Style: Industrial/metal/classical, with a dash of trip.
Sound: Phenominally brilliant. Intelligent lyrics and absolutely unique sound; these guys aren't really classifiable, and that's awesome. You could call them 'hard rock' -- but some of the songs are almost waltz-like in tone and tempo. The music is crafted to fit each song's theme, not a genre. Matthew Bellamy's voice blows me away -- he can shift between sweet tenor, melodic baritone, and harsh screaming within the same song, and be equally convincing with each. (You know how some guys sing high and you want to laugh? Or they scream and you do laugh 'cause they're trying desperately to sound ######## and they just don't? None of that here.) All of the music has an intensely crisp sense of poetry -- it flows, it says what it means, and it leaves you thinking.
Songs you MUST hear: "Apocalypse Please" ; "Stockholm Syndrome" ; "Hysteria" ; "Butterflies and Hurricanes" ; "Time is Running Out" (you've probably heard that one on the radio a million times now)
Style:trip-hop, also called acid jazz.
Sound: Portishead actually records all their music on old tapes, and then samples the tapes to make the CDs; consequently, the sound is very raw, very... coffeehouseish. The music is like jazz shot up with electronic, but the vocals are generally understated, not 'jazzy' at all. Beth Gibbons has a very powerful voice that she deliberately reins it in most of the time, which makes the music seem potent but restrained. The lyrics are multi-layered and gorgeously poetic, but you're gonna have to look them up, 'cause you aren't going to be able to guess them by listening.
Songs you MUST hear: "All Mine" ; "Over" ; "Mourning Air" ; "Undenied"
Cranberries: No Need To Argue
Style: guitar-driven alternative rock
Sound: The Cranberries have their own sound -- not more innovative than other bands, necessarily, but very enjoyable for people like myself who love listening to guitar. What makes them inmistakable is Delores O'Riordan's voice; she dances effortlessly up and down the scale, from deep alto to powerful soprano. I've never heard any voice sound as full and rich in soprano as Delores'. I love the fact that she uses her voice as another musical instrument -- sometimes singing wordlessly between lyrics. I think all passionate singers tend to do this, and it adds another level to the music, providing the glue between the lyrics and music. The lyrics are deep, usually dealing with life issues like the death of a child, leaving home, or the destruction of war -- not just love lost or won.
Songs you MUST hear: "Empty" ; "Zombie" ; "Daffodil Lament" ; "Yeats' Grave"
Plumb: Best Of
Sound: Quite Avril-esque, I must say -- mainly just 'cause Tiffany Arbuckle's voice is very similar to hers. The sound is fairly mainstream-rock; what makes Plumb stand out is Tiffany's voice and the fullness of the lyrics. I like this CD because it has a good mix of fun and contemplative songs... and 'cause a lot of the lyrics reflect feelings that I've dwelt in many times.
Songs you MUST hear: "Crazy" ; "Phobic" ; "Damaged" ; "Endure (the remix)"
Switchfoot: The Beautiful Letdown
Style: guitar-driven alternative rock
Sound: The best thing about Switchfoot is the lyrics, by far. Listening to them makes me want to explode -- in a good way. They inspire me to attack life and win. But the vocals are noteworthy too -- gritty but not harsh, a mild tenor, I suppose. They recently added a fourth member, and that change of dynamics has made them rock harder (he's the second bassist) and throw in some unconventional instuments occasionally.
Songs you MUST hear: "Ammunition" ; "This Is Your Life" ; "On Fire" ; (you've probably heard "Meant To Live" and "Dare You To Move" on the radio)