More Inflammatory Writ
December 1, 2011 11:45 AM   Subscribe

For one clear reason and one pretty tough-to-nail-down reason, my two favorite musicians of all time are Joanna Newsom and Jeff Mangum. Who else meets these requirements?

Easy commonality: dense, poetic lyrics. Check.

The other is harder to say, but it has to do with what I would consider to be a complete lack of self-consciousness or restraint; the musical equivalent of the old sports saying "leaving it all out on the field/court". It's singing without giving a fuck what anyone else thinks of what you're doing (they also have non-traditionally-beautiful voices, but I don't think that's quite as important as the other bits).

Really, I think I'd define it as "having something difficult and weird to say and then saying it to the utmost."

So: what else should I be listening to?
posted by davidjmcgee to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
The Hold Steady—although a little more rock and roll than your examples.
posted by General Malaise at 11:47 AM on December 1, 2011

tUnE-yArDs - Gangsta
posted by arcticwoman at 11:50 AM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Mountain Goats will definitely fit this description, even moreso if you go see them live.
posted by griphus at 11:50 AM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Forgot the link.
posted by griphus at 11:51 AM on December 1, 2011

Sufjan, of course. For not giving a fuck, see his latest album (The Age of Adz), especially the last track which is 25 minutes long.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:06 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by animalrainbow at 12:08 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh also, Antony Hegarty / Antony and the Johnsons, for sure.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:28 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Keren Ann tends to end up in a bracket with Joanna Newsom in my mind--though again perhaps the link's a little clearer when you see her in concert. Kate Bush is pretty obviously a big influence on Joanna Newsom and seems to fit your criteria pretty well. A bit more left-field-y but Beth Gibbons solo album is another one worth thinking about.
posted by yoink at 12:37 PM on December 1, 2011

The most obvious choice: Bob Dylan.

Less obvious choices: Diane Cluck, Phosphorescent (especially the earlier stuff), Veda Hille and Scout Niblett. I wouldn't say any of their lyrics are weird, per se, though they are unusual and poetic. At times PJ Harvey would fit for lack of restraint, though I wouldn't always call her poetic.
posted by dearwassily at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2011

Silver Jews - especially Tanglewood Numbers for wry raging unhinged hilarious and then back to earth poetry. But really all their stuff is amazing.
posted by tempythethird at 1:03 PM on December 1, 2011

Random selection, off the top of my head, and probably full of misses as well as hits:

Frog Eyes
Jolie Holland
Faun Fables
Hanne Hukkelberg
Okkervil River
Andrew Bird
The Incredible String Band
Josephine Foster
The Lonesome Organist
Bill Callahan
Orion Rigel Dommisse
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:14 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Van Dyke Parks, Who I believe wrote some lyrics or did some production or something for Newsom. His album Song Cycle is so so so good.

Mary Margaret O'Hara: her singing is odd but beautiful, and her album Miss America is just perfect.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:27 PM on December 1, 2011

Devendra Banhart seems obvious to me, I'm surprised no-one mentioned him yet.
posted by afx237vi at 1:29 PM on December 1, 2011

I would suggest dipping a toe into English folk--Rob Young, who edits The Wire, just put out a huge book called Electric Eden that will lead you to all sorts of things. English folk, I think, has more of the incantatory elements that you seem to be looking for--which makes it seem less self-conscious than Dylan, say. Young charts this up to the fact that where America created a rambling folk-poet because of its wide open spaces, English folk-expansiveness was necessarily much more inward without the same roads to travel.

Incredible String Band
Sandy Denny/Fairport Convention/The Strawbs/Richard and Linda Thompson
Roy Harper
Nick Drake

are all good places to start.
posted by dvrnvn at 3:49 PM on December 1, 2011

Daniel Johnston
posted by darksong at 4:23 PM on December 1, 2011

Several artists on my Mp3 player were noted above.

These were not. You should maybe give a listen to:
The Knife
Tiny Vipers
Laura Veirs
posted by bricksNmortar at 5:51 PM on December 1, 2011

I do really love Neutral Milk Hotel, partly for the lyrics, but I don't love Joanna Newsom (I tend to lose track while listening to her) though I don't mind her per se.

The modern artist Jeff Mangum reminds me most of is early Isaac Brock, of Modest Mouse, especially Lonesome Crowded West and The Moon and Antartica. Here's a link to a short live set from around that time which is a decent (if low fidelity) introduction to the band.
posted by Kattullus at 7:50 PM on December 1, 2011

This is kind of weird, but I really felt that way about Mika's first album. The songs are so over-the-top and full of energetic joy that it really feels like he just went wild in the studio with his instrumentations and voice. I similarly love the earnestness you speak of in musicians, and I get a LOT of that from Mika.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 8:42 PM on December 1, 2011

Came to suggest Modest Mouse, so I will second Kattullus.

Maybe Pavement, too.
posted by papayaninja at 8:59 PM on December 1, 2011

Tori Amos's Boys for Pele is deeply weird; she definitely puts it all out there in a way I don't think she achieved before or since. I tend to think of Joanna and Jeff more as gentle weirdos, so this may be too intense for you, but it's very much her Have One on Me. At the end of "Professional Widow," for example, she just loses it in the most amazing way.

posted by kickingthecrap at 9:24 PM on December 1, 2011

-- The Rural Alberta Advantage (sounds like the second coming of NMH, if only in a superficial way)
-- Scout Niblett (unrestrained, cathartic like Newsom)
-- Man Man (if Tom Waits was in NMH?)
-- Withered Hand (lyrical similarities to Mangum, especially the focus on the body/bodily fluids)
-- Baby Dee ("a complete lack of self-consciousness or restraint" for sure)
posted by HerArchitectLover at 12:07 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Perhaps this is obvious, but maybe Bright Eyes?
posted by PrettyKnitty at 12:35 PM on December 2, 2011

Seconding Destroyer and Frog Eyes.
Adding Sunset Rubdown (and, heck Swan Lake -- at this point, why not? Swan Lake is = Frontmen of (Destroyer + Frog Eyes + Sunset Rubdown))
Also, I really love what I've heard of recent-ish Pattern is Movement. Currently, it's a drum and synth duo. The keyboardist has some really interesting pseudo-operatic, nearly-maniacal vocals, and the drummer is just really great to watch and listen to. It might have something of what you're looking for.
posted by mean square error at 1:47 PM on December 2, 2011

Thanks so much! It's going to take me a while to sift through this all. I'll update soon.
posted by davidjmcgee at 1:36 PM on December 3, 2011

You might also like Two Gallants.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:01 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Tallest Man On Earth
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2012

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