I used to write off Tom Petty.  It’s something I couldn’t help but enjoy as a child but then reject in adolescence(kind of like Bruce Springsteen). He and his band represented phony, polished, empty propaganda for the dull masses.  I could not see the cleverness of his songwriting, darkness of his lyrics.  All the truth gets lost in the hook, for a time. A delayed revelation shows upon tenth listen.

Johnny Cash at Sun: I’m just picturing young John in that little studio belting out songs that he practiced intensely, not realizing how many people would eventually hear these recordings. Echo is practically a member of the band.

Immortal Technique has that tough New York hip hop sound. What sets him apart is his informed political content. Some of his songs are just like informative lectures. He goes deep and looks at the seeds of Al Qaida in the Cold War. Political rap is seen as nerdy or overly intellectual, but Immortal Technique maintains a rough authenticity.

Listening to Canibus most recent releases. I wasn’t too impressed when I first heard him I guess in the late ’90’s when he was known for battle rapping.  . His raspy voice sounds exaggerated and it distracted me. Here we are in 2014 and rappers with his intensity and lyrical content are few between and mostly underground.  He doesn’t sound like someone desperately trying to cash in on whatever he can. His music isn’t really commercial and sounds earnest, has more thoughtful content then I had anticipated, his rasp softened and is finally earned.

Sharon Van Etten: her music is unspectacular with jangly guitar and sleepy drums. Her voice is not showy but emotionally evocative. After hearing certain songs, I am left hearing them for a while after in my head. I don’t think she is doing something groundbreaking musically, but some of her songs  are quite powerful.

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