The Most Important Bands Of The Era: Number Eighteen

MI18Another week, another portion of us listing out some of the most important bands of this era. Spoiler Alert: One of the bands listed is currently ranking higher than their initial spot here at number eighteen. Let’s get it started!

Alan: Alright, who wants to go first?

Kristen: I will! First off, I would just like to say I THINK I would be ok with Vampire Weekend being at this spot. However, my pick was Beirut. I think they are an extremely unique band with tremendous talent. They derive their sound from a variety of sources…such as Mexican mariachi. I think they are gifted musicians who are able to produce melodies that have mass appeal–something often overlooked in this age. I am not too sure if they have won any special awards for their albums or anything, but, regardless, I think their music should be appreciated.

Lauren: I’ve never even heard of Beirut before, so I’m going to veto that and go with Kings of Leon. Most would probably put them higher, which is understandable because of the “live” sound of their recorded music and the lead’s great voice, but it is in this last perk that I find a flaw. There’s something about the sound that just makes me sleepy no matter how much fire is blazing from all of the sex. Plus, I still feel wounded as a fan in general because of what the band did at a show in St. Louis. Long story short, they did not appreciate birds pooping on them. Maybe don’t choose an outdoor venue if you’re going to make your fans suffer for this mistake! I’m sure they wouldn’t have judged you too harshly if an umbrella holder was designated to each member of the band considering bird poop isn’t the most hygienic. Come on, Kings of Leon, do it for the common people.

James: My #18 is The Decemberists. I think that they have ushered in a new kind of nerd rock. Call it like Sea Shanty nerd rock, if you will. I know they’ve been doing their thing for more than 5 years and, in fact, they have only put out 2 albums in that period, but The Hazards of Love was a fantastic folk/power rock concept album that was as much like the band’s Crane Wife album as it was like a weird, lost Heart album. They’re also from Portland. And Portland is so hot right now. Portland.

Lauren, what is it about KOL that you think makes them an “important” band? I would be willing to give them the spot for just “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody” being HUGE for the alternative genre in ‘08. But I’m worried that they’re another band that has been submitted that doesn’t have the relevance in the range of years we’re looking at. Or didn’t have the longevity that we all thought they would.

Kristen, do you see the influence of Beirut on other bands that have been popping up lately? A world-music/mariachi flavor? Perhaps the willingness to try genres that aren’t native to the band? If so, I would be open to considering them for this spot. Do I recall that their most recent album was a little more straightforward indie rock?

I’m not completely solid on my #18 pick and I’m wondering if this is where Vampire Weekend should go.

Kristen: I definitely do not agree that their last album sounds like straightforward indie rock. Perhaps I need a little more clarification. Are we judging these based on the influence these bands have on other bands? Is that what we want “most important” to mean? If that is the case, what bands have Nickelback and The Roots directly influenced? I think Beirut is important because they are so UNLIKE their contemporaries and they are more open to different sounds other than just a guitar,a bass, and a drum. Even though they may or may not be as widely known in the mainstream, I think they will definitely be remembered with the current indie music scene. So, I honestly don’t know, does that make them less important?

James: I definitely stand corrected on Beirut. I am not as familiar with their music as I could be. A fact that I believe you have pointed out to me in the recent past, Kristen :)

What I was thinking when I came up with my list was “what bands from the past 5 years are we still going to be talking about 5 years from now”

I think that your interpretation of “most important” as being different from the rest of the crowd is completely valid and you have defended it nobly.

Alan: Whoa whoa whoa! Let me put a stop to everything real quick and introduce my eighteenth pick: MGMT. The duo came out huge with their first album, bringing us some awesome dance pop music that still had a flavor for the weird (c’mon, what is “Kids” really about?). Then, MGMT just said “f#&$ this, we’re going back to basics.” On a dime, they changed from happy alt-pop to indie alternative music that sounds more like The Flaming Lips than anything else. Taking your established fan base for one project, and then KEEPING them once you change is something that not a lot of bands can say they’ve done, and I can just see these guys churning out just good music for years to come.

Now, I’ve been a fan of Kings of Leon since Aha Shake Heartbreak, and have followed their career all the way up to their latest album. However, I feel like the initial burst of radio play (that still continues to this day) and Vh1 spins hurt them more than anything else. It did give them massive (and well deserved) exposure, but once Come Around Sundown came out, the hype train for them ended. “Use Somebody” is still being played on radio stations nation-wide, while KOL can’t get another song out of their albums to get that popular. Kings of Leon were important, but without the hype and fan support they used to have, I can see their importance only coming from two songs. A shame, but it’s true.

As for The Decemberists and Beirut, I must say that I am only slightly familiar with both of them (more with the former than the latter). They both put out some pretty great songs, but I’m wondering if at any time if it will get past the festival crowd and into the bigger picture of music. I think the former flirted with it a little bit, but the latter I feel never really stated their intentions for anything. Both bands deal with very niche crowds, and for that, I feel like they aren’t as important as they could be.

For Vampire Weekend, I feel like their spot has to go here or at number nineteen. I mean, The Roots are bona fide legends in the field of modern hip-hop, and regardless for their playing for Jimmy Fallon, they can still put out incredible albums (Undun, anyone?). VW definitely have a crowd and they definitely have time left in their career to make whatever their best record will be. Same goes for MGMT. Maybe I’m just crazy, but I feel like The Roots could easily be bumped up one if we so deem.

Lauren: I stand corrected on Kings Of Leon, as you all have really talked me out of them. I’m biased when it comes to The Decemberists since they’re one of my favorites, so they’re much higher on my list. I could settle with them having a lower spot as long as they’re still represented, but for now I second Vampire Weekend earning this spot. I was not a fan of them initially, but their sound that first annoyed me ended up turning the tides in the end to what has become a consistently positive career. Plus, they deserve much respect for not needing whipped cream shooting boobs to be a sound of summer.

James: I’d be ok with VW being here and The Decemberists being higher in the list. I think The Roots are okay staying right where they are. As for Beirut, I just don’t think that I’m familiar enough with their work to put them on the list. That may be a shortcoming on my part, but I don’t think that I could do it and feel like I had accurately represented my base of knowledge.

Kristen: I am fine with Vampire Weekend being #18.

Alan: Okay, so if Vampire Weekend is taking the eighteenth spot, and The Decemberists are climbing the list, what about MGMT? Should we keep them or leave them?

Lauren: Make like the zombies are coming and leave the weak behind.

James: I feel like MGMT is in the same box as Kings of Leon for me. They were HUGE back in ‘08, but even though I KNOW they’ve released an album since then, I just don’t think they’ve maintained the impact it looked like they were going to make. I gotta go with drop ‘em.

Alan: So KOL and MGMT are out, Vampire Weekend sits here while The Decemberists find a new spot? Everyone cool?

James: And Beirut is a no-go, too?

Lauren: No-go.

James: Ok. I’m ok with all the results as they’ve been suggested.

There you have it! Vampire Weekend finally has a spot on the list at number eighteen. Now, where will The Decemberists rank at the end of the day? Also, who else will join them? Check back next week to find out. Also, if you want to check out some music for this part of the list, check out our playlist below via Spotify:

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