Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Listmania #1: Sing it!

One of the highlights of the thoroughly kick-ass Kyuss Lives! show on Saturday night was undoubtedly John Garcia.  A fantastic singer with his distinctive, desert rasp, and after seeing Bruno Fevery do an admirable job of filling Josh Homme's rather large shoes on guitar, I'm convinced Garcia is the one part of that band that is truly irreplaceable.  Which has inspired today's Listmania - a bunch of singers that I rate really highly.

This isn't my top 5 favourite singers, by any means, but it's a shout to some singers that I consider to be pretty underrated.

1. John Garcia (Kyuss, Hermano, Unida, Slo Burn...)
Can anyone imagine Kyuss without John Garcia?  Seriously.  So very powerful, soulful and bluesy, in his own unique desert-y way.  But it's not just about Kyuss, and I think that is something that is often overlooked.  Aside from doing one of the most unlikely - and brilliant - crossovers of all time on the below Crystal Method track:

...he's produced three very good albums with Hermano - and done a bunch of other stuff too.  His long-awaited solo album Garcia vs Garcia is finally threatening to be released this year and I'm pretty excited.  He's instantly recognisable and sounded every bit as good live as he does on record.  Legend.

2. Richard Patrick (Filter, Army of Anyone)
After spending time as a touring guitarist for Nine Inch Nails, Richard Patrick started Filter in the early 90's.  There are some definite similarities between the two, although obviously NIN were far more successful.  As a singer, Richard Patrick has three great attributes that I love.  Firstly, he always adapts his voice to fit with the music very well - regardless of tempo or dynamic (or band, for that matter - he sounded great on the Army of Anyone album).  Secondly, he does the gentle-quiet to balls-to-the-wall-loud transition better than almost anyone - Hey Man Nice Shot is a decent example.  And thirdly, when does loud, he does it very very well (check out Under or more recently Drug Boy and No Love) for some great examples of this.

3. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
I'm not for a second suggesting that Dave Mustaine is a technically brilliant singer - he's not.  He started singing because when he formed Megadeth after getting thrown out of some other legendary thrash metal band, they needed a singer.  But seriously, can anyone actually imagine Megadeth with anyone other than Megadave on vocals?  And not just from the point of view that he kinda is Megadeth, either.  He may not be the most talented singer on the planet, but in terms of the way his voice fits with the style of music, there aren't many in the same league.  Could anyone else deliver Peace Sells with the same sneering sarcasm... could anyone else sound quite so borderline-mental on Sweating Bullets... could anyone else display the same rasping anger on This Day We Fight!?  No, is the answer.

4. Neil Fallon (Clutch, The Company Band)

Clutch is, of course, the greatest band in the world.  All four members are uniquely talented - incredible musicians and songwriters but never showy about it.  But that's a topic for another post.  Neil's voice is one of the most instantly recognisable facets of this great band (that and his fantastically cryptic lyrics, but again, that's for another post).  His distinctively powerful, deep, gravelly sound is just insanely addictive.  Whether's he's crooning about pirate ships on Big News I, or bellowing madness-in-the-style-of-nursery-rhymes on Texan Book of the Dead, he's just one of those singers that is very hard to stop listening to (even though after 6 years of thrashing this band, I still frequently don't have a clue what some of his lyrics are about).

5. Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust)
Everything that makes Sevendust great as a band is pretty much also reflected in the things that make Lajon a stunning singer... sheer power, groove, and the ability to switch from crushingly brutal to insanely beautiful in a heartbeat.  When Lajon's brutal, he's like a throaty, aggressive sledgehammer.  When he's soulful... wow, dude just soars.  Sonically, Sevendust are right up at the diamond end of the hard rock spectrum, but Lajon brings an immense amount of both soul and power to their music.  I've always appreciated him as a singer but what really sealed the deal was actually Sevendust's acoustic live record Southside Double-Wide.  With the band on acoustic instruments, there's a bit more space for his voice to fill - with little or no margin for error - and holy crap does he ever shine.

And just to finish, a few more underrated singers also worthy of a mention:
Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)
Dave Wyndorf (Monster Magnet)
Peter Steele (Type O Negative) - RIP
Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains, solo)
Ginger Elvis Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures)

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