>pump pump pump pump it up.

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>does anyone else get so into discovering new bands that you absent-mindedly forget about your true favorite artists?

that has been the case for me as of late. i, probably along with a lot of you as well, am the kind of guy who likes different sounds at different times. one week i’ll feel acoustic, then some serious boybands, then rap, even garth brooks lands on my radar at times (garth is about the extent of the country i like, however; rascall flatts? no way. and dont even mention toby keith (we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the american way) what a moron).

but i have my all time favs which i tend to neglect slightly more than i should.

in the past two days i’ve re-discovered two long lost artists in my collection whom have been favorites of mine for quite a while. two bens: folds and harper. those two realizations got me thinking…what are my ALL TIME favorite bands? not just right now and not just as i was growing up, but combined. all time. these are in no particular order…except that i saved probably the best for last. ready set go.

ben folds. I first started listening to ben when he was still with Ben Folds Five. “Whtever and Ever, Amen” had just come out and i fell in love with it. “One Angry Dwarf…” is one of my all time favs. then i discovered their self titled debut album and i liked it even more. and then his solo stuff started coming out later in high school and he had reinvented his sound so wonderfully. ben can be loud, funny, soft, and super serious all in the same song. plus his talent! i dont think anyone has the talent that ben folds possesses. piano is my favorite musical instrument and no one (and i mean NO ONE) can play the piano like ben folds can play the piano. The man is an absolute freak and i love it. plus the guy is really smart and has come up with some incredibley meaningful lyrics as i explained here. ben folds has potential to be my favorite artist of all time. i can’t necessarily claim a favorite, but ben folds would definitely be in the running for the spot.

ben harper. i discovered ben harper when i first heard the song “steal my kisses” on the radio early in high school. i went out and bought the cd and hated it all but that song…but then i accidently left the cd on in my room junior or senior year, and the more i listened the more i loved. ben harper was my first taste of ‘chill’ music and i absolutely loved it. his songs are simply beautiful. his voice is just the most soothing thing on earth. he now ranks as my favorite study artist. i’ve tried a number of times to make a “study” playlist, but it always turns out being dominated by ben harper so i just don’t worry about the playlist and put him on instead, and now i have a large wall poster of his likeness looking over me while i sleep each night.
plus he has tight tattoos on his arms. awesome.

dispatch. i am a huge fan of words, harmonization, and quick difficult lyrics. and dispatch takes this and runs with it. “here we go”, “railway station” and “the general” are my three distinct favorites. they take their unbelievable lyricism and add some amazing guitar mixed with some serious cleverness and they end up with an extremely unique sound. plus i pride myself in the fact that i know all the words to most of their songs and i can sing them successfully. not an easy feat, let me tell you. it is unfortunate, however, that dispatch ended their success just after i came to know their greatness. they’re amazing live performers and i’d highly reccommend one of their live cds. “Bang Bang” is clearly their best album. great djimbe too.

guster. probably the best candidate for favorite artist of all time. guster has reinvented their sound like 4 different times and each one, though distinctly different, is no better than the one before it. all equally amazing. granted their debut album is a little bit weak, but they have 4 solid albums that i will never be able to rank. the greatest thing about guster: their drummer doesnt use sticks. he is 100% hands on drums/cymbals. it is phenominal to listen to as well as phenominal to watch. they also throw in some amazing random instruments. zippers. typewriters. a ping pong game is used as additional percussion in my favorite guster song – “Airport Song”. its my favorite song probably. most played on my iTunes at least. 97 times. gnarls barkley’s “Crazy” holds second at around 80. Airport Song is my favorite song to listen to when walking to class too. makes me walk fast and efficiently. I discovered guster at the same time i discovered dispatch late in my high school career, but i was so enamored with dispatch that guster got hte back burner and i didnt listen to them for a while. I can’t get enough Guster now. plus they have two great holiday tracks (both of which were featured in The OC’s Season 2 “Chrismakkuh” episode) “Carol of the Meows” and “Donde Esta Santa Clause?” amazing. go get as much guster as you can. “Goldfly”, “Lost and Gone Forever”, “Ganging up on the Sun”, or “Keep it Together”. it doesnt really matter too much. they’re all incredible.

five iron frenzy. probably my favorite high school all time band. i hit them hard. i think the combination of reese roper’s high obnoxious voice melding with my prepubescent voice so well and the fact that they were so stinkin clever. their lyrics, sure, but their second of like seven albums was called “Our Newest Album Ever”. prossibly their best too. I still like five iron. i dont play them quite as often as i should probably. another lost artist amongst my unceasingly growing collection. plus they actually had some great Christian messages in their stuff too. plus they reference Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye in “Superpowers”. love that book. hilariously depressing. “good ole Ackley-boy.”

relient k. this one is embarassing to admit, but i, along with every other Christian high schooler, loved relient k. i’ll put them on occasionally (maybe once every six months) but they’re pretty much not a fav any longer, but i would be lying if i didnt include them. i wonder why they appeal to the high school crowd so much. i think its the fact that they’ve got fun happy Christ-centered lyrics…half the time…and the other half of the time they were screaming about nonsensical items. gibberish. thundercat. pink tuxedos. penny loafers. nancy drew. wonderful tracks for a high school Christian to listen to so as not to be embarassed in front of their friends for listening to a Christian artist. i’d say they cut about 30% Christian stuff, 40% nonsensical fun, and about 30% songs about their pathetic love lives.

n sync/justin timberlake. dirty pop anyone? it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that i truly love boy bands. as a middle schooler i used to try and hide it. i’d listen to Mix 93.3 and Z95.7 on my walkman (which i wasn’t really allowed to do. my parents didnt quite like the “trash” on the radio. unless it was Oldies 95 between Thanksgiving and New Years.) i used to secretively listen to boy bands through high school. i slowly let a few people in the know that i was a boy band fan. since high school my love for boy bands has flourished (especially since learning that i have a gift for dancing/lip syncing. anyway. my favorite boy band is nsync, and lets be honest here. Justin Timberlake WAS ‘n sync (the only other person that you could fight that for was Lance Bass, but he was only big because the ladies thought he was hot…but since People Magazine revealed the “I’m Gay!” issue with Lance on the cover…that ship has sailed). Anyway. Now that they’re not around anymore, JT has continued the ‘n sync sound into his solo stuff…which tends to be more socially accepted by both genders giving me yet another outlet for expressing my love for boy bands. the only other boy band that i think even rivals ‘n sync is BBMack. But lets be honest here. ‘n sync gets the gold here with their Most Valuable Artist, JT. Plus its just really fun to dance to. especially if you know all the choreographed dance moves (Bye Bye Bye style). err. not that i do…

kanye west. if there is one artist i want to put out another cd sometime soon it is kanye. his first cd “College Dropout” won like a million awards or something and it is a toss up as to whether i like it or “Late Registration” more. kanye’s catchy songs makes him a shoe in for my one of my favorites. my LEAST favorite kanye song is that ridiculously popular song “Gold Digger” which was overplayed for no apparent reason other than that the American public likes songs that repeat the same catchy phrase over and over again. unfortunately i find that phrase annoying. Jamie Foxx does a good Ray Charles however, and the first time i heard that song i actually thought Ray Charles might’ve come back from the dead to help kanye on this track (not really. but i was rather confused as to how kanye got him to change the lyrics to Ray’s old song to fit the theme of “Gold Digger”. i initially decided that “Gold Digger” must’ve been Ray’s last recorded item before he died. thats how good Jamie Foxx was). But the latter section of “College Dropout” is terrific as is “Never Let Me Down” with Jay-Z and its predecessor “Jesus Walks” (God show me the way cause the devil’s tryin to bring me down). however, i have to say that overall, “Late Registration” takes it. I love that cd and basically put it in whenever i feel i need a pick-me-up. (either that or i pop in Gnarls). only thing i dont like about kanye is how he appears to be kind of a sellout and a little full of himself. he knows he’s good and i think it has kinda gone to his head. oh well. his work still makes me jive in my car for sure.

all american rejects. i must admit that the only reason i started listening to AAR in the first place was cause someone told me i look like the lead singer. which is kinda true. its in the hair, but that inspired me to love them. and i do. i am especially fond of lip-syncing to them in front of the mirror. tons of fun. the one thing that i think i like the most about AAR is their use of strings in their music. their violin/viola/chello usage enhances their songs wonderfully and makes me like them exponentially more than just because of their fun lyrics and their lead singer and i’s physical similarities. favorite track “Can’t Take It” off their second album “Move Along”. its a stringed filled break up song and i love to belt it. serious strain on my vocal chords too, which i absolutely love. high notes in songs = money for me.

jay-z. lets be honest here. “the black album” is the shizz. the entire thing gives me goosebumps at times. it has hit after hit after hit after hit. the entire line up is fantastic. the only understanding i had of jay-z before “the black album” was “Big Pimpin'”, and i didnt like that song in high school. i think its because i couldn’t imagine “cheese” as currency, but now that i’m familiar with the terminology – big fan. HOV’s newest album “Kingdom Come” has a few serious winners, but this is a different Jay-Z than from before. this is a 30-something dating Beyonce Jay-Z. not good ole Dead Presidents II Jay-Z. but i still love it. I think my favorite Jay-Z is when he is featured for other artists though. kanye uses him especially well. pretty much the momemt you put Jay-Z in a song – its good.

jars of clay. probably the band i’ve gotten the most spiritual significance out of in my life. their first self titled cd was one of the first ones i ever owned and i hated it when i first got it. it sat on my shelf for years before i took a real appreciation for it. i was just young and stupid. love the strings and love the lyrics. i really took hold of them when they put out their third and fourth cds “if i left the zoo” and “who we are instead”. two of my all time favorites for sure. i was probably also reluctant to start liking them because they’re 100% spiritual. they dont have that ridiculous crap that relient k and five iron throw in to make their cds goofy. jars of clay is all buisness, and i like that now. i haven’t listened to their newest cd “good monsters” nearly enough yet. maybe i’ll put that on now and get acquainted. (this just in. i’ve been listening to “Good Monsters” for the last 20 minutes and JOC has catipulted to a new level of importance on my list. never ceases to put an amazing impression on me.)

david crowder* band. jars of clay might’ve had the most spiritual significance of my life. but dc*b holds firmly that title for the last two years, and at this rate will probably pass JOC in a year or so. i have never been interested in the “worship artists”. not that i didnt like their music, but i hated how it would get over played in christian worship settings, so much that it started to lose its meaning. i always liked crowder’s stuff, but i had never allowed myself to get attached to it. that is until “A Collision” came out and when i went to Passion. i not only connected with his songs like crazy (and i’m a firm believer that seeing an artist play live will almost always love that artist significantly more), but i also gained some insight into what an amazing artist he truly is. “A Collision” is unbelievably good. He breaches so many genres too. he works his acoustic magic, but he loves incorporating some digitalized techno into it, and then he comes out with “B Collision” which is probably what landed dc*b on this list. this bluegrass b-sides to “A” is phenominal. plus the two live tracks on the end of “B” were recorded live in kc…and i was there. serious hype. i would also like to include that my most played iTunes playlist is undoubtedly “A + B = Collision.” i’m clever. admit it.

gnarls barkley. where on earth did cee-lo and danger mouse come from?! i mean that in both a “i’m shocked that these guys just randomly showed up and rocked the house (mine specifically” and in a “these fellas are truly strange and i really am uncertain of their backgrounds.” love their stuff though. when i went out to buy the cd, i’ll be honest, i bought it for “Crazy”. which is almost always an enormous mistake, that is, buying a cd because of one song. but what a pleasant surprise this album has been. they’re strange, thats for sure, but they’re delightfully strange. i think my two favorite attributes: cee-lo’s goofy whine of a voice and the fact that it makes me move my tukus something terrible. they’re catchy tunes that (i think) don’t get old. i’ve listened to “Crazy” 80-some times in the last 5 months. it gets the record for fastest rising tune probably. either that or MJ’s “Billie Jean”. Love the song. My favorite gnarls song though is “Smiley Face”. Track 5 if you have a burned copy of the cd and you dont know the track names. though the cd starts off stong with “Go-Go Gadget Gospel”, “Crazy” and such, i have to admit that their debut album, “St. Elsewhere”, tends to lose some steam in the latter half of the album. but i’ve listened to them so much in the last 6 months that i can’t help but add them to this list. i could probably sum it up the following way: catchy, fun, weird, and it makes me move my tukus. the end.

dc talk. the grand finale, indeed. my first cassette ever: dc talk “Free at Last”. my first cd ever: dc talk, “Free at Last”. I mean honestly. how can you go wrong with a christian rap trio of “two honks and a negro?” dont answer that actually, cause there are a lot of ways they could go wrong. but man oh man dc talk puts a smile on my face. probably because they have average rhyming and average rapping abilities, but man they wonderful (in kind of a laugh-while-you-rap-in-your-car sort of way). and as my buddy dan and i found out recently – dct kareoke is really great. i was kinda disappointed when they matured a little bit and slipped away from their rap roots. “Jesus Freak” just doesnt have the same feel as their previous stuff. granted it was their 4th of 5 albums so the majority of their stuff is still “rappish”, but i’m a little bummed that “Jesus Freak” is when they hit big…cause “Free at Last” is where it’s at: “Luv is a Verb”, “That Kinda Girl”, “Socially Acceptable”, “Time is…”, “Word 2 the Father” and they BEST EVER version of “Lean on Me” (props to my man Speedy). those are my top 5 dct songs probably. all off “F.A.L.” there is no other cd that deserves to go in my number one all time slot. any time you still listen to your first cassette/cd/both ever sill as regularly as i do now – then it deserves the top spot.

so there you go. that was more work than i anticipated it to be, but well worth my time probably. plus a little insight into my world…what makes me tick if you will (tick tick tick tock tickinnnnnn).

-ap.

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