Cut4 Roundtable: What lesser-known band do you think deserves more recognition?
Welcome to the Cut4 Roundtable, in which our staff confronts the same question about baseball, sports, pop culture, or some combination of all of it. Today's topic: what lesser-known bands that we think deserve more recognition.
Molly Fitzpatrick: And the Moneynotes
The summer after my freshman year of college, I found an internship at an alternative weekly and music magazine near my hometown in New Jersey. Other than a high school gig at a town newspaper -- one that memorably involved interviewing six-year-olds about whether they liked the new playground equipment (they did) -- this was my first experience with Actual Journalism. I was thrilled.
My primary responsibility was to write short reviews for the dozens of free CDs that came in the mail each day. Of all those albums -- some good, some bad, some incredibly bad -- there's only one I still remember by name: New Cornucopia, by a Scranton-based band called And the Moneynotes.
I instantly dug these dudes. They play an exuberantly goofy blend of bluegrass, folk, surf pop and garage rock, with instrumentation that prominently features a washboard and mandolin.
Nowadays, I'm lazy about hunting for new music, loading my iTunes with podcasts and latter-day dad rock. But I was legitimately bummed to learn that And the Moneynotes only played one show this year. I may need to take a road trip up to Pennsylvania next time they reunite.
Dan Wohl: Rasputina
Everyone who knows me knows I've always been kind of a closet goth. I used to have a college radio show called The Graveyard Smash that was devoted to all forms of horror-inspired music and Halloween kitsch.
As a result of that experience I've amassed quite a collection of "spooky" music, from novelty records from the early days of rock 'n' roll (it goes way deeper than "The Monster Mash") to bootleg recordings of Ben Gibbard acoustically covering "Thriller." But to this day I evangelize more than any of the rest for one band: Rasputina.
The brainchild of former Nirvana and Marilyn Manson associate Melora Creager, Rasputina would best be described as neo-Victorian cello rock. There is no guitar or bass to be found on any Rasputina record. Often looking to historical oddities for lyrical inspiration, they're incredibly creepy but also hilarious, often simultaneously, and they have a highly unusual sound for a rock band to boot.
I know better bands than Rasputina. And I know weirder bands than Rasputina. But I sincerely believe that no band I know of does something so out-of-the-ordinary while sounding so good.
Dakota Gardner: Katzenjammer
The last time I went to Bonnaroo was in 2009. David Byrne, who can never seem to find a good tailor, curated a stage and selected several artists he felt would complement each other -- indie favorites Dirty Projectors and current collaborator St. Vincent were among those hand-picked by the Talking Heads frontman.
The band hitting leadoff was Katzenjammer, a supremely unknown Norwegian act that Byrne admitted he knew nothing about, writing something to the effect of, "I was randomly surfing around Myspace, saw this band and thought they might be fun." With trepidation, I figured I would give them the same chance Byrne did.
This is what they opened with:
It was unlike anything I'd ever seen. It was as though I was magically transported back in time to some French commune that never existed, but should have. The festival tent turned into a raucus, bohemian bash like I'd never experienced:
Maybe it was the effect of being in the middle of a farm in Tennessee, but they are the thing I remember most vividly from a festival that included the Beastie Boys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Animal Collective, Wilco, of Montreal, Bon Iver, the Decemberists, Jenny Lewis, Snoop Dogg and Bruce Springsteen.
Matt Monagan: The Generationals
Looking for cool jams to carry you through the summer? The Generationals got you covered.
Formed in New Orleans back in 2008, the indie rock duo has a fresh, upbeat sound that will remind you of all the good times you had … and the ones you're looking forward to having. (C'mon, there have to be a few. One? OK, sorry)
The Generationals' four albums have received good reviews, but Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer have been unable to fully supplant themselves among other mainstream acts. Maybe their sound is just too innocent? Maybe it doesn't match that N'orleans grittiness? Maybe you need to give them another listen:
What do you think? Are there any musical acts you think should be more well-known than they are? Let us know in the comments!