • Husker Du - extremely influential band but I never saw 'em live. I wasn't hip enough in high school.
  • Johnny Cash - saw him live once and he's obviously a legend, but fails in the "fitting into my era" rule.
  • Joy Division - I came to Joy Division very late when my band was asked to play a tribute show. I gained an appreciation for their genius but they'd broken up before I knew they existed.
  • Neil Young - perhaps my #1 guitar hero of all time (another post) and a man with unequaled staying power.
  • Old 97s - they turned too poppy for me but their early alt-country stuff is still terrific.
  • Pavement - I was a little behind the curve and missed their sweet spot, though they hold up very well over the years. 
  • The Replacements - again, I wasn't hip enough in high school to get into the local legends. 
  • Soul Asylum - if I was a few years older or cooler in high school they'd have made the cut. But let's quit all this dwelling on dorky high school LoToMojo.
  • Superchunk - the very definition of "indie rock".
  • Supersuckers - a little too schticky, but I've now seen them live in 6 different cities (and not because I was following them, but because they're always on the road) and they're the self-proclaimed World's Greatest Rock 'n Roll Band.
  • The Pogues - brilliant Celtic punk, but I think the only time I saw them live it may have been Shane MacGowan and the Popes.
  • Whiskeytown - great, early alt-country act and another candidate for Top 5 show of all time
  • Wilco - I pretty much gave up on seeing them live after they graduated from 1st Ave to theaters, but they continue to crank out great songs, if not consistently deep albums.
  • Yo La Tengo - hey Tad: remember that awesome late night down-and-back road trip to see Yo La in Ames?
That's it for the honorable mention.

Next postings to count down the best of the best and, as you'll see, there are actually 4 that distinguish themselves by standing out from the rest. The fifth never clearly emerged from the above list so that's why at one time or another you could have heard me say any of the above bands were "a top 5 band of all time".

1 comment:

samh said...

Cows. Fuck yeah.