Unknown bands you need to know about

Image by Sidney MacDonald

1. Hop Along

Hop Along, originating out of Seattle, is one of the best indie rock bands on the scene today. Lead singer Frances Quinlan brings a raspy yet delicate head to front the band.

In their song “How Simple,” Quinlan writes about her realization of aging and healthy relationships coming to an end. “Don’t worry we’ll both find out.

Just not together,” a lyric, while heartbreaking, shows that as we grow older, it’s not abnormal to take your own path to self-discovery.

Hop Along plays with a unique sound that seems to be fleeting in today’s musical climate.

With modern bands regurgitating the same bland, banal content yearly, it’s refreshing to listen to a group refusing to repeat their ever-changing style.

If I could suggest one band on his list, this would be it.

Songs to listen to: “Sister Cities”, “How Simple”, “Look of Love” and “Texas Funeral.”

2. Pkew Pkew Pkew

Although their name is uncomfortable to pronounce and confusing at a glance, this Toronto based band is fantastically hilarious.

With songs named “Let’s Order a Pizza” and “A**hole Pandemic” it’s hard not to laugh at these loud, emphatic anthems about binge drinking, teenage rebellion and growing up in a big city.

Pkew Pkew Pkew unifies outcasted youth with their inviting, communal chants while giving their listeners pulsing headaches to discover between the end of the set and the encore. For those looking for an energized modern punk rock band, I couldn’t recommend anyone better.

Songs to listen to:  “Mid-20s Skateboarder”, “Adult Party” and “A**hole Pandemic.”

3. Dr. Dog

Talk about range. Dr. Dog can do it all. From the whammied riffs on “Lonesome” to the harrowing, miserable lyrics on “Too Weak to Ramble,” these guys are the best at what they do.

What looks to be a group of three dads and someone’s nephew is actually an intoxicating, almost hallucinogenic encounter.

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco once called them “the greatest band nobody knows,” which ten years later remains accurate.

They’ll sing you to sleep with shallow, gentle orchestral rifts and wake you up with storming chants of self deprecation.

Songs to listen to: “Shadow People”, “Under the Wheels” and “Nellie”, “Survive.”

4. Julien Baker

Not for the lighthearted, Julien Baker is the depressed college teen’s Madonna. Between haunting instrumentals and pessimistic lyrics, Baker has composed a vast discography of unique music.

No band, no back up vocals. Baker does it all by herself with a ratty guitar and an empty stage. Although soft spoken in conversation, she fills the stage with a bellowed delivery.

Australian singer Courtney Barnett was penciled in at number four but was ultimately beat out by Baker solely due to her thunderous vocals.

Songs to listen to: “Everybody Does”, “Go Home”, “Something.”

Although not necessarily unknown, the two bands I felt uncomfortable leaving off this list were The National and Wilco.

In the community of indie music, they’re probably the two most well known bands of the 21st      century, but amongst the university community, it’s safe to say they’re relatively obscure. Rather than add a fifth spot to this list, it felt more important to at least mention these two powerhouse bands.

Give these groups a try. Sure, they might not be as financially stable as your favourite rappers, but at least they can spell.

Some of these bands have changed my life. “One Sunday Morning” by Wilco induces tears every listen, a song that reminds of my father. Pretty much anything by The National reminds me that I’m not alone with my personal anxieties, that even the greatest rock stars don’t always want to socialize at parties.

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