TheDandyMan

"A wise man speaks because he has something to say. A fool speaks because he has to say something."

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My Favourite Recent Albums

This year there's a fair few records that I'm anticipating from some well-established bands like Metallica, the Pixies and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. However, already there have been a good amount of albums that I've enjoyed listening to with many of them coming from groups considerably less famous than the ones I just mentioned. I'll be taking a look at the artists who's work I've personally enjoyed the most over the past 4 months or so and maybe even introducing some of them to you. I shouldn't have to say this but I'm going to, this list is purely subjective and based around what I like rather than whatever's the most popular with general audiences or critics. I'm also not omniscient so I don't know every album that's come out this year, I may have missed one that I would love so give me your suggestions in the comments section.

Honourable mentions:

  • A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead: It might come as a surprise that A Moon Shaped Pool isn't in a Radiohead fan's top 5 especially considering all the positive reviews it's been receiving. A criticism sometimes given to the band is that they're dull and while I don't find that's true with most of their work I can somewhat understand that in this case. There's not many moments that get your hand tapping to the beat, the album isn't meant to be a foot-stomper, but I didn't find any of the tracks were as emotional as previous songs either like Exit Music (For a Film) or How to Disappear Completely. It was still relaxing though so I can't say it was a complete letdown.
  • Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not by Dinosaur Jr.: While somewhat interested I wasn't particularly ecstatic about hearing Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not as soon as it came out as while I enjoy some of their songs I've never been the biggest Dinosaur Jr. lover. However after listing through the album I found it to be a good chilled-out CD perfect for listening to in the summer and although it doesn't have any standout tracks if you've ever liked the band then you should enjoy their newest release.

If I'm the Devil by Letlive

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If I'm the Devil... is by no means perfect however it was infused with enough energy and passion for me to include it on the list. This is an album I'd been waiting for after hearing the singles Good Morning America and Reluctantly Dead with the former being my favourite track from the whole piece along with A Weak Ago both of which sound very soulful and Jason Butler's voice certainly plays a key role in delivering that power. Themes of the CD consist of political views conveyed in a Rage Against the Machine style but also contain more personal subject matter as seen in the opener I've Learned To Love Myself. There are parts at which I think the quality does decline and in my view Butler's voice is more suited to violent screaming rather than slower material but even so I enjoyed If I'm the Devil... overall. Also check at some of their performances if you haven't seen any of their live stuff before, they're pretty energetic to say the least.

Nonagon Infinity by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are a fairly new band that formed in 2010 (or 2011 depending on what source you use) yet despite this they've already released eight studio albums. With that said you might think quality may suffer due to little time being spent on each CD but from the little I've heard of them they seem to be reasonably consistent and this is no exception. Rather than individual songs standing out by themselves Nonagon Infinity is designed so that each one flows into another without any sudden breaks and even the final track transitions smoothly back into the first. If you're not a fan of garage rock riffs then I wouldn't recommend this to you but I'm into that style and although not delivering any intense or deep messages it's generally fun to listen to.

The Impossible Kid by Aesop Rock

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I admittedly haven't listened to a lot of hip hop recently but Aesop beat the likes of Kanye and Chance making it my favourite album from the genre that I've heard all year. The vocal content is complex which may be a turn-off to some as it can be difficult to decipher what he's talking about which is something Aesop acknowledges in the song Shrunk stating "She said, "When you start getting all expressive and symbolic, it's impossible to actualize an honest diagnostic.". This isn't a massive issue for me as trying to understand some of the more abstract lines adds to some of the replay value which doesn't feel like a task due to Bavitz's charismatic voice. Although sometimes uninteresting the beats provide a steady background to the rapping and I would without question recommend this to any hip hop fan who's interested in a little more than "nigg@s" and "hoes".

Total Depravity by The Veils

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I wasn't aware of this album or even this band until a few days ago while visiting a small music shop in Brighton. This CD stood out to me amongst all the rest due to its cover as I really like the haunting artwork by Nicola Samorì. They've been described as being similar to artists like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds whom I love and while this is certainly true they definitely have their own original sound. While some electronic sounds are included the album sounds very raw with a southern Gothic/dark Americana feel and you can imagine listing to it while driving down a dusty dirt track at night in the south of America. There's a mix of both intense tunes likeLow Lays The Devil and more quietly emotional ones like Iodine & Iron with all of them having a rock and roll sharpness to them. After hearing this set of songs there's no doubt I'll be exploring some of their older tracks.

Magma by Gojira

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Magma has been criticised by some fans for being different to their previous work but I prefer the group's new direction: their older stuff sometimes comes across as a little generic to me whereas now I'm interesting in what they're going to do next. During the recording process of this album Joe Duplantier and Mario Duplantier's mother unfortunately fell ill and died which I think translates into this record as you come away from it feeling rather low and the whole thing is "less epic than what [they] usually do" with songs only lasting around 4 minutes rather than being long and stretched out which I find a positive as sometimes less is more. Favourite tracks for me include The Cell and Magma although the whole body of work is listenable and there's a positive surprise at the end with Liberation which I was certainly not expecting.

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Album review: Reise, Reise by Rammstein

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When you think of German metal bands Rammstein may be one of the first groups to come to mind and indeed they were a founder of the Neue Deutsche Härte genre. Despite their fame I'd not owned any of their albums before recently as I planned on purchasing a couple with the money I'd been given for my trip to Berlin but surprisingly I couldn't find their records being sold (either because I'm bad at looking for things or perhaps due to some form of censorship as I know they've suffered with this in the past). After being re-motivated to pick up some of their work I decided I'd get their fourth studio album "Reise, Reise".

Each of the singles on the CD were of good quality with my favourites being "Mein Teil", a song about the cannibal Armin Meiwes who ate another man's love stick before killing him and "Amerika" which contains one of the bands most memorable choruses. However, it wasn't just the singles that kicked ass and I found that there was nothing that I would call filler throughout the album. The track "Reise, Reise" is an operatic and dramatic start to the body of work and "Los" is rather different from your standard Rammstein song, using an acoustic guitar to add a more Spanish feel to the German sound. Till Lindemann's powerful singing is one of the main attractions of the record and, as someone who often prefers deeper voices, it's a pleasure to listen to his theatrical bellowing. The little German I know mostly comes from looking up translations of Rammstein lyrics and so, while they could be seen as repetitive by someone who speaks the language, it's a positive for me that the choruses are often repeated and consist of a few key words as it means I'm able to sing along.

The album wasn't completely perfect however and there are some faults. As I said earlier I wouldn't call any of the songs filler although further on into the CD I find the tracks become more generic and songs like "Morgenstern" and "Stein Um Stein" aren't songs you're going to be singing in the shower, they're just meh. That's not to say they're awful but they do fade into the background a little and the fact that they're mostly all placed around the same time means you may be tempted to skip this part of the album. There's also the fact everything is mainly expressed in German and, while this can be a good thing as it provides the band with a signature style, some of the lyrics don't sound particularly stunning after being changed into English.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed the record though. The amount of average songs are outweighed by the number of good songs and it contains two of my favourite Rammstein singles on it which I personally prefer to other big hits like "Du Hast" and "Ich Will" as well as including a number of less publicised beauties.

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Green Arrow Villain's Showings

So, I thought I'd make a thread showcasing Green Arrow's most well-known villains and their feats. This is a work in progress and won't be finished for a while, once I'm done it'll look much more aesthetically pleasing.

Brick:

He fights and appears to have the edge against Green Arrow who's projectiles barley pierce his skin. It's only once Green Arrow uses the adhesive arrow that he loses the edge in the fight (Green Arrow #45)

Tanks fire from an automatic weapon to the face at close range making him a very durable street-leveller (Green Arrow #63):

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Tanks an impact grenade that's able to knock out a group of enemies who don't feel pain (Green Arrow #64):

Red Hood draws a firearm but he's quick enough to grab his opponent before a shot is let off, being "much faster than a guy his size should be". After an explosion and some gunfire Red Hood fires a small rocket into his arm and, rather than taking the possible effects of the weapon, chooses to listen to Red Hood's request (Green Arrow #70)

Goes up against Batman during which shows he's strong enough to easily flip cars as well as more durability against explosives. Despite saying he was "always gonna lose" he gives Batman quite a good battle (Green Arrow #71)

Komodo:

Using trick arrows he's able to have Green Arrow at his mercy and is isn't tagged once during the confrontation, effectively stomping him (Green Arrow #17)

Shoots through Green Arrow's thin cable (Green Arrow #18):

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Battles with Green Arrow until a police helicopter arrives and distracts him. He showcases his speed, being able to surprise attack Green Arrow in the third scan, and his accuracy, being able to tag his opponent multiple times. His durability isn't too impressive though and Green Arrow takes the advantage after firing one arrow (Green Arrow #19)

Has a short battle which is brought down to close-quarters combat and knocks Green Arrow to the floor but is then stabbed in the eye (Green Arrow #20)

Merlyn:

Before an arrow shooting contest Green Arrow comments doesn't know who's faster or has the better aim. Neither one of them appears as the victor in the competition and Green Arrow takes the fight to the rooftops where he overpowers him in hand-to-hand. However, Merlyn distracts Green Arrow and defeats him (Green Arrow #59)

Fires at Black Canary but misses and gets kicked out of a window (Black Canary #3):

Despite having his bow snapped he is still proves to be a challenge for Black Canary in close quarters and may have been capable of strangling her if it wasn't for her scream snapping the string (Black Canary #4):

Clips Batman's arm and is then taken out with a batarang. It should be noted that Batman was able to defeat Merlyn and the other Seven Men of Death in a matter of seconds because "Rama Kushna guided [his] arm and weakened theirs" so the fact Merlyn drew blood was reasonably impressive (Batman #671):

In a brief confrontation he's able take a surprise hit from Nightwing and then stab him with an arrow (Detective Comics #839):

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Is able to shoot through a moving bus' windows to hit a target (Green Arrow and Black Canary #16):

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Even though he also has Green Arrow to worry about he's able to tag Black Canary's arm. He then manages to seemingly have the advantage over Green Arrow but his firearm is shot and explodes (Green Arrow and Black Canary #16)

Onomatopoeia:

Gets the drop on Connor Hawke and, although Hawke is able to disarm his axe, shoots him causing injury needing medical attention (Green Arrow #13):

Quite easily defeats Black Canary, managing to shoot her in the shoulder first and then use the environment to knock her down (Green Arrow #14):

He proves to be a difficult challenge for Green Arrow and showcases his high levels of durability, taking a number of arrows to the body and voluntarily dropping of a building to escape. I'll provide some context and mention that Green Arrow had had his bow drawn for around half an hour so is most likely quite tired from doing this. Onomatopoeia had been shot while he was distracted with Black Canary earlier on though and Green Arrow's morals are likely loser seeing as his son had recently been shot so he wasn't at too much of a disadvantage (Green Arrow #15)

Faces off against Deadshot and actually beats him in a gun fight. This may seem as surprising considering Deadshot is such a good marksman but he had never encountered Onomatopoeia before and so did not know what to expect plus could've been distracted by Joker's commentary (Batman: Cacophony #1):

After catching him off guard and shooting him in the shoulder, he fights Batman. Batman is able to knock him down with a punch but is surprised when he is cut quite deeply with a knife (Batman: Cacophony #2):

Batman fakes being dead in order to surprise Onomatopoeia and lays a beat-down on him, snapping his wrist so he can't fight back. He realises he's outclassed in hand-to-hand so he later stabs the Joker and runs away, knowing that Batman will save his arch-nemesis rather than chase after him (Batman: Cacophony #3):

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TheDandyMan's Song of the Week #4

X-Ray Spex - Identity

X-Ray Spex's songs are the archetypes of punk rock: simple, short and anti-establishment. Forming in 1976, the band was fronted by Poly Styrene who was said to be so strange that she even freaked Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols out. That's not the only thing John said about X-Ray Spex though and in a documentary he stated that "they came out with a sound and attitude and a whole energy—it was just not relating to anything around it—superb" which is high praise. The album Germfree Adolescents is often considered to be a classic and it's from this album that Identity comes from. The track was partly inspired after Styrene saw a girl slashing her wrists in a toilet and for me it represents how some people have almost lost their own identity, simply imitating what they've seen "on the TV screen" and "in the magazine" to fit in which is still a relevant topic now. Also, saxophone in a punk song? Hell yeah.

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TheDandyMan's Song of the Week #3

Graveyard Train - Ballad For Beelzebub

Gothic country mixes the dark feel of goth and the rustic feel of country to form something that I've started to enjoy in the past several months although I was a fan of Nick Cave a long time beforehand who seems to have had quite a big influence on the genre. Graveyard Train, a band from Melbourne formed in 2008, were one of the first groups I got into who play this type of music after hearing The Deep, Deep Well. Their booming vocals and absorbing use of old timey instruments like the banjo and the dobro make each of their songs entertaining to listen to, Ballad for Beelzebub being my favourite of their tracks and possibly their most well-known track as it was played on a Greek TV show and gained some admirers over there. Annoyingly for me the album from which this is from, The Serpent & The Crow, is a rare find and only 1000 exist so it's unlikely that I'll ever own one myself. If you manage to buy me a copy then I'll love you forever.

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TheDandyMan's Song of the Week #2

John Lennon - Working Class Hero

I can't claim to be a John Lennon fan myself, I was always more of a Rolling Stones guy than a Beatles guy, but that's not to say that I don't like some of his stuff and this is his greatest hit for me. The first time I heard this track I was a wee boy-child of about 10 years old. I had just been to a Chinese buffet with my dad, the food was nice, and was walking on my way back to the car when a busker who was playing the song caught my attention. I didn't know what it was called at the time so I made sure that I took note of the lyrics of the chorus so that I could type them into YouTube when I got back home and see what I was listening to. Working Class Hero is still a song that I appreciate and its simplistic of style of one man with his guitar makes the whole thing more personal, you can really feel Lennon's vocals rather than being overwhelmed by a bunch of other instruments. Many artists have covered this song: Green Day, Screaming Trees, Marilyn Manson etc. but personally I think this is an instance where the original is the best.

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TheDandyMan's Song of the Week #1

I've been much less active on this site recently due to my exams getting closer but I don't want to completely forget about all you folks here so I thought a good way to make sure that I stay involved in the community is by sharing a song that I like with you weekly. There's no limit to what kind of tunes I'll share, as long as I enjoy it then it has the potential to be one of my songs of the week.

Tomahawk - God Hates a Coward

Mike Patton is, in my view, one of the greatest living rockstars and, although I had enjoyed some of Faith No More's albums before, it was the release of Sol Invictus that caused me to explore a bit of his less-publicised work. His bands like Mr. Bungle and Fantômas have their good tracks but the song that is standing out to me the most at the moment is God Hates a Coward. The bass, played by Kevin Rutmanis from the Melvins, provides a powerful backing for Mike's violent and distorted vocals and guitarist Duane Dension from The Jesus Lizard adds to the sound nicely. I've heard a number of different interpretations for what the lyrics mean, some say that they are the outlook of an abusive father, which I personally prefer the idea of, while others say they describe the view of some kind of group like the Illuminati but either way the song get across its aggression very well and the only thing I would want to change about it is its length, I could listen to this shizzle for way longer than 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

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Bloodshot Respect Thread

Bloodshot

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Bloodshot #1

1-3: Recovers from being blown up by a missile in the time it takes for him to be transported to an enemy base

4: Demonstrates his shape-shifting abilities, taking the appearance of an enemy who's neck he just snapped

5: Shoots a large amount of enemies while out of cover

Bloodshot #2

1: Uses his sonic screech to injure soldiers

2: Tanks a bullet to the cheek, responding with a face shattering punch

3: Has enough strength to easily rip a man's arm off

Bloodshot #3

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Quickly recovers after being shot in the chest by a sniper at close range

Bloodshot #4

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Uses his shape-shifting abilities to take the appearance of a pilot

Bloodshot #5

1: Shows that he is able to heal others using his own nanites

2: His healing factor allows him to run through a barrage of bullets from turrets

Bloodshot #6

1: Dodges a rocket after it's fired

2-3: Is resistant to extremely cold temperatures

4: Slices Recon's neck with his own snapped bone

5-6: Is reasonably stable after being shot multiple times

Bloodshot #7

1: Is able to stay concious underwater for much longer than an ordinary human could and can use his shape-shifting abilities to blend into his surroundings

2-3: Stays calm after having his eyeball telekinetically crushed

Bloodshot #8

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Rips off Point's head and spine

Bloodshot #9

Takes a beating from Gamma, a metahuman with superhuman strength

Bloodshot #10

1: Is shot a number of times in the chest

2-3: Doesn't need to wear armour as his body is able to take damage like sword slashes

Bloodshot #11

1: After getting within range, uses the "Harda Protocol" to temporally short-circuit Toyo Harada's brain

2-3: Remains concious after being thrown into the air by Harda who has now recovered

Bloodshot #12

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After a group of enemies has cut him up and surrounded him, he uses his synaptic burst to presumably kill them

Bloodshot #13

1: Tanks an explosion from an incoming vehicle

2: Reaches through Peter Stanchek's psionic shield

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My Favourite "Venom" Battles

Venom is respected for it's character development, plot and action. Let's just focus on that action for now. Throughout the series, Flash Thompson is involved in a number of battles against a variety of different villains (and sometimes heroes) and I've tried to narrow this down to my top few favourites.

Vs. Kraven (#2)

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Venom's first battle against a long-time villain of Spiderman happened in #2 of his series and involved spears, tranq darts and dinosaurs. He has come across Kraven the Hunter in the Savage Land who wants to kill Flash, believing that "the Spider's black spirit" would bring him peace. Throughout the battle, you really get the sense that Flash is a newbie hear and is filled with panic and almost terror while close-ups of Sergei's face capture his madness well.

Vs. Ant-Venom (#7)

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Occurring during the Spider-Island story arc, Venom is tasked with bringing in Eddie Brock who has the ability to turn people back into normal humans after being mutated into spider-like creatures. This is no easy task and Flash barley makes it out of the fight conscious. The action is done very well, seeing both of the symbiotes punch and claw each other is entertaining and their attacks are almost bestial in nature.

Vs. Jack O'Lantern (#12)

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Although he's fought his arch-nemesis a number of times previously, this is the battle that stands out between Flash and Jack O'Lantern for me. Although calling it a battle might not be quite accurate, the encounter mainly involves Jack trying to escape from Venom who, for the first time, has fully embraced his anger and "vulked out" into a mad behemoth. Seeing this for the first time is something that I remember thinking was really cool and the design of Flash's suit while in this state has been well-thought.

Vs. U-Foes (#28)

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Flash is out of his weight-class here and he knows it, he admits that even when he fought these guys in the past and had back-up they nearly killed him. By no means does that stop this clash from being riveting though and for a moment it almost seems as if Venom has a chance at beating the U-Foes. Almost. In the end, as you can probably guess, our hero ends up being almost being killed but the fact that he's able to go head-to-head with these villains shows how far he's come in terms of his level of control over the symbiote.

Vs. Toxin (#34)

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Eddie Brock makes this list a second time and deservingly. After having the Anti-Venom symbiote taken away from him, he's forcefully bonded with Toxin who, for those who don't know, is the spawn of Carnage. As you can imagine, the spawn of Carnage is going to be pretty powerful and this time, unlike in earlier issues where the two encountered, Flash is without any sonics so how will he defeat Toxin this time? Well, if you know then good for you, if not...then WHY? Go and read this thing!

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My Top 10 Favourite Bands

After seeing @saintwildcard's Top 25 Favourite Bands, I was inspired to create my own list of musicians that I like. As you can imagine, narrowing it down is pretty difficult and my taste does move around a bit so this list is just my current favourites. Now, lets begin with some honourable mentions. These are some of the groups that didn't quite reach the top 10 this time but they're still great:

  • Rage Against the Machine
  • The Brian Jonestown Massacre
  • The Black Keys
  • Faith No More
  • The Prodigy
  • The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Iggy and the Stooges

And there are so many more that I could add but I'm not going to.

10.) Electric Six

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As front man Dick Valentine would say, Electric Six are the bomb. You might have heard "Danger! High Voltage" before, it did get pretty popular, but they're more than just a one hit wonder in my opinion. Catchy guitar, entertaining lyrics, definitely a something to listen to if you want to lighten your mood a bit.

Favourite song: While Danger! High Voltage is probably deserving of being their most well known track, almost every other song from their album "Fire" is awesome too although their other albums do contain some good stuff too.

9.) Metallica

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The first metal band I ever liked, James Hetfield's powerful vocals is what makes Metallica stand out from other thrash bands and they've got some great riffs too along with memorable lyrics like "Hush little baby, don't say a word, and never mind that noise you heard".

Favourite song: I'm going with the fan-favourite of "Master Of Puppets" but recently I've been getting into their cover of the Misfits, "Die, Die My Darling".

8.) Fun Lovin' Criminals

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I don't think I know many other bands like Fun Lovin' Criminals, they've got a unique sound and it's not only original but it's great quality. The mix of hip-hop and alternative rock is something I enjoy, seeing as I like both the genres, and Huey Morgan's distinct New York accent comes shinning through in such a cool manner. The fact that vocals are not rushed adds to their entertainment factor.

Favourite song: Either "Scooby Snacks" which is probably one of their more famous ones or "Korean Bodega".

7.) Jurassic 5

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If you like hip-hop that isn't just about "b!tch, booty, n!gg@" or whatever and haven't heard Jurassic 5, go listen to them now. That's an order, these guys are seriously good. They've got such a chill vibe which I think can be lacking from other artists and, even though they're one group, they use a number of different vocalists meaning that there's a range of different styles which is something I enjoy.

Favourite song: "Concrete Schoolyard" is probably their best hit, it's such a relaxing song.

6.) The Sisters of Mercy

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Forming in 1977, the group are one of the earliest bands on this list. Could you tell that from listening to them? Perhaps. They don't feel very modern but I like that, "goth" seems to have died down and been replaced with "emo" so the Sisters of Mercy's older feel is one of the reasons I listen to them.

Favourite song: "This Corrosion"

5.) The Dandy Warhols

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The thing with the Dandy Warhols is that I can imagine both alternative and mainstream music lovers appreciating them. They're diverse in the fact that some of their songs actually sound quite pop-influenced but mange to avoid coming out as too commercial while others include distorted guitars and more alternative based. Both of these styles are great.

Favourite song: If I want a bit of a dance then it's "Bohemian Like You", if I want something more mellow then "Godless".

4.) Kasabian

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Kasabian have been criticised by some for copying Oasis' style and I do agree that they do have a similar sound. But I personally don't see that as an issue to whether I like a band or not, they're using an older formula and adding a modern mix to it. If I need some energy, there songs do get me pumped and I enjoy there Englishy (I don't think Englishy is a word but meh) feel.

Favourite song: "Fire". I'd heard "Club Foot" beforehand and liked it but Fire's what made me fully appreciate them.

3.) Slipknot

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Life ain't all sunshine and rainbows as Slipknot nicely show. I didn't really like their style when I first heard them, it was a bit too heavy for me at the age of twelve. However, some of my friends got into the band later on and persuaded me to re-listen to them, I did and now I love them.

Favourite song: Tough one, most of their songs are of good quality. I'll put "Wait and Bleed" at the top of the list, mainly because it's the first song of their's I liked.

2.) Radiohead

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A pretty highly acclaimed group, Radiohead definitely deserve their good reviews. It was possibly my mum who showed me them (I know, my mum showing me them isn't really very "rockstar" but she does have quite good taste so meh) and my first ever album was their "OK Computer" which I still enjoy to this day. I know they're not for everyone, you get some people who think they're "whiney" but it's some of the best whining I've ever heard.

Favourite song: At the moment, it's "Exit Music". You should check out "Just" if you haven't seen it though, one of the best music videos I can think of.

1.) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

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Making the top spot had to go to the genius of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The lyrics to their songs are so good, it's crazy. Take "Higgs Boson Blues" for example, it's poetic and the metaphors used really capture my attention. Again, "The Mercy Seat" use of religious imagery is done in such a great fashion. Nick's deep voice is captivating and he sounds almost like a narrator rather than a singer. Both slow and fast paced songs are equally good, they're consistent in quality. Overall, a great band.

Favourite song: I refuse to answer.

So, that's my top 10 favourite bands. What are yours?

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