Columnist expands suggestions

I am not entirely sure if anyone has noticed the ongoing little box that follows the crap I write each week. In case you have missed it, I have been offering some of my favorite bands and artists to replace those discs you may have purchased as an ill-informed child. We all have done it; I am the first to admit I owned the self-titled Shaquille O’Neal album when I was in late grade school … I am an open book here, folks.

This week I decided to offer up a little bit more than just the names and titles of the music I am recommending. I am well aware that we are all college students, and the majority of us can’t just go drop 15 bucks on a disc some punk kid who writes for the campus newspaper suggests, so a little info on each disc would be helpful. I also am aware everyone’s taste in music differs, so I am gonna hit the whole spectrum of music (so pretty much three genres, I don’t think I can offer my favorite new age artist … OK, it’s Yanni).

For all you Country Folk: Whiskeytown – “Strangers Almanac.”

If somebody told me five years ago that I would grow to love a band whose music could be classified in the “country” section of the local record store, I probably would have gone fisticuffs on ’em (I talk some mean game, but I am pretty sure I never have punched anyone, ever). I was one of those kids that applauded every time we saw the bumper sticker that said, “Stop Inbreeding, Ban Country Music.” I would have gone as far as asking our cable guy to remove the Country Music Television channel from our programming list if it was possible. I mean, if it wasn’t punk, I wasn’t listening to it.

It’s funny; the maturing process is a strange and unusual thing. Whiskeytown is very accessible for a wide audience. They are able to blend the elements of country (with the perfect amount of twang – not too much, not too little) with some really great guitar rock. This band no longer exists after its breakup in the late ’90s, but I highly recommend this album and all of its albums for that matter. If you are looking for something new to broaden your “music horizons,” speaking from personal experience, this is it. Trade off your Big and Rich and pick this up. (Check out the song “16 Days” to get a feel for the disc.)

Rapper’s Delight: Madvillain – “Madvilliany.”

It has been some time since I had put the Wu-Tang discs in a cardboard box on the top shelf of my closet. I had given up on rap and hip-hop. The Wu, it seemed, had been dead set on not making a decent record for five years, Tribe Called Quest had hung it up and I pretty much was done with the whole deal. My hip-hop hiatus has lasted for about the last four years until one day I stumbled across Madvillain. The cover was pretty friggin’ weird and initially drew my attention to the disc (pictured is a face of a man with a gladiator-style mask on). As soon as I threw the disc in the player it was as if I had taken a breath of fresh air. This CD is exactly what hip-hop needs – guys who are able to make their own beats out of samples rather than ripping them straight out of a song.

When I listen to Madvillain I can’t fully describe its feel. It merges jazz standards with voice-overs from public service announcements from the 1950s with fresh beats holding it all together. (I am sorry I said fresh. That was ridiculous, almost as bad as Tiger Woods saying “fershizzle.”) If I were to compare Madvillain to anyone, I definitely would have to say The Beatnuts and Handsome Boy Modeling School. (For a decent idea of what they sound like, check out “Accordion.”)

For the Indie Rock Scenesters: The Arcade Fire – “Funeral.”

I must admit, I have jammed this band down the throat of possibly everyone I meet. It is tough for me to do that, because I really put myself out on a limb. I really don’t like the idea of me offering up my opinion and someone else hating it. I always am worried that someone will buy an album I recommend, hate it and beat my face in as I walk out of Hibbard some day. But this band I am entirely confident in. I have had people from the ages of 12 to 40 listen to this disc and their opinion is all the same. They love it. The Fire’s sound is something that cannot be harnessed and fully described. It is a beautiful conglomerate of 80s Brit Pop with hints of David Bowie, Neutral Milk Hotel and Pulp. This disc is a must for anyone who wakes up in the morning. (Check out the track “Rebellion (lies).”)