Five Great Albums You Probably Don't Own
In fact, I'll bet these are five artists you've never even heard of.
The Donnas: American Teenage Rock 'n' Roll Machine. The title says it all, doesn't it? This album was made by four high school girls, all stage-named Donna, and you can tell they've already got more balls than both Gallagher brothers. The album is ten short, absurdly shallow (sample titles: "You Make Me Hot", "Gimmie My Radio"), yet insanely catchy songs. Think the Ramones as 17-year-old girls.
The Refreshments: Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy. I'm not sure how to classify this music. Despite the Who-influenced album title, they sound uniquely American. Call it Texas Border rock. Their songs are darkly funny and sweetly mournful, capturing moods and settings perfectly in their clever, quirky lyrics. From "Banditos": "Give your ID card to the border guard/Your alias says you're Captain Jean-Luc Picard/Of the United Federation of Planets/
'Cause he won't speak English anyway." From "Nada":"I hear the thunder from the storm down in Mexico/And I leave the border far behind/I feel the dust coat my teeth and turn my sweat to mud/I tip the bottle and bite the lime."
Moxy Fruvous: Bargainville. I honestly don't know why these guys aren't as big as Barenaked Ladies. Maybe because they're a little too similar to BNL: Canadian, sweet harmonies, smartly funny songs, outrageously entertaining in concert. This is from my favorite song, "My Baby loves a Bunch of Authors": "Now I'm pounding the ouzo/With Mario Puzo/Who's a funny fella?/W.P. Kinsella/Who brought the cat? Would/Margaret Atwood?/Who needs a shave? He's/Robertson Davies."
Dance Hall Crashers: Lockjaw. And I don't know why these guys aren't as big as No Doubt. Hell, they've got two gorgeous singers, and they wear Catholic school girl outfits in concert. Ay caramba! Probably their obscurity is due to their staying true to ska, while No Doubt went the way of the universally accessible power ballad. Dance Hall Crashers are uncompromisingly upbeat and bouncy on songs that would be dark, if not gruesome, in another band's hands. From "Sticky": "I often think about the way that I will watch you die/It's kind of creepy, but I'm looking forward to it." I know, yikes -- but it sounds happy!
Dan Bern: Fifty Eggs. Other than noting that the album title is a reference to Cool Hand Luke, which I think is really cool, I'm going to let Dan Bern speak for himself; if you like it, you're sick, but you will also enjoy this album. From "Tiger Woods": "I got big balls/Big old balls/Big as grapefruits/Big as pumpkins/Yes sir, yes sir/And on my really good days/They swell to the size of small dogs/My balls are the size of small dogs/Well it ain't bragging if it's true/Yes sir, yes sir/Muhammad Ali said that/Back when he was a young man/Back when he was Cassius Clay/Before he fought too many fights/And left his brain inside the ring/And sometimes I wish I was Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods."