When you are looking for contemporary musicians, what comes to mind? I bet I know. Justin Bieber. Selena Gomez. Katy Perry. Florida Georgia Line. Dirks Bentley. Chainsmokers. Lil Wayne. Ringing bells?
Despite your best efforts, you’ve probably heard certain names a little more than you would have liked to. Don’t worry. The names that have been jammed into your reluctant ears OVER and OVER and OVER are not at all the only musicians making music these days and not all music is about shallow, superficial themes and nonsense. Marketing has been working hard to drown out everyone but a few people but fear not, here are a few breaths of fresh air who are contemporary, tasteful and you might not have heard of them as much as the names I mentioned.
These are some people who put the “art” back in contemporary artist.
Janelle Monae – Imagine a powerful, stage moving female love child of James Brown, Tina Turner and George Clinton. Her range is absolutely ridiculous and unlike many image heavy performers, she’s authentic and transparent. She seems to exude energy that has hasn’t been fabricated by a label, a focus group or a management company, she is simply just her and you can see if easily in her completely show-stopping funky heavy performances.
Derek Trucks – An almost albino successor to the Alman Brothers Band, this timid looking guy started touring with them at only thirteen, but the moment you see him play, you mill realize immediately, he may just be one of the greatest guitar players ever to lie. He has influences from Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar and John Coltrane and plays almost exclusively with a slide.
The Black Keys – OK, OK, so they aren’t THAT unknown. This white-as-saltines power duo actually didn’t really have any plans for super stardom when they started out… they were just trying to pay rent and stay alive. The awards, world tours and very successful music career came only after their very modest beginnings. Also if you’ve got a minute, check out “Tighten Up” their hilarious music video where you can see their on camera sons and them pummeling each other into bloody pulps over a pretty woman and her daughter. They sound a bit like Howlin’ Wolf, Canned Heat and Robert Johnson.
Alabama Shakes – They didn’t form until 2009 and already they have amassed a huge following and had some very impressive career success without churning out songs that include the phrase “Oh, oh baby you are making crazy”. YAY! This American Blues Rock band is fronted by Brittany Howard, a woman who sings and performs so powerfully, you’d swear she could command a tornado to lay down and go to sleep. They blend Janis Joppelin, Otis Redding, Aretha Frankiln and even David Bowie!