Thursday, November 23, 2017

Favorite Modern (Rock Music) Songwriters/Musicians

Okay so here's a list of at least a large percentage of my favorite individual musicians and songwriters (most of which also are lead singers).

Is it a complete list? of course not likely. I'm sure sometime in the near future I'll remember someone I didn't include in here, which maybe I'll edit this, or just post something separate in another entry.
Of course these are individuals, so the examples of artists (BANDS) I love that are not included, I see and understand for the most part, are not the main cog or the largely sole-credited musician who writes/composes most of the music and even plays it.

i.e. There's a long list of bands who have 2-4, 5, 6 or more songwriters that if I included 1, I'd feel weird not including the others (Apes and Androids and Jellyfish come to mind off the top of my head).

So I did start another list of like TEAMS/DUOS which okay, a couple may crossover here, but generally I see as a 2 or maybe 3-headed team (Rush? King's X?), and I will look to also post an entry or 2, 3 maybe about those.

Now these are not ranked, and certainly there are some names in here I enjoy, but others I certainly enjoy a fair amount more than others. But in the interest in avoiding splitting hairs, I went with the old alphabetical order.

And per the title, these are MODERN songwriters, so I more or less avoided artists who made music before 1980 and actually most are from the 2000's and some 1990's, which the 1980's are so far back, to call them "modern" now almost seems silly, but whatevs, splitting hairs too. Also the fact I got into music in the 80's or even 90's, I guess it's also just musicians who made new music since I got into music in some ways.

Mikael Akerfeldt
For his work with Opeth of course. And I would say the Still Life-Ghost Reveries period.

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Don Anderson
Sculptured who have 3 excellent records, and of course the amount he contributed to Agalloch.

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Matt Bellamy

Muse obviously. While there is not 1 definitive Muse album I see (I guess my default still goes to Absolution), the 1st 4 albums all have a handful of great tunes, and the albums since all still include many tracks I enjoy.

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Josh Benash

For both Kiss Kiss studio albums, and their EP, Vuvuzela's 1 and only record which is amazing, and then a handful of his solo releases, Josh Benash definitely falls into one of my favorites. Blending prog, punk, experimental and humor with beauty.

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Jeff Buckley

Well of course Grace with the originals and interpretations, and Sketches (My Sweetheart the Drunk), there's a good chunk of outstanding pieces he crafted. Even the live jam like "Kangaroo" add to his legacy.

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Ben Cooper

Mostly for Radical Face, whose catalog and concept releases all work to varying degrees. He also has a background with other bands like Electric President and then there is CLONE from a few years ago which I loved, maybe even more than any Radical Face record.

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Casey Crescenzo

The Dear Hunter obviously, and there's a large catalog already there, including demos like "Camera" which is brilliant. And some of the unreleased EPs. To go along with his work with The Receiving End of Sirens and some other appearances (The River Empires, The Woods Brothers).

Casey I often see as my #1, at least rather active, Modern Songwriter/Musician, especially active currently this current decade/year, etc.

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Toby Driver

For maudlin of the Well mostly. I enjoy some pieces from Kayo Dot as well. Although I maintain, the motW stuff is on another level for me. And pretty much all of their albums.

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Joey Eppard

For the band Three and his 1 solo record (and 1 coming soon hopefully). And seeing him (and Three) live. Every record he's released, including Revisions, there's tracks that work. He's an amazing talent who can sing, play guitar and arrange songs. 

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The 80's albums with Marillion and his solo records. Among my favorites, the song/suite "Plague of Ghosts" from Raingods with Zippos

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Maybe my favorite, most intriguing musician/songwriter of the last 5 years. Every track he's done I've loved, even if it's not an extensive list (maybe 10?). I really hope he and his band have a long, and fruitful/prolific career writing songs. The mix of pop/prog/hip-hop/lounge/jazz really seems to work for him. Like Mr.Bungle I suppose in some ways. I honestly can't get enough of Fjokra.

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Kevin Gilbert
He's my favorite musician and songwriter ever, despite not living to see the age of 30. Why? there's probably dozens of reasons or examples I could point out, but I guess when it comes down to it, I see him as a highly gifted musical talent who speaks to me like none-other.

His resume includes of course his solo work, Toy Matinee, Giraffe, NRG, and Kaviar. Along with his contributions to Sheryl Crow's debut album, Spock's Beard and many others.

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Daniel Gildenlow
The Founder more or less of Pain of Salvation, and of course the only original member left. Amazing singer and multi-instrumentalist. Pain of Salvation in the early 2000's were kind of the best thing since sliced bread, and those 1st 4 albums especially are kind of landmark's of the time and history of progressive metal.

Also doesn't hurt when he's been involved with Transatlantic, The Flower Kings and even the Led Zeppelin tribute Hammer of the Gods.

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Jimmy Gnecco

Breathtaking Singer and powerful songwriter. He's basically become my favorite singer of all-time, with his range and incredible falsetto. "Like Bono on Steroids" still accurately describes him. And I am always in awe of so many moments from nearly all of the Ours songs (and his solo music).

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Imogen Heap

Speak For Yourself is such a moving album. From the layers of vocals and energetic hooks. She was classically trained and both sings and performs much of the instrumental parts.

Her use of technology also allows her and her music to stand out. There's a video I recall with her manipulating sounds with a glove hooked up to a computer. And it's rather futuristic among other things.

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Marketa Irglova

Her solo music is some of the my favorite orchestral pop/folk of the last decade, and the music she made with Glen Hansard in The Swell Season including Once of course, also shows what a talented musician and writer she is.

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Daniel Johns

The last 2 Silverchair albums (Diorama and Young Modern) and The Dissociatives album (along with the I Cannot Believe It's Not Rock EP) include enough work in his resume for me to see him as somewhat of a favorite modern musician.  His vocals are great and very distinct.

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Of course most think of her for her counterpoint vocals on Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know," which I still enjoy. But with that, I was exposed to her solo music which I absolutely love.
Vows (both versions, although the 2011 version still is better. "Sally Can I See You" though is awesome), and The Golden Echo.

The new record coming in early 2018 likely will add to my feeling about her being 1 of my favorite modern musicians and singer/songwriters.

The eclectic influences she has as well as combining styles with her approach to pop (left-of-center or "progressive" pop).

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Brent Knopf

Original member of Menomena and his now 3 albums under Ramona Falls without question make me look at him as a favorite. And actually within the Menomena work he did (4 albums including Under an Hour. Happiness is Shouting Bingo! is really just an EP or Demo), it is often his songs (the ones he sings lead on namely), that I enjoy most.

Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist whose written far too many songs for me to count.

Matt Mahaffey

sElf basically whole catalog I enjoy. He is the band, hence the name. Singer., guitar, keys, bass, drums and anything else (children's instruments).

sElf has 7 albums, 3 EPs and a lot of unreleased stuff.

Also the fact he worked with Call Florence Pow+Apes and Androids

Another project, Wired All Wrong adds even more depth to this guy's talent.

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Jim Matheos

Fates Warning's discography basically supplants his resume among my favorites, and to include even the work he's done in the last 10-15 years. OSI (the album namely), and John Arch's EP A Twist of Fate along with Arch Matheos.

The guy is not just a guitarist, but a master of composing moody, melodic, thought-provoking progressive metal.

And of course he's the only member of Fates Warning whose played on every album, and who did a large portion of the writing.

Andre Matos

An incredibe singer and songwriter in progressive and power metal. Like Jimmy Gnecco, I found and still find his vocals to be unmatched. Before I heard Gnecco, he was without question my favorite (male) singer.

The 1st 3 Angra albums, 1st 2 Shaman albums and namely his debut solo album all include a ton of outstanding songs. The guy can just fucking wail and yet also he voice has a smoothness to it.

And as I came to learn, his keyboard work and compositions were all over all the albums he's been involved with.

Colin Meloy

I really love a good chunk of The Decemberists music/albums and Colin is really the main musician behind a lot it. Crane Wife, Picaresque, The Tain probably being the big 3.

Craig Minowa

The mastermind behind Cloud Cult. With each new album they release, I seem to be more and more impressed by both their new work and also their back catalog. Craig is their lead singer and guitarist which are a very big part of those.

I now see him and Cloud Cult as iconic really. 1 of those bands that I am totally excited to hear what they do next.

Janelle Monae

Ambitious singer and songwriter. She's created her own persona and fictional character and world with her solo albums, and she has a ton to do with how they are made and what goes into them.

Her 2 proper studio albums, and the awesome Metropolis Suite EP have so many songs I enjoy.

Neal Morse

Largely for his work with Spock's Beard's 1st 6 albums and then especially the 1st 2 Transatlantic albums, I totally tip my hat to this guy's songwriting and musical talents.

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Dan Moxon

The only founding member left with Bend Sinister who have built a very enjoyable catalog in all the incarnations. From the early records like Stories With Brothers and Through the Broken City, to their last 2 albums Animals and Small Fame. And even the new EP like The Other Way.

Dan's work is all over all of them as their singer, keyboardist and songwriter.

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Amanda Palmer
Her solo work especially I enjoy. The 2 proper solo records Theatre is Evil and Who Killed Amanda Palmer? are both filled with many layered, dynamic tracks. Also there's a lot of The Dresden Dolls work I enjoy which she obviously had a lot to do with including the vocals and piano parts.

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Mike Patton
His work on the large majority of the Faith No More catalog is a huge part of my love for their music. The Real Thing, Angel Dust and King for a Day are filled with awesome, experimental vocal lines.

To add to work he did with Mr.Bungle and others (Tomahawk, Lovage, Fantomas), the guy has written and recorded a ton of great songs.

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Yannis Philippakis

One of if not the main cog in the brilliance that are so many Foals songs. He sings and plays the lead guitar and I imagine has quite a large part of their songwriting.

I fucking love Foals at times. And every album. They have 4 terrific records, sometimes I can't choose a favorite. A bit like Oceansize or some others. I guess I often still go back to their 2nd LP Total Life Forever which includes 1 of my favorite songs of all-time "Spanish Sahara" and its goosebump-heavy climax.

Yannis without question is a favorite and I hope he and Foals keep making great moody, melodic, energetic, layered records.

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Tomer Pink

While many have been involved, as I understand, Tomer really is the glue and engine that drives the Subterranean Masquerade machine. 3 outstanding records and 2 great EPs are a lot to consider with his and their work. He plays most if not all of the guitars and I suspect he is the one who composes a lot of the parts per he seems to represent them the most on Social Media, etc.

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Mike Portnoy

Well the man has a massive resume that especially for awhile there, I ate up and loved more or less everything he did. From obviously a large percentage of the Dream Theater music he wrote, to Liquid Tension Experiment 2 incredible studio albums, to especially the 1st 2 Transatlantic albums.

All of that, and his role in the songwriting (A Change of Seasons and The Best of Times alone are 2 of his best).

OSI, specifically the 1st album, for whatever role he played in the parts.

Then you also can take the stuff he's done since he left Dream Theater like Flying Colors and The Winery Dogs add to my appreciation for Portnoy.

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Jessy Ribordy

The singer and multi-instrumentalist? that is most well known for fronting Falling Up, which I enjoy a good portion of their music. Specifically Fangs!, the final Self-Titled and Your Sparkling Death Cometh.

But of course how I was introduced to his brilliance from The River Empires, which the 1 88-minute album they released is an epic masterpiece and still remains my favorite record this current decade.

But also the project that TRE spawned, The Gloomcatcher he has made even more music I have loved.

Right now he is doing soundtrack work (Video Games, Film and Commercials?) more music of some kind is looming, per some relatively recent posts on Twitter. and naturally I am looking forward to hearing it certainly.

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Sheena Ringo

The frontwoman/singer and songwriter I presume with Tokyo Jihen and of course on her solo albums.

Not sure how many albums there are just between those 2, but most of what I have spent time with, I enjoy.

The Jihen albums I suppose I would name specifically, Adult, Sports and their last album Daihakken.

Solo: " Shōso Strip" and "Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana"

She's such a dynamic and diverse singer, in multiple styles and languages.

Claudio Sanchez

The creator of Coheed and Cambria's both music and concept. I do absolutely love 2 Coheed albums, Good Apollo 1 and In Keeping Secrets, which I see as his greatest works.

And while all their other albums are somewhat hit and miss for me, there are still many songs on each one of them I enjoy.

To add to that, he does have his solo project The Prize Fighter Inferno which I enjoyed a bit when I was totally obsessed with Coheed a little over 10 years ago.

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Robert Schneider

The founder and main songwriter with The Apples in Stereo. The Apples have a number of albums, which often include extensively long track lists. I find the 2 most recent albums from The Apples, New Magnetic Wonder and Travellers in Space and Time to be my favorites.

Sufjan Stevens
A man with a number of albums under his name and some not, often with extensively long track lists.

He both composes pretty much everything and is a singer and multi-instrumentalist.

Specifically, I love 1 of his albums, The Age of Adz, and enjoy many songs from Illinois and Michigan.

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Masterful harpist and singer, and a composer of 3 terrific albums over the last 10 years.

Her last album Sun and Moon  is a hugely ambitious double concept record that while I never got addicted to, I think only has grown on me more with time.

The previous record "Little Flowers" is another that I loved when I heard it, and love even more now.

She's a wonderfully talented musician and highly talented songwriter that I can't wait to hear more from.

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Mike Vennart

Oceansize, Vennart and British Theatre. 'Size of course is a huge part of his work, and I love an extensive number of their songs (I might be able to count on 1 hand, the songs I don't love actually). And the 2 projects since Oceansize broke up have been really good as well (The Demon Joke was my #3 record from 2015 I recall).

Daniel Victor

The mastermind behind Neverending White Lights, some of the most emotive, melancholy songs I've ever heard. And his approach of using many different singers just adds to his composition and songwriting skills. Favorites? the 2 Jimmy Gnecco sang tracks "Our Final Hymn" and "Dove Colored Sky" I would likely pick, but there's many others to love as well on all 3 of the NWL albums.

Plus there's his early band Black Ribbons which I do enjoy the album I own from them too. It's a little more gothic/new wave sounding from memory, but enjoyable none-the-less.

Brooke Waggoner

All 4 of her albums I enjoy many songs quite a lot. My favorite still remains Go Easy Little Doves. Her classical background often adds a lot to her compositions.

Steven Wilson

The large majority of his music with Porcupine Tree and now his solo records along with Blackfield and a bit of No-Man are all examples on why I appreciate and pay attention to his work. I should, but have not yet made like a Top 10 PT or SW-related songs, and it would include many Honorable Mentions of course.

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John Wright

Lehto and Wright, The Galactic Cowboys Orchestra, working with Greg Herriges in more than 1 band (Produkt? and/or another earlier, very King Crimsony group), and even Dean Magraw among others. He is incredibly prolific and has made a lot of amazing music. Especially recently. Lehto and Wright's "Childrens Songs" maybe being my favorite.