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Mary Lou Lord
I have gotten into lots of fights about Mary Lou Lord over the years, mostly with people who claim that she's basically never had an original thought. To which I always respond, "Who cares? She's got really good taste in records." And she does: The Boston-reared singer, known most for her affinity for busking and her, uh, ties to Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain, has covered songs by everyone from Bruce Springsteen, The Pogues and Richard Thompson to Daniel Johnston, The Magnetic Fields and Mr. Bob Dylan. She's a deceptively good guitarist with a sweet voice and a great, easy stage presence. If her return would make it so that young bands feel comfortable, or even pressured into proving their worth by taking on the greats, then we'd all be better for it.�‚
The Promise Ring
The biggest problem the Promise Ring encountered during the second half of their career, as well as in the years after it, is that they were always associated with the evil emo genre, which calls to mind images of Dashboard Confessional and a ridiculous assortment of silly bands whose t-shirts are sold in Hot Topics all over the country. The truth, though, is that frontman Davey von Bohlen and the rest of the Milwaukee band wrote impeccable pop songs that were strange enough, even in their relentless peppiness, to avoid the pitfalls we generally talk about when we talk about emo.
Archers of Loaf
To this day, when I get a new stereo component, whether it's a set of speakers or a turntable or even a shitty CD player in my car, I immediately grab an Archers of Loaf album to test it out. Their aggressive, noisy take on indie-rock was and still is perfect for that sort of thing. The deep, thundering drums, the squealing guitars, the visceral shouting from frontman Eric Bachmann (Crooked Fingers)—:it's pummeling in a way that little else is these days.