Comment permalink

The Family That Rocks Together: 3 Worthwhile Family Bands

In the 1970's, there was nothing quite as grating and saccharine as the Family Band. The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Donny and Marie and others put on horrible, brightly-colored clothes and sang about sunshine. All were attempts to pre-package the wholesomeness and wonder of a gifted bloodline a la The Singing Carter Family. Thankfully, that trend lost a lot of steam by the 1980's when suburban smiles hit a big, slick wall of synthesizers. In the intervening years between then and now, a more organic version of the musical kin model has become popular. The White Stripes Let's get this one out of the way first because it's the most obvious. When a Michigan rocker named John Gillis first hit on a bartender named Meg White, he probably didn't know she was going to be one half of an iconic 00's enterprise. Fans of the Detroit indie scene got to know The White Stripes as early as 1997, but the rest of world had to wait for the band's thunderous 2001 album White Blood Cells. Since then, Jack and Meg have moved beyond the noisy garage rock that made them famous. You can find them poking around in weird places like Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes when they're not recording. For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, The White Stripes sound like the last 50 years of American music put into a blender and subsequently set loose onto a concrete wall. Cranes Siblings Alison and Jim Shaw have been contributing their strange sound to darker corners of the world since the mid-80's. Native to Portsmouth, England, they took their name from the ubiquitous construction equipment in their neighborhood. Alison's babyish voice only makes Jim's murky, occasionally gothic instrumentation more unsettling. The band slowed down but didn't break up between 1997 and 2000. These days, Cranes have been touring and tooling around with their own independent label, Dadaphonic. The Arcade Fire Sure, at any given time during an Arcade Fire show there are at least a dozen people on stage. That doesn't change the fact that the heart of the most darling among the indie darlings is in the creative and literal marriage of Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. It's ironic that one of the biggest sounds of this decade became famous thanks to word-of-keyboard on the Internet. Of course, it didn't hurt that one of those early web fans happened to be David Bowie. They knocked off more than a few socks with 2004's Funeral and managed to meet some pretty steep expectations with the 2007 follow-up Neon Bible. Toward the end of the Neon Bible promotional tour, the band started talking about going back to the studio for a third full-length album. The recent past has been good to family bands. With any luck, a few talented siblings, spouses, or cousins will pop up in the next decade. If not, we can at least hope that the White or the Butler-Chassagne families will provide us with a new generation of genuine rockers.