By Ryan

So two weeks ago I introduced the concept for this column, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna do it again.  Read it here.  What follows is the two finalists for each “legends” category along with some songs to help you decide for yourself:

The legends:

the-beach-boys

The Beach Boys

With some apologies to Caribou, this was one of the easiest decisions to make.  Animal Collective is inventive but usually melody-driven, plus their status at the forefront of today’s music scene as far as most critics are concerned made them an obvious Beach Boys heir.  However, Canadian newbies The Besnard Lakes sound almost exactly like classic Beach Boys, so they have to be considered a finalist as well.

Finalists:

Animal Collective

“Unsolved Mysteries” from Strawberry Jam

“My Girls” from Merriweather Post Pavilion

The Besnard Lakes

“Disaster” from The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

“Cedric’s War” from The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

bob_dylan

Bob Dylan

As was the case with many comparisons here, I found myself choosing between artists whose career arcs reminded me of Dylan and artists whose signature sound reminded me of Dylan.  Andre Ethier just sounds so much like 60’s Dylan that it’d be a shame to discount him just because he hasn’t had the impact in the U.S. that he’s had in Canada.  Ryan Adams, on the other hand, touches on both the historically-varied career arc and roots rock sounds we remember Dylan for, so there’s no question that he belongs here too.

Finalists:

Andre Ethier

“Pride of Egypt” from On Blue Fog

“Cop Killer” from Born of Blue Fog

 Ryan Adams

“Let It Ride” from Cold Roses

“To Be Young (Is to be Sad, Is to be High)” from Heartbreaker

rolling-stones

The Rolling Stones

While I love the Stones, there’s no denying that they always seemed like the first “arena rock” group.  That’s not a bad thing, it’s just to note that while they had critical success, they’re just as memorable for their big shows and never-ending touring career.  For me, that kind of knocked Wilco out of contention for this title, and I think Weezer’s late-career run ensures that they’re not going to be remembered as fondly as some of their contemporaries.  That said, both Kings of Leon and The White Stripes have enjoyed critical success while playing both garage rock and monster anthems, so I have no issue bringing it down to these two bands.

Finalists:

Kings of Leon

“The Bucket” from Aha Shake Heartbreak

“Knocked Up” from Because of the Times

The White Stripes

“Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise” from De Stijl

“As Ugly As I Seem” from Get Behind Me Satan

clash

The Clash

Aside from Dan Boeckner’s stark, rough vocals, I wouldn’t have thought to compare Handsome Furs to The Clash until Face Control came out this spring; now the comparison seems perfect aside from the fact that the Furs will likely always be overshadowed by Boeckner’s other band, Wolf Parade.  It’s hard to imagine Art Brut leadman Eddie Argos ever trading verses elsewhere, and his sing/talk style is equal parts Craig Finn (The Hold Steady) and Clash vocalist Joe Strummer.

Finalists:

Art Brut

“Formed A Band” from Bang Bang Rock & Roll

“Emily Kane” from Bang Bang Rock & Roll

Handsome Furs

“Dead + Rural” from Plague Park

“Talking Hotel Arbat Blues” from Face Control

velvet-underground-and-nico

The Velvet Underground

The Strokes are the super obvious choice here, but Deerhunter warrants some attention to.  A little heavier on the feedback and a little lighter on the radio-ready 3:30 tunes than The Strokes, they might actually be a better comparison musically.  However, VU was all about cool, and I can safely say that The Strokes were the coolest band in the world for most of this decade.

Finalists:

Deerhunter

“Cryptograms” from Cryptograms

“Agoraphobia” from Microcastle

The Strokes

“Is This It” from Is This It

“Heart In A Cage” from First Impressions of Earth

brucespringsteenpicture

Bruce Springsteen

In a world where all the cool bands were biting The Boss, 2006-2007 saw two rise above the rest.  The Arcade Fire already had a reputation for anthemic sounds, but Neon Bible cemented their place as The American Indie Band, and their subsequent tours took on the cathartic feel your dad got when he saw Bruce in 1984.  The Hold Steady never had designs on anything that big, but the band’s piano-guitar hooks quickly got them labeled “The Best Bar Band in the World,” so it was only natural that Springsteen-who is the ultimate jukebox rocker-comparisons would follow.

Finalists:

Arcade Fire

“Rebellion (Lies)” from Funeral

“Keep the Car Running” from Neon Bible

The Hold Steady

“Your Little Hoodrat Friend” from Separation Sunday

“Chips Ahoy!” from Boys and Girls in America

van-morrison

Van Morrison

Both A.C. Newman and Andrew Bird have a track record in writing simple, catchy pop tunes with varying degrees of success.  Though neither has had a “Brown-Eyed Girl” (yet), both have made huge inroads with listeners of all ages thanks to their knack for combining simple yet evocative lyrics with pretty melodies.

Finalists:

A.C. Newman

“Drink to Me, Babe, Then” from The Slow Wonder

“There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve” from Get Guilty

Andrew Bird

“Scythian Empire” from Armchair Apocrypha

“Masterswarm” from Noble Beast

fleetwood-mac

Fleetwood Mac

I know for a fact that New Pornos leader Carl Newman hates the phrase “top-down, summertime,” but, damn it, that’s what his group sounds like to indie kids whose musical taste is refined enough to appreciate an arpeggiated diminished triad, even if they don’t know what that is-and I certainly don’t.  Tegan and Sara are a similar act, though their songs toil more on relationships, and their overall sound is a bit darker, which makes them a nice finalist as well.

Finalists:

The New Pornographers

“Letter From An Occupant” from Mass Romantic

“Use It” from Twin Cinema

Tegan and Sara

“Take Me Anywhere” from So Jealous

“The Con” from The Con

u2

U2

Do I really have to explain this one?

Winner:

Coldplay

“In My Place” from A Rush of Blood to the Head

“Viva La Vida” from Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends

led_zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Because I’m not the biggest Zep fanboy in the world, I have a hard time decided what exactly their sound is.  I hear parts of blues, rock, and early metal in the mix, but I’m never quite sure which is the driving force.  That dissonance is precisely why My Morning Jacket remind me of Zeppelin.  Heavy guitars and famed live licks are what get Queens of the Stone Age a nod.

Finalists:

My Morning Jacket

“What A Wonderful Man” from Z

“Aluminum Park” from Evil Urges

Queens of the Stone Age

“No One Knows” from Songs for the Deaf

“Medication” from Lullabies to Paralyze

david-bowie

David Bowie

Bowie can be viewed as a sexually-ambiguous alien or as just a very interesting glam-tinged rocker.  The former tradition is carried on my Antony Hegarty with great aplomb, while the latter aptly describes Destroyer.  I’m not sure Antony has pushed his music enough places to be considered Bowie-like in that sense, but he’s still developing as an artist, and I’d be surprised if the Antony we see now is the same guy we’ll listen to in ten years.  While Dan Bejar has certainly morphed musically over the years and been a notoriously reserved and quirky individual, I don’t think he’ll ever be the cult-of-personality that Bowie was.

Finalists:

Antony & The Johnsons

“For Today I Am a Boy” from I Am a Bird Now

“Aeon” from The Crying Light

Destroyer

“Modern Painters” from This NIght

“The State” from Trouble In Dreams

pink_floyd

Pink Floyd

As a collection of individual talents dedicated to a singular sound, few bands today match Grizzly Bear.  After two albums, even casual fans can recognize their new songs (from their upcoming third album, Veckatimest) currently dominating college radio stations everywhere.  Yeasayer don’t have quite the recognizability, but they’ve got a way to play it heavy and play it slow that recalls Floyd in a similar way that Grizzly Bear’s trademark dirges do.

Finalists:

Grizzly Bear

“Knife” from Yellow House

“Two Weeks” from Veckatimest

Yeasayer

“Wait for the Summer” from All Hour Cymbals

“Germs” from All Hour Cymbals

prince

Prince

Everybody likes to compare Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes to David Bowie, but his dripping sexuality and prop-laden sets recall Prince a bit more.  Moreover, while Of Montreal mostly create glam-pop, they can rip off a funky jam almost solely on the strength of Barnes’s vocal stylings.  When it comes to combining R&B, funk, rap, and big guitars, though, TV on the Radio are your band.  And who’s to say that Kyp Malone’s giant beard isn’t dripping with sexuality?

Finalists:

Of Montreal

“Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” from The Sunlandic Twins

“Gallery Piece” from Skeletal Lamping

TV on the Radio

“Poppy” from Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

“Crying” from Dear Science

neilyoung

Neil Young

Neil Young followers anchor their sound in folk-rock and pepper it with straining vocals reminiscent of their hero.  I think Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips might have been the first modern artist to copy Young’s vocal style, but there are now legions of folks doing it, and the best among them is Blitzen Trapper.  It’s hard to accuse Will Oldham of copying anybody since he’s done a lot of different things musically under a number of monikers, but his Bonnie “Prince” Billy act is undoubtedly influenced by The Southern Man.

Finalists:

Blitzen Trapper

“Wild Mountain Nation” from Wild Mountain Nation

“Not Your Lover” from Furr

Bonnie “Prince” Billy

“I See A Darkness” from I See A Darkness

“Beware Your Only Friend” from Beware

talking-heads

Talking Heads

The Talking Heads probably don’t get enough credit for a lot of the sounds permeating a stream of indie music these days; a big part of that is probably the looming presence of Modest Mouse who ripped the torch from Eno and company and eventually shared it with these two bands.

Finalists:

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

“The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

“Some Loud Thunder” from Some Loud Thunder

Wolf Parade

“You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son” from Apologies to the Queen Mary

“Fine Young Cannibals” from At Mount Zoomer

smiths

The Smiths

If you were to be selective about it, you could make quite a case for Brand New (see: “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot”); however, if you include the entire Brand New catalog in your consideration, you’d find a lot of straight emo that may be Smiths-y in spirit but certainly not in sound.  The National aren’t as much of a ringer on the quiet songs, but their restrained anthems recall The Smiths at their most memorable.  Listen to “Mistaken for Strangers” with “The Queen is Dead” in mind, and you’ll have a good idea what I’m talking about.

Finalists:

Brand New

“The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” from Deja Entendu

“Jesus Christ” from The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

The National

“Daughters of the SoHo Riots” from Alligator

“Mistaken for Strangers” from Boxer

 

Feel free to chime in with your picks, comments, and, of course, criticisms.  I’ll be back here next week (for real this time) to declare a winner in each category.

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