I was on a roadtrip with a buddy of mine and we started arguing about what music we would want if we ever got stuck on a deserted island and had an endless supply of batteries. It’s harder than you think to narrow down such a list, and these are merely my opinion. Plus, you have to be reasonable. You don’t want to pick a band whose albums you have to skip a few songs here and there. You want to press play and let the thing run all the way through. That said, here they are. You might pick different bands, but you would be wrong. These are indisputable.
This group can simply not be left off the list. The music was fantastic, and they helped to pave the way for a wide range of the way rock was played. The radio, as always, has picked a few popular songs like Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come as You Are, etc. and driven them into the ground, making Nirvana seem overplayed and overrated. Nevertheless, their less well-known songs showcase the band’s talent and make you wish Cobain hadn’t blown his head off (or had it blown off by Courtney Love, if you prefer). Their “Unplugged in New York” album is a must have, and even the one that everyone owns or has owned (you remember the one with the baby in the swimming pool) still hides some absolutely timeless alternative music. If you really want to hear good stuff, track down harder to find songs like “Verse Chorus Verse” (also known as “Sappy”). You won’t be disappointed. It’s too bad Dave Grohl had to tarnish the band’s legacy by forming the worthless Foo Fighters. Best Album: In Utero
This band is not for everybody upon first listen, because not all their songs are radio-friendly like “Creep.” If you give them a chance, you’ll be surprised at how great of a band they really are. The guitar riffs are dramatic, Thom Yorke’s vocals are perfect, and the overall sound is like nothing any other band puts out. The greatest part about Radiohead is that they’re not afraid to lose a few fans by changing their style almost every album. If you’re the type of music fan that can’t get over the fact that one song of your favortie band doesn’t sound like all their other songs (pay attention fans of Crap-rock like The Fray, or the why-won’t-they-die Red Hot Chili Peppers), then you won’t like Radiohead. That would make you a loser, though. Track down some of their B-sides like “Talk Show Host” or “Exit Music for a Film.” Best Album: Its a tie between The Bends and OK Computer.
This may sound like a terrible thing to say, but Weezer gave hope to people with mediocre musical talent everywhere. Their songs aren’t that complicated and almost anyone with half a brain and half an hour can pick out a Weezer tune on the guitar. For some reason, though, their simplicity is what makes them so good. It just works. Their style only changes in subtle ways, though Pinkerton and Make Believe are two albums that definitely sound different from the rest. Their music is perfect for every occasion. Plus, how many groups do you know whose lead singer graduated from Harvard? Best Album: Pinkerton.
Postal Service/Death Cab for Cutie
Essentially, Postal Service is a side project of some members of Death Cab for Cutie. Postal Service’s album, Give Up, is entirely unique. Unfortunately, you have probably heard their song “Such Great Heights” on every stupid TV commercial made in the last two years, from area colleges to companies like UPS. It’s overplayed. Don’t forget the Death Cab stuff, though. For two bands with the same lead singer, they sound remarkably different from one another. Again, at they’re music fits any mood you’re in and the lyrics are much more clever than most. Best Album: from both bands, Give Up.
For some reason, most people I talk to hate this group. Then again, most people I talk to just suck at life and wet themselves when the Chili Peppers release one of their six albums every year. REM gives meaning to the phrase “an oldie, but a goodie.” They have evolved well over time and, like Radiohead, don’t seem to care if they lose a few fair weather fans when they change their sound. Each album is packed with great songs and their sound is as distinct as any other great bands. Again, give them a good listen. They grow on you surprisingly quickly. Best Album: Life’s Rich Pageant.
Here are some that garner honorable mention:
U2–before they decided to only produce radio-friendly crap, a la the Chili Peppers.
The Smiths–distinct vocals equals unmatched sound.
The Clash–enough said.
Marcy Playground–doesn’t get nearly as much credit as it should.