I'm a contributing writer to my school paper , The Vox, and this is an article I wrote recently containing music reviews and I wanna see what ya'll think. The article is basically me suggesting music to the people of my school . A little pretentious? Yeah I know but the majority of people at my school are so closed-minded about music. Most of their attitudes are " If it ain't on the radio it ain't good". Some of the stuff I suggest isn't exactly obscure but trust me , it's stuff Florence Ms knows nothing about. Constructive criticism is a must! Thanks folks! To Open Your Ears by Nick Bennett Florence High School is home to a diversity of personalities and tastes. So it would be natural to assume that taste in music, one of the most important forms of art and expression in this day and age, would be diverse as well. Unfortunately it is not. Majority of the students and faculty at Florence listen to a very limited selection of music. There is a small percentage, myself included , that broaden our horizons and listen to artists other than what the main stream machine feeds us. There is nothing wrong with the majority who listen to the music that the radio and MTV tells us too. Though I see it as sad that they do not know what they are missing with the music that the mainstream wont show them . So the mission I am undertaking is to broaden your horizons. Your probably wondering : Who is this guy and why does he think he knows what kind of music I like or Whos this over-pretentious fella who says my mainstream music is bad etc. Well I cant guarantee that youll enjoy everything I suggest, but I only ask that you try it and see what happens. I enjoy a variety of musical genres and listen to everything from the heaviest death metal to the most tender soul music. Ill try not to be too bias and Ill give an honest review of everything. Id like to begin by suggesting various albums by artists who cannot be found in your local Wal-Mart but can however, be found at your local Borders. Perhaps if the other staff members and you the readers enjoy my suggestions and my idea, then Ill be able to make future and perhaps shorter installments in the VOX. So, lets begin . I ll divide everything into genres. Rock Clutch- A blitzkrieg of ballistic blues, mashed with southern fried funk, mashed with baritone avant garde vocals and a tight rhythm section. Clutch is one of my favorite bands and rocks harder than anything youll hear on Rock 939 . Guitarist Tim Sult pulls out funky and fiery blues licks that make the blood burn. His solos arent the best in the world , but they arent bland either. The licks are what make Sult a great guitarist. Drummer Jean Paul Gaster and bassist Dan Maines make the best rhythm section in modern rock , never missing a beat and breaking the structure. Neil Fallon, the vocalist spits out sometimes politically charged , sometimes ludicrous pseudo fantasy tinged lyrics in a variety of accents and styles like a true avant-garde. Clutch are a band that is doing things other rock bands are afraid to do . They dont get much radio air-play because of this, but they continue to put out great music regardless. The best albums to start with are either Robot Hive/Exodus , Blast Tyrant, or their self titled album . Enjoy! Drive By Truckers- If you enjoy classic southern rock then youll most likely enjoy this modern rock band that is harking in the new era of southern rock. They mix the riffs, loneliness, and sensibilities of the south with the energy and brashness of a punk rock band. DBT songs are tales of southern woe and pride. This band preaches stories of the people and rocks hard enough to keep the sadness at bay. They have everything from stirring rockers to depressing ballads to cheeky anthems . If youd like to check them out then I suggest starting with either Decoration Day or Southern Rock Opera. Country Buck Owens- This is real country. Buck Owens is one of the innovators of country music and the Bakersfield sound. Instead of songs about being a redneck , being middle class blue collar, or something else that is utterly cliche. Owens sang real songs about love , heartache and the cowboy life. His gritty guitar compliments his howling vocals over a rockabilly infused country backing. This guy wrote the book on country music and you really dont want to overlook him. I suggest starting with Live at Carnegie Hall. Rap/Hip Hop Public Enemy- The essential rap group. Their heyday was the late 80s and early 90s , but they are still relevant today. Led by the angry ,eccentric , revolutionary Chuck D , Public Enemy belts out politically charged messages to Fight the Power and Bring the Noise. With the amazing beats and turntable work laid down by the scratch man Terminator X and the Bomb Squad, Public enemy is a must for any fan of rap. I suggest getting all of their albums and NOW! Every single one is groundbreaking in their own way. Sage Francis - If you thought Eminem was the only white wonder in the world of rap music then you are sadly mistaken. Sage Francis is a daft word poet who mixes his political angst and a creative personality to make him more than relevant in the modern rap world. No he doesnt rap about his bling-bling or how much money he has, or just repeats his name over and over again. Sage Francis raps about politics and such, which may sound boring, but once you hear his inferno delivery and ambition then the snare will be set and you will be hooked. Even a person who hates rap can just enjoy the poetic wordplay . I suggest getting both of his albums , though Personal Journals would probably be the best to start with. Jazz John Coltrane- Though I could write pages about Jazzs most essential figure , I only have a paragraph so Ill just tell you about his most famous album, A Love Supreme. Intended as Coltranes tribute to God ,this album works as one piece of music divided into four parts. Coltrane and the best jazz quartet ever assembled pour every ounce of their souls into this divine rhapsody. The melody, harmonies, rhythms, solos , and the ending poem by Coltrane are so heartfelt and honest that if you dont feel it during your first listen then Id suggest a visit to the ear doctor. If you want real music, dont hesitate , buy it now. Soul Van Morrison - An Irish soul crooner that has a smokey voice , intimate lyrics, and fantabulous musical backing. This is the stuff for listening to on cold nights, by the fire with your lady or your man . Though its definitely mood music, Van Morrison can be very catchy at times. Youll probably find yourself singing the soulful melodies and choruses all the time. I suggest starting with Astral Weeks or Moondance. Blues Muddy Waters- One of Mississippis own and one of the most innovative bluesmen to ever live. Muddy pioneered the electric sound in blues in the fifties and sixties and is still relevant today. His guitar licks and southern blooze belting can make you smile and can make you cry. His song writing is superb and his backing bands are always nothing short of excellent. I suggest starting your journey into Muddy with either Live at Newport or the excellent compilation The Real Folk Blues. Beware though, once you get into him, you cant stop. Folk Nick Drake- A forgotten son of the early seventies, the end of the psychedelic era. Drake could have easily been the successor to Bob Dylan in the folk world but died too young before his music could get recognized. His voice echoes and fills with air, making him seem to be some sort of windy, wispy poet. His acoustic guitar work is tasteful and wonderfully backed by Londons best folk musicians. If you enjoy traditional folk or folk rock then you will definitely find a place in your collection for Drake. I suggest beginning with Five Leaves Left. Metal The Red Chord - Not for the faint of heart. This is probably the heaviest band I have ever heard . They crush and grind through smashing time changes and jazz like technicality . The vocals are part death metal roar/ part hardcore yelp. The guitars can blitz and decimate like a bulldozer or nimbly fly over complicated drum work. This band is the apex of heavy and metal , but if you want to go there, then this the band that will take you on that long , insane trip through madness. I suggest getting their album Clients. Neurosis- The thinking mans metal band, Neurosis blend heavy waves of electric assault with intelligent and spiritual lyrics. Their songs are usually over the nine minute mark and function like a piece of classical or jazz music with light and heavy sections. They may seem over pretentious or self absorbed but trust me, they are doing something that is innovative and extremely creative. I personally love Neurosis and I believe that they have something for everybody. I suggest starting with Times of Grace. Avant-Garde Pelican - Epic and cinematic , they are like the soundtrack to some end-of-the-world movie. Sometimes subdued and gentle , sometimes heavy and striking , always breathtakingly beautiful. Pelican is also among my favorite bands. They make perfect music for a rainy, or tired day . Also when reading and listening to Pelican you cant go wrong. I suggest getting both of their albums : Australasia and The Fire in Our Throats will Beckon the Thaw. I hope my suggestions will help broaden your musical horizons and open your minds to some new stuff. Most importantly though I hope you have enjoyed.