Friday, June 25, 2010

Nerdy and Amazing Men of Rock

Celebrating rock's most unlikely heroes:

Kevin Barnes, Of Montreal.  Barnes is a true indie rock diva.  He has his own glam rock alter-ego, Georgie Fruit, and usually will switch outfits multiple times per performance, occasionally opting to go without any clothes.  However, he also references French literature, Wong Kar-wai films, and Greek Mythology in his lyrics.
David Byrne, Talking Heads/ Various and Sundry.  Byrne is a music icon, cycling advocate, artist and author. Early on in his career, Byrne stood out for his quirky vocals and wiry, spastic energy. It's hard not to be impressed by Byrne's weirdness and seemingly boundless energy during his performance in the concert film Stop Making Sense.  Nearly 30 years later, Byrne is still making interesting and enjoyable music. 

Patrick Carney, chain restaurant enthusiast/ one half of the Black Keys  Carney isn't rock's handsomest drummer (that title belongs to Fabrizio Moretti), but if he wrote a book, he'd probably qualify for a cute author alert. Tall? Check.  Glasses? Yep.  Vaguely resembles Jermaine Clement?  If I squint my eyes. He's funny too.   Also, he's a pretty awesome drummer.  Seriously, if you haven't listened to Rubber Factory or Attack and Release already, you should. 

Jarvis Cocker, Pulp and himself.   Probably the smartest and coolest pop star to come out of the mid-1990s Brit-pop scene (think: Blur, Oasis).  Sure he looks like Patrick Carney's less attractive, British, older brother (it's the glasses), but he can pull of a hipster business chic look like nobody else and he's witty.  No wonder Adrien Brody copied his style in the Darjeeling Limited!

Bradford Cox, Deerhunter and Atlas Sound.  Cox has Marfan's syndrome giving him an unusually lanky appearance. He occasionally performs in a dress and is known for his somewhat strange behavior and comments.   However, in concert, he's personable, polite, and not afraid to hilariously dress down hecklers or general idiots.

Calvin Johnson, Beat Happening/ Various and Sundry. 1). Though he looks like someone you could easily beat up, he has the deepest singing voice ever.  2). Band members in Beat Happening interchanged the instruments they played, so multi-talented but not a guitar god. 3). Likes to party as evidenced by his work with the Dub Narcotic Sound System (D.N.S.S.).  With songs like "Robotica" or "Test Pattern", D.N.S.S. would make a killer soundtrack for a party full of electrical engineers. 

Jens Lekman, himself.  Swedish popster Jens Lekman is part twee indie rocker and part stand-up comedian.  His songs seems to highlight the awkwarder moments in life and relationships, like having dinner with his fake girlfriend's father ("A Postcard to Nina") or being overly quiet at a party ("Black Cab"). His song lyrics are full of cute, quirky moments, like "You're father is mailing me all of the time/ He says he just wants to say hi/ I send back "out-of-office" auto replies" from "A Postcard to Nina" or "My promises were babies of snow/ that I just couldn't hold" from "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You."

Morrissey, the Smiths. Not to be confused with a pompadoured James Van Der Beek (aka. Dawson Leery), Morrissey is the perpetually lonely-heart and miserable lead singer of the Smiths and his many solo efforts. Like Robert Smith of the Cure, Morrissey primarily appeals to sullen teenagers and young adults.  But he's a wittier songwriter than Smith. 

Erlend Øye, Kings of Convenience and Whitest Boy Alive.  I talked about Øye at length before, but the dude is awesome. 
Jonathan Richman, the Modern Lovers and himself. You might not associate songs about dinosaurs and ice cream with let's say... The Sex Pistols, but Jonathan Richman is one of the godfathers of punk.  The first Modern Lovers record paired the stripped down rock sound of the Velvet Underground with Richman's sweet, simple, and often times humorous lyrics.  Many of his songs are about him being turned down by girls.  Sometimes Richman veers into silly territory, like "Here Come the Martian Martians" and "Dodge Veg-O-Matic."  But he's also able to writer darker wistful songs like "She's Cracked" and my favorite "That Summer Feeling."

Robert Smith, the Cure.   Robert Smith is the original Robert Pattinson.  Not only did he invent R. Pattz's fwoopy hairstyle, but he's pasty, English, oh-so-sensitive, and best loved by 15-year-old girls.

Thom Yorke, Radiohead and himself.  You might not guess it from looking at him or listening to his music, but Thom Yorke is a huge fan of rap (Madlib, in particular).  Yorke doesn't really dig the celebrity scene and is known for being somewhat aloof towards other celebrities, most notably Kanye West and Miley Cyrus.