Musical Preferences Vs. Personality

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I heard about a study where they linked the type of music you like with your personality traits, or vice versa; I’m not sure which comes first in this chicken/egg scenario.

Any time I hear about music studies, my interest is automatically piqued. And then, I forgot about it for a while, until I added some music in very disparate genres into my iTunes library. So, today, we’re going to study the study and see how it holds true.

The study was published at PLOS ONE, a science journal I’ve never heard of, however, the article seems to be peer reviewed, which gives me slightly greater confidence in the results. In any event, I take the source material with a grain of salt.

Unless otherwise linked, all quotes in this post are from the article at PLOS ONE.

The Premise

Why do we like the music we do? Research has shown that musical preferences and personality are linked, yet little is known about other influences on preferences such as cognitive styles. To address this gap, we investigated how individual differences in musical preferences are explained by the empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory.

OK, so they’re trying to link cognitive styles to type of music preferred. What’s this empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory then?

The empathizing–systemizing (E–S) theory suggests that people may be classified on the basis of their scores along two dimensions: empathizing (E) and systemizing (S). It measures a person’s strength of interest in empathy (the ability to identify and understand the thoughts and feelings of others and to respond to these with appropriate emotions); and a person’s strength of interest in systems (in terms of the drive to analyse or construct them).

I’m highly skeptical of horoscopes since they shove people into only twelve pigeon-holes; this empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory uses only two. Also, is it a theory, i.e., provably true with data to support it, or is it only an hypothesis? The Wikipedia page refers to it as both.

Theories and hypotheses are not the same. You can’t just call a scientific premise a theory willy-nilly. Until you have definitive proof, it’s an hypothesis. I’ll get off my soap box now, but that drives me batty.

Essentially, the “E-S Theory” is supposed to graph all people on a chart between systemizing and empathizing. Most people are supposed to fall closer to one or the other, which makes sense I suppose when dealing with only two sort of contrary criteria.

Also, in the interest of disclosure, I noticed that both the empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory/hypothesis, and the study from the Journal PLOS ONE were written, at least in part, by this man, Simon Baron-Cohen:

Simon Baron-Cohen (

Not that his picture has anything to do with anything, but I like to know who’s doing the talking. Also, his name is remarkable similar to this man, Sacha Baron-Cohen, a comedian and professional bullshitter:

Sacha Baron Cohen (

Anyway, moving on since that’s probably not relevant at all.

Essentially, the premise of the study is to categorize all musical preferences and personality types into two groups: empathizing and systemizing, which automatically makes me leery.

Today’s Horoscope: Be cautious of studies from unknown science journals written by people with the same last name as comedians.

The Mechanics

Since this study separately measures (I hope it’s separate–otherwise we’re dealing with a correlation/causation problem from the get-go) what type of music a person prefers and what type of personality that same person has, before I looked at the study’s results, I was most curious as the mechanics of the study. According to Baron Cohen, that would make me a systemizer.

There are millions of possible variations in both personality and musical preference, so I wanted to see how they took that into account.

Facebook users were able to complete a variety of psychology-related questionnaires.

So, Facebook. They used personality test results from people who take those online personality tests and share them on Facebook. Automatically, that means you’re limiting personalities and dealing only with certain personality types, since only some people are likely to do Facebook surveys, e.g., not me.

Each sample completed the same empathy measure but they differed in the musical stimuli presented to them.

Well, at least we settled the correlation/causation question.

By reporting their preferential reactions to musical stimuli, samples 1 and 2 (Ns = 2,178 and 891) indicated their preferences for music from 26 different genres, and samples 3 and 4 (Ns = 747 and 320) indicated their preferences for music from only a single genre (rock or jazz).

So, the first two groups of 3,000+ people were asked to give their opinions on 26 styles of music, while the second two groups, made up of 1,000+ people were asked to give only their opinion of rock and jazz respectively.

If I was in group 4, I’d be screwed since jazz is one of my least favorite genres ever. Anyway…

Results across samples showed that empathy levels are linked to preferences even within genres and account for significant proportions of variance in preferences over and above personality traits for various music-preference dimensions.

Alright, so they found that even in groups 3 and 4 that only listened to rock and jazz respectively, personality differences (between only empathizing and sympathizing) were apparent.


Those who are type E (bias towards empathizing) preferred music on the Mellow dimension (R&B/soul, adult contemporary, soft rock genres) compared to type S (bias towards systemizing) who preferred music on the Intense dimension (punk, heavy metal, and hard rock).

And that right there is why the study first interested me, because I like music in ALL OF THOSE GENRES.

Analyses of fine-grained psychological and sonic attributes in the music revealed that type E individuals preferred music that featured low arousal (gentle, warm, and sensual attributes), negative valence (depressing and sad), and emotional depth (poetic, relaxing, and thoughtful), while type S preferred music that featured high arousal (strong, tense, and thrilling), and aspects of positive valence (animated) and cerebral depth (complexity).

Again, depending on my mood, I like all of those descriptors. I like hip hop, hardcore punk and heavy metal. I like classical, classic rock and country. I like big band, blues and bluegrass. Ska, soul and stoner rock. Progressive, psychedelic and post rock. Folk, funk, flamenco.

My iTunes library has over 40K songs in practically every genre from all of recorded human history. It has over 26 genres of music in the letter A alone. My full shuffle just went from Frank Sinatra to Astronautilus to Cause For Alarm to Parliament. This could go on forever, but you get the picture.

Classify that, Simon Baron-Cohen.

Based on my musical taste, you can’t presuppose that I’m either empathetic or systematic. So, which am I? Well, just to be thorough, I took the personality test.

Just as my musical taste is all over the map, so is my emphathizing and systemizing. At least that much is consistent.

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According to the test, I’m almost right in the middle. I have a “lower than average ability for understanding how other people feel and responding appropriately” and “a lower than average ability for analyzing and exploring a system.”

Because I’m almost dead in the middle, I’m terrible at both systemizing and empathizing. I’m an anomaly and below average at everything. I have failed at human; maybe I’d be a better sea otter.



I think it’s fair to say that, just as every human who has ever or will ever exist on this planet cannot be easily classified as one of twelve astronomical signs, it’s even less accurate when you attempt to shove those same people in only two categories. Then, when you extrapolate those results into musical taste, well, things start getting silly.

And, really, what’s the point anyway? We like what we like, no matter whether we’re an E or an S.

Also, I think generalizations of any kind are bunk. So, thanks for that.

Following the incredibly broad brush strokes laid out here, are you a systemizer or an empathasizer based on the music you like? If you want to go for extra credit by taking the personality test, how accurate are your results, especially when compared to the type of music you prefer?

Grief Diary: 3 Songs For Male


A few months before Male died, he asked me to come up with three songs that always remind me of him.

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Music was as important to Male as it is to me and he was a huge fan of the mix tape. He made one for me when we started dating and many others over the course of the fifteen years we knew each other.

He liked themes. His latest project was to collect songs from his closest people to form a musical landscape of himself. As far as I know, he never finished it, but since I’m still waiting for his computer four months later, I’m not sure.

I never gave him my selections. It’s not that I forgot. I didn’t. I decided to take the project seriously. I have a massive music collection consisting of music from nearly all cultures and time periods of human history. I’m not overstating; I have some renditions of traditional songs that date back thousands of years, and music from cultures I know nothing about or that don’t even exist anymore. 45,733 songs, 121.5 days, 211.89 GB according to iTunes. That’s a lot of music to wade through for just three songs. I started making a list.

Immediately after Male died, I couldn’t listen to about 90% of my music. Every song in some way reminded me of Male, even if it had no direct correlation. I had to create a playlist of innocuous songs and even then, the occasional memory came flooding back.

When he died, I gave up on the project of finding three Male songs, but I still owe him that. Originally, he gave me the caveat that I wasn’t allowed to use any songs that he already used on a mixed tape, but since he’s gone now, I’m breaking that rule.

Today, I’m doing Male’s list. These are songs that will always and forever remind me of him.

I could pick any Toots & The Maytals song and it would fit. I wrote about another one before when I did the 25 day song challenge.

Male was the one who fostered my love of all things Ska and Rocksteady. While I was a teenager, listening to the most hardcore of hardcores, Male was a rude boy with his red 9-hole Doc Martens, braces, flight jacket, and pork pie hat, which I have:


I was too punk for words and thought anything that wasn’t hardcore was for sissies. It wasn’t until I grew up a little that I realized how dumb I was. Now, I love all kinds of music. Toots is my favorite in this genre and I owe it to Male. Pressure Drop was his favorite Toots song.

It is you
It is you, you
It is you

I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you
I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you

I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it
Know that you were doing wrong
I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it
Know that you were doing wrong

Male put this song on his Mountain Mix. That was a mix he made for when he realized that we should be together, right after this night happened. From that point on, we were together-together instead of half-assing it like we had been for ten years, though we still never really defined our “relationship.”

The Mountain Mix was made expressly for taking me to his favorite place in LA. Somewhere between the valley and the basin of Los Angeles, there’s an old installation that was once used to keep an eye out for Japanese bombers during World War II. Since then, it has been used exclusively by local kids as a place to hang out and get drunk. Every square inch of the lookout is now covered with graffiti.

The panoramic view from the top of the mountain is positively breathtaking. You can see all of Los Angeles from the ocean to the desert. On a clear day, you can see all the way to San Diego. Here’s just a fraction of the view of the valley side.


Some incredibly industrious and crazy individuals carted an old sofa up to the top of the mountain at some point, so Male and I curled up on it as the sun was setting and watched Los Angeles grow dark. We never went there again and now that he’s gone, the way to get there is gone, too.

Male told me 8 through 12 in particular were for me. I sometimes forget that I wasn’t the only one who was terrified of our relationship.

One is a gun with a dart for my sweetheart
Two only you can remove such an ache, so
Three, let me see what you’ve got
what you’re made of
what you’re not
Four is sore, just a ripped and bloody claw
Five is a punching fist that’s within me
Six little stitches thread through my heart
Seven shining reasons tearing us apart
Eight, lose your hate
it’s a game
come on love me it’s your fate
Nine cold crimes in the night
please, forgive me
Ten are the tears that are frozen on your face
Eleven, I know I’m not your favorite man
Twelve, I’ll take you like only I can
Dart for my sweetheart

For some reason, almost all of my friends in Los Angeles are bigger fans of Danny Elfman and Elvis Costello than regular people anywhere else in the world. I’m not quite sure why that is, but it is a fact.

Male was no real exception to the rule, but he wasn’t as big of a fan as some of our other friends. Still, you could pretty much count on one Elvis Costello song ending up on a mix tape.

This song was on a mix tape he made for me right before he moved away to go to law school. I didn’t realize then just how prophetic it would be. Every time I hear it, I cry. And now I sing it to him. Thank you for the days.

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day believe me

I bless the light
I bless the light that shines on you believe me
And though you’re gone
You’re with me every single day believe me

Days I remember all my life
Days where you can’t see wrong from right
You took my life
And then I knew that very soon you’d leave me

But it’s alright
Now I’m not frightened of this world believe me

I wish today could be tomorrow
The night is dark, it just brings sorrow, let it wait

10 Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard: The Letter L


This is the series where I share with you some great bands from my music collection that should be more famous. This post contains bands that start with the letter L according to my iTunes. I had 26 options to pare down to 10 in the letter L.

La Chinga

Their name means something naughty in Spanish, which is probably why I picked it up, but I was pleasantly surprised by how rockin’ it is. It sounds very much influenced by heavy 70s rock. They only have one album so far.

Origin: Vancouver, Canada
Genre: hard rock, stoner rock
Years active: 2013–present

Lamp Of The Universe

Lamp of the universe is one dude. It’s very hippy-dippy and that’s not usually my thing, but I am impressed that he manages to produce this big sound all by himself. It’s excellent background music.

Origin: New Zealand
Genre: psychedelic rock, space rock, acid rock
Years active: 1999–present

Leaf Hound

Pretty much every band in this series that I’ve labeled “stoner rock” (one of my favorite genres) owes its existence to Leaf Hound. They were doing groundbreaking stuff decades before anyone. This song is their most famous and it totally rocks.

Origin: London, England
hard rock, psychedelic rock, heavy blues rock, stoner rock
Years active: 1969–1971, 2004–present

Laurel Aitken

The godfather of ska. If it weren’t for Aitken and others like him, a whole generation of music might not exist. Yet, outside of dedicated music circles, hardly anyone’s heard of him.

Origin: Cuba
ska, rocksteady
Years active: 1958–2007

Liquid Sound Company

This music sounds like it could have been made anytime from the 1960s on up, but it’s still got a distinct modern quality about it, if that makes any sense. Anyway, it’s good stuff.

Origin: Arlington, Texas
instrumental, psychedelic rock, acid rock
Years Active: 1996-present

L’Orange & Stik Figa

I’m always on the lookout for good hip hop since I’m not a fan of the big commercial stuff these days (I’m looking at you, Kanye). Either of these guys is great on their own, but put them together, and it’s even better.

Origin: L’Orange: North Carolina Stik Figa: Memphis
  hip hop
Years Active: 2000s–present

Lonely Kamel

Another band in my collection that I have no idea where it came from, but I like it. This is my favorite track by them, but it’s all good.

Origin: Oslo, Norway
hard rock, stoner rock
Years Active: 2008–present

Los Natas

I’m fairly certain that Los Natas are the only Argentinian band in my collection. They sing in Spanish, so I haven’t a clue what they’re saying, but it doesn’t matter. The music speaks for itself.

Origin: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Stoner rock, experimental rock, post metal
Years Active: 1998–2012

The Low Budgets

If you ever wondered to yourself, “Whatever happened to The Dead Milkmen?” here you go. The Low Budgets were a side project of Joe Jack Talcum, the former guitarist for The Dead Milkmen.

Origin: Philadelphia, PA
punk, garage rock
Years Active: 2000-2008


A big sound with a female singer that’s hard to nail down to any one genre. These guys are a bit prog rock, a bit psychedelic, a bit stoner rock and all awesome.

Origin: Detroit/Chicago
space rock, shoegaze, progressive, psychedelic
Years Active: 2009–present

More bands you’ve never heard.

8-Track Players & Rainy Days


My family has a cottage in the woods on a lake. It sounds so fancy, right? Owning a summer home on a lake… but the cottage in the woods was built over 100 years ago by one of my relatives as a hunting cabin. It didn’t even have a door, just a heavy tarp, until a bear walked in and helped himself to the food in the kitchen while my grandfather was playing poker with friends.

Have you ever smelled a wild bear before? Most people are only familiar with bears from afar, but when you encounter one close up, the first thing you notice isn’t its adorable bloody fangs or the huggable razor-sharp claws. The first thing you notice about a wild bear is the smell. It’s also the last thing you notice, because even after the bear is gone, the smell will stick around like a wet fart. Bears smell like a combination of wet dog, peanut butter and death.

I can totally see how this would be useful in battle. (
Hug me.

When my dad retired, my parents remodeled the cottage into a home. It now has a proper door and insulation, which is good since it’s in northern Michigan, which has a tendency to get very cold.

They took down all the stuffed deer heads, miscellaneous animal pelts and elk horns (not kidding–that’s how it was decorated), took up the real Navajo rugs, and replaced it all with more homey, less specter-of-death decor. I liked it better before. The elk horns–a rather impressive set measuring about 10 feet long–are mine. I claimed them, but since I live in another state, I’ve never been able to collect them since you can’t really carry these on a plane:

These won’t fit in the overhead bins. (

Even though I own guns, I am not a hunter. I’m not fond of the concept of killing animals, stuffing their heads and hanging them on walls, but since those antlers were from an elk that died long before I was even born, and my grandfather was the one who stole them from an elk, somehow, that makes it better, like inheriting an antique piano with real ivory keys.

I don’t have much else from my grandfather since he died before I was born just like the elk. I totally want those antlers. They are my birthright. Besides, no one else in my family wants them and my mom would have thrown them out long ago had I not claimed them.

My mom, sister, grandmother and I spent summers at the cottage from Memorial Day in May until Labor Day in September. My dad had to work downstate in Detroit, but he had two weeks of vacation and he’d come up on weekends.

It was heaven for a kid. Woods to play in. Lake to splash in. Bikes to ride and territory to be explored. I was never bored there, even though I had few friends. On rainy days, my sister and I would turn to library books, board games and the ancient 8-track player.


My mom had mostly 8-tracks we didn’t want to hear; Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Barbra Streisand, and a ridiculous number of Broadway musical soundtracks. Jesus Christ Superstar still gives me PTSD flashbacks. The best among them was ABBA.

I went on a time travel tour to that cottage on the lake this morning. I was just getting on with the normal business of my day when ABBA started playing. Suddenly, I was a kid on a rainy summer day dancing around the living room with deer heads to an 8-track–a true dancing queen.

ABBA holds nothing but happy memories for me. And even though the cottage in the woods is where the sexual abuse started, it predominantly holds more happy memories than bad ones. I won’t allow it be ruined entirely.

What music instantly transports you to happy memories of your past?

Awarding Thievery

Based on my series 10 Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard, I’m sure it’s fairly obvious that I’m not a big fan of pop music. I never listen to music on the radio, and I couldn’t care less about Katy Perry or Rihanna’s latest. Yawn.

I have Kanye West’s latest album from 2013, Yeezus. I’ve tried listening to it more than once and it’s absolutely awful. Black Skinhead is the only almost listenable song (I can almost listen to the whole thing before skipping it). The whole album is so auto-tuned that I’m not even sure that Kanye West is a real person and not a robot.

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I also have Nas’ penultimate effort, Life Is Good, which for some reason, brings all the background noise to the front and drowns his voice entirely. Who did the mixing on this? It’s terrible. Why are the violins louder than his voice?

I have the latest Daft Punk, too, which swept the Grammy Awards in 2013. I admit that Get Lucky is a catchy song, but it’s also predictable and a far cry from the sound that made Daft Punk famous in the first place.

I bring forth these examples to prove that I do, in fact, try to listen to popular music; I just find it boring and so auto-tuned as to be unrecognizable as a human voice.

I didn’t watch the Grammy Awards last night, but I heard about them this morning. It seems that they were swept by Sam Smith. His song, Stay With Me, that raked in all that Grammy bling, including Song of the Year, was partially stolen. Sam Smith acknowledged it when he agreed to pay royalties:

The settlement reportedly included a 12.5% writing credit to both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne (ELO). The song’s credit on the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) now lists Smith, Petty, Lynne, and Jimmy Napes as the chief songwriters.

Smith said, “I am 22 and I’ve never heard the song.” He’s never heard a multi-platinum song that has never stopped getting radio play, has been covered 20 times by everyone from Pearl Jam to Johnny Cash, and used in everything from presidential campaigns to sports arenas in the more than 22 years it’s been around.

The Grammy for Song of The Year was awarded to Jimmy Napes, William Phillips and Sam Smith, with no mention of Lynne or Petty, either by Sam Smith or the Recording Academy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bill Freimuth, the Recording Academy’s senior vice president of awards, said this before the show:

Since Lynne and Petty did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated. Lynne and Petty will not be considered nominees nor will they be considered GRAMMY recipients, should the song win. Rather, they would be given certificates to honor their participation in the work, just as any other writers of sampled or interpolated work.

Meanwhile, Tom Petty has never won a Grammy for either Song of the Year or Record of the Year, and Sam Smith now has more Grammy awards than Tom Petty has won in his entire career.

This is hardly the first time that a major American awards show has congratulated plagiarism.

If you’re familiar with this blog, at this point, you’re probably going to want to roll your eyes, since I’m going to talk about my favorite example of awarding thievery, The Departed.

I watched that movie in 2006 not long after it was released. As I was watching, I had a strange sense of déjà vu that I had seen it before. It took about 30 minutes into its tedious 151 minute run-time to realize that The Departed was, in actuality, one of my favorite Hong Kong movies, Infernal Affairs.

Infernal Affairs has a better cast, it’s shorter (by 50 longass minutes) and best of all, it’s original. I’ll take Andy Lau or Tony Chiu Wai Leung any day over Leonardo DiCraprio. Most of you probably have no idea who they are even though they’re hugely successful Hong Kong movie stars.

Let’s strip all the best acting, picture, editing, directing, etc. awards, and just deal with the thievery.

The Departed won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and it was nominated for the best screenplay at the Golden Globes where there was zero mention that it was adapted from Infernal Affairs. It also won or was nominated for best screenplay at twenty other awards shows, out of which, eight of them don’t mention that it was adapted from another source at all. Over 40% of its writing awards and nominations fail to mention that it was not original and it already existed as another movie released only four years prior. But, that movie wasn’t in English, so I guess it doesn’t count.

The Departed‘s writer William Monahan contributed 50 unnecessary minutes which dragged things out by adding lots more ‘splaining, because Muricans are dumb and couldn’t possibly follow a plot unless we’re spoon fed. There was little mention of the movie’s real writers, Alan Mak and Felix Chong, who by the way, won a ton of Asian awards for their original writing, but none in America.

Go watch Infernal Affairs and tell me it’s not a better movie. I’ll disagree every time. To be fair though, perhaps had I not known what was going to happen in The Departed–a supposedly new movie when I watched it–before it happened, I might not hate it so much. It was the last Scorsese movie I ever watched.

End of The Departed rant.

So, yeah, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear that Sam Smith won a ton of awards for a song already written by someone else. Nor was I surprised to hear that he didn’t even acknowledge Tom Petty or Jeff Lynne (who was there) any of the times he was on stage accepting awards. Disappointed, yes, but not terribly surprised.

It seems the American public doesn’t care about creativity or originality. Most people don’t even know that a lot of their beloved pop idols’ songs–starting with Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time all the way to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off–were actually written by a 43-year-old Swedish dude. Max Martin has written more number-one hits than anyone besides Lennon and McCartney, plus, 58 top ten hits in the United Kingdom and 51 in the United States, yet no one knows who he is.

A middle-aged man wrote Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl and no one cares.

Kinda puts a different spin on it, eh?
Kinda puts a different spin on it, eh?

So, y’all go on with your popular stuff. Buy yet another pale, unoriginal imitation. I’ll keep listening to bands who write their own songs and watch movies you’ll probably never see until they’re remade into Murican English for no goddamn reason. Just keep on leaving Tom Petty and me out of your celebrations of theft and unoriginality.

10 Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard: The Letter K

This is the series where I share with you some great bands from my music collection that should be more famous. This post contains bands that start with the letter K according to my iTunes. It was pretty painful cutting it down to 10 since it seems there are a lot of great K artists.

Karma To Burn

I love this band. K2B, as they’re colloquially called, are fairly unique in that most of their songs titles are numbers and they’re all instrumental. They broke up for a while when their members went on to do other things, but they got back together and they’re currently on tour. I’m always hoping for more.

Origin: Morgantown, West Virginia
Genre: Desert rock, stoner rock, instrumental rock
Years active: 1997–2002, 2009–present


Excellent band name aside, these guys rock. They’ve been around forever, though they aren’t as productive as they could be. They have an EP called You Waited Five Years For This? Their latest album is called Keelhaul’s Triumphant Return To Obscurity, which is hilariously, sadly true. They should be more famous, because they are awesome.

Origin: Cleveland, Ohio
Genre: sludge metal, math metal, mathcore, metalcore, technical metal
Years active: 1997–present

King Tubby

Even though you’ve probably never heard of King Tubby, you’ve heard his influence. In the 60’s, he was one of the first people to use mixers and primitive early effects units to create remixes and the dub sound. Every remix you’ve ever heard is partly due to this man’s experimentation. He was mainly a producer, but he did a lot of musical collaborations until his premature death.

Origin: Kingston, Jamaica
reggae, dub
Years active: 1974-1989

Kings Of Nuthin’

Kings of Nuthin’ were once friends of mine. I was on tour with them in the early 00s. The were a force to be reckoned with, especially live. Sadly, their lead singer killed himself a few years ago, so there will never be any more.

Origin: Boston, Massachusetts
psychobilly, rockabilly, punk rockabilly
Years active: 1993–present


Knut and Keelhaul go together in my mind a lot. I listen to one, I want to hear the other. Perhaps because they both have been around forever, they rock and they’re both mighty fine examples of mathcore. Go out and buy Terraformer, then pick up Challenger. You will not be disappointed.

Mathcore, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is a kind of technical metal that uses unusual time signatures and complex rhythms with both metal and hardcore punk influences. I dunno, there’s a lot of math involved. Let’s just say, if you were to learn guitar, Knut or Keelhaul wouldn’t be a good place to start.

Technical metal is not quote unquote metal, like “well, this is ‘technically’ metal I suppose,” but technical as in complex and technically involved.

Origin: Geneva, Switzerland
sludge metal, math metal, mathcore, metalcore, technical metal
Years Active: 1994-present

Kodo Demon Drummers (Ondekoza 鬼太鼓座)

If you ever get a chance to see them perform, do it. I don’t care how much it costs. I was lucky enough to see them live and I will always remember it. They are astonishing. If they don’t give you goosebumps, you’re dead inside. They’ve been around since the 60s and have an ever rotating cast, but they are always amazing.

Origin: Sado Island, Japan
  Japanese Taiko drums, percussion ensemble
Years Active: 1969–present


Koloto is actually only one woman and her sound is pretty unclassifiable. It blends electronica with world music and a little post rock thrown in for good measure. Plus, xylophone. Her only album to date was released in 2014.

Origin: Canterbury, England
instrumental, world, electronica
Years Active: 2014–present


These guys are so unheard of that I couldn’t even find a video or website for them anywhere. The best I could do is this compilation (which I don’t even own, but would like to now). I cued it up for you, but in case it didn’t work, their song starts at 3:6:22. I have no idea who they are or where I got their demos, but I like it.

Origin: ?
stoner rock, desert rock, doom, psychedelic rock, sludge
Years Active: ?


Oooh, Kylesa. <3 I cannot get enough of this song. It’s my absolute favorite by them. I love the rockin’ sound of the music and the male singer’s voice mixed with the girl’s ethereal voice. They’ve gone through a lot of lineup changes, but they’re still very good.

Origin: Savannah, Georgia
Sludge metal, psychedelic rock, stoner rock
Years Active: 2001-present


Kyson is composer/producer/vocalist Jian Kellet Liew. A little electronica, a little hip-hoppy and more than a little trip-hoppy, this is some excellent background music.

Origin: Berlin, Germany
electronica, electronic rock, trip-hop
Years Active: 2010–present

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10 Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard: The Letter J


This is the series where I share with you some great bands from my music collection that should be more famous. This post contains bands that start with the letter J according to my iTunes.

James Cotton

If you like the blues, if you know names like Howlin’ Wolf, BB King and John Lee Hooker, you’re missing out if you don’t know James Cotton. This man can play the harmonica like nobody’s business.

Origin: Tunica, Mississippi
Genre: Blues, Chicago blues, Delta blues, Jazz, Memphis blues
Years active: 1953–present

Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band

This is a mighty fine pickin’ right here, I tell you what. I am a sucker for the fiddle, banjo and mandolin, and they have all three. Also, upright bass. WIN.

Origin: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Genre: bluegrass, alt country, alt bluegrass, roots
Years active: 2000s–present

James Cole Pablo

I’m really not sure what genre(s) this fits into, but it wouldn’t be out of place in a small cantina in either 1920s Paris or the Star Wars universe. It sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to Bioshock, if you have any idea what that means. I linked his Soundcloud page above so you can get more. I suggest you do.

Origin: Paris, France
Experimental, instrumental, lounge
Years active: ?–present

Jedi Mind Tricks

How had no one taken this band name before? This is a collaboration between Vinnie Paz and Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind, which really has to be the best MC name ever.

Origin: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
hip hop, underground hip hop
Years active: 1993–present

Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus

Yet another band from my favorite record label, Small Stone (linked above). Big, big, heavy, fuzzy, 70s inspired awesomeness. It seems I’m a big fan of a lot of Swedish bands, for good reason.

Origin: Stockholm, Sweden
stoner rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock
Years Active: 2004-present

Jess & The Ancient Ones

If Heart and Jefferson Airplane collaborated and made music like they used to, it might sound something like Jess & The Ancient Ones.

Origin: Kuopio, Finland
  Hard rock, garage rock, psychedelic rock
Years Active: 2010–present

Job For A Cowboy

If you like Avenged Sevenfold or any of those other nu-metal inspired what-passes-for-heavy-these-days bands, you should put down the toy music and pick up Job For A Cowboy instead. These guys make them sound like the pansy-eating sissies they are. This is the evolution of metal.

Origin: Glendale, Arizona
Death metal, technical death metal, math metal, deathcore, heavy as balls
Years Active: 2003–present

Joy As A Toy

And, speaking of loungy, unclassifiable awesomeness from France, dig this shiznit. I have no idea what it is really, but I wholeheartedly approve.

Origin: France
in their own words: vampire pop, tennis pop, psychedelic pop
Years Active: ?-present

The Joy Formidable

As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of pop music or songs on the radio. This band, and this song in particular, should have been huge radio hits. It sounds so contemporary to me, but better.

Origin: North Wales, United Kingdom
Alternative rock, dream pop, shoegazing, indie rock
Years Active: 2007-present


Ah, Justice. This stuff sounds like it came through an 80s wormhole right into your ears. It’s brilliant. This is what the 80s should have been. I can totally hear this coming out of one of those big boomboxes while people break-danced. Fun stuff.

Origin: Paris, France
Electro house, electronica, nu-disco, electroclash, electronic rock, alternative dance
Years Active: 2003–present

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Goldfish’s Xmas Music Mixtape


Since I ranted about how I hate Christmas music the other day and as the saying goes, there are no complaints without alternatives, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite holiday classics in the form of a mix tape. Feel free to put this on during your holiday festivities, although perhaps not during dinner.

Click on the tape to hear it.


Here’s a track list:

The Kinks – Father Christmas

They Might Be Giants – Santa’s Beard

Sloppy Seconds – Hooray For Santa Claus

SSD – Jolly Old Saint Nick

The Business – Step Into Christmas

Tiny Tim – Santa Claus Has Got the AIDS This Year

TVTV$ – Daddy Drank Our Xmas Money

Captain Sensible – One Christmas Catalogue

MxPx- Christmas Night Of Zombies

Rancid – Xmas Eve (She Got Up And Left Me)

Angry Snowmans – Ebeneezer Uber Alles

Twisted Sister – Oh Come All Ye Faithful

AC/DC – Mistress For Christmas

Run-DMC – Christmas In Hollis

The Dickies – Silent Night

Bad Religion – Hark, The Herald Angels Sing

The Vandals – Oi to the World

The Damned – There Ain’t No Sanity Clause

Alice Cooper – Santa Claws is Coming To Town

Stiff Little Fingers – White Christmas

Voodoo Glow Skulls – Feliz Navidad

The Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)

Tom Waits – Christmas Card From Hooker In Minneapolis

The Ethiopians – Ding Dong Bell

The Pogues – Fairytale of New York

The Dwarves – Drinking Up Christmas

Fear – Fuck Christmas


10 Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard: The Letter I

I have a very large, diverse music collection. This is the series where I share with you some great bands that should be more famous. This post contains bands that start with the letter I (according to my iTunes anyway).

That's a lot.
That’s a lot.


Ooh, Igorrr is delightfully strange. I’m not quite sure what to make of him, but I’m a fan of his particular brand of weird. I like music that can’t be easily classified.

Origin: France
Experimental, breakcore, baroque, trip hop, grindcore
Years active: 2005–present

Infernal Overdrive

Another band from my favorite record label, Small Stone. These guys sound as if they just stepped out of the 70s. If you like 70s rock, you’ll like them.

Origin: New Jersey, USA
Genre: stoner rock, hard rock
Years active: 2012–present


And while we’re on the subject of Small Stone, here’s another from their stables. I love these guys and wish they’d put out another album. This one is from 2008.

Origin: Salt Lake City, Utah
Genre: stoner rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock
Years active: 2002–present


IQ has been around forever or since the 80s (whichever came first), yet they’ve never had a big following. It’s a shame since they’re one of the few bands of the era to survive, and with good reason.

Origin: UK
progressive rock, neo-progressive
Years active: 1980–present

Iron Mtn

Iron Mtn only have one album with five songs. They have the least amount of music of any band I’ve featured. I want more, because they’re damn good.

Origin: Los Angeles, USA
stoner rock, stoner metal, doom metal, psychedelic rock
Years Active: 2012-present


I haven’t heard anything from them in a while, so I’m not sure if they’re still together. They were hella fun when they were making music though. I apologize for the swearing in the song, but it’s worth it.

Origin: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  Hard rock, garage rock
Years Active: 2000–?

Ironhorse (Call Of The Void)

They changed their name to Call of the Void for some reason, but I have them under IRONHORSE, so they’re in I. Good heavy stuff.

Origin: Boulder, Colorado, USA
sludge, grind, stoner metal
Years Active: 2010–present


The band was formerly known as Gandhi’s Gunn. I really wish these bands would stop changing their names. It confuses my iTunes. Well, no matter the name, it’s good stuff.

Origin: Genova, Italy
hard rock, stoner rock, stoner metal
Years Active: 2006-2013 (hiatus)


Oooh, Isis–the band, not the terrorists. I love this band and I have ever since their first album. I saw one of their first ever shows since I lived in Boston at the time. Some of their songs are monstrously loud while others are more in the post-rock vein. Whatever they do, it’s good. They broke up in 2010, but I’m hoping they’ll come back for more. They’re too good not to.

Origin: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
post metal, post rock, sludge
Years Active: 1997–2010

It’s Not Night: It’s Space

I admit checking them out because of their band name. I’m a fan of bands that can’t be confused with others. INNIS, as they’re called, is great instrumental rock.

Origin: New Paltz, New York, USA
post metal, progressive rock, instrumental
Years Active: 2010–present

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10 Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard: The Letter H

I have a very large, diverse music collection. This is the series where I share with you some great bands that should be more famous. This post contains bands that start with the letter H (according to my iTunes anyway). I had 23 choices for bands you’ve never heard in the letter H. Here are some of my favorites.

Halfway To Gone

Halfway to Gone is one of my favorite bands. They only made a few albums before they called it quits, but they are glorious. Every single song on their eponymous album is gold. Pure, adrenalin-fueled rock and roll right here.

Origin: New Jersey
stoner rock, hard rock
Years active: 1999-2004


Another fun band. Hammerlock is led by a husband and wife duo who make hard-driving southern rock.

Origin: California
Genre: southern rock, stoner rock, hard rock
Years active: 1995–present


Hammock has only two members, but you’d never know it from their big sound. Beautiful post rock soundscapes. Put it on and close your eyes.

Origin: Nashville, Tennessee
Genre: Post-rock, ambient
Years active: 2004–present

Hands Of Orlac

I could easily see Hands of Orlac as the soundtrack to an old-timey horror movie, which is fitting since their band name comes from one.

Origin: Rome, Italy
Progressive rock, horror rock
Years active: 2009–present

Hank Williams III

This one is sort of cheating since everyone’s heard the name Hank Williams and even Hank Williams, Jr., but not too many are familiar with Hank 3, which is a damn shame because he is just as talented as his grandfather, and in my opinion, even more talented than his father. Hank 3 does pure country like his grandfather, not that new country crap.

For my money, Hank 3 is one of the most talented musicians working today, if for no other reason than the sheer number of genres he writes music in. He has been in a metal band (Superjoint Ritual, which we’ll cover in the Letter S post), a punk band (Assjack) and his own self-titled country band. I love all three.

When I saw him live, he did three entire sets in three different musical genres. The crowd started off with a bunch of country folks in cowboy hats. After the first set, which was the country set, they all took off in disgust. They missed two other sets that were absolutely amazing, because they wouldn’t tolerate anything that wasn’t pure country. I stayed for the whole show and wanted more.

Origin: Nashville, Tennessee
country, hellbilly, outlaw country
Years Active: 1991–present

The Haunted Windchimes

The ‘Chimes as they call themselves are Americana at its best. I absolutely love this guy’s voice. Plus, they have banjo, and as we all know, I am unable to resist the allure of banjo.

Origin: Pueblo, Colorado
bluegrass, Americana, roots, folk
Years Active: 2006-present


Once upon a time, there was a band called Sons of Kyuss from the California desert. They had a unique sound, now called desert rock or stoner rock. In this band were a number of musicians who’ve gone on to make a name for themselves. Most notably, Josh Homme and a couple other Kyuss members formed Queens of The Stone Age. I really only like two songs by QOTSA; they just sound like watered-down Kyuss to me.

On the other hand, I absolutely love everything John Garcia has done, the lead singer for Kyuss. He is a musical King Midas. Hermano was one the bands Garcia was in after Kyuss. They’re awesome and they’re not even my favorite of Garcia’s projects (we’ll get to the others in the letters S and U).

Origin: California
  Hard rock, stoner rock, desert rock
Years Active: 1998–present

Hi Fi & The Roadburners

When rockabilly revival bands like The Stray Cats were making it big in the 80s, Hi Fi were lost in the shuffle and they have been ever since. These guys are so incredibly awesome, I’m ashamed to say that they never really made a name for themselves before they called it quits, but they left us some great music.

Origin: Chicago, Illinois
rockabilly, punk rockabilly
Years Active: 1984-2011


Oooh, Honky. In case you were wondering, this is what became of Pinkus from The Butthole Surfers and I have to say, it’s tits. I love these guys. I’d highly recommend seeing them live if you get a chance.

Origin: Texas
Stoner rock, hard rock, southern rock
Years Active: 1999–present

Hour of 13

Another contemporary horror rock band that would serve nicely as a horror movie soundtrack. Here’s hoping they come back from hiatus soon.

Origin: Hickory, North Carolina
hard rock, horror rock
Years Active: 2006-2013 (hiatus)

More bands you’ve never heard.