Alternative Election Day

In the spirit of this election, we here on WPGU’s Music Staff are each profiling the best bands of the past four years. Which is the best? That’s for you to decide. Let us know in the comments or on our facebook!

Candidate 1: Jack White

Jack White has just dominated the modern rock industry for the past several years. Not only was he a member of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather (which all made solid contributions to the industry), he also put out a stellar solo album, Blunderbuss, to camp off the past 4 years of his career. As Greg, a loyal WPGU 107.1 listener, called in and told me yesterday morning, White uses the guitar to create full sounds and songs in a way we haven’t seen since Marc Bolan of T. Rex in the 70s. –Joe Winner


Candidate 2: Coldplay

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a sucker for British bands.  That is why I have to choose Coldplay as the best rock band of the past four years.  Both Mylo Xyloto and Viva la Vida have come out over this period, and I must say that neither one has disappointed.  What makes Coldplay so diverse is their ability to tell so many different stories.  Here, just in the span of four years, they have shifted entirely from the French-revolution inspired image of Viva la Vida to the 1980’s New York graffiti inspired image of Mylo Xyloto.  Love them or hate them, they have become arguably the most popular bands in the world over the past four years.  There is simply no denying the gracious ability that Chris Martin has to infect fans with his child-like sense of optimism and excitement.  Seeing one of their live shows (As I have done twice over the past couple of years) inspires one to live a better life, which is even further a testament to their greatness as a band.  Coldplay is the best band from the past 4 years, and deserves your vote! –Boswell Hutson


Candidate 3: Radiohead

Their only release in the past four years, The King of Limbs, was a strong album that received acclaim from members of the alternative party with singles like “Lotus Flower” and “Giving Up the Ghost,” but some critical opponents have called this their worst release in years and claim that Radiohead is no longer significant to this music generation after a disappointing four years.  Well, in addition to the huge number of CD sales once it was finally released, In Rainbows was the top selling vinyl in 2008, proof that even after giving away beautiful music for free, their fans were still committed enough to make the venture profitable, and what other candidate has ever considered the plight of their penniless constituency like that?  Lists analyzing the past decade in the last quarter of 2009 consistently rated Radiohead highly, and most major polls put Kid A as the most important album of the 2000s.  The 2011 Nostalgia, Ultra rap mixtape by Frank Ocean included a sample from “Optimistic,” showing the continued importance of Radiohead outside of the immediate alternative world, and both these events show that even when Radiohead isn’t actively releasing music, they still have a major impact on the industry.  Remember, a vote for Radiohead is a vote for Radio, and Heads (both things required for life). –David Christians


Candidate 4: M83

Although they have made many contributions within the past five years (3 separate albums), M83 is most well known for their latest album, 2011’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. With their hit single off Hurry Up, “Midnight City,” M83 received a lot of media attention, even coming in 3rd on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2011 list. While opposing candidates may argue that this foreign band is coming in and stealing American spotlight, how can we deny the global appeal of the French electronic ensemble? They were touring Europe and Asia long before the greatness of “Midnight City.” Branching off from the shoegaze party, M83 still attracts fans of the ‘gaze, and their nostalgic sound appeals across generations, whether you’re a teen or adult. Overall, M83 has been generally, if not very, well-received by the American listening public over the past five years. Showing they are open to taking different approaches, M83 have only become more successful with experience. Vote onward! –Kelly Mincey


Candidate 5: The Shins

A lot can be said for a comeback when it comes to elections, which is why I’d like to nominate The Shins for this year’s musical election. Following their third album, Wincing the Night Away, The Shins took a five-year hiatus—putting their fans on edge. After years of countless rumors and a few side projects, James Mercer and his Shins released a new album, Port of Morrow, this spring that echoes the spirit and sound of its predecessors. Although Mercer is the only remaining original member, the album does not disappoint; it synthesizes his ever-meticulous lyrics and innovative melodic builds with a new energy. Since that album’s release, The Shins have been regular performers at music fests and on talk shows…they are back and they are better than ever. –Lise Graham


Candidate 6: Foo Fighters

I loved the Foo Fighters long before the current administration, but they have been one of my favorite alt-rock bands during the past four years because they have taken previously solid songwriting skills and improved to be even greater with their last two albums.  While they released their second-to-last album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace way back in 2007, the album’s momentum pushed its success forward into the first few years of the president’s tenure. Returning from his other band, Them Crooked Vultures, Dave Grohl brought the group together to release Wasting Light in 2011, which they recorded in his garage. The album is reflective of the endurance of the Foo Fighters. They have been one of my favorite bands over the past four years because their sound is equally as energetic as it was when they first started, and they are still churning out fresh and exciting songs, seven albums in. Also, Dave Grohl is simply the coolest (but don’t just take my word for it; Wavves has a song dedicated to how cool he is, and his hometown in Ohio built a 900 lb. drumstick statue to honor him.) –Claire Schroeder


Candidate 7: The Gaslight Anthem

Not only have The Gaslight Anthem released two stellar albums over the past four years, they’ve also been compared to and recognized by America’s practical mascot, Bruce Springsteen. Their sound is said to have become closer and closer to the Boss’s music, so much so that lead vocalist and guitarist Brian Fallon has actually gotten the chance to perform with Bruce. The albums, Handwritten which was released earlier this year and 2010’sAmerican Slang, showcase the band’s talent to bridge punk rock with patriotism with lyrics about nostalgic Americana. This is not to mention their powerhouse performance ability – you can take my word on that one. –Maddie Rehayem


Candidate 8: Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend: the band bursted onto the Alternative scene in 2008 with a stellar, self-titled, debut album. By the time they came out with their sophomore album, Contra, they already had a host of hits and more or less had come to embody commercial alternative music. Not only that, but they put on a killer live show, and to cap it all off, this past week they premiered an awesome new song to show us that we should have high hopes for the band in the coming four years also. –Joe Winner


Candidate 9: Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant deserves to be elected this year because no other alternative band has had a bigger impact in the last four years.  Their debut album led to a domination of the airwaves with successful singles like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” “Back Against the Wall,” and “In One Ear.”  They exploded onto the scene as one of the most exciting live bands.  If you don’t believe me, just look up lead singer Matt Schultz’s plunge into the crowd from an upper balcony at the Vic.   The second album witnessed a progression from straightforward rock to odd transitions and Pixies-like dynamics.  As they get ready to release the third album, make sure to mark the best band in on this year’s ballot: Cage the Elephant.  I’m Stanton Polanski, and I approve this message. –Stanton Polanski


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