Ten Bands You Shouldn't Be Listening To

And ten you should, instead

Written by David Dylan

Damnit, I may be building a reputation for the grumpy ex-punk here who thinks the kids of today just don't get it... But I learned from the master; my ex-hippie mum who thinks all my rebellious teen stuff just can't hold a candle to what they did in the sixties. (Apparently my crib stood in a commune, and they sang the communist anthem to me as a lullaby since it was the only song all of them knew.)

But the fact of the matter is; music has a pretty hard time surviving the years. Tastes change. Recording media change. Before you know it, your prized collection is gathering dust in the basement because it was ripped as MP3's and your computer only plays OGG. (That was the thing that those black-disk machines did in the eighties, right? I forget...) Anyway; what survives the years is what record labels think they can squeeze some more bucks out of. Sometimes because it's mind-boggelingly great, most of the time because they don't have to pay the artists anymore and it's catchy.

But those mind-boggelingly great artists... well, they keep getting re-discovered and re-discovered over the decades and before you know it some Viking/Pirate/Folk (doesn't know how to tell them apart most of the time) fake dreads-sporting neo-paleo-neo-hippie girl is playing 'Smoke On the Water' to me with an expectant look in her eyes, as if she'd just unearthed a rare gem.

Sometimes the bands themselves survive the years, so they can go from mind-boggelingly great to old shitheads squeezing their fame for every last buck... retroactively tainting their older work.

Whatever it is; truly great music stands the test of time in more ways than one; it keeps sounding great, it doesn't become a Pepsi commercial and it doesn't become a badge of honour for white rich kids to wear, to show the world they have 'taste'.

Here's ten examples of both. Choose your path wisely.

10) The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones were the outside face to the angrier side of hippie-dom. They did drugs by the boat-load, so much so that even their dealers sometimes were impressed. They managed to capture, and cash in on, the spirit of the times very well. They wrote and stole some great songs. They also lived in mansions, with servants and hoovercrafts for getting around their golf-courses. (Not making this up.)

Their 'underground' image was manufactured from the start, and it never fooled anyone but the hordes of credulous teens who wanted to piss off their parents.

Then they just didn't know what to do any more, got sortof clean and started to make songs about going to the gym. So, for every 'Sympathy for the Devil' there's at least one 'I'm a hypocrite' song in their repertoire.

What you should be listening to instead


Steppenwolf was really as exploitative of the 'zeitgeist' as the stones were, but hey, that's not my beef with either of them. And the band endures, resulting in the inevitable weaker periods. But if you compare the raw feel of the two, you can't help but notice there's a subtle difference; one of them feels kinda manufactured, has a singer from an upper-class family faking a lower-class accent and were propelled up the charts by dollar-eyed music execs. The other tells you to fire all of your guns at once.

9) Jefferson Airplane

I'll admit this; I've got a massive music boner for Grace Slick's voice. They can be forgiven for the mind-melting 'can I please go home' crap that was Jefferson Starship. But they cannot be forgiven for allowing the many, and I do mean many, knockoffs of 'White Rabbit'. Covering 'White Rabbit' is like an obnoxious frat guy wearing fake boobs; it taints the holy of the holy that is a beautiful breast. The original was like the first time your girlfriend took off her bra. After a few hundred times it's still nice, but the old thrill is definitely gone. In plastic, on some 'look at me being cool' brat, it's just wrong.

What you should be listening to instead


If you are into psychedelic rock, that is. It's got none of the 'nice' of Slick, and the band certainly doesn't stand on stage as if playing together just makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. No, instead they manage to put the 'psycho' into 'delic', and then some.

8) The Doors

[no video posted, because I don't want to throw up]

Someone PLEASE invent a 'The Doors' filter. Over-hyped, under-talented, gibberish songs (that must be deep, because no one gets them) and a singer who is like, creepy. When it comes down to it, The Doors were the Nickelback of their era; vaguely fitting the times, not bad enough to truly suck, but just... not any good, really. Get over the whole hype for a moment, and just pick apart the songs... they are hawked as oh-so innovative, but nothing they did was new at the time. It was just mediocre, saved by a singer who had oodles, and oodles, of charisma. And like many people with loads of charisma; he was kinda a dickhead. His 'poetry' never rises above the quality angsty teenagers produce in the back of their diaries. His 'philosophy' is just a confused mish-mash of whatever esoteric stuff was popular at the time... And if I have to hear one of their songs one more time, I'll scream.

What you should be listening to instead

Mik Davis

What? You thought all bands had to be from the same period? Screw that. Mik is Jim Morrison's incarnation, but leaving all the crap bits in hell. Here he is with one if his bands, Utopian Love Revival:

7) Deep Purple

Deep Purple ... is amazing. The first time I heard 'Child in Time' I cried like a baby. But really; how often can we hear the same notes in the same order before our brains elope with our hearts in search for something new and exciting? If you are a teen, discovering music and the world, you can certainly do worse. But please... us old farts, we can hum the songs in our sleep.

And 'Smoke on the Water' was meant to be a joke song, ok? Stop, please stop, covering it just for the great intro.

What you should be listening to instead


At least it's new(ish), and they can certainly match the talent and skill.

6) The Sex Pistols

Often hailed as the inventors of Punk, they were anything but. They were the first commercial, crappy, offshoot. Also; their songs just aren't that good. And any deep political meaning you ascribe to them; well, the former band members themselves (all creepy dickheads plus the occasional child molester) bend over backwards to tell us they really put NO thought whatsoever into the music, other than 'how much cash is this going to make us'. (And then their manager stole it all, as is the custom and ironic justice.)

Oh, and to that ex lead singer of theirs: if you want to spout sexist bullshit to make yourself feel funny; come do it to my face, bro. Just come at me.

What you should be listening to instead

The Ruts

And if you need more incentive, you are dead inside.

5) Green Day

What. The. Fuck. Is. This? Did a 3rd grade punk band rape Menudo, did they have a baby and drop it on its head? Pretty boys with deadened production pretending to be rebellious with some angsty (but not TOO angsty lest parents won't buy it for their kids) lyrics? There's pretty much nothing about this that doesn't make me want to drag these fuckers into a real moshpit and not let them out until all the pretty has been thoroughly bashed out of them. Then hand them over to the strictest dominatrix I know, without a safe word, for some weeks of punishment for making me listen to the refrain...

What you should be listening to instead

Black Flag

Because this may not be as smoothly produced (and it's live), and the musicians may not be trying too hard to be 'dangerous but cute' (just dangerous will do, and they aren't trying) but it's pure, fucking balls and steel and fire, rock and roll punk.

4) System of a Down

OK, maybe I'm unfairly singling out one band here, because they all suck to high, fracking, heaven. This whole nu-metal era sounds like some frigging' Cylons cloned a hair band and accidentally mixed in some DNA that was meant to be thrown away. Close harmony I can get with; if. you. can. sing, mother. fucker. Metal, I like. Angsty? Hell, teens and angst is like... inevitable. Mixing styles up; hell yeah. But please mix the good parts. Also; I get that for some of you this is retro, to me it's barely out of the charts, ok? You may be playing it 'ironically' but me it makes want to peel the wallpaper off the walls in hopes of finding a secret bomb-shelter where I can go and stay until you grow out of it.

What you should be listening to instead

Agnostic Front

No close harmony. No 'my parents hate me' but 'blood running down the street, and it may be mine'. Go play this at volume 11 and REALLY make your parents hate you. Right. Fucking. Now.

3) Nirvana

You know, Cobain was a lot of what they say he was. The music certainly isn't bad. But really; why is he deified? That shit was what drove him to pull the trigger. Also; it's just not THAT special. Some of it certainly catches my ear. But come on... I'm not going to sit on the floor, drink tea and discuss how deep his lyrics were. He was a musician. He did his job. He did it well. Let the guy rest in peace now. Also, you know that his songs basicly took the piss out of exactly your teenager hero-worship, right? He was a man who loved what he did, then loads of other people started loving it too and fucked it up for him. Give it a rest now.

What you should be listening to instead

Neil Young

I'm not getting into 'who started Grunge' because that's just pointless posturing. (Besides, NY has been around so long, he probably started all the good stuffs.) It doesn't matter. But Cobain quoted Young in his suicide note, and Young loves Cobain's work. So, give the idol a rest and broaden your horizons with the godfather.

2) Omnia

I realise that to those on that other continent, this may be a stranger. But... over here... there's entire festivals being nicknamed 'Omniafest'. These fuckers are just everywhere, and their fans are annoying as fuck. Music history-wise their memory span must be ten seconds or so because they truly think that Omnia is doing something unique... Just listen to that intro; my ears just want to beat the crap out of me for listening to that shit (I have to out-listen every clip to make sure there's no stupid joke-stuff in there) and poets long dead want to rise up just to slap them silly for thinking that was poetic. It's not that their actual music is bad; it isn't. There's just really nothing new about it. Their avant-garde pagan posturing just doesn't work, and really... REALLY, PLEASE relinquish the stage to some other bands, ok? Like AmmA, which I think is a set of decidedly silly persons, but they are VERY good and always seem to land on the small stage. Also; Paganism is a real religion to some people, ok? Using it as a stage act is walking a VERY thin line.

Oh, and there's a few too many white supremacists in the audience, so yeah, do something about that, folks.

What you should be listening to instead

The Levellers

Now, the Lev's are annoying as annoying can be when it comes to the finger-wagging politics. But when they started doing their thing, it was original and exciting. Also, they were/are fun to drink with.

1) U2

Once upon a time U2 made some songs that have become icons of their era. Now Bono is just an... fuck it, Henry Rollins said it best and I can't best that:

(Sorry about the stupid pictures in there.)

What you should be listening to instead

New Model Army

Roughly the same era, still going stronger and stronger, earned their fans one at a time... and fucking SINCERE. That's really all.

('Deadeye' means TV, and 'Oblivion 4/4' refers to the 4/4 tempo.)