The top 10 most talented, most interesting, most extraordinary bands in the Universe

They are capable of amazing things, because they are The Special.

Of course, in this game of opinions that is musical tastes, finding agreement is like finding a Panthers fan that remembers the last Super Bowl win (OOOOOOOHHHHH! [It’s funny, because they’ve never won. Keep pounding, guys.]) But what are these mystical amazing bands of which I speak? First off, some stats. Of the top 10,

  • 20% are non-english
  • 30% are American
  • 70% have the letter “A” in their name
  • They span everything from Alt Rock to Swedish Hip-Hop swing/jazz/rap (all at the same time) to Norwegian Gypsy Folk Rock.
  • 10% of them were given the Colbert Bump

10) Zaz

A French Jazz singer/songwriter, Zaz is perfect for Springtime listening. Her music is lighthearted, pleasant, and full of joie de vivre we’ve come to expect from the French.

 I want to listen to her!

Her top hit is “Je Veux,” also check out “On Ira

9) Jonathan Boulet

Coming out of Australia, this is a guy whose fans remain unknown to me. I’ve liked the guy since 2009 (six years!) and have never met another Boulet fan apart from friends I’ve given music to. His music is sonically rich and percussive, which does a great job of creating emotion in the sweet dulcet notes of his jams.

I want to listen to him!

Great! I recommend “10 Billion Years” as a slower number and “321 Ready or Not” if a higher BPM count is more up your alley.

8) Saint Motel

As an indie rock band from California, there’s nothing to expect by interesting from them. Saint Motel brings back the sound of the 70s with a modern touch I can’t quite put my finger on (plot twist, their modern touch is untouchable! Zing!) But all seriousness aside, they’re worth the gander if you even think about liking funk.

I want to listen to them!

Check out the funky goodness of “My Type,” which was featured in FIFA15, or the adorable music video of “Benny Goodman.

7) Matt & Kim

THESE guys are the prime example of an indie band that made it mainstream but still kept the indie vibe about itself. This is the band that recorded a music video of themselves running through New York City an stripping, of them playing music while having food thrown at them, of them dancing in a bed in their underwear. These guys have some serious fun whenever they play.

I want to listen to them!

Look into their more popular song “It’s Alright” if you want to slowly ease into them. Then expand into other works like the lesser-known, “Ice Melts.” Then, the world!

6) San Cisco

Look! More Australians! I stand by the fact that New Zealand and Australia are a treasure trove of good music. I’ve yet to be disappointed by an Aussi or Kiwi musician! San Cisco has, at times, a funky/swing sound. Other times, they have that classic indie sound. Either way, they’re good.

I want to listen to them!

Ok, let’s get started with “Fred Astaire.” Once you’ve played that song into oblivion, relax with “Beach.”

5) Movits!

Guys! They were on Colbert, guys! I always get a look when I describe these guys. Movits! is a swing jazz rap band from Swedish that sings in Swedish. So you might not understand a lick of what they say. But the thing is that those sweet grooves are universally GREAT.

I want to listen to them!

Sammy Davis Jr.” is a great place to start. From there, check out their rappier number, like “Nitroglycerin.”

4) Postmodern Jukebox

Take every hit song you remember from the past few years. Now change the genre to…swing, or jazz, or waltz, or bluegrass. Want to know what Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off would sound like if it were Motown? You’ve come to the right place. Or maybe Justin Bieber’s more your speed? Listen to a 1920’s version without ever leaving your artist page. These guys will insta-classify your musical selections.

I want to listen to them!

Start with some classic soul with their cover of “Maps”, by Maroon 5 as a classic Soul., then move on to Sam Smith’s “I’m Not The Only One–but N’AWLINS STYLE!

3) Kasabian

Coming out of Leicester in the UK, Kasabian kinda sorta broke out in the US. But they’re pretty big in England (which is to say HUGE). They’ve got a repertoire ranging from psychedelic rock to harder sounds. But every album takes you on a journey that weaves, bobs, and leaves you beyond happy.

I want to listen to them!

Would you like a more energetic song? Start with “Stevie,” from their newest album. For purposes of relaxation and nostalgic thought, refer to “Goodbye Kiss,” big enough to be covered by Lana Del Rey (Kasabian’s was better…)

2) Katzenjammer


What do you do when you know three other women who are multi-instrumentalists? You start a band. Each of the women in Katzenjammer can play. During their concerts they just swap instruments and roles–including that really cool Russian bass guitar called the Balalaika (it’s an unofficial member of the band, Akerø. No big deal. Each song is a different style, which makes for interesting albums and a band that is appropriate for many different purposes. To try to shoehorn them into a genre…I’d go for Gypsy Folk Singer/Songwriter Rock. From Norway. Now go listen to them.

You said I should listen to them. Where should I start?

Easy, start with “I Will Dance (When I walk away)” then move on to “A Bar In Amsterdam.” After that, you will have listened to a fraction of their range.

1) Arctic Monkeys

This is the band that really started getting me into the indie vibe (and yes, I like them before they were cool. Yes, I sorta do prefer their earlier stuff). That being said, their newer music is full of an inherent complexity that I can’t really find in any other band. They’ve been my favourite bad for years now and it’s been great to see them get even more famous with the passage of time. My only regret? Not seeing them in concert in Raleigh when I had the chance (and before they really made it).


You will definitely recognize the dulcet tones of “Do I Wanna Know?” The first song of theirs I heard on the radio in the US. Don’t neglect their earlier stuff, though! Listen to their buzz band era with “Leave Before the Lights Come On.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. There is a great podcast with new bands at this link. It is not mine, but it is a great listen

    1. raulrgonza says:

      Thanks for the link! I’ll give it a listen during my next commute.

  2. jazztraveler says:

    Thanks for the list! However, more than the bands, I am interested in the speakers shown in the picture – do you own them? What brand are they?

    1. raulrgonza says:

      Most welcome! I actually don’t own the speakers. I used a Creative Commons image, fee free to contact the photographer, Jeff Sheldon and asking him.

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