What's the heaviest, rockiest, thrashiest, grungiest synth/piano songs?
November 22, 2017 7:36 AM   Subscribe

My middle school kid is a keyboard player and loves it. He's been playing for years and is in our city's local version of "The School of Rock" where young musically-talented people get put together in bands and practice/perform regularly. The problem is that he's in a band of mostly metal and heavy rock-influenced kids, and though they've been receptive to what he's been interested in playing (they did kickass Joy Division and Jesus & Mary Chain covers last time), he's interested in trying to find harder, more rock oriented or upbeat stuff to try with them.

He's grown up on my record collection which leans toward industrial/shoegaze/synthpop stuff, and he's big into organ-driven funk/jazz too. Suggestions he's liked(all over the place, but you get the idea): Faith No More (especially Angel Dust), "Frankenstein" by Edgar Winters, "Root Down" by Jimmy Smith (or hey, the Beastie Boys), stuff from the narrow window of Van Halen's existence where they were still rocking hard but getting more synth-y, Killing Joke, Pop Will Eat Itself, NIN. He's also not against finding rock that DOESN'T have a keyboard part and adapting it, but that's less preferable.

I've seen other questions that SORT OF get what we're looking for here, but I need something that's going to rock EVEN HARDERRRRRRRR or at least keep up with the guitar/bass/drums noise onstage.
posted by 40 Watt to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I assume he’s already familiar with “Won’t get fooled again” and the second half of “Layla”?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:43 AM on November 22, 2017

...and most of the work of Rush?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:47 AM on November 22, 2017

Not exposed him to Rush yet- I'm not really familiar with Rush but maybe he'd like 'em. He definitely digs The Who- they've done "Who Are You" and that fat bass keyboard line was up his alley.
posted by 40 Watt at 7:50 AM on November 22, 2017

There would be nothing greater than a bunch of middle school kids doing an epic 20 minute version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. I suppose they could also shorten it if they had to.

I'd second Rush or The Who.
posted by bondcliff at 7:52 AM on November 22, 2017

Green Onions by Booker T
House of the Rising Sun by The Animals
My Doorbell by White Stripes
Inna Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:54 AM on November 22, 2017

There's a lot of great keyboard in the prog end of classic rock - Deep Purple have some incredible organ solos, The Who & Rush are great suggestions and it might be worth looking into Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, Emerson Lake & Palmer.
posted by terretu at 7:55 AM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Queens of the Stone Age!! Songs for the Deaf and Lullabies to Paralyze in particular have piano/keys all over.

“Tangled Up in Plaid” is a wig-flipper.

Your kid is cool.
posted by kapers at 7:55 AM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ha! "Green Onions" was the very first song he played with them, like three years ago. He loves it. Good suggestion!
posted by 40 Watt at 8:09 AM on November 22, 2017

kapers: "Your kid is cool."

Heh. I think so too, although I'm trying to keep it on the DL. He's in middle school; can't get all dad-smothery on him. :)
posted by 40 Watt at 8:10 AM on November 22, 2017

Have a listen to OMD's New Babies: New Toys - the lyrics are slightly NSFW, but that may well be a selling point for him!
posted by Chairboy at 8:52 AM on November 22, 2017

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Peter Gunn Theme
posted by googly at 9:11 AM on November 22, 2017

Eno - Needle in the Camel's Eye
posted by aspersioncast at 9:21 AM on November 22, 2017

Following on the heels of Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore's RAINBOW.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:22 AM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Long and Lonesome Road by Jess and the Ancient Ones has a significant keyboard part throughout.
posted by isthmus at 9:28 AM on November 22, 2017

posted by prize bull octorok at 9:58 AM on November 22, 2017

Algiers incorporates keyboards into some raucous stuff. Eg. "Cry of the Martyrs."
posted by baseballpajamas at 10:16 AM on November 22, 2017

The piano part on the New York Dolls' "Personality Crisis" sounds like it's a lot of fun to play, and feels coequal with the guitar and vocals as a key element of the complete song.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:26 AM on November 22, 2017

Two great keyboard clips, not heavy metal, but still:

Call Me the Breeze Lynryd Skynrd (JJ Cale) Blues Piano

Owner of a Lonely Heart Yes Ridiculous Electronic Tangents
posted by effluvia at 12:17 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

A few others he may enjoy:

Clavinet as guitar riff: Superstition Stevie Wonder Keyboard is actually guitar sound.

SuperstitionStevie Ray Vaughan Here, Stevie takes the clavinet line and spins it out into a whole bunch of Africanized blues rhythms that is extraordinary in the closing solo.
posted by effluvia at 12:31 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Quasi, a keyboard (specifically, Rock-Si-Chord) and drums rock duo, covers Black Sabbath's War Pigs very effectively, IMHO. That seems like it would be a lot of fun to play.
posted by mean square error at 12:50 PM on November 22, 2017

The Jim Jones Revue - Rock'n'Roll Psychosis.
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Can't Stop.
posted by misteraitch at 1:31 PM on November 22, 2017

Lots of keyboards in black metal! Dimmu Borgir's Mourning Palace is a classic song that stands out for having a strong keyboard riff.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 4:33 PM on November 22, 2017

Algiers Walk Like a Panther fits your title, and the band's music is a spiritual successor to Angel Dust in some ways. Keyboards are a big part of the song.
posted by cnc at 6:41 PM on November 22, 2017

Seconding Quasi.
posted by umbú at 7:25 PM on November 22, 2017

I think "heavy, rocky" songs are more typically guitar based, but bands in the new wave era of the late 70s and early 80s often used keyboards on songs that had a punk edge.

A few songs that come to mind:

Enola Gay - OMD
Whip It - Devo
Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order
Dancing with Tears in My Eyes - Ultravox
posted by Leontine at 8:26 PM on November 22, 2017

Queen seems like an obvious choice to me - lots of piano parts, and what kids don't like singing We Are The Champions or Bohemian Rhapsody?
posted by chbrooks at 8:55 PM on November 22, 2017

Also, maybe later-era Led Zeppelin? Carouselambra or Kashmir?
posted by chbrooks at 9:03 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Funkadelic - Hit It And Quit It
Talking Heads - Burning Down the House
Yo La Tengo - Sudden Organ
Roxy Music - Virginia Plain
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - Fire
Elton John - Bennie and the Jets
Styx - Fooling Yourself
Argent - Hold Your Head Up
The Beatles - Get Back
posted by hydrophonic at 10:07 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

What, nobody's yet mentioned The Band's Chest Fever?
posted by e-man at 10:26 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is a bit much maybe, but here's a 39 minute piano cover of Mastodon's album, Leviathan. It's stunning.
posted by knapah at 2:13 AM on November 26, 2017

? and The Mysterians - 96 Tears
The Cars - Let's Go
posted by hydrophonic at 8:27 AM on November 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's not mainstream, but it's got heavy synth and guitars, and it rocks! It's also pretty easy to sing because the vocalist has a limited range.
OSI: Free
Your kid can have some fun programming synths to match sounds, too.
posted by 4midori at 1:24 PM on November 27, 2017

The (Greatest Band Ever) Fall - Touch Sensitive
posted by black8 at 1:47 PM on December 20, 2017

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