Looking for contemporary (ish) music that includes the violin as a focal and/or background instrument.
August 1, 2006 9:34 PM   Subscribe

MuzikFilter: Looking for contemporary (ish) music that includes the violin as a focal and/or background instrument.

I'm thinking modern bands like Ye Wiles or Dirty Three where the violin is a major element of every song. Also think the song "Jesus Christ Was an Only Child" by Modest Mouse.

I think it's a great way to spice up the music--adding to a guitar and drum something atypical like a cello or flute or something like that (come to think of it--flutes are fair game too).

I'm fine with hip-hop and the like, too, although I'm leaning towards the umbrella-genre "rock" here.
posted by Lockeownzj00 to Media & Arts (41 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
posted by subtle-t at 9:46 PM on August 1, 2006

Also, Godspeed you! black emperor.
posted by subtle-t at 9:50 PM on August 1, 2006

The Arcade Fire (violin), The Hidden Cameras (cello/violin), Belle and Sebastian (whatever is available, often strings).
Many other bands use string sections on their CDs, or have cello/violin on a few tracks, but these three (and more of the same genre) use it a lot.
posted by easternblot at 9:53 PM on August 1, 2006

It's obvious, but have you heard of Yellowcard?
posted by visual mechanic at 9:54 PM on August 1, 2006

The Arcade Fire (violin)

Check out Final Fantasy, the musical vehicle of Owen Pallett, who plays violin and arranges the strings for the Arcade Fire. His songs are mostly string quartet and voice.

Broken Social Scene
have a violinist.

Sufjan Stevens uses strings a lot.

If you're looking for pop/rock with orchestral arrangements generally I'll have a lot more suggestions.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:04 PM on August 1, 2006

Rovo are a Japanese band whose lead instrument is Katsui Yuji’s electric violin.
posted by misteraitch at 10:32 PM on August 1, 2006

I assume you are aware of the work of Laurie Anderson. (Yes, I'm old.)
posted by trip and a half at 10:34 PM on August 1, 2006

And there's a lot of flute on the excellent new Midlake album The Trials of Van Occupanther.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:44 PM on August 1, 2006

The Dambuilders were big on the violin. Remember their song Teenage Loser Anthem? That rocked pretty hard at the time.

Pulp used to have a violinist.
posted by Jimbob at 10:49 PM on August 1, 2006

How about Camera Obscura? Or Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

Both played last night at the Empty Bottle in Chicago.
posted by rbs at 10:54 PM on August 1, 2006

Camera Obscura are great.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:58 PM on August 1, 2006

Silver Mt. Zion, composed of many of the people from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, has a more spare sound. Their earliest album particularly had a lot of solo strings; their more recent stuff has more choral aspects, but has more solo stuff than full Godspeed albums.

A recent thread about someone who wanted to play metal with a violin; there are a bunch of suggestions for bands in there.
posted by ubersturm at 11:10 PM on August 1, 2006

I haven't listened to one of their records for ages, but the multi-instrumental duties of the woman out of Belle and Sebastian include playing violin (at least they did on their recent tour).
(I can't get the music page to load for some reason, but sconbie's posted two songs from the poppish band in which she says she's the violinist)
posted by bunglin jones at 11:24 PM on August 1, 2006

Jean Luc Ponty is a jazz violinist. A very unique sound, because he tends to electronically distort the recordings he makes with his fiddle, and use them with a synth background (that he usually also plays; he's a pretty good keyboardist, too).
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:36 PM on August 1, 2006

Two individual songs come to mind (probably because I think they're both great):

Sinead O'Connor's "I Am Stretched on Your Grave" and the Who's immortal "Baba O'Reilly." Both songs have the violin coming in towards the end, to thrilling effect.
posted by Skot at 12:08 AM on August 2, 2006

Jesus Christ and His army of undead elbows. I fucked up the spelling of one of my very favorite songs. Make that "Baba O'Riley."
posted by Skot at 12:17 AM on August 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

The focal point of the (admittedly small) band Groovelily is an electric violin. They call themselves "pop-ish", but it's hard to say for sure.
posted by jweed at 12:34 AM on August 2, 2006

I highly recommend the French band Louise Attaque. It's indie rock / folk and they feature a prominent violin. Official page (in French) here.
posted by cerbous at 1:39 AM on August 2, 2006

I would call Dave Matthews Band contemporaryish.
posted by billtron at 1:47 AM on August 2, 2006

True Live are a "jazz-hop" band out of Melbourne, Australia. They have a jazz violinist/cellist/double bass and other strings which create an awesome sound.

There's also Sigur Ros who use strings prominently, and sound great both live and on record.

Bernard Fanning (aka Powderfinger frontman) also has a great string section in his solo project.
posted by cholly at 2:16 AM on August 2, 2006

The Frames would be the obvious ones for me. Also The Waterboys. Damien Rice uses a cellist (Vyvienne Long) a fair bit. Stars would probably fit the bill aswell.
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:25 AM on August 2, 2006

Eliza Carthy mixes up traditional fiddle tunes with more contemporary compositions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:15 AM on August 2, 2006

I can't believe nobody's mentioned Lisa Germano!
posted by mattholomew at 4:15 AM on August 2, 2006

The Waterboys of just a few years back had some excellent violin, played by Steve Wickham, on Fisherman's Blues.
posted by yamel at 4:21 AM on August 2, 2006

Joe O'Donnell does a kind of Celtic prog rock fusion type thing...
posted by altolinguistic at 4:56 AM on August 2, 2006

also, Christian Garrick is a fantastic jazz violinist - not sure if that's what you had in mind....
posted by altolinguistic at 4:59 AM on August 2, 2006

A local band, but I saw these guys last week, and really enjoyed them. They use flute and cello along with guitars
posted by TwoWordReview at 4:59 AM on August 2, 2006

Oh, and The Dirty Three's violinist Warren Ellis is an increasingly important member of The Bad Seeds. Recent Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds records have seen the violin playing a major part in some excellent songs. It's not my all-time favourite album of theirs, but "No More Shall We Part" is FULL of amazing, up-front violin.
posted by bunglin jones at 5:20 AM on August 2, 2006

Bunglin Jones knows that I am the violinist in Institut Polaire.
You should also check out the Kill Devil Hills or Schvendes both with strings (violin and cello) from our home town Perth.
posted by sconbie at 5:57 AM on August 2, 2006

Andrew Bird.
posted by Utilitaritron at 6:06 AM on August 2, 2006

Hooverphonic's albums have always been very string-heavy. It's electronica/lounge/trip-hop, but if you crave a more acoustic feel they've got a non-synth album:
Sit Down and Listen To
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:16 AM on August 2, 2006

the divine comedy have a number of songs that have full string arangements with major violin leads. he also often tours/plays with a very simple arrangment of accoustic guitar, piano, violin/viola, and it's pretty easy to find those recordings.
posted by kendrak at 6:44 AM on August 2, 2006

Check out Orange Is In.
posted by ivarley at 7:53 AM on August 2, 2006

Is Doug Kershaw contemporary? He's alive . . .
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:11 AM on August 2, 2006

If we're calling Laurie Anderson and Jean Luc Ponty contemporary, I'll throw Curved Air out there as well.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:26 AM on August 2, 2006

Blue October has several songs in which the violin is clearly present. In fact, one of their members is solely dedicated to stringed instruments and piano/keyboard.

If you can hunt it down, the song of their's that I've been listening to on repeat for a few days is Darkest Side of Houston's Finest Day (w/ violin no less), from their (first?) album The Answer.
posted by mrhaydel at 8:36 AM on August 2, 2006

Camper Van Beethoven, particularly the My Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart album- the violin is a major part of that record
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:21 AM on August 2, 2006

Another great Camper Van Beethoven song with a prominently featured violin is "Pictures of Matchstick Men."

Also, The Dirty Three. I can recommend the albums "Whatever You Love, You Are" [especially good] and "Cinder."
posted by tentacle at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2006

Bobby Conn (featuring the violin of his baby-mama Monica Bou Bou)
posted by hydrophonic at 10:50 AM on August 2, 2006

Jerry Goodman (ex of Mahavishnu Orchestra) has a few solo albums. I'm quite fond of "It's Alive," his live record. Of course you can also check out Mahavishnu as well, if you like the whole jazz fusion thing.
posted by kindall at 11:25 AM on August 2, 2006

Andrew Bird

Oh fuck yes, I can't believe I didn't mention him.

There's some great fiddle playing on the song "Up the Wolves" from the last Mountain Goats record, The Sunset Tree.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:20 PM on August 2, 2006

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