There are some people that are so one track minded with their musical tastes that they don’t give anything else a shot. Some people will argue that the great “songwriter” doesn’t exist.
“They don’t write them like they used to” they’ll say. Or even; “There’ll never be another Bob Dylan,” or “Pink Floyd is untouchable,” which can get frustrating, especially when the same people are yelling to get off their lawn (seriously, you don’t want screw with those PH levels). People forget that every single day there’re great songs being written. So here’s a list of bands/artists who are the best songwriters of our time.
Jack White – “Love Interruption” A friend once told me that Jack White is the Bob Dylan of our generation — to which I argued immediately probably just to be indignant. Then after much deliberation and a couple beers, I admitted defeat. He is our Bob Dylan. Let’s look at it from a musical standpoint: He’s been on the charts pretty much every year since The White Stripes became popular in 2001, he owns his own record label, records and produces himself and other bands, he slays (underline) on the guitar (rated #70 on The Rolling Stones Greatest Guitarists of All Time), and let’s not forget that he wrote “Blunderbuss” — one of the best albums of the last decade. If that’s not enough to convince you, Bob Dylan has even given him the musical nod by touring with him.
Feist – “A Commotion” Feist has carved her own niche in the music industry. She’s done so much from her early beginnings with Broken Social Scene, to her fantastic latest album Metals. She’s a composer and songwriter of the upper echelon. If you don’t believe me, listen to the rises and falls of the orchestra in this song.
Beck – “Girl” Alright, think about it. Beck’s been at it since Loser came out in ‘94 and still continues to be relevant. He’s always growing his sound and trying new things. From accessible radio friendly songs to sludge rock grinders, the guy has it going on.
Eddie Vedder – “Society” Is there much explanation needed as to why the Pearl Jam frontman is on the list? If so, he released a whole album with a ukulele… And it was GOOD.
Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs” Twenty years from now, we’ll be forcing our kids to listen to this whole album. The Suburbs is an album that will sum up an entire generation much like Sgt. Pepper’s did. Every word, every note played on this one is gold. So yeah, you could say they’re pretty good.
Dawes – “If I Wanted Someone” Marcus Mumford (from Mumford and Sons) said that Dawes are the best songwriters in America. Which is a high accolade from that artist, but there’s truth in it. They’re also touring with Bob Dylan (it always comes back to Dylan). This is one of those tunes where a single line has given me goosebumps:“We need words to be put to what we do not understand.”
Black Mills – “Hey Lover” Black Mills is in the same vein as Dawes. In fact, the singers used to play in a band together back in high school. There must be something in the water there because they’re both unstoppable with their lyrics. I haven’t stopped listening to this song since I discovered it. Its chorus is catchy and with lines like “Someone plays a solo on the saxophone/Oh, you never seen someone throw their head so low,” it keeps you coming back and delving into Blake’s discography.
Sam Roberts – “Detroit 67” Comparisons are abound on this list apparently. Canadian rapper k-os has been quoted by saying, “Sam Roberts is kind of the Neil Young of his generation.” I mean, hey it could be true. Like Neil Young, Roberts has a firm grasp on his musical direction and is kind of uncompromising in that aspect. Both their lyrics have been known to hit some interesting subjects; here Roberts sings about the 1967 Detroit riots that lasted five long days where the National Guard had to be called in. It ends with “someone call the riot police there’s a riot down on 12th Street.” Neil Young or not, you can’t deny Roberts’ songwriting prowess.
Kanye West – “Power” Say what you want about Kanye’s arrogance in the media, he knows his music. Shown clearly by his excellent use of samples in his tunes. He’s one of the best lyricists out there too by not being afraid to throwing religion and even politics in the mix: “They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation/ Well, that’s a pretty bad way to start the conversation.”
Even as I’m writing this, somebody is making a song that will break somebody’s heart, make them smile, or make them pound the steering wheel in sheer joy while listening. The modern songwriter is still alive, and they need your ears to make that even more true.