Jon's Opinionated and Biased View on: Top 10 Overlooked Artists


Jul 22 2007, 7h51

Okay, so let me explain how this works. Now, I promise I won't make one of these entries once in a while. They won't be quite annual, though; I can't say "The top 10 overlooked artists of 2007," because it's more of an issue of discovery than it is of who made what recently. Think about it: if you didn't know the artist EXISTED, would how recently they made stuff matter so long as it's new to you? No. It wouldn't. That's why that "it's new to you" thing worked on NBC in summer when re-runs were on for a good many years. Enough ranting. Let's get to it.

10. Cherry Poppin' Daddies

In all honesty, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, despite having only mediocre success at best, are a really great band. I know that they're swing, and let's face some facts here: swing is old. Swing is old, and yet, Cherry Poppin' Daddies just don't let it get tired. ALLEGEDLY, in light of the success of Zoot Suit Riot, there was to be a swing revival, but it never happened, because outside of ZSR, they never really took off. Heck, the album Zoot Suit Riot was already a "greatest hits" compilation with "Zoot Suit Riot" being the only new song. They were already calling it quits by the time they got successful. Whatever. The point is that very few people really listen to them, and they have so much to offer. Think of all the things that have happened to music since Swing was in... and imagine those all being infused at different times with it. It sounds pretty good to me.

9. Jedi Mind Tricks

I know that not everyone has the capacity to accept rap. Until recently, my ears vommited blood for some time on mere mention. Now, here's the thing. For about a decade, pretty much any rap album that came out that had relatively good labels backing it made it to at least the top 25 on the Billboard charts, but then in the 2000's, when rap started to taking a step into just being another genre of music, some really talented underground artists and DJ's got on the scene. Some rose to prominence via soul-infused routes. (see Gnarls Barkley) Other artists made it by selling out to "Weird Al" Yankovic to have a parody made of the song that is ultimately more successful than the real thing. (see Chamillionaire) Whatever, I'm ranting. The point is that, well, Philadelphia, in parts, yes, really is bad. It is quite literally, as Vinnie Paz says "fucking war out here." Now, despite how the white frontman may diminish their "street cred," they deliver powerful situational and political lyrics, with the DJ literally crushing up songs and putting down new music that you could nearly swear was made for the rap trio specifically, rather than spliced from ancient sound bytes. To give you a grasp: you could BEAR to listen to their instrumentals.

8. Comus

They're an artist that made an album, their "First Utterance," and then disbanned. Never to be heard from again. It's not as though they ever were terribly well known, but they're sort of an early psychadelic folk progressive rock. This sounds like a terrible combo, no? It's honestly not, provided you're in the mood for it. The only trouble with it is that it's very moody music. You can get really into it, just so long as you have the right mindset.

7. Prince

That's right, I said it. He's weird looking, an 80's relic, he shuns the media, his guitar is unquestionably gay, and his music is unfittingly sex-driven. With that being said, he's a musical genius. He's not everyone's style. He has been very offbeat and often times just uncool at times, but it's not about HIM so much as it's about his music, now isn't it? From some of his songs, you'd assume him to be just another pop artist. But from others, you get the feeling that you don't know where exactly he's coming from, but you know that you like it, that you relate to it, and that it's unquestionably skilled. In any case, here's a song to give you a basic intro:

6. Lovage

Dan The Automator, Mike Patton, And Jennifer Charles. It seems like an odd mix; a DJ behind projects like Gorillaz, a voice like that behind the Avant-garde band Mr. Bungle, and an R+B singer. How could it work? It's a tricky mix, but the slow sort of velvety passover feels oh so good. I'm getting tired. Just... look into some stuff.

5. !!!

Another psychadelic pop band? Oh man, guess it's just going to be like of Montreal, right? Wrong. More like it's like house music. !!! is a band from the west coast's party scene, and they're more jazz influenced than anything. Even listening to their recorded albums, it still sounds like a well organized jam song. They're honestly a band that is a little crazy with the bass undertones, and a sort of talking-in-rhythym that isn't quite rap... think
Pepper. The songs are rather drug out, but they vary in how they are put forth at the very least.

4. Secret Chiefs 3

Right, so if you're a friend of mine that I know personally, the chances are YOU have probably heard this band, but... I dare you to find their stuff in stores. They're really overlooked on the east coast, at least, and it disappoints me, solely because as far as the avant-garde movement goes, these guys are it. You have bands which have disbanned (e.g.Mr. Bungle), and then you have more recent bands which are good but generally tend to lean a little bit more toward the metal spectrum than the free-form sort of art rock that avant-garde is supposed to be (e.g. the entire genre of avant-garde metal... which, despite how I like the genre, I believe it to be a contradiction in terms). Secret Chiefs 3, however, really is an all-encompassing group. They leap from the peaks of death metal into the soft, grain filled valleys ran through during films such as "The sound of music," creating music only reminiscent of an epic movie soundtrack. Their albums (if you can actually listen to it all in one sitting... which is really quite difficult to do) on the whole deliver a well rounded sound and experience that it'd be hard for other groups to pull off... or even impossible.

4. Defacto

"y helo thar. how cumz u got an artsit on ur list that's not in ur stats?"

Well, that'd be because their stuff is incredibly hard to find, at least in how I've looked. I suppose, yes, there's always eBay and Amazon, but I'm old school. I have to go to the store and physically purchase it to be happy. Or at least download it. But neither option has presented itself. So I'm jumping in based off of what I've been able to scrounge up from music searches, myspace accounts, and iMeem, and sticking these guys in here. Essentially it's The Mars Volta before they were The Mars Volta, except, with a completely different mindset. You still have Cedric Bixler's haunting vocal ability lingering, but this time to a more bass-heavy, dub-fueled, house-inspired backdrop. It's not everyone's thing, but I enjoy this group and... very few other people have.... or can. They didn't exactly make their albums very... available.

3. My Brightest Diamond

Yep, even though she's on Asthmatic Kitty, a label of some decent prominence as of late, it's not as though it's really been very talked about. The soft, dark sort of grounding in which most of her songs are set with her voice bringing a new resonance of hope to every light tap of the bass drum, and the droning of the bass guitar. Overlooked, perhaps not, but underrated is more to the point.

2. Harmonium

There's another 70's proto-prog group on here! Wow. Maybe it's because of the fact that the best progressive rock that nobody has heard of came from... right around then? Quite possibly. Here's the thing about Harmonium: if there are vocals, it's not in english. It's all french'd up. By my standards, that's fine, but by others it isn't.

But in my post, your standards don't count for much, do they?

In any case, they're a necessary listen, and like Comus, they're only starting to get somewhat noticed now, 30 years after they've been... disbanned, let alone 30 years after their first album was released! A sad epidemic to be sure, but it isn't so sad if I can just keep your attention long enough to bring up the album L'heptade. It's their most epic work, released only a year after their debut album, no less. Regardless, this work spans two LP's, and they really fill up the space with stuff that's actually worth your time. Check it out. You'll thank me, even if you hate prog. That's my faith in this group: they're that poweful.

And yet no publicity? The world is a strange place.

And now: The Most Overlooked Of All

1. Television

Apparently they couldn't find that drive to really keep going as a group, though they tried. Nonetheless, they have gained popularity in recent years, but people still don't really ACTUALLY appreciate them. You don't either, probably, and here's why you don't: you like them because they appeal to your modern palette, but you fail to like them for the fact that they did what you like NOW.... 30 years ago. Go ahead: try to find something from that timeframe that sounds that new. Television was so far ahead of its time that it wasn't able to hold it together until it's time really came. Now, granted, they probably wouldn't hold up too well in a market that would mostly be copying their sound, and not innovating on it: sooner or later which one is the fake and which one is the original sound would be lost.

Nonetheless, anyone who likes what they hear today? Thank Television. You like Radiohead? How about Coldplay? You like Neutral Milk Hotel?

Then you had BETTER thank Television.

t3h end. (phinally.)


  • Tiggrrr

    Agree on Comus, although there are a lot of underrated old prog and psychadelic bands - Love, The Zombies, Van Der Graaf Generator, Caravan, Camel, Renaissance, Focus and a heap of others.

    Jul 22 2007, 8h22
  • magnumforce2006

    Good list Jon. I've always loved Zoot Suit Riot so perhaps I should check out the rest of tCPD's material. I actually did listen to Jedi Mind Tricks' Violent By Design and wasn't overly impressed. I seem to only be able to enjoy hip-hop that has a shared focus on creative and overtly melodic beats and tracks mixed with the rapping. Jedi Mind Tricks almost came across as a rap jam band... Minimal beats with every rapper taking his turn. Comus.... yes. I love Prince, I've just never given his individual albums any proper listens. Never heard Lovage... It's definitely not one of mr. Patton's lesser known projects 0_0. Hopefully it's better than his stint with The Xecutioners, because I didn't honestly enjoy that too much. !!!.... Hmm, for awhile I really wanted to listen to Myth Takes, but from reading more and more about them... I don't think I'd like it :-/

    Jul 23 2007, 16h40
  • pestbarn

    I've just got into Secret Chiefs 3, and I must say that it's very odd music. Odd in a good way, that is. It fascinates me, as most odd music do. I'm a big fan of Dog Fashion Disco and Fantômas (among others), and I can't say anything else than the fact that I appreciate this kind of music. Many people may find it very hard to listen to, but once you've got yourself into it, it's beautiful.

    Ago 7 2007, 0h59
  • weezescorcho

    Holy shit, it took me 5 months, but I saw this list, and I giggled when I saw Television as #1.

    Dez 9 2007, 19h49
  • wilkil

    yo dude nice list but de facto is spelled incorrectly. that might make it a little easier to find their stuff... Also you might want to get it right that its not Cedric on vocals, its Jim Ward. Cedric is on drums. Type in De facto in youtube and you'll see

    Abr 3 2008, 17h11
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