My Top 5 Favorite Bands

I've been listening to some great music lately, and I've been inspired to compile my top 5 favorite bands. For me, it's tough to rank some of these artists. In many ways, I like them all the same, but for different reasons. Let's just get right into this one, and start with a solid pick:

5. Vampire Weekend

The name comes from a movie by the same title that Ezra Koenig was inspired to make, but ultimately abandoned. When you first read it, you'd think they were a hardcore metal band (yeah, that's a little redundant), but you would be far from the truth. To me, their sound is reminiscent of Paul Simon's Graceland, with those worldly African drums and Ezra's soft voice. I'm also always reminded of a nautical sound, probably due to Mansard Roof and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa. Also, I spent about a month reading as much One Piece as I could, listening to nothing but Vampire Weekend's first album on repeat.

But it was their second album, Contra, that truly got me hooked to Vampire Weekend. It was released in the second half of my senior year of high school. I had already checked out mentally at that point, and listened to the album constantly before school, in the halls, and after school. One of the more surreal moments came in Japan, walking around listening to Giving Up the Gun, after years of imagining visiting Japan while listening to Giving Up the Gun. 

Still not sure about them? Here's a great song:

4. Twenty One Pilots

The newest band to hit my list, and they have gained a ton of well-deserved fame and praise lately. My fiance suggested I listen to Twenty One Pilots one day while I was abroad in Japan. I gave them a shot, but honestly I was turned off at first. The sort of stop and go way of rapping in combination with poppy sounds and a slightly whiney voice threw me off, but for whatever reason, I kept listening to song after song. After a while, I realized that all those aspects of their music was something I had never really heard before, and I couldn't get enough. I started listening to their second album, Vessel, almost non-stop, to the point where hearing some songs put me right back in Japan, on my way to Mt. Fuji (a trip on which I had listened to the album on repeat for the duration of my long bus ride).  

When Blurryface was released it wasn't just more of the same. Their sound had evolved and it's hard to choose between the two albums sometimes. I thought I knew and adored every song by Twenty One Pilots, when I realized they had a whole first album I had skipped. If you like Twenty One Pilots, do NOT skip that first album. It is just as great as their two most recent, and in my opinion it is the most poetic of the three. 

Still not sure about them? Here's a great song:

3. Streetlight Manifesto

Of course Streetlight Manifesto has to be on the list. I think some people reading this would be surprised to see it isn't at the top of the list, given that it's the band I've seen live most often, the one I have the most custom tees and kicks based on, and that ska is my absolute favorite genre of music. I'm surprised, too.

Usually when I'm asked who my favorite band is, I say well, I have three favorite bands, in no particular order they are... Streetlight gets third rung here simply because I started listening to them more recently than my top two. That's not to say I don't know them as well, because I know the words to every song, and I do my damndest to sing along with Tom Kalnoky. 

Having played Tuba for 6 years, ska music just naturally clicked for me. It's upbeat, it's fun, it's got those rad horns. Out of all the ska bands, though, Streetlight Manifesto has always seemed to push the ska-punk genre, even from Tom's former band, Catch 22's very first album, Keasbey Nights, which went so far as to say they were the 4th wave of ska. Every album has it's own sound, and each release gives the horn section so much more freedom, so that even if there's no typical guitar licks on the upbeat, you know the heart of the music is ska.

Seeing the band live is the best way to experience the music. The brass and sax instruments sound the best when they are out of the studio, and even though they have limited movement, the band plays them with all they've got. Just look at Mike Brown's eyes as he plays Bari Sax:

Here's all of the custom art I've been inspired to create because of Streetlight Manifesto:

And Streetlight and inspiring artwork go hand in hand, just take a look at these kick-ass tour posters:

 Still not sure about them? Here's a great song:

2. Queen

By far the most classic band on my list, and the reason it's my penultimate favorite band, is because of one big reason; I'll never see Freddie Mercury live. Which is really a bummer, because he is the greatest singer of all time, bar none. Just look at those chops:

If I could see any band from another era, it would be Queen, and despite Freddie no longer being a part of the band, I do plan to see the remaining members live someday. 

Queen has been a part of my life since childhood, when I first listened to Bohemian Rhapsody. From there, I got the Greatest Hits, Platinum Collection, and more recently I've given every one of their albums a listen. I love that every member of the band contributed songs, and each of them has at least one hit. Unlike some of the other bands on the list, I am not a fan of each and every Queen song, but there's still something so inspiring about the band. 

So inspiring, in fact, that I've been working on a comic book concept revolving completely around the band and their music, set in a galactic universe. It's pretty expansive, and I've been working on it for years. Stay tuned for another blog post to see what I've accomplished so far. 

I think we all know the best Queen songs, so here's one of my favorites by Freddie:

1. The Flaming Lips

I don't think too many would be surprised to see The Flaming Lips at the top of the list, especially since I recently listed the release of Oczy Mlody, their most recent album, in my Top 5 Things I'm Most Looking Forward to in 2017! I am loving it, and it's bringing back memories of some of their best songs from albums past. Of all the bands I've listened to, I am the most enthralled by The Flaming Lips, and it's not hard to be; their history is rich, and it would take too long to go through it all here. I suggest checking out the documentary, The Fearless Freaks; It's the best intro to the Oklahoma rock group you'll find. 

But it wasn't my introduction to them. I had actually first heard The Lips in the credits of the Spongebob Squarepants movie (those credits have some great tunes!), but I didn't realize I was listening to my soon-to-be favorite band. It was when I watched the video for the Yeah Yeah Yeah Song that I realized this band had something magical. After that, I devoured all of their music, and I read all about their past, and I tried to get all my friends into them, too!

In my research, I saw how amazing their live shows are; full of confetti, gigantic hands, lasers, dancing animals, and of course, the famous hamster ball:

Frontman Wayne Coyne is the creative spirit of the band, with his unique artwork, experimental sensibilities, and nonsensical, philosophical lyrics.  He's the reason I was willing to jump past security to leap on stage and give him a hug, which he reciprocated. It was totally worth getting kicked out of the show. 

If you're not a fan yet, here's the song they always close the show on: