Today’s Not Quite Classical Week post goes waaaaay far off the beaten path. In fact, it’s not classical at all. Its only classical connect is that it has been assembled by me, a classical music lover, under the impression that I am not the only such who likes to delve into other genres, specifically rock. I think this is true of all of us, no? Well, not my mother. But the rest of us.
And so here’s a very, very small playlist of rock music I think has enough musical quality and integrity that you, a classical music snob, might trust this classical music snob enough to try. It’s a scant few bands with a small selection of recommendations each. Give ’em a try — I mean, even if you hate them, at least you’ll have that deeply satisfying feeling of turning up your nose at them, right?
As Darkwing Duck says: let’s get dangerous.
Band: Jukebox the Ghost. Songs: “Lighting Myself on Fire,” “Under My Skin,” “Victoria,” “The Stars.” I think: These guys, to me, are a sort of modern Beatles, if you’ll forgive such sacrilege — they’re quirky, they’re gifted, they have interesting instrumentation and orchestration, and the lead singer has a light, pleasant voice.
Band: Jump, Little Children (sometimes called just Jump, but that’s dumb so I’m sticking with the original). Songs: “Habit,” “Cathedrals,” “Dark and Lonely Man.” I think: An alt rock band with a cellist. YES.
Band: Dispatch. Songs: “The General,” “Two Coins.” I think: The have a gentle, acoustic-y thing going on with subjects that go beyond your standard sex, drugs, and rock and roll trifecta.
Band: Counting Crows. Songs: “Le ballet d’or,” “Holiday in Spain,” “Raining in Baltimore,” “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby,” “Angels of the Silences,” “Mr. Jones.” I think: “Mr. Jones” is MY SONG. Let’s be honest here — the lead singer doesn’t have the most traditionally lovely voice. But he has a rawness that sort of fits the brilliant lyrics. What I really like about Counting Crows is the way they make their instruments work all the way through their songs — no 1, 4, 1, 4 here.
Band: The White Stripes. Songs: “Conquest,” “Ball and Biscuit,” “Catch Hell Blues.” I think: Okay, if you didn’t like the lead singer above, you’re really not gonna like Jack White’s voice. He has some… unique views on intonation. But my God, if you need some good guitar licks in your life, look no further. And if you want to slap some trumpets on top of that, “Conquest” can help.
Band: The National. Songs: “Slow Show,” “Fake Empire.” I think: I LOVE that the lead singer has a deep voice; tenors, you have beautiful voices, but there are just too many of you. This is my alt rock Howard Keel, and the percussion is tops.
Band: Guster. Songs: “Airport Song,” “Demons.” I think: They may never top their album Goldfly, but if you’d like to hear some percussion on drums NOT in a set, they’re a good bet.
This is not a definitive listing by any means. It’s not a guarantee. But as one classical music lover to another, here are some non-classical songs I like — maybe you will too! Feel free to share your own.