Dads have terrible taste in music.
Don’t be ashamed dads, it’s not your fault.
Repeat after me, “it’s not my fault. I’m a victim.”
Everyone else these days gets to claim victimhood, now it’s your turn. You’ve been victimized by a society that requires you to work, come home, pay the bills, do your wife’s bidding, play with your children, and by the time all of that is over, all you can do is collapse on the couch in a semi-comatose state and try to keep your eyes open long enough to make it through SportsCenter.
Usually, you fail.
Dads, you used to be cool.
You used to get together with buddies on Friday nights for a few pre-party beers at your place, you’d talk shit and listen to the latest release from Alice In Chains, you’d put on your freshest shirt, groom your facial hair, and head out to the local meat market to wow the ladies with your witty banter and sweet dance moves. Some nights, you’d come home with some strange. Other nights, you’d come home with your buddies for a late night smoke session where you’d play guitar (badly) and jam until the sun came up.
You used to be cool.
Now you’re not.
The Dad is here to help.
Now, I don’t claim to be cool, but I do know music, and I’m going to help you score some cool points in the world of music.
You see, Dads love to say things like, “The music today stinks. They don’t make music like they used to.”
My dad friends say it.
My Dad said it.
My Dad’s Dad said it.
This complaint is almost a rite of passage of fatherhood.
I refuse to say it. Because it’s bull-shit. Music has always been great, music is always evolving, and there has always been great music and shit music simultaneously. It’s just up to you to seek out and find the great stuff.
You see, people are nostalgic by nature, we listen to whatever we listen to while we are growing up, during the most carefree times of our lives, and the songs that we listened to then become the soundtrack of our lives. It’s the reason why, at a (white people) wedding, Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” will come on, and everyone will jump out of their seats and yell “whoo-hoo!”
It’s not because this is a great song (it’s not); it’s because this song reminds people of a less complex time in their life. Even if their life wasn’t less complex as a child, when we remember the past, we tend to associate the good times with the music of those times.
If you go deep undercover into the world of Dad life and hack 100 random dad phones, you’re going to find that their Spotify playlists are largely similar. You’re going to see some Guns N Roses, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Steely Dan, Van Halen, Neil Diamond, Journey, The Steve Miller Band, Tupac, Jimmy Buffett, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Garth Brooks, etc. There’s nothing wrong with any of those bands (except Jimmy Buffett- this is the worst and whitest music of all-time), and there’s nothing wrong with those bands predominating a Dad’s Spotify playlist (except Jimmy Buffett- don’t do it.)
I get why you still love this music. Those songs take you back, those songs are good, those songs make you happy. And you’ve been so busy since becoming a father that you really haven’t had time to update your taste other than learning every single God Damned word to the entire God Damned Soundtrack to Frozen because:
A- You’re a good dad and your daughters love it
B- You can’t escape the fucking thing in your house so you’ve learned it by default.
Dad’s, The Dad is here to help. Luckily for you, I love music, I love writing, and I’m a compulsive list making addict. These three afflictions combined are about to benefit you because I’m going to give you a crash course in some great contemporary bands that will pass you off as cool to your teenagers. I’m going to give you some gems that they likely won’t be familiar with, but will surely love.
So, here we go:
Paper Tongues- “Ride to California”- This is what you get when an 80s hair band loses it’s identity, develops an affinity for funk, and the lead singer falls in love with a black girl and learns how to rap in an attempt to impress her on open mic night at her favorite poetry slam so that he can get her into bed. Of course, he fails, but we get a great song out of it.
Reignwolf- “Are You Satisfied”- This song is what you get if you put Jimi Hendrix, an 8 ball of coke, BB King, a flat and half-empty morning beer, and a couple jazz weirdos into a blender, set the speed to “rock n’ roll”, blend for exactly 3 minutes and 34 seconds, then light the concoction on fire and chug it.
Space Capone- “I Just Wanna Dance”- Space Capone is what you would get if Michael Jackson fucked Jamiroquai (instead of little boys), and produced a talented little white boy that loved disco and pop.
Black Joe Lewis- “Come to My Party”- Out of the new hip spot in America, Austin, Black Joe Lewis is what The Parliament Funkadelic would sound like if George Clinton stayed awake for three straight days, doing blow, partying with strippers, filling himself with rage and punching people in the face for trying to talk politics at his party, which was supposed to become a hot tub orgy.
Tim Kasher- “Strays” – Tim Kasher might be an acquired taste like Komi Luwak (coffee beans grown in Indonesia that are eaten and digested by civet cats, and then harvested later after they shit them out), you might be hesitant to dive into that coffee, but once you do you’ll probably not want to drink any other kind. Tim Kasher is basically the cat-shit coffee bean of the music industry; his sad lyrics might not pull you in at first, but after you give him a hard listen, you’ll be done with all other singer-songwriters. Tim is a tortured genius. The song, “Strays” is from the album, “The Game of Monogamy” and if you can find the time, you should listen to it front to back. Though beware, Tim will rip out your heart and innards, throw them out on the dining room table in front of your loved ones, and then make you watch as he smashes them all to a bloody pulp with a sledge hammer, runs them through a meat grinder, and then shoves the bloody snoopy mess back into your chest cavity before trying to put you back together again with scotch tape and spit. Then, you’ll have to walk around all day like that, fearful that your innards might spill out onto the sidewalk, exposing your insecurities and vulnerabilities for all the world to point and laugh at. That’s what listening to this album is like. It’s brilliant.
The Uncluded- “Delicate Cycle”- I love this song. It’s unapologetically raw and real and makes no effort to be cool what-so-ever, which is the very thing that makes it cool. The guy in high school who used to get drunk on St. Ides behind the McDonalds on Crenshaw and Rosecrans while listening to The Geto Boyz, then graduated to Nas in college because he wanted to give off a more intelligent vibe while chillin’ with a spliff of that chronic in his dorm with a college educated girl at his side; he now hangs in that hip coffee shop in Redondo Beach, the one with the furniture and décor that was acquired by taking a time machine back to 1975 and stealing it out of someone’s house. He sits in that one love seat that’s been reupholstered in pink shag carpet, wears rimmed glasses and a friendly afro, and bumps his head to this song, hoping a cutie will come talk to him, thus giving him the chance to impress her with his evolved position on third wave feminism and homophobia so that he can invite her to the Hannibal Burress show later that night. Meanwhile, I’m sitting directly behind him, bumping my head to the same awesome sound. She says no, he kills himself later that night because he’s a fucking loser, but his taste in music isn’t loser-ish.
Kopecky- “Birds”- The harmonizing between Gabe Simon and Kelsey Kopecky is so pitch perfect and beautiful that it will send euphoric shivers of electric fun up your spine before the first chorus ends. I dare you to not walk away from this song feeling happy and whistling, wanting to run immediately to a flower garden to feed sunshine to hummingbirds. Actually, if hummingbirds could sing, this is probably what they’d sound like.
Ages and Ages- “Divisionary (Do The Right Thing)- Ages and Ages is coming out of Portland and slaying the psychedelic pop scene with harmonies that will lift you out of your cubical at work and teleport you into a parallel Universe in which all your ills are being healed at some kind of 1960s styled Southern revival, but one in which music, not Jesus, is God.
Shakey Graves- “Roll The Bones”- Shakey is gaining a head of steam recently, so you may be familiar. Shakey plays guitar while hitting the base drum with his foot, the symbol with his other foot, and singing with his beautiful bluesy rasp. I can’t pop a pimple while singing without pulling a muscle, yet Shakey does all this at once while managing to look cool as fuck.
The Good Life- “Your Birthday Present” – The Good Life is the side project of Cursive lead singer, Tim Kasher, who’s got to have one of the most demented minds in music. This is the saddest song I’ve ever heard. I love it. Kasher’s haunted, jilted vocals convey pain set to the beat of drums that seem to be a half beat slow, and accompanied by scratching guitar that’s like nails on a chalkboard, it’s the perfect song when you’re coming out of a wicked hang-over the day after you tried to drink yourself to death because you found out your girlfriend was a lesbian and was leaving you for a butchy dyke. “I didn’t want to cut the cord. You suck the life right out of me. Do you regret choices you’ve made. I guess I was a mistake. I guess I was a mistake. I guess I was a mistake. I guess I’m your big mistake. Well happy birthday anyway.” Someone just shoot me in the face, right now. This man could depress Mr. Rodgers while he was getting high on laughing gas.
Bibi Bourelly- “Ego” Bibi is 19 years with a big ego, she will sing. What she doesn’t tell you is that she’s delivering hot, wet, dirty, slutty sex with this modern soulful R&B jam. Bibi is going to turn you out, eat your soul, and leave you seven different kinds of fucked up by the end of this jam. Your daughter will love her and she will think you’re totally cool for letting her listen to a female R&B singer that drops so many F-bombs, and your sons are going to masturbate to her. They’re going to do it anyway, you might as well get points for introducing them to the music that gets their loins burning.
HoneyHoney- “LA River”- Do you like country music? Yeah? Well I don’t. Still, I’ve got a mad crush on honeyhoney, and the sweet, comforting chops of Suzanne Santo. The supremely talented duo of LA actors (Suzanne and Ben Jaffe) made a good decision when they decided to turn their focus from acting to music.
Bob Schneider- “God Is My Friend” – Another killer talent out of Austin, though Bob isn’t new to the game, and if you’re from Austin, you definitely know him. He comes to Los Angeles a couple times a year, and I haven’t missed a show in over a decade. Few are more fun to see live, and how can you not love a song that is about doing cocaine with God and drinking Coors Light with his boy Jesus?
Ben Lee- “Catch My Disease”- How do you take a song with this title and turn it into one of the most fun and happy pop songs you’ll ever hear? I don’t know, because I’m not a musical genius, but Ben Lee is.
Black Rebel Motorcyle Club- “Sympathetic Noose” – It’ the dark sound mixed with the twangy guitar hook and slowed-down pace of the rhythm section that gets me on this song. At first listen, this song reeks of depression, but with a deeper listen, it’s food and motivation for emerging out on top, deep from the darkest shadowy pits of your life. I don’t know exactly what this song is about, but it feels tragic and deeply personal, and if great art is the ability to convey emotion, this song nails it.
Crash Kings- “Mountain Man”- This song will make you want to take off your shirt, climb a mountain and beat your chest like the powerful primate that you are.
Fiction Plane- “I wish I would die” The lead singer is Sting’s son, and some of the lyrics are depressing and pretentious, i.e.: this title track. I mean, dude, you don’t have to wish to die, just kill yourself. Wish granted. Thing is, it’s a killer great song. You can bond with your kid over this band because there’s a bridge between father and son with Sting and his son, and you will definitely get points for introducing him to this band because he’s definitely never heard of them. Also, if your teen is depressed, this might be the song that he relates to. “Finally, Dad understands me.”
Lyrics Born- “I like it, I love it.” This song is as grimy as hip hop gets. It’s so funky you’ll smell it from three blocks away. There’s no way your kids are going to believe you are actually into this band, so go big when you try to sell it.
Shovels and Rope- “Birmingham”- Some good porch-sitting, beer-drinking, hanging out all day with your boys, talking shit about women, and playing fetch with the dog, kind of music.
Dr. Dog- “Heart It Races”- This indie band puts out a new rock album every other year, they’re pretty prolific, and they get better with age, which is pretty rare for a band. Most bands peak with their first or second album.
Keller Williams- “Freaker By The Speaker”- Keller Williams knows how to write some fun lyrics. Most of the time they revolve around marijuana and women, two of the best things in life. This is his dance groove.
David Garza- “Say Baby”- Say baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby…
Check them out on your own, or go to this Spotify playlist I made for you: