5 Bands Every Conservative Should Know
“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
You remember this scene from The Two Towers, right? Samwise Gamgee reminds Frodo about the purpose of their mission. And isn’t this at the heart of conservatism? Fighting for the good things in this world?
How about fighting for good music? I’ll submit five bands you should know, which will remind you that all is not lost, and that there are, indeed, good things in this strange, chaotic world we live in.
Not only are these bands good musically within their genres; they are also masters at exploring rich ideas in songs. We all know the importance and weight of ideas. They drive human actions and events when they are conveyed by people who know how to share them simply and effectively. It’s important for us as conservatives to take note of some of the bands, both older and contemporary, who do this well.
Now, I could recommend bands based on the quality of their relationships with spouses or on the regularity of their church attendance, but I’m not going to. Doing is one thing; making is another—and moral character, as important as it is, has little impact on whether an artist is actually good or not.
So with that little disclaimer out of the way, let’s dive in:
1. Vampire Weekend
Indie rock. Well-read rockers with a craving for
Afro beats and baroque pop scales.
If you haven’t listened to these guys yet, listen to their first, eponymously named album now (or tonight, at the very latest). Once you’ve digested the Oxford comma and Cape Cod references, then you might jump to their latest album, Modern Vampires of the City, for a fascinating appraisal of post-Judeo-Christian American culture.
Vampire Weekend writes melodically strong yet structurally simple tunes, and lyricist Ezra Koenig embeds cultural and literary references throughout. The result is unique, poppy, and smart. They’re a hard band not to like.
From hardcore to post-hardcore to twangy folk, this band never lost
its musical sensibility or its ability
to translate deep poetry into
Aaron Weiss draws from the Bible, the Torah, and even the Qur’an to craft spiritual, poetic lyrics that open up the mystery of everything familiar. In drawing insightful, reflective images out of everyday themes, Aaron reminds us of the importance of listening to and observing the world around us.
Start with mewithoutYou’s album Catch for Us the Foxes. If spoken word over post-hardcore guitar riffs isn’t your preference, I encourage you at least to read their lyrics.
3. The Four Freshmen
The jazz/barbershop quartet that sang four-part harmonies, played their own instruments, wrote music, and inspired the Beach Boys. Quite the CV.
You never know whom you will inspire. The Four Freshmen were a mold-busting group, known for being a jazz quartet that sounded like a forty-three-piece ensemble. Their genius lay in their ability to deliver harmonies over jazz arrangements, resulting in a smooth, sometimes haunting effect.
Although the ’60s rock wave doused their popularity, Brian Wilson cited the Four Freshmen as being a huge influence on his band, the Beach Boys.
4. Sigur Rós
Post-rock. Atmospheric, Icelandic, melodic. Wonder-inspiring.
If you appreciate the Western tradition, you should appreciate Sigur Rós, an Icelandic band known for its Tolkienesque language creation. Their singer and writer, known as Jónsi, often sings in a language he calls “Hopelandic,” which is composed of nonsensical syllables so that all listeners, regardless of where they come from, may enter into the music without a language barrier.
Some people have likened Sigur Rós’s music to a religious experience, and it’s easy to understand why. Their music is majestic, awe-inspiring, and filled with longing for the infinite. You’ll come away with a deep sense of wonder at life and nature, both of which are crucial if we are to be reverent toward the unknown as well as toward the known.
Indie pop. Family band (four siblings and a cousin) remotely like the von Trapps, without the Austrian accents.
Their first album, Room Noises, has a whimsical (and sometimes agrarian) flavor. Lyrically, this family band awakens the imagination with Alice in Wonderland references, as well as unique poetics that inspire the child explorer in us all.
Their songs wonder at the brilliant and understated tones of life, love, and suffering. Yet even as the band has aged and developed edges, Eisley still retains a vision of the marvelous. Listening to them is sometimes akin to listening to a Brothers Grimm fairytale, and God knows we can all do with one of those now and then.
Let me close with one more disclaimer: I’m not even going to pretend this is a comprehensive list. You’re welcome to make additions.
So get out there, my fellow musicphiles. Turn on that lamp over your favorite chair, drink something strong, and enjoy the good things in this world.