By TESS OSMER
Every artist has at least one song in their arsenal that is a true wild card, but it is artists that draw from multiple genres and create music that is innovative, layered and unique that become timeless. Music should make you think, it should provoke you to see the world from another perspective or connect to another person by just feeling a beat and its lyrical accompaniment. It is the music that makes you cry or laugh that is successful, as well as marketable.
This week, I have been obsessed with The Cat Empire, a band who formed as a trio in Australia in 1999. Their genre is a mix of jazz, reggae, funk, Latin, gypsy and hip-hop. Their song “Hello,” released in 2003, never fails to lift my lips into a smile. It truly captures the essence of the male ego. Main singer/songwriter Felix Rebel is swept up by the beauty of a woman on the streets, and his pick-up is far from stale and boring.
Similar to The Cat Empire is Cake, founded in 1994 a little closer to home in Sacramento, California. “Never There,” released in 1998, is one of their most memorable songs. They play on irony and humor much like The Cat Empire does. The song is from the point of view of a male, who is complaining that his girlfriend is never there for him, hence the name of the song. However, it is rich with irony because women know how hard it is for men to commit (most of the time, that is) so this song plays on that specific generalization.
In early 2012 a mysterious band appeared online. The Neighbourhood revealed no biographical information, no photos and no back story, offering only a moody track titled “Female Robbery.” They formally name their genre “Black and White,” based off their combination of rock instruments and R&B/ hip-hop aesthetics. Their song “West Coast,” released in 2014, has the most evocative beat and lyrics. Every time I play it my eyes are handed an entirely new perspective on life.
Slightly Stoopid, formed in 1995, is another band that will always stay close to my heart. Their combination of blues, rock and dub, which is a sub-genre that grew out of reggae music in the 1960s and is truly incomparable to anything on the radio today. “Wiseman,” released in 2003, has a jazz, reggae and blues rhythm that never ceases to stop capturing my senses. Their music is 13 years old now, but they will live on in my high-school mix-CD’s.
Formed in 2007, Local Natives are another band that has kept me on my toes. Their indie-rock sound is so refreshingly different from those artists that are similar to them. Their beats are soft but accompanied with the twang of the guitar and roll of the drums they become both sophisticated and tasteful. Their song “Wide Eyes,” released in 2010, takes an interesting approach to the story of Jesus in the desert for forty days and forty nights and what that story says about faith, while at the same time questioning faith and science.