Who says the cello is just a classical music instrument? In recent years, a whole slew of cello rock bands have popped up, overturning old paradigms and revealing how surprisingly apt the instrument is to other music styles, not to mention spicing up the often guitar-dominated arena of rock genres. If you're curious, check out the music; two big names will even be coming to play concerts in a town near you this July!
Rasputina is arguably the reigning queen of cello rock; after they pioneered their way onto the scene in 1996 with their debut album Thanks For the Ether, garnering a cult following and performing with the likes of Nirvana, a whole bunch of other up and coming cellists have begun to share the limelight. Rasputina has gone through many members over the years, but Melora Creager (vocals, cello, writing, other instrumentation) has remained throughout; if ever you go to their concerts, you're likely see Melora with a different lineup each time they come around, but each one has continued to produce great songs and play amazing shows. With eccentric and often humorous storytelling lyrics a la Primus or Frank Zappa, cello sounds ranging from traditionally acoustic to heavy and electrically distorted, and outlandish historical costumes to boot, there's never a dull moment with Rasputina. Go and see for yourselves on Monday, July 25th at the Bluebird Theater! You can sample songs on their Myspace page or download some for free (and legally) on our new music database Freegal.
You can also see Ian Cooke at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on Friday, July 15th. Perhaps less wacky than Rasputina, this local soloist sings with a reassuringly indie warble while artfully creating intruiging, experimental, emotional sounds on the cello. This instrument has been described as the most similar to the human voice, so it's not surprising that Ian Cooke and his cello can sound like a lively vocal duet. You might recall that he performed right here at the Denver Public Library in September of last year. Follow other performance dates on his website.
Ben Sollee, with an even gentler indie sound that approaches folk, may be the most popular cellist in the pop/rock genres today. Simply can't go wrong!
Zoe Keating, former Rasputina member from the Frustration Plantation album era, has gone solo and is attracting attention wherever she goes for her talented solo material that weaves classical ideas with the experimentally modern. Watch for future Colorado appearances, and in the meantime, sample songs on her website!
If you like heavier rock/metal and cello, check out the Finnish band Apocalyptica. Featuring collaborations with musicians from bands like Slipknot, Lacuna Coil, Rammstein, and Three Days Grace, to name just a few, it's one big production that'll leave you amazed that a cello could make those sounds.
Oh man! I love the cello in pop/rock/whatever! I first fell in love with the idea when I saw Rex at the Bluebird in the late 90s. They were so awesome, I completely forgot about the band that they opened for.
I also really like Matson Jones- which was a local group out of Ft. Collins. DPL doesn't own any of their albums, but you can listen to their stuff on their Myspace page here.
Also: how about Bela Karoli, another local (Denver?) group? DPL owns their album, Furnished Rooms which I really enjoy.
Thanks for the great recommendations! Matson Jones was indeed amazing, as well as the Oregon band Strangers Die Every Day-- I was sad to learn that both groups weren't playing anymore, but their music will live on!
3 of the 4 members of matson jones have actually reformed as Land Lines. Nothing recorded yet unfortunately, but here is their facebook page:
I am looking forward to seeing them perform as I was a big Matson Jones fan as well!