It’s still Black History Month. Week six, if you’re keeping score.
I got a ton of response to my column about Black punk and metal bands, which I’m taking as an excuse to do another column about Black rockers. Just picking five was hard and now I can pick five more! Which is still hard, yes, but I can give more bands and artists the spotlight.
This week, however, rather than picking influential bands from history, all these artists are members of the Black Rock Coalition. They’re an organization cofounded by Living Colour’s Vernon Reid to advocate for Black artists by helping them find outlets to perform, record and distribute music. To quote from the BRC Manifesto:
“Rock and roll, like practically every form of popular music across the globe, is Black music and we are its heirs. We, too, claim the right of creative freedom and access to American and International airwaves, audiences, markets, resources and compensations, irrespective of genre.”
Fishbone — “Everyday Sunshine”
This one actually got a shoutout in the comments the last time I was on this topic. I meant to respond to it but forgot so I’ll write what I was going to reply here:
Trey [his name was Trey], you’re absolutely right. Fishbone deserves a mention. Ska is a flavor of punk in most cases and Fishbone is one of the best examples. Unfortunately I try to limit myself to only five songs per column or else I’d keep writing forever, and I wanted to mostly stick to the more under-appreciated and influential bands. But if I do another one they’ll probably be at the top of the list.
Militia Vox — “46 & 2”
Tool fans are basically a cult so please understand the risk I’m taking by saying this: Militia Vox’s cover of “46 & 2” is better than the original.
I’m just gonna turn off my Twitter notifications now before I forget.
Anyway, Militia Vox is awesome. She’s the frontwoman of Judas Priestess, which is obviously an all-woman Judas Priest cover band. She’s toured with rock legend and all-around cool guy Dee Snider. And she’s better than Tool at singing Tool songs. That’s right, I’m just digging it deeper.
24-7 Spyz — “Got It Goin’ On”
These guys were in the running to appear in the punk and metal column but just missed the cut, since they were fusing punk and metal with soul and reggae in the late ’80s and ’90s. As an apology for leaving them out, they’re here now.
Despite a bunch of lineup changes and a breakup, they’re back and still around as a trio. In fact, they were supposed to be touring right now if not for that whole plague thing that’s going around. So assuming we come out the end of this mess in more or less one piece—rather than as a “Mad Max” wasteland dystopia of scavengers—you have a chance to see them live!
The Veldt — “Soul in a Jar”
Shoegaze, as a genre, goes back to My Bloody Valentine in the ’80s. In the ’90s it lost the battle for the public’s attention to grunge but came roaring back in the ’00s as levels of ennui reached an all-time high. But who kept it alive in the interim?
One of the bands that bucked the trend and kept shoegaze going was The Veldt. At the time record execs thought the identical twin bandmates were crazy, but now they sound basically like a prototype version of The Weeknd. That’s why you should always trust a band named after a Ray Bradbury short story. That’s also why record execs should focus on talent rather than what their focus groups say is trendy at the moment.
The Roots — “The Seed 2.0”
OK, I’m kind of cheating here. I’m breaking basically every single one of the rules I put on myself for my selections. For one thing, The Roots are a jazz/soul/hip-hop hybrid rather than a rock band, but also you definitely know them now that they’re the house band for, of all people, Jimmy Fallon.
So why are they on the list? Mostly because “The Seed 2.0” is one of my favorite songs. It’s an all-around amazing track. But also they’re a member of the Black Rock Coalition and I wanted to drop a famous member in here at the end so I could remind you of the organization again.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and send him comments at Twitter.com/BayAreaData, unless they’re about Tool.