There are more than three chords!?!
December 9, 2010 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Looking for songs that are not too difficult to play and feature a guitar, bass and female vocalist.

So I've watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World one too many times and have decided to start a band with a couple of friends. I'm learning the bass (but play rhythm guitar quite well too), one friend plays guitar and the other is a good female vocalist. I'm looking for songs that might suit this kind of a setup. We may not have a drummer for a while and it would be nice to be able to practice some songs together without one.

Our tastes tend more towards indie rock/pop; however, we're open to trying different styles to see what fits the group.
posted by talkingmuffin to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
you should immediately find and listen to the Young Marble Giants.
posted by radiosilents at 3:21 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's always that band I can't stand: The Silversun Pickups.

You could play a bunch of Liz Phair songs (if they don't have all the parts in 'em, just add some).

There's ye olde sleepy Mazzy Star, or the Breeders, or maybe Veruca Salt.

posted by bitterkitten at 3:22 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nirvana, easy to learn and satisfying to play.
posted by fire&wings at 3:23 PM on December 9, 2010

Joan Jett - I love rock and roll. Super beginner friendly for everyone, and instantly recognizable.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 3:26 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Muck about with Rock Band and its music store. You'll find plenty.
posted by valkyryn at 3:30 PM on December 9, 2010

Scott Pilgrim by the Plumtrees!
posted by wayland at 3:40 PM on December 9, 2010

Sorry, talkingmuffin, I read your post with too much haste and thought that you HAD a drummer.
posted by davey_darling at 3:50 PM on December 9, 2010

Mecca Normal and Low are good choices for this kind of thing. Seconding Young Marble Giants also.
posted by mykescipark at 3:53 PM on December 9, 2010

Response by poster: No worries davey_darling; that song by K's Choice might actually work. The bass follows the drums pretty well and doesn't get too complex.
posted by talkingmuffin at 3:54 PM on December 9, 2010

Concrete Blonde is one of my favorite all time female fronted bands. Nothing too trick in there, for something simple yet poignent try Tomorrow Wendy. Real easy to arrange that song to suit your style and experience as well.
posted by bitdamaged at 4:11 PM on December 9, 2010

Best answer: Bang Bang by Nancy Sinatra is one of my favorite songs to play. I believe it's only a guitar and the vocalist, but you could easily have the bass shadow the guitar.
posted by lattiboy at 4:19 PM on December 9, 2010

Gigantic by the Pixies.
posted by ripley_ at 4:26 PM on December 9, 2010

Anything by The Runaways?
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:54 PM on December 9, 2010

Also anything by Leonard Cohen. Or Johnny Cash. Or Bob Dylan. They can all be done without drums.
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:57 PM on December 9, 2010

Oh man, The XX! Recent indie darlings, nice and fresh and new and sexy. A lot of the songs feature lovely interspersed male-female vocals, but I'm sure they could be retooled to female only.

Heart Skipped a Beat

Ok, weirdly enough, going back and listening, I don't hear bass in all of these. But the songs have a very 'bass' feeling to me, and I'm sure it could easily be added where it isn't.
posted by threeants at 5:09 PM on December 9, 2010

Get a simple drum sequencer on your laptop, a couple of delay pedals, and you're set to play pretty much the Cocteau Twins catalog.
posted by mrjackalope at 5:53 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get a simple drum sequencer on your laptop, a couple of delay pedals, and you're set to play pretty much the Cocteau Twins catalog.

If you have a singer anywhere near Elizabeth Fraser's calibre, you may as well just put her on a stage by herself.
posted by mykescipark at 11:17 PM on December 9, 2010

She can pick up a tambourine, and VU's Sunday Morning works well with or without it (MeMail me if you'd like an alternate, easier chord progression than typically found online). And even though they have drums, a lot of Galaxie 500 songs should work well just substituting a tambourine.

If she's interested, she might be able to find a wind organ like this one to add to a few songs. Easy to play, just push the buttons on the left for the chords.
posted by K.P. at 4:15 AM on December 10, 2010

Every aspiring indie pop band needs to learn some Devo early on. Uptempo, fairly easy parts to play, but it's the way the songs come together when played as a band that makes it a useful exercise. More important than talent or skill with your instrument, the thing people notice most about a band is whether they play "tight"; these are pretty good, fun songs to develop this skill (any really, my band still plays Freedom of Choice and Girl U Want years later). You can play all of this music with the drum sequencer on Garage Band.

Of course, I may be way off from your musical tastes so there you go.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:24 AM on December 11, 2010

anything by Leonard Cohen. Or Johnny Cash. Or Bob Dylan. They can all be done without drums.


Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Kurt Cobain are all baritones. With a female vocalist, you'll have to re-key their songs. With Dylan, you may or may not have to.

I sing the songs of all four of these recommended artists. I have to go up a fifth for the baritones, but only a third for Dylan, a tenor. You'll have to experiment to see what key works best for you.

I either transpose chords or I use a capo (the capo is easier for beginners, but you'll learn about music when you learn to transpose).

I recommend "Bird on a Wire," "Hurt" (Cash by way of NIN), "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" (Nirvana by way of Leadbelly), and "My Back Pages." They have easy chords and the melodies are simple.

Have fun!
posted by xenophile at 12:06 PM on December 11, 2010

The first two or three Mountain Goats records are loaded with great songs for acoustic guitar + bass + vocals. (All are sung by a man, but could be sung by a woman.) E.G. "Deianara Crush," or "Going to Bolivia," or "I Know You've Come To Take My Toys Away."

Also, many of these have no more than three chords.
posted by escabeche at 7:01 PM on December 12, 2010

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