Bryce Calderwood

Top 10 Musical Acts that Give Me Life

Bryce Calderwood
Top 10 Musical Acts that Give Me Life

I listen to a lot of music and my tastes skew heavily toward the electronic. When I was a kid, Gary Numan's Cars was a transformational religious experience for me, imprinting me thereafter with a love for electronic music.

Electronic music sounded like it came from a future in which I wanted to live. The stuff I like the most still does, but the future I imagine now is a bit different from the one that made me starry-eyed as a child. More sinister and post-human.

To say my favorite music "gives me life" is the best way I can describe the feeling of solace and cares being washed away, of rejuvenation. So here are the top 10 musical acts that give me life, right now. I say right now because next year it it will probably be different.

1. f1rstpers0n

This is why I'm specifically using the words musical act and not band. f1rstpers0n is a DJ whose mix sessions I can't live without. If I wasn't so lazy I'd be chasing down a huge portion of the artists they feature in their mixes. It's like they have the same taste I do but they possess a huge library of music and the skill & tools to create trance-inducing mixes, complete with killer visuals to accompany them on YouTube.

2. Grimes

Grimes just came me from out of nowhere when the video below ended up on my YouTube suggestions. A hot chick holding a flaming sword? Of course I'm going to check it out! I didn't realize this was the same person who'd contributed to the Suicide Squad soundtrack. What gives me life? Her ethereal voice, her waif-like beauty, and the way she just completely does her own thing. The original Genesis is lovely, but what Bassnectar did with it is transcendent.

3. Nicki Minaj

Nicki is the Queen of Rap. Her unique style grabbed my attention. Her look is often eclectic and over-the-top, but when she wants to dial in razor-sharp style, she has no equal, as evidenced by her looks in Motor Sport and No Frauds. It seems people make a lot of a supposed feud between Nicki and Cardi B (also in Motor Sport) based on the rumor that after hearing Cardi B's verses Nicki changed hers. Whether that's true or not, I don't know nor do I care. Both female rappers are equally at ease with lewdness and yet to my tastes Cardi B comes off as much more crass compared to Nicki. Nicki gives me life through her clever lyrics, inimitable style, and, of course, dat booty.

4. The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers is one of the longest-running continuous acts in electronic music. They've never stopped making music and it always has that unique Chemical Brothers sound. I've long since forgot where I read this but they once said that their music was "simply" organized noise. The more you listen to them, the more you can hear the truth of this. The theme of transcendent psychedelic drug experiences threads through their work and resonates with me, having experienced such myself often in my youth (in my youth... what a strange thing to say, but true).

5. Lo-Fidelity Allstars

As if there wasn't enough to miss about the nineties, chiefest for me is the "big beat" music of acts like Fatboy Slim, The Crystal Method, and Lo Fidelity Allstars. But it's the Allstars that have really stayed with me. When I'm in the right mood I have to listen to How to Operate with a Blown Mind in its entirety, start to finish. Battleflag was the bit hit from that one, but Kool Roc Bass is more representative of that Allstars sound. They just don't make music like this, anymore, and that's a damn shame.

6. The Beatles

The one "classic rock" entry to this list. Every once in a while, there comes a time when you need to turn inward and turn up the volume on some Beatles. The world wants to suck the life out of you, but The Beatles want to fill you back up.

7. Oceans of Slumber

One day I was looking for something heavier and these guys showed up. Their musicianship is simply staggering. Metal is difficult for me because if I don't like someone's voice when they scream, I just can't listen to them. I can't put my finger on the precise qualities of the screaming, but I either like them or I don't. OoS passed. Then later they got themselves a sexy and talented new female lead singer (Cammie Gilbert) and they went on to create even more amazing music. This musical act gives me life in how they manage to look back and yet be part of the forward vanguard at the same time with rock music. These guys get two samples: pre- and post-Cammie.


You might think no one could ever cover Kashmir and do it justice. You’d be wrong.

8. Goldfrapp

Ever since seeing the video for Strict Machine long ago I have been smitten with Alison Goldfrapp. I haven't always liked everything she's put out but her later stuff hearkens back to that lusty, dirty synth sound from her earlier days and I'm really digging it.  What gives me life about Goldfrapp is her unrepentant artistic bent combined with a sensuous, lusty musical and lyrical groove.

9. In This Moment

It's hard to not post every song In This Moment has ever made. They give me life because goddamn that is some sexy shit.

10. Marilyn Manson

Manson's been around a long time. When I was younger (along with him) he spoke to that sense of alienation that comes when you try to be yourself in a society where deviation from the norm is punished (unless it can be exploited). As he's matured so has his work. There's a depth to it that wasn't there before and being older, too, I can appreciate it. However, Fight Song will always be a personal favorite.