- There may never be another Grandaddy.
I will now begin the painful but necessary process of choosing a new Official Favorite Band. Everyone needs an Official Favorite Band to trumpet boisterously at dinner parties, to retreat with in times of extreme duress, to blast at insane volumes in brand-new MP3 players and car stereos in order to "break them in." Nature abhors a vacuum. I abhor having to find another band that sings about nature scenes hijacked by vacuum cleaners.
This is not an open call. Scene already receives a considerable amount of We're Your New Favorite Band effluvia, often through increasingly menacing e-mails inviting us out to shows. But just thinking out loud, here is a partial list of the qualities my ideal new Official Favorite Band would possess. An 80 percent match on your part makes you an ideal candidate. Anything higher and you, like Santino on Project Runway, are trying way too hard.
1. Beards. Non-negotiable. The beard exudes a furry, inviting warmth, with just a touch of renegade badassery. Don't go overboard and get all Iron & Wine about it, though. Think lumberjacks. (Note: All douche whistles sporting ironic mustaches will be immediately banished to Grafton Correctional.)
2. Synths. Consider the keyboard a sort of musical beard -- retro, extraneous, and often difficult to maintain. But in the right hands, the synth's inherent warm-yet-frigid paradox makes for stunning, intense catharsis, a wellspring of artificial emotion so overpowering, it becomes actual emotion. Take, for example, Europe's "The Final Countdown."
3. Lyrics that periodically rhyme "pants" with "dance." This rhyme scheme has been employed by a diverse group that includes Tom Petty, Beck, Young MC, and MC Hammer. (Okay, not that diverse a group.) A wise man (and/or Drew Barrymore in Donnie Darko) once opined that "cellar door" was the most soothing and beautiful two-word combination in the English language. She is mistaken. Rap/sing it with me: "Fresh new kicks/And pants/You gotta like that so you know you wanna dance."
4. That intangible rainy-day midwestern sound. Some bands (mostly "rockist" indie bands, alas) just sound like lousy weather: pervasively gray and soggy and melancholy, yet tinged with glimmering hope. A downcast resignation that somehow promises redemption. This often translates to muddy, mournful electric guitars, howling at the cumulus-obscured moon in unison.
5. A musical debt to the Cars. No band that has ever half-capably ripped off the Cars has failed overall. I know you don't like "Stacy's Mom," and I don't care.
6. Influences that include bands/eras I don't really care about. Fact: Every Murmur/Reckoning-era R.E.M. song sounds pretty much the same. Fact: People who violently disagree with that tend to make better music.
7. Songs with alcohol-fueled content and/or imagery. Not in the extreme "Fight for Your Right (To Party)" sense, but general themes of inebriation are oddly appealing to me, considering that I hardly drink. If you wrote a song about feeling bloated after consuming too much root beer, though, I'd probably buy 50 copies and hand them out to random people on the street.
8. Videos that prominently feature jumping animals. Perhaps you will find the video for Vitalic's "Birds" instructive in this regard. Pleix.net/films.html.
9. Female bass players. Ahem.
10. Female bass players with beards. I don't think so.