Monday, May 18, 2009

Favorite Vocalists: Part One

Stephen Malkmus-
I kind of want to say "Steve", or really "SM", because he wasn't really "Stephen Malkmus" with Pavement, which is what I'm thinking of. Malkmus' pouty, rubbery singing might the thing that really keeps me coming back to Pavement over and over. And I've actually not heard or read alot about his vocal style as a quality in their music, except for the "slacker" "not really trying" line. My friend Zack Pieper, who might also be one of my favorite vocalists, once made a remark about Malkmus coming into his own as a torch singer on Brighten The Corners. But for me, it's circa Crooked Rain Crooked Rain and Wowee Zowee more specifically "Heaven Is A Truck", "Rattled By The Rush", "Brinx Job" that get my tearducts a-flowin'.

Elizabeth Fraser-
For "Heaven Or Las Vegas", "Orange-Appled", "Sugar Hiccup" and more. Her voice gets softer, more sensual, and louder at the same time.

Mark E. Smith-
Yeah, The Fall. He was the James Brown, Fela Kuti, Duke Ellington, and Archie Bunker of post-punk. His memoir, Renegade, is a great read. I kind of want some leftover instrumental tracks from Hex Enduction Hour, or Grotesque (After The Gramme) for reading to.

Ariel Pink-
For "Strange Fires", "Oceans Of Weep" and more. One of my favorite live experiences is seeing Ariel Pink open for Animal Collective in 05. It reminded me of what I'd imagined a Suicide show might've been like, at least the experience of it: vocals reverbed to the point of unintelligibility, drums even more reverbed, like industrial music almost. You really got the sense this singer did not like you. And the keyboardist is grabbing the bassist's shirt for some reason. Like Bowie's voice in a blender at a pagan ceremony.

Brian Wilson-
Yeah it will start to feel really ridiculous if I try to remark on why every vocalist on this list is amazing. I mean, Brian Wilson. Nuff said. But ok, him doing "Wonderful", accompanied by harpsichord from the original Smile sessions, is one of the most beautiful things you'll hear in your life.

Billie Holiday-
"Detour Ahead", from some bootleg off a CD my mom once got in the mail from Bravo Network.

Damo Suzuki-
"Future Days" cooing. Best cooing in general.

Billie McKenzie-
"18 Carat Love Affair", not to mention very excellent lip-syncing there of.

Elliot Smith-
All the popular choices. Specifically, for one example at least, "No Name #3".

Rakim-
What do they say, flow? "I Ain't No Joke"

The Flamingos-
"I Only Have Eyes For You" 's bridge has the best, most bliss-inducing (for me anyway) moment in pop music.

Nick Drake-
For all of Pink Moon. Also, the strings on "River Man" (from Five Leaves Left) give a great vocal performance reminscent of Nick's own hum.

Joanna Newsom-
I have gotten some shit for my love of Joanna Newsom. 'Prententious lyrics?' So what, you only listen to Lou Reed? 'She plays the harp?' So what, you got a problem with Harpo Marx too? And Debussy's orchestration of Troi Gymonpedies?? 'Concept album?' So what, you have never honestly enjoyed a concept album? Not St. Pepper? Zen Arcade? Not any of them? She sings like a dolphin! For a second anyway, on "Only Skin". If you don't like that there's " "En Gallop" ".

Kate Bush-
"Hounds Of Love", "Big Sky". Just think of her as the person who existed so Joanna Newsom could exist. Also watch the video for "Unbelievable" on YouTube. And "Wuthering Heights", the version with just her dancing in a field.

Lil Wayne-
"I Feel Like Dying". Would it be a completely dumbass thing for me to say he's the Kurt Cobain of Hip Hop? Tricky with with more (er, utilized anyway) MC skills? (I love Tricky, at least early-Tricky, but...)

Calvin Johnson-
Calvin delivered the most amazing vocal performance I've ever seen in person a few years ago Milwaukee School Of Engineering's Todd Wehr Center. Alone on stage, swaying, sashaying, completely earnest, singing a capella "When Hearts Turn Blue". Beautiful.

Green Gartside-
"The Word Girl (Flesh & Blood)". Actually now I have a conundrum, because I think Green is my fav for cooing instead of Damo.

Katy-Jane Garside-
Incredible, scary vocals all throughout Daisy Chainsaw's music, but "Pink Flower" esp. the second half of the song is one of the peices of music I'm familiar with where the description 'terrifying and beautiful' might actually be apt.

Raekwon-
"Verbal Intercourse" and other classics off Only Built For Cuban Linx actually make it kind of a toss-up between Raekwon and Ghostface, but I've always liked Rae's flatter tone, which seems like it allows for a better verbiage to flow ratio, on Linx anyway.

Lou Reed-
Thinking of the Velvets I guess. "What Goes On", "Jesus". Feel like I should give props to Doug Yule for "Candy Says" too.

4 comments:

mister jim said...

If you can't dig Joanna Newsom
your life will be limited. Let
others dance in one spot. You
rummage up some good stuff. I was
listening to Victoria Legrand last
night.

Mike Hauser said...

Victoria Legrand was also on my list.

mister jim said...

Mark E. Smith is awesome..
takes digging to find what
I can parse. Freerange and
New Big Prinz are wicked.
I know they're not as avant as
the monster repertoire, but
I like an infectious hook. And Brix.

Mike Hauser said...

I just read M.E.S's memoir I guess you'd call it and it's great. Just in that he's a survivor and kind of tells anyone who has a problem with him to fuck off.