Except Nickelback, of course

I used to be genre specific. Well, I’m definitely not anymore. Thanks to my best friend, I’m really into country; a genre I used to put away in disgust. Now, I’m open to anything. Except Nickelback, of course. *shudders*

For example, I have 114 songs in my iPod’s “Recently Added” playlist. Therein lies the art of some more Vitamin String Quartet, The Beatles, Thomas Newman, Inara George, Psapp, Feist, A Fine Frenzy, Miike Snow, Snow Patrol, Au Revoir Simone, Bishop Allen, Architecture In Helsinki, Taio Cruz, Rihanna, Timbaland, Regina Spektor and Boys Like Girls. I don’t care anymore. Give me something, and I’ll listen to it.

For track practice the yesterday, we had to go out on a long run. Since I seem to be lacking in the running partner department, my best friend gave me her iPod Touch (knowing that taking my 160GB on a run with me would kill me and that I didn’t bring in my old 4GB nano), set me up for her playlist to play and then sent me off on my way.

She’s country (like Jason Aldean’s song). Downright country. She lives on a farm and in their barn, the radio is always attuned to the country radio station. In the morning, she watches music videos on CMT, when she comes over to my house she switches our kitchen radio to 106.5 and in the car she always changes it to her station. She’s the reason why I am into country music now, but my run with her iPod surprised me even more. I listened to every song on her playlist of choice that played, and found that I could tolerate – and even possibly liked – every song that played. It carried me through what would otherwise have been a long, lonely and painful run (let’s just say that Emily needs new sneakers). It was still painful, but it didn’t seem nearly as lonely or long.

I’ve got artists like Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Sarah Buxton and Lonestar on my iPod. At this point, I can go from Marilyn Manson or Every Time I Die to Lady Antebellum on shuffle without even blinking an eye. I uploaded every CD I owned from when I was little onto my computer and now have all of them on my iPod (yes, this includes Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado and Dixie Chicks).

I honestly just don’t care anymore. Music is meant to bring people together, not tear us apart. I will always love bands like Escape the Fate, Bullet For My Valentine and AFI, but they are taking the backseat for a little while. I’m busy exploring other genres and broadening my taste in music. It’s a wonderful thing.

It all started with a record player

A few weeks ago, I bought myself a record player. I was ecstatic to find it at such a good price, and was beaming as I walked out of the store with the box in my arms.

When we got home, I immediately took it into the Living Room and set it up. My parents taught me how to use it and to be careful not to jump around whilst listening to it. My mother and I ventured into the cave (our basement) to retrieve some of their old records to bring back some of the past. We carried armload after armload upstairs to the Living Room and left them in stacks all around the room. I left the ones I bought earlier that day (Coheed & Cambria and a Fueled By Ramen package that were extremely cheap) on the couch and my dad and I had a look-see to pick out what I should listen to first.

I thought my brothers would think it cool for me to have purchased a record player, but they avoided me like I had the plague. They seemed pretty pissed off and jealous that I got to one first and because my parents’ old one needs a new needle thing. Trevor especially because I bought Coheed & Cambria. Because he likes them, I’m not allowed to. Oh well.

My dad sat on the couch as I rifled through stack after stack, holding record after record up seeking his approval. All of the ones with his name written on them were the ones approved – all of the ones with Barbra Streisand on the cover were kept in a pile that I would not listen to. Sorry, mom.

I have discovered a whole new music taste thanks to my record player (though it does have a CD player, radio and iPod hookup included, I tend to listen to records on it more). I found out that I love the bands Sweet, REO Speedwagon (You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish), Joan Jett & The Black Hearts, The Knack, Boomtown Rats, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd, London Town and some Pat Benatar. I still love Escape the Fate, Paramore, Tilly and the Wall, and all of the other bands I have always loved, but I am now broadening my music taste. It’s cool to think that my parents played these records once at the same age I am now. I wish I could go back and meet the teenage versions of them. My mom and I would be identical, and I bet my dad and I would have fun listening to music together – just like we do now.

XX is greater than XY (My latest NeXt article)

Take out your iPod, select the “Music” option and click on “Artists.” Scroll on through from A to Z and count the number of bands that are composed of only males. Male-fronted bands probably make up the majority, correct? It might interest you to know that some females in this world can rock harder than the opposite sex.

The three female-fronted bands that nearly everyone in the teenage crowd has heard of are Flyleaf, Paramore and Evanescence, but there are plenty more out there in this world that are none too popular. While Lacey, Hayley and Amy Lee’s voices are indeed beautiful, there are other gorgeous female voices that deserve just as much attention.

A few bands that fans of Paramore might enjoy are: Hey Monday (of West Palm Beach, Fla.), Damone (from Waltham, Mass.), The Material (which started out in San Diego, Calif.), and New Years Day (of Anaheim, Calif.). Cassadee Pope of Hey Monday and Noelle LeBlanc from Damone are sure to gain more fame in the next few years with their voices leading the way.

Colleen D’Agostino of The Material has a beautifully clear voice that is irresistible. One might think that a female singer changes the gender of a band’s fans, but both Roi Elam from The Material and Ashley Costello of New Years Day disagree: “I don’t really think so,” said Elam, “I see an equal amount of guys and girls at our shows.”

“Nooo … not at all, and I was surprised by that,” exclaimed Costello. “When we play I see just as many guys in the crowd as I see girls. It’s really cute.” New Years Day has often been described as the female version of Fall Out Boy. Yes, here and there a likeness is detected, but New Years Day is a band all its own. “I feel like a lot of people took more notice of us because there was a girl singer, but it’s also very hard,” said Costello. “There are so many guy-fronted bands that I feel sometimes the female-fronted band gets pigeon-holed and maybe a label won’t look at us.”

Many people are skeptical of females being in rock bands, but listen to some New Years Day, and let Ashley change your mind in “Temecula Sunrise” or “My Sweet Unvalentine.”

Pretty close to one another in your iPod should be two bands: Fireflight from Eustis, Fla., and Flyleaf of Texas. Both bands are Christian rock, bordering on metal, and are led by females who know what they are doing.

The lyrics that Dawn Richardson and Lacey Mosley sing are powerful and attuned to God. “We all contribute our own parts and help each other to improve upon each other’s suggestions,” said Dawn. “Both Justin [guitarist/ background vocalist Justin Cox] and I work on the lyrics but I am the main lyricist, I imagine me being a girl does affect the way I write…” Nobody would think Flyleaf and Fireflight are all about God, but listening to their lyrics very carefully can help you realize just how much their faith influences the artists in these bands. “We write about what we have gone through in our lives and how God’s love has brought us through,” said Richardson.

Think the farthest thing from the music made by Flyleaf and Fireflight and you have a band called Save Ferris from Orange County, Calif. Although they are no longer together, their deliciously quirky sound and clever lyrics do not fail to entertain. Check out “Under 21” or their cover of “Come On Eileen” (originally by Dexy’s Midnight Runners) and enjoy some ska. Monique Powell is now a solo artist, but her voice was perfect for the likes of Save Ferris.

Ask me: who is the exact opposite of Save Ferris? I will think about it for a second before I reply with one word: Kittie. Don’t let their adorable name fool you — this is a cat you do not want to cross paths with.

Kittie strikes me as the female version of Slipknot — Morgan Lander attacking the listeners with her voice. After many changes over the years, currently rounding out this all-female quartet are Mercedes Lander on drums/vocals/piano, Tara McLeod on guitar, and Ivy Vujic playing bass. Originating in Ontario, Kittie has been around for years, putting many a CD out. Check out “What I Always Wanted” or “Paperdoll” and behold the scarily musical meow that is Kittie.

From Amy Lee to Dawn Richardson, Ashley Costello to Morgan Lander, some females can really rock. So put away the Avenged Sevenfold or Metallica CD and go try something different and new. Found on my iPod is a playlist called “Female-fronted bands.” Maybe you should create one as well, and drag all of the music from these bands onto your iPod.

Also worth listening to: Within Temptation, Garbage, Automatic Loveletter, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 1997, Meg & Dia, The Donnas, Be Your Own Pet, Letters to Cleo, The Morning Of, Veruca Salt, Lacuna Coil and The Veronicas.

“Being the only girl in a band is awesome. It has just as many pros as it has cons. I’m always protected, but then again I am always picked on by them. It’s like a little sister-big brother relationship,” said Ashley Costello.

Emily Steves is a sophomore at Gowanda