Matthew Sweet recommends Alex Chilton and Big Star

Matthew Sweet and Big Star

Matthew Sweet and Big Star

Matthew Sweet’s recommendation: “A band I really continue to dig is Big Star. I would suggest their Radio City album as a start, but also the off-the-rails followup, Third (also called Sister Lovers). #1 Record is also a classic, and features tremendous stuff by band mate Chris Bell. Alex Chilton had a commanding slant in the delivery of his various personal sides, and was as unafraid of extreme musical intimacy as he was delivering a raging rant. In this regard, Alex, to me, was like a John Lennon, someone who put all his feelings into song and had a great courage in his reaching. Beyond all this, crazy great guitars and drums are to be had throughout Big Star’s work. I highly recommend checking them out!”

Related: Paul Westerberg, Craig Finn and others on the passing of Alex Chilton

Matthew SweetAbout our guest author, Matthew Sweet: You simply cannot talk about ’90s alternative music without recognizing the impact of Matthew Sweet. Literally there from the beginning, he worked with Michael Stipe pre-R.E.M., was in a band with Stipe’s sister in the ’80s and then went on to put out THE definitive power pop album (a claim that is backed up by this AV Club article with more accolades at the bottom of this post), Girlfriend, in 1991. From there came excellent guitar driven follow-ups, but Sweet also collaborated on the harmony drenched Thorns record (with Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins) and teamed up with Susanna Hoffs to record a pair of excellent cover records. In conjunction with the twentieth anniversary of Girlfriend, Sweet is back with a new collection titled Modern Art, an album that oozes with Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys and Big Star flavors. Matthew is on tour now, supporting his new record and playing past favorites.

MP3: She Walks the Night by Matthew Sweet

More Praise for Girlfriend:
* Included in Rolling Stone’s Essential Recordings of the 90′s
* Included in Q’s list of the 50 Best Albums Of 1992

Ariel Aparicio recommends Richard Butler and The Psychedelic Furs

Ariel Aparicio and The Psychedelic Furs

Ariel Aparicio and The Psychedelic Furs

Ariel Aparicio’s recommendation: “Richard Butler, or as I called him back in college “God,” has a voice like no other. Leader of the quintessential pop/punk/goth band of the ’80s, The Psychedelic Furs, Butler’s rasp and poetry has left an indelible mark on Rock & Roll. The Furs have a sound all their own – dark yet sexy, driving yet melodic, hypnotic yet invigorating. But the voice is the stand out instrument. No one sings like Butler. Plus, no one is as mesmerizing in performance. I had the honor of playing with The Furs’ current drummer, Paul Garristo, who’s been with them since the mid-’80s. He’s shared quite a few choice stories with me. When I covered their classic Pretty in Pink a few years ago, Richard himself ( I mean “God”) managed to hear it and approved. “I loved it,” he said. Needless to say, I melted. ”

New to The Psychedelic Furs? Ariel suggests you start here: “The Psychedelic Furs second record, Talk Talk Talk continues to blow me away 30 years later. Brilliant songwriting and an exquisite delivery. It has the rawness and full-frontal assault of any punk record, but with melodies that could be sung by Sinatra. When you listen to Richard sing, you hear others in his style but at the same time, it’s totally unique. That falsetto melts your heart. This band and this record will rip out your heart and then gently put it right back in.”

Ariel AparicioAbout our guest author, Ariel Aparicio: Ariel has been building a cult following in New York City for years. This eclectic Latino/rock & roller who is proud to proclaim equal love for punk, Gang of Four and Madonna has five albums under his belt and his most recent release, Aerials can be best summed up by the songwriter’s description of “…a dance record, but with all guitars.” Our personal favorite track is Sorry which features Lisa Germano (who you may remember as John Mellencamp’s fiddle player but you should, as other music nerds will, remember her for her outstanding solo records). Viewers of Logo TV will know Aparicio from his hotly requested videos, Pretty In Pink (clip below) and his version of Jim Carroll’s classic People Who Died. Be sure to check Ariel’s tour page for upcoming appearances and visit his official site to sign up for his Twitter feed and more.

Lydia Loveless recommends The Fever

Lydia Loveless and The Fever (Lydia Loveless photo: Paula Masters Travis)

Lydia Loveless and The Fever (Lydia Loveless photo: Paula Masters Travis)

Lydia Loveless’ recommendation: “As a 13-year-old growing up in the butt crack of nowhere, I really had never heard anything like The Fever before the day I heard them blasting out of my older sister’s bedroom. It sounded like John Lennon mining for diamonds with the seven dwarfs as his backing band. Geremy Jasper’s voice and lyrics were a big turn-on for me. The first time I saw them live was when I realized that the bands I idolized weren’t necessarily other worldly rock stars. I’d recommend starting with their album Red Bedroom. That’s where I started, and it’s worth it for the song Put it On You alone.”

More about The Fever

MP3: Gray Ghost by The Fever

Lydia LovelessAbout our guest author, Lydia Loveless: We first heard about Lydia Loveless when her album, The Only Man made a top albums of the year list. That album won her an 8 out of 10 rating from Spin as well as praise from The Chicago Tribune and Uncut magazine. Our interest in Lydia then moved closer toward mild obsession when she got signed by Bloodshot Records, the label that put out recordings by alt-country heroes Whiskeytown, The Old 97s, Alejandro Escovedo and Neko Case. Her latest effort, Indestructible Machine (CD Pre-order | Amazon MP3s) is a fantastic follow-up (Spin has already weighed in with another 8 out of 10 glowing review), full of the signature cowpunk that delighted on the debut. There’s plenty of straight talk, humor and a bunch of ‘explicit’ labels to boot. This twenty-one year old firecracker is on tour now. See her live, grab a brew and get ready to stomp your feet off.

MP3: Can’t Change Me by Lydia Loveless

Ben Nichols of Lucero recommends Joey Kneiser

Ben Nichols of Lucero and Joey Kneiser

Ben Nichols of Lucero and Joey Kneiser

Ben Nichols’ recommendation: “I went through my whole itunes library looking for what moved me the most. It was a tough choice. Some things I skipped over because they were too well known or too obvious, others because as much as I love them I don’t listen to them often enough to feel right writing about them. Made a list and narrowed it down to about 15 artists and bands that really hit me where it counts, from the Constantines to The Faces to The Night Marchers to Warren Zevon. But the record that has honestly been the most moving to me and the most listened to in recent times is All Night Bedroom Revival (available for free download) by a guy named Joey Kneiser. Joey Kneiser is best known as the lead singer for Tennesee-based band Glossary. This is a solo record however and I believe Joey plays everything on it. It’s mainly acoustic guitar with a few overdubs but never sounds like it’s missing anything. People discuss “brilliant songwriting” all the time and usually that just isn’t the proper description of whatever they are talking about… but that is exactly what these songs are. Bruised Ribs, The Big Ocean, and Funeral Flowers are three of the most moving on the record. Joey takes the best elements of Rock & Roll songwriting and combines them with the more thoughtful and emotional singer/songwriter style of doing things and comes up with exactly the right mix. Not too simple and not too complicated. Brilliant songwriting.”

MP3: Bruised Ribs by Joey Kneiser

MP3: The Big Ocean by Joey Kneiser

More about Joey Kneiser and Glossary

Ben NicholsAbout our guest author, Ben Nichols: Ben Nichols fronts Lucero, an alt-country band that was formed in Memphis in the late ’90s. The band has been a critics favorite and has a backstory that can only be described as Wilcoesque. Their early albums have won the praises of critics and they have a steady following, but success was limited by the flailing music business. They’ve put out killer albums only to have their labels fold but they’ve persevered by starting their own label and putting on killer live shows. Ben also put out a solo record, The Last Pale Light in the West which was inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s novel, Blood Meridian. Be sure to check Lucero webstite to check the Lucero live dates and listen to album audio streams.