Monday, January 23, 2012

Drunk Uncle Bands: Hobbs and Tommy's Top Five

Jam bands are the drunk uncles of the music industry - they don't always make sense but everyone flocks to them in hopes they'll be entertained. Tommy and I are both suckers for the perpetual grooving and have decided to present each of our top drunk uncle bands. We went ahead and made these lists with little to no guidelines, yet a mutual understanding that we would try and include bands you might not know yet. Knowing our luck, you've heard all of them, but try and refrain from harshly judging us; we're just trying to have some fun like Uncle Jimmy at Thanksgiving... 

Hobbs's Top Five
5. House of Cain
I'm gonna raise some eyebrows with this one, but since Tommy and I didn't set any guidelines for making these lists, I decided to take advantage. These average Joes are from across the pond, based out of Northwich, Cheshire, which is located in the UK. They're young, but they're talented. If you don't care for a mean electric guitar, then move on - the House of Cain brings true meaning to psychedelic jamming.

4. Widespread Panic 
I've never been a huge fan of the Panic, at least compared to my friends. I do, however, respect and from time to time enjoy my fair share of Panic jamming. They utilize the bass and organs better than anyone else in the game, and as a result, dark, booming jams result. You can't help but respect their sound, even if their cult following gets on your nerves from time to time. 

3. Riverside 65 
Another eyebrow raiser, Riverside 65 is strictly an instrumental band and entered the music industry in 2009 by playing small gigs in and around Wichita, Kansas. They released their debut EP in February of 2011 but I'm betting none of you have heard of them. Fools, consider yourself introduced.

2. Tea Leaf Green 
When talking about the notes played, it's pretty damn hard to find anyone better than Tea Leaf Green. Based out of San Francisco, this five member, nomadic band can stretch a song out for 20 minutes and make it enjoyable the whole way through. Hell they even made a Christmas song worth listening to during the summer...

1. John Butler Trio 
Don't act like you didn't see this one coming. I'm obsessed with Butler and his jam-oriented partners. They have their job figured out - their perpetual sound is captivating, Butler's vocal chords bring back your childhood ambition to rock out for a living, and the band's overall appearance forces you to quit worrying about your problems, making you realize you should always follow your passion in life. It's that combination of sound, nostalgia, and aesthetics that make John Butler Trio the number one jam band.

Honorable Mentions: 
1. Umphrey's McGee - They can flat out jam. End of story. 
2. Mama's Love - Both Tommy and I have had the pleasure of seeing this young band multiple times, and we've loved every damn minute of it. 
3. Atlas Road Crew - I have the privilege of being good friends with Bryce James, the keyboardist for ARC, a college band from Columbia, South Carolina. That being said, I've seen an inside look at the mechanics of their music, they've blown my mind, and I encourage everyone to see them if you can.

Keller Williams: looks drunk, must be an uncle.

Tommy's Top Five
5. Lotus
Lotus is a 5 man crew from Indiana who is getting bigger and bigger in the jam band scene, through long tours and multiple festival appearances. They produce a unique sound heavy on electronics with a lot of funk and jazz mixed in. Theses guys are currently on tour following the release of their new self-titled album.

4. Keller Williams 
Keller is, like me, a Virginia native from the small town of Fredericksburg. I have had the privilege of seeing this talented musician 3 or 4 times live and am more and more amazed after each show. Keller takes the “one-man-band” label to the next level. He uses multiple effect pedals and dozens of instruments, looping them together and ultimately making a complete song. There is no way of associating Keller with one particular genre as he has played with the bluegrass couple, Larry and Jenny Keel on two albums, acclaimed jam band, The String Cheese Incident, and even a reggae band I saw accompany him just 3 years ago.

3. Yonder Mountain String Band/Railroad Earth 
For this next pick I decided to include two bands that produce a similar sound. Now, many people associate jam bands to solely rock n’ roll, but there is a whole other side to the jam scene that features bluegrass. Yonder and Railroad Earth both represent what is now called “newgrass” or “progressive bluegrass.” “Old grass” is related to past time legends such as Bill Monroe, JD Crow, and John Hartford. Seldom Scene is a bluegrass band that has been around since 1971 and is still representing old, traditional bluegrass well. Although one style is more advanced and modern than the other, both have that pickin’ and grinnin’ energy that makes you want to stomp your feet.

2. Mama's Love 
Mama’s Love is a fairly new band based out of Athens, Georgia who is getting more and more popular by the minute. They describe their music style as “harvest rock” which is formed from “a pure and natural kind of rock that hinges on solid song structure, aggressive playing, catchy hooks, and zero obedience to the trends of late.” These guys are the real deal and the next big thing in the jam band world, and with the recent release of their new album, “The Great Divide,” it looks like up is the only way for Mama’s Love.

1. Phish 
If you haven’t heard of Phish, then you might as well have been living under a rock for the last 25 years. This 4 man band from Burlington, Vermont has been thought of as the new Grateful Dead, and seems to be living up to the name. Front man, Trey Anastasio, was mentioned by guitar legend, Eric Clapton when he was asked who the best guitarist in the world was and he simply replied, “Go as Trey Anastasio.” Phish broke up back in 2004, but is now fortunately back and better than ever...

Honorable Mentions: 
1. Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9) - They have a very similar sound to Lotus and put on one hell of a show. Go see them.
2. Robert Randolph & The Family Band - happy-go-get-em attitude with some groovey tunes 
3. The McLovin's - younger than most everyone who is reading this post, but will undoubtedly blow all of you away with their talent…I'd say they're the next big thing in the jam band world (well…after Mama’s Love)

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