For the Thanksgiving Holiday, the team here at Alt Revue wanted to share what bands we are thankful for this year. Whether it's an favorite that we've been jamming to a lot this year, or a new comer that has caught fire with us, these are the acts that have we are glad to have in our lives.
(Photo Credit: Craig Scheihing)
Michael La Torre - Japanese Breakfast
This year I am extremely thankful for the music of Japanese Breakfast, the solo music project of Michelle Zauner. Japanese Breakfast has had a career that has come out with a bang releasing 2 albums in 3 years (Psychopomp in 2016 and Soft Sounds from Another Planet in 2017). Her unique sound has a mix of alt-pop and lofi that just appeals to me. Not to mention she is one of the most underrated guitarists on the alt scene and her vocals are simply fantastic. This year she released a cover of The Cranberries "Dream" that was an absolute masterclass of how to do a cover. She also played Austin City Limits this year and easily outshined the headlining acts. Her talent is limitless, and so is her potential to rise in the alt ranks.
Nicholas La Torre - The Killers
This year, I am thankful for The Killers with special mention to Brandon Flowers for his solo work. I have been listening to them since their first album, Hot Fuss, when I was in college. They were the soundtrack of my freshman/sophomore years and so many memories I have involve them playing in the background. I feel I’ve learned everything about love and loss from this band. They have always been there to pick me up, even on the hardest of days. Despite major commercial success, they have maintained their cool factor while putting out a serious catalogue of work. I am proud to call myself a musician because of folks like these.
Elise Chandler - Muse
This year, I am thankful for the band Muse. Muse and I go way back. They were my first introduction to alternative music. My opera singer cousin Jaime introduced me to them, and I never looked back. I assumed if someone musically trained could have such an appreciation for them, then how could I not? Their sound made my adolescent heart sing.
However, the story gets better from there. Muse is the reason my husband and I are together now. We met in marching band in high school (I know, nerdy cute), and we both mentioned we had a MySpace account (#throwbackthursday). I waited for weeks to hear from him, but never did, so I looked him up on MySpace. As soon as I went to his page "Knights of Cydonia" began playing, and I'm not going to lie, I felt like this was meant to be from the get go. No one else in school had even heard of this band, and then, the one guy I had an interest in had it playing on his MySpace playlist? Yes!
That is how I started our first chat:
Me: So...you like Muse. I like Muse.
Him: I do like Muse. You like Muse?
Me: I do.
From that point on, we began dating, and now, ten years later, we are happily married and still listen to Muse on the regs. I'm always impressed by their complexity and goals to keep improving. Thanks, Muse for being awesome!
Jesse Stowe - Radiohead
Although at times I try to deny my love for this band (I guess I am afraid to commit)…
This year, one of the many things I am grateful for is Radiohead. Although I do not have an actual relationship with them, I would like to thank them for the thoughts and creative energy they release into the world. Because of their album A Moon Shaped Pool, I was able to gather my creative ideas and write a thesis that I am extremely proud of it. Then near the end of August, I wrote my first post for Alt Revue. It was titled, “On Radiohead.”
In a year dedicated to finding my position in the world as a writer, I relied heavily on the words and creative drive of the band. I study their relevance and appreciate their dynamic qualities. Although they have found great success, as a band and also as individual artists, they continue to push the boundaries. They are quiet examples of how to live as artists, and I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from them.
Susan La Torre - Shakey Graves
This year I discovered a local artist (local to Texas) who's unique sound I absolutely fell in love with. His voice is like comfort food. Someone who has so much energy and who genuinely seems like a good person. That artist is Shakey Graves. I had the opportunity to see him live in his hometown of Austin with my husband Michael and it was such a fun experience, everyone seemed to be having a great time, even his high school math teacher. At the concert he was so appreciative of the audience The first time I took notice of him was on an episode of Austin City Limits, he was on an episode with Ryan Adams. Ever since that episode, I knew this was a special artist and he has catapulted himself to being among my favorite artists in music today.
Frankie Hendricks - Brand New
It’s that thankful, retrospective time of year, and nothing can make you dredge up old feelings and emotions like a song or album or band. So of course I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my health; all those other things we say around the dinner table. But to you reading this, my music family, I can share a band I am thankful for. This is kind of bitter sweet for me, so bear with me. A band I will always be incredibly thankful for is Brand New. I know, problematic. If you’re not caught up with the drama, essentially the lead singer of Brand New was caught up in some allegations back in 2017 of sexual misconduct with a minor, which he all but confirmed in a lengthy post on the bands website. All of that is a topic for another time, because my love for Brand New started in a more pure time in my life, and I’d like to keep this on a warm and fuzzy note.
Brand New released their first four albums between 2001 and 2009. To put that in perspective, I was a 1st grader in 2001, and a freshman in high school in 2009. Needless to say, I wasn’t rocking out to Brand New yet in first grade. I didn’t hear my first Brand New song until the summer before freshman year, and it changed my life on the spot. What I love about those first four albums is that they distinctly age throughout. Their first album, “Your Favorite Weapon,” is chalk full of 18-year-old angst and bad break-up song. I heard the song “Soco Amaretto Lime” on someone’s Myspace page and couldn’t get the tune out of my head. “I’m gonna stay eighteen forever/ so we can stay like this forever/ and we’ll never miss a party/ ‘cause we keep them going constantly/ and we’ll never have to listen/ to anyone about anything/ ‘cause it’s all been done and it’s all been said/ we’re the coolest kids /and we take what we can get.” Imagine little 14 year old Franny, feeling absolutely terrified to start high school, but this song made me feel on top of the world. I was having day dreams of my friends and I laughing and riding around in cars, already willing it to be senior year so I could know what 18 tastes like. From that moment, I was insatiable. I was consuming Brand New at a rapid rate.
“Your Favorite Weapon” was my diving board into Brand New, but eventually “Deja Entendu” would become the deep pool I spent years in. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all of the albums, but something about their second album grabbed me by the heart and wouldn’t let go. I would even end up getting the iconic astronaut cover art tattooed on me, much to my mother’s protest. Songs like “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades” “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t” and “The Quite Things That No One Ever Knows” would get massive air play during my high school and college days. These songs were angrier than that first youthful album, and perhaps I was angrier too. Later, in my more resigned and less anarchic years, I would come to love and respect their third album “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me” and their fourth album “Daisy” with such fervor. Obviously my musical taste had grown exponentially since that 9th grade summer, but Brand New was like coming home every time I came on shuffle.
Brand New got me through many major phases in my life, but I think something I am even more thankful for Brand New for is the lesson it taught me about idolizing someone or something to the point of godliness. In the words of one of my favorite The Wonder Years song “Growing up means watching my heroes turn human in front of me.” Without the scandal that became the downfall of my favorite band and the official end of my childhood (even if I was 23 years old), I don’t think I’d be sitting here, typing this, getting ready to send it to Michael to post on the website he invited me to be a part of. Brand New taught me that anyone can do great things and anyone can do terrible things, and I have greatness in me that I shouldn’t hold back. With that said, I also shouldn’t abuse my platform and the trust of anyone who might idolize me some day. So thank you, Brand New, for teaching me a lot of difficult lessons that I didn’t want to learn, but had no real choice but to. And thank you, Alt Revue readers, for giving me a platform. I hope I never break your trust. Happy Thanksgiving!