Today marks the final day of this week’s five-part feature, a project that has produced an interesting and broad-spanning array of passionate responses from contributors and friends of the site. Each day, we’ve asked the same question: What Bands Should Be Bigger Than They Are -- a simple inquiry producing some interesting responses. Today we feature picks from our friend Jake Krolick and LMB contributor Nick Irving. Continue below and leave your picks in the comments section!
JAKE KROLICK || WRITER, BEAT OF MY STRUT / DIRTY IMPOUND / JAMBASE
Every day someone thinks that the band they listen too should be bigger than they are. However, when I was asked to put pen to paper I struggled to come up with bands that I didn’t argue myself out of thinking that they were too hard for the average person to get into. So I selected bands that I felt are all quite listenable and that fit some basic criteria. To make my top 5 list each band needed to be together for a minimum of 7-10 years giving them a chance to grow. They each had to have a sound that is easily accessible to most ears and have not have grown past the point of still being able to play a club show without selling out. Sure all of my selections have played larger venues, arenas and some have their own festivals, but they have each still struggled to reach that level of being able to sell-out a show in any market.
The Spinto Band
A local indie favorite of mine from Wilmington, Delaware. They have been touring hard for the past 15 years yet they still play basement venues that are half full despite having one of the most dynamic live shows. Their sound and stage presence does not fall far from the stage bounce that is Dr. Dog and the jangling sounds of the Freelance Whales. They are currently signed to Park the Van Records and just completed their third full length album, Shy Pursuit which is a joy from start to finish. Why they don’t have a larger following is a mystery since they have all the listen ability and showmanship to carry them far among a diverse listening crowd.
These guys have been at it for the better part of a decade and have morphed their sound with the times as evident with the transition from their jazzy playing on earlier albums like 2002’s Angels Come on Time to their last album Eisenhower that is an indie darling. Yes both Brad and Andrew Barr are busy wrapped up in several other bands, Surprise me Mr. Davis and The Barr Brothers (also featured earlier this week in this series), but why the Slip can still slide under the radar even after “Children of December” and “Even Rats” were released for the Rock Band video game blows me away. The Barr Brothers are perhaps some of the most understated/appreciated musicians of our time.
Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons
Jerry Joseph has been playing his heart out with the Jackmormans since his other amazing band; Little Women broke up in 1993. Songs like “North”, “Road to Damascus”, “Chainsaw City” and “Ten Killer Fairies” are just a small helping of the brilliant song writing and music that is Jerry Joseph. Joseph has been hoisting a guitar for more than 30 years and has been penning songs with a veracity and soul that make his songwriting stand alongside Bruce Springsteen, Joe Strummer and Warren Zevon. For anyone who loves the working man’s song mixed with poignant views and amazing charging guitar, bass and drums this power trio seems like a no brainer yet Joseph has struggled to gain a larger audience.
The Mother Hips
The Mother Hips have produced seven albums since forming as a band in 1991. Perhaps it’s that their brand of California soul hasn’t or will never catch on heavily on the eastern half of the US, but the fact that they can pack the west coast venues yet struggle to fill rooms outside of NYC speaks volumes. It surprises me because bands like Tea Leaf Green who share similarities to them have found a larger measure of success in all corners of the country. I’d put the interplay and musicianship of Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono up against any band going.
RUMSPRINGA / J. RODDY WALSTON AND THE BUSINESS
I had to share the 5th spot with two bands that have each been charging for almost a decade and I’d love to see them tour together.
Out of LA, these guys play f***ing amazing rock music that mixes up styles that include Psychedelic, Blues, and Surf rock. The results are highly infectious grooves that would excite anyone who digs the Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr., The White Stripes, this list could go one and on. Pick up a copy of their 2010 album Sway, it’s impossible not to enjoy it. Why people are not clamoring for more of them – beats me.
Combine Walston’s ridiculously heavy hammering on the keys and the Business’s wild rock and roll show and this band should be slaying larger crowds across the universe. Their boozy sounds are a party mix of Jerry Lee Lewis with the dirty charm of Drive-By Truckers. Their songs like “Don’t Break the Needle” and “Brave Man’s Death” are so darn catchy it’s hard to not keep placing them into playlists. Their live show cured one of the worst hang-overs I had ever encountered this past summer at their 11am set at the Firefly festival. It took all of 2 songs and I was jumping around, screaming and cheering for them like I had just pounded a 40oz filled with the hair of the dog.
NICK IRVING || CONTRIBUTOR, LIVE MUSIC BLOG
They are gaining tons of momentum and national attention after non-stop coast-to-coast touring, and an appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. They should be bigger already, and that may happen in due time since they are relatively young and certainly have not “peaked” within the industry. Their inclusion here is a nod to what will hopefully come of them.
On an international level, they are pretty much a supergroup, featuring Daniel Lanois, Trixie Whitley, Daryl Johnson, and Brian Blade. Perhaps their small, intimate shows are an intentional part of the experience. I expected much more out of them in the years after thier momentus arrival in 2008, maybe they are a little too “international” to be big in any one place.
Despite being credited as hugely successful indie hip-hop artists over their 15 years, the transition to the big time seemed to produce lackluster results. Key members Murs and The Grouch both dropped out of the Californaia collaborative in the past year, so I’m curious to see if they continue at all.
Assembly of Dust
AOD has been mostly kicking around the north east for the past 10 years. The first thing that caught my attention while listending to WDST in 2004 was a familiar voice- that of Reid Genauer from Strangefolk. They are one hell of a live band,and have played most of the bigger festivals at some point, but lately they play smaller venues in spurts around major holidays and don’t open themselves up to touring other than when school is out. I thought the venues would get bigger and bigger….
For better or worse, I guess we will have to wait and see if the recent return of Strangefolk (proper) in basically the same market has an effect on AOD.
The man is a collaboration extraordinaire -- this guy has been working his ass off for the past 10 years. Though he has consistently filled rooms all over the country, they’re the same rooms. In addition to his solo band, Benevento is a member of many side projects including Bustle in your Hedgerow, Surprise Me Mr. Davis, and 2006’s GRAB. He must play 300 nights a year between all of his projects, I hope he ends up bigger and better, as he is one of the most talented gentlemen and very deserving of playing on loftier platforms.