Tuesday Ten: Sonically Unmistakable Artists

By | April 8, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Remember when The Beatles first came to America and everyone lost their minds because they’d never heard anything like it before? (Well…remember your parents telling you about it? Maybe your grandparents?) Yeah, that doesn’t really happen anymore. The past fifty years have seen so many musical revolutions and innovations that it’s tough for an artist to do something that hasn’t been done before in 2014. But on the plus side, that makes it feel even more special when it does happen, and thankfully there are still plenty of musicians out there striving to break the mold and create something truly unique. In this week’s Tuesday Ten, we talk about some of our favorite sonically unmistakable bands and what sets them apart in 2014’s flooded musical climate.

The 1975

The 1975 know how to write feelgood anthems. From the smash hit of “Sex” to the alluring confidence of “Chocolate”, you immediately know it’s them from the way they draw you in with an irresistibly upbeat, devil-may-care attitude so compelling it has you hooked within seconds. Throw in some addictive indie riffs, a ton of synths – pulled straight from a John Hughes movie – and edgy lyrics from a mumbling yet engaging vocalist. It’s all part of their charm, and they’ll leave you buzzed and ready for more. So let them take the wheel and drive you back to the future of soulful 80s funk blended with colorful indie rock, a rare combination that makes them instantly recognizable. No matter what surprises they throw at you – a saxophone solo that belongs under the glittering lights of the disco – it’s still unmistakably them. From Matt Healy’s questionable enunciation (that would give Patrick Stump a run for his money) to every heavy reverb that bounces playfully off the walls, their huge sound is guaranteed to sweep you off your feet – a feeling you won’t forget every time you hear them. The 1975 have revitalized the golden nostalgia of the past to envision the future of rock and roll. (Alex Bear)


Chiodos is a band that embraces the concept variety is the spice of life. One minute you hear a gut wrenching scream over chaotic riffage; the next it’s Craig Owen’s angelic voice crooning over haunting piano. And if you listen to the band circa All’s Well That Ends Well (2005), you may even stumble upon circus music and find it is shockingly appropriate, as it bridges the gap between dissonance and harmony, the way a happy circus clown might – one minute can be sweet and serene and the next it’s haunting and unsettling. There is always something to keep the listener intrigued, terrified, at ease, melancholy, you name it. Chiodos is an emotional rollercoaster, providing endless contrasts and dynamics that keep their sound interesting. (Ethan Rose)


One of the most hostile, technical, and sonically unique bands in hardcore, Converge are an undefined masterpiece. Characterized by erratic time signatures and Jacob Bannon’s pained screams, the band took ’90s hardcore and incorporated more aggressive genres like grindcore and math rock, pushing the boundaries harder than any band before them. Their 2001 release, Jane Doe, remains a staple to fans of metal and hardcore. Celebrating nearly 25 years as one of heavy music’s most beloved bands, 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind reaffirmed the band’s relevance and reassured us that they have no intention of slowing down. With upcoming appearances at Rain Fest, This is Hardcore, and Bannon’s own Deathwish Fest, the Converge Cult is very much alive. (Alex Rudisill)


Few bands manage to capture a moment in time and translate it into a careful musical interpretation as perfectly as Copeland. From the raw, earnest urgency of their 2003 debut, Beneath Medicine Tree, to the delicate beauty of 2009’s You Are My Sunshine, the Florida group carry a musical thread through their discography that is unmistakably their own. Centered around Aaron Marsh’s brilliant songwriting, his gentle voice is backed by perfectly-measured instrumentals that captures the emotions of the songs just as precisely as the lyrics. Each of the band’s four releases prove that they’ve never been afraid to branch out musically. A spectrum of songs ranging from the bouncy pop rock of “Pin Your Wings” to the multi-layered, Vocoder-driven “Should You Return” gives the listener a whole world of beauty within their catalogue to explore. (Eleanor Grace)

Dance Gavin Dance

Dance Gavin Dance manage to pull off something truly impressive – despite a revolving door of members that includes different vocalists on almost every album (and has made them an ongoing subject of drama), they still create a sound that is immediately recognizable as theirs. The mathy guitar leads and dancing bass lines weave around aggressive vocals from the band’s rotating series of frontmen: the unmistakable yell of Jon Mess, the biggest vocal constant of the band’s discography; the irresistibly smooth voice that lets original member Jonny Craig get away with pretty much anything; newest addition Tilian Pearson’s unbelievable range…the list goes on. The band has weathered just about everything at this point and have defiantly proven they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. So, you might as well jump on board with the post hardcore tour-de-force now, if you haven’t already. (Eleanor Grace)

Dashboard Confessional

From their first recorded LP The Swiss Army Romance (2000) to unforgettable albums like A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar (2003) and Dusk and Summer (2006), Dashboard Confessional coined an unmistakable sound from the start with Chris Carrabba’s love-struck croons. Carrabba’s unique voice in combination with an acoustic guitar and pained, lovelorn lyrics gives fans and listeners a belief in love and love lost, mixed together in one big, awesome package, delivering an “it hurts so good” feeling. Warning: hearing one note of Dashboard songs like “Screaming Infidelities” and “Bend and Not Break” can (and probably will) evoke tears. My friends ask why I enjoy listening to this “sad” music so much, and I say, “This kind of sad makes me happy.” (Alyson Stokes)


Nate Ruess’ voice made its widespread debut on the music scene with his band The Format. However, it seems his newest endeavor as the lead singer of fun. has proven to be the perfect stage for showcasing those special pipes. With fun., Ruess has the opportunity to play with range in a way that flows flawlessly with the band’s dramatic instrumentals. The group’s extravagant pop creates the ideal environment for their lead vocalist’s remarkably natural high notes, each word brimming with tangible emotion. Overall, Ruess’ voice is young, full, and vibrant – can you really imagine another band nailing “Some Nights” the way fun. do? If you ever do, let us know, but until then we’ll keep practicing our pitch in the shower. (Alyssa Dempsey)

Motion City Soundtrack

As one of the leading names in the pop punk genre, Motion City Soundtrack have paved their own road through the music industry for over ten years, and they’re showing no sign of stopping any time soon. The Minneapolis-based quintet’s trademark blend of pop punk and moog synthesizers sets the band apart, often leaving fans to wonder what genre Motion City fit into. Some dub it “synth-pop-punk”; others say the band is too diverse to be stuck under one label. Since their inception in 1997, genre after genre attempt to define the band with labels including pop rock, indie, power pop, and emo. Either way, we can agree that there’s no need to double-check which band just took over your player/radio/phone. As soon you hear the distinct keyboards backing the fun guitar-driven songs…chances are, you already know. (Emily Yee)

Panic! At The Disco

Panic! At The Disco might jump genres with every release, but there’s no denying that every song they record is instantly recognizable. Their discography encompasses a vast range of sounds. From the almost theatrical vibe of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which feels like a Disney soundtrack infused with everything you love about alt rock and pop punk, to the 70’s and 80’s influence on Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die that’s as prominent as “greased lightnin’” in an auto repair shop. And yet throughout every stylistic alteration, one thing stays the same: their penchant for putting an unparalleled twist on pop music. The songs become more than just music – they’re epic stories that turn the albums into novels you can’t stop reading. Pair this with Brendon Urie’s immense vocal range, and there’s no way to mistake a Panic! song for anything else. The changes throughout albums only serve to make the band more compelling, and the music even stranger – in a good way. (Emillie Marvel)

twenty | one | pilots

If you can pin down one word to encapsulate the musical style twenty | one | pilots crank out, you deserve some sort of award. You know how you’ve tried to tell someone about a band and how great they sound, but can’t name exatly what category they fit into? To their credit, defying any single genre is one of the main reasons twenty | one pilots sound so unique. When you add Tyler Joseph’s quirky vocals and expressive lyrics to Josh Dun’s intense percussion the result is a taste of everything. On songs like “Holding on to You” and “Guns For Hands,” Joseph gushes his lyrics over light and lively keys and Dun’s vigorous one-man rhythm section to create a remarkable mix of hip hop, rock, and piano pop. By dabbling in those plus techno and even ukulele, this duo gives listeners an unmistakable sound that is also super catchy and easily accessible. So if tongue twisters aren’t your thing, don’t bother trying to explain what twenty | one | pilots sound like – just let the music do the talking. (Hannah Pierangelo)

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