In search of new music

I know I’ve written before about how I reward myself with iTunes purchases (but I can’t find the links right now). Well, I am due for some serious spending on iTunes, as I recently had a paper accepted and recently celebrated a birthday. But here’s the problem, I think I’m in a musical rut, and I don’t know what to purchase. So I need your help, oh Internets.

Here’s what I’ve purchased most recently (all Pandora finds, but my Pandora is in a rut too.):

  • Chantal Kreviazuk
  • Alice Peacock
  • Tara McLean
  • Beth Orton
  • Deb Talan
  • Leslie Tucker
  • Carla Werner
  • October Project

Here are some of my favorite artists (I don’t have all of their albums, so go ahead and recommend one if you have a particular favorite):

  • Sarah McLachlan
  • Indigo Girls
  • Paula Cole
  • Tori Amos
  • Dar Williams
  • Crowded House
  • The Be Good Tanyas
  • Emmylou Harris
  • Dixie Chicks
  • Joan Baez
  • Simon and Garfunkel
  • Peter, Paul, and Mary
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Dvorak, Rachmaninoff, Bach, Gabrielli, Copland, Gershwin…

As should be pretty apparent from the above lists, I like sing-along-able folk-pop-rock-country-classical music. So help a girl out and recommend some good earworms.


  1. #1 Alice
    March 1, 2008

    OMG, we have scarily similar musical tastes. Clearly you need to buy Dvorak’s New World Symphony, if you don’t have it already. Steve recommends Amy Rigby. I also got Deb Talan off Pandora, and then found the Wailin’ Jennys – I recommend their first album. Also, how about Catie Curtis?

  2. #2 sara
    March 1, 2008

    soundtrack from the movie “Once”

    it so richly deserved the best song oscar!!

  3. #3 Kate
    March 1, 2008

    Antje Duvekot. You’ll love “dandelion” and “judas.”

    You may also like Regina Spektor, Lucy Kaplansky, Nerissa and Katryna Nields, and Damien Rice. In particular, if you like Dar Williams you really should have her CD “Cry Cry Cry” with Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell. Then you should become obsessed with Shindell like me and buy everything he’s ever made :).

    For classical, check out the piano works of Edward MacDowell (if you like more contemporary classical, if that makes sense to label as a genre!)… especially his Woodland Sketches. Opus 51 #1 To a Wild Rose is the most simple, beautiful piece I own. I play it all the time (on iTunes and on my piano).

  4. #4 chezjake
    March 1, 2008

    I’m not sure what’s on iTunes, but if you can find anything from the Canadian trio “Finest Kind,” I highly recommend them. Everything from traditional folk to country, bluegrass and pop, with exquisite harmony and beautifully worked out instrumental accompaniment on a variety of instruments.

  5. #5 spits
    March 1, 2008

    Hmm, how about…Ray LaMontagne and Alexi Murdoch?

  6. #6 PhysioProf
    March 1, 2008

    Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” is the best rock-and-roll album ever. You can definitely sing along.

  7. #7 Joe
    March 1, 2008

    These fit in with what you like or stretch them a bit. Enjoy!

    Nellie McKay – “Get Away from Me” or “Ordinary Villagers” – eclectic and fun showtunes/pop/hip-hop mix
    Feist – “Let it Die” or “The Reminder” – a wonderful indie/folk/french/pop mix
    Hem – “Rabbit Songs” – beautiful country-ish from start to end
    Camera Obscura – “Let’s Get out of This Country” – catchy, poppy and enchanting, you’ll sing these songs for days afterward
    Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins – “Rabbit Fur Coat” – LA pop
    Neko Case – anything

    Dusty Springfield – “Dusty in Memphis” – the best

    Christina Rosenvinge – “Frozen Pool”

  8. #8 Rev Matt
    March 1, 2008

    Based on your favorites, I would recommend:

    Tanya Donelly

  9. #9 Maria
    March 1, 2008

    I’m surprised Gillian Welch isn’t on your list.

    Others: The Duhks, Noe Venable, Stan Rogers.

  10. #10 Michelle
    March 1, 2008

    Suzanne Vega is a favorite of mine. She has a “greatest hits” out that’s a great compilation of her work.

  11. #11 Leni
    March 1, 2008

    You could give Neko Case a try. It’s more of an alt country, but she has such an amazing voice.

    Aside from that, I have an emusic subscription. This is a site that specializes in indie bands of all genres. So they don’t have a lot of major label stuff, but they do have a lot of the lesser known and very new bands.

    Plus, whenever you do a search it generates lists of similar bands, side projects of the band members in your query. Best of all, you can peruse other people’s playlists, so you can see what people whose judgment you trust are also listening to.

    They have a 7 day free trial, so you could at least see if you are getting enough hits to make the subscription worthwhile.

    Also, I’m going to check on something else. I’ll post it if I find it.

  12. #12 Leni
    March 1, 2008

    I can’t find it. It was a site where you type in a band name and it links it to other similar bands. It’s an endless web of bands and artists and you can end up anywhere. It’s kind of fun, but I just can’t remember what it’s called.

    And I just noticed Joe beat me to Neko. Woops!

    Also, for mellow folk-pop ballads I’d try Clem Snide and Nick Drake as well. And you might like Macy Grey, although she’s a little more RnB than your list would suggest you like. Still, she’s got an interesting and unique style that might appeal to you.

  13. #13 Lab Cat
    March 1, 2008

    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite current band, The Mammals, who are great a folk-rock band. There is also Old School Freight Train, Crooked Still, and Uncle Earl.

    For classical music: Beethoven, Handel (I like his organ music), Mozart…

    Chick Chorea and Bela Fleck’s Enchantment CD is excellent. Probably my favorite from last year.

    Nickel Creek or Chris Thile with the Punch Brothers (or whatever name they are going by now).

    Have fun with all of this music.

  14. #14 Writer Chica
    March 1, 2008

    I totally second the songs from the movie “Once”. The songs are awesome, the movie was awesome. I think you’d like it.

  15. #15 Propter Doc
    March 1, 2008

    My latest iTunes expenditure – Jack Johnston, KT Tunstall, Alanis Morisette (acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill), Lene Marlin, Michelle Branch, mass bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (I appreciate that this is not everyone’s taste, but war movie themes and marches work for me for some tasks), and Ronan Hardiman (who is sort of like Adiemus meets Enya).

  16. #16 tina
    March 1, 2008

    You’ll love Kathleen Edwards.

  17. #17 Eric Lund
    March 1, 2008

    For classical music, I’ll suggest Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Percy Grainger as possibilities. Grainger is particularly known for his settings of folk songs.

    Some more recent stuff to look for: Kings of Convenience, Elizabeth and the Catapult. If you like Paul Simon’s solo stuff, check out Peter Gabriel, although he may shade a bit too hard-rock for you. I’ll also second Suzanne Vega and early Bob Dylan.

    If you’re looking for old school folk, try the Kingston Trio.

  18. #18 Hopeful monster
    March 2, 2008

    I have just discovered The Mountain Goats, which I am quite enjoying–perhaps less singable than you are looking for, but lyrically quite interesting.

    Wilco and Nellie McKay, as suggested above, are also good–but again, not particularly sing-along.

  19. #19 hypoglycemiagirl
    March 2, 2008

    to me it looks like you need some Missy Elliott…

  20. #20 Pd'B
    March 2, 2008

    I second the nominations of Antje Duvkot and Richard Shindell. Check out Pieta Brown (daughter of Greg Brown, who should also be on your list) and the Robert Plant/Alison Krause collaboration (who woulda thought?).

  21. #21 Anne
    March 2, 2008

    Although the Dolly Ranchers a little hit or miss, their song “Driving” is one of my favorites. Also Ani DiFranco, Carbon Leaf, Rusted Root…

  22. #22 Alison
    March 2, 2008

    This is wonderful! Now I’m going iTunes shopping, too!
    My recommendations:

    Stars – I love everything they do, but one of my recent favorite albums is called “do you trust your friends,” and is a collection of Stars’ songs that were remixed by “friend bands.” Remix albums are also a great way to find similar artists, and this one serves as a great introduction to The Russian Futurists, Montag, Final Fantasy, and Junior Boys (and more!).

    Other favorites I think you will like, roughly in order:
    Andrew Bird
    Nouvelle Vague (Band a part is my favorite) – it’s beautiful
    The Decemberists
    Sufjan Stevens

    Akron/Family – Some of their stuff is pretty weird, but other songs are really gentle. My favorite is “I’ll be on the Water” on their self-titled album.

    Okkervil River
    Ladyhawk – Rock, but with a country touch
    Steve Forbert
    Ratatat – electronic, but relaxing

  23. #23 ScienceWoman
    March 2, 2008

    Wow! Thanks for all the recommendations. When I get back to my office where my iTunes lives, I’ll be taking a recommendation from each of you. I’ll let you know what I get and what I like.

  24. #24 Carrie
    March 3, 2008

    I’d recommend Jack Johnson for excellent mellow sing-along music. Plus he’s from Oahu and does everything he can to tour ‘Eco-friendly’.

  25. #25 Field Notes
    March 5, 2008

    Looks like we have VERY similar, if not the SAME FAVORITE artists, so I feel confident in recommending Tracy Chapman and Regina Spektor 😀

    You could also turn on music sharing on your iTunes at your office and snoop in on what students are listening to on their iTunes! I got some ideas that way..

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