Boston vs. Seattle: Which City Has the Best Music?

Forget Super Bowl XLIX, the real match-up is between musical legacies.

By Brian Ives

The eyes of the world will be on Arizona this weekend for Super Bowl XLIX. Will Seattle win their second Super Bowl in a row? Will there be a repeat of #deflategate? Who will have the best commercial? And what will Katy Perry wear?

We can’t settle any of those questions for you here, but check with our friends at CBS Local Sports for all the Super Bowl info you need.

There are some things we can help figure out, though. Namely, which city has the best music, Seattle or Boston? (Spoiler alert: For those not in the know, this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX is a battle between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.)

To decide this, we discussed it the way anyone would. Not in person, or even on the phone, but via IM.

Representing Seattle is Scott Vanderpool, on-air host at that city’s classic rock station KZOK. Defending New England is Matt Dolloff of Boston’s home of classic rock, WZLX.

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Radio.com: First things first: three best musical exports from Boston.

Matt Dolloff: I would go with Aerosmith, the Pixies and James Taylor.

Scott Vanderpool: Let me just say that KZOK is NOT banning New England bands, mostly because we love Aerosmith so much…and look how well banning Seattle bands went for Green Bay. And I love the Pixies.

Radio.com: That’s very “Seattle” of you, Scott.

Matt: If any two markets should have the Pixies on classic rock radio, it’s Boston and Seattle.

Radio.comMatt, I’m guessing you guys are still going to play Jimi Hendrix regardless of the final score on Sunday?

Matt: I wouldn’t withhold Jimi’s music from my station for any reason.

Radio.com: Speaking of Jimi: top three musical exports from Seattle.

Scott: Naturally, Hendrix, though he did have to go to England to get famous…after the Seattle police made him join the Army. And then Heart of course. Ann and Nancy made Robert Plant cry, for Chissakes! And “Barracuda” and “Mistral Wind” are the best Led Zeppelin songs that are not actually Led Zeppelin songs. After that, it gets dicier…I was in the thick of that whole “grunge” thing, and my favorite band from that era would have to be the Screaming TreesMy wife always says if she could have sex with a voice, it’d be Mark Lanegan.

MattIf we’re digging deep for great local bands, I have to give a shout out to Dispatch. They’ve built a massive following through mostly playing epic live shows, and releasing all of their music independently.

Radio.com: Matt, any Seattle acts you’re glad aren’t from New England?

Matt: I am thankful every single day of my life that Kenny G is from Seattle and not Boston.

Radio.com: Ouch! Scott?

Scott: Kenny G is from Bellevue. On the other side of the lake. Barf.

Radio.com: Scott, what Boston act are you glad you don’t have to deal with?

Scott: Well, I’m particularly proud to have been able to bring Seattle bands to the mainstream back in the day, mostly so we wouldn’t have to play gawd awful buttrock like the band New England…“Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya.” Also, I believe New Kids on the Block are your neighbors, Matt! On the other hand, my favorite Boston band for quite a few years now is The Upper Crust.

Radio.comOK, what are the best songs about each town?

Scott: “Dirty Water” of course. But the Standells were from L.A.

Radio.com: That’s the funny thing about “Dirty Water,” especially because he refers to Boston as “my town” and “my home.” But the fact remains, it’s about Boston.

Scott“Seattle” by Public Image Ltd. is a fave, but the best one you’ve never heard is called “Seattle” by an ’80s buttrock band called Uncle Sam. I used to open my local music show on another station with it, until the single was stolen from me. I’m pretty sure it was stolen by Mark Arm from Mudhoney “So if you like to party a lot….Seattle is the nation’s best spot” True genius at work!

Matt: “Dirty Water” is like Boston’s unofficial anthem, so that would be the obvious choice, but I’d go with “Roadrunner” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. The details in the lyrics show he was truly a Boston guy.

Radio.com: Which city has better music for tailgate parties? I mean, I love Nirvana, but I might lean towards Boston, what with Aerosmith, the J. Geils Band and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Matt: Depends on what kind of party you’re talking about. A rock and roll party? It’s gotta be Boston, with those bands you mentioned, plus the Dropkick Murphys, Godsmack and Rob Zombie.

Scott: Well I dunno what kind of parties you guys have…but back in the day there was nothing better than moshing to TAD.

Radio.com: Fair enough, and I think the Presidents of the United States of America would literally play anywhere, from what I remember.

Scott: They still do, though frontman Chris Balew has a little kids band on the side called Caspar Babypants. Toddler parties….wooooo!

Matt: If it’s a hipster party though, Seattle’s got you covered: Band of Horses, Modest Mouse, Fleet Foxes, Minus the Bear, and Sunny Day Real Estate.

Scott: I asked Mark Arm [of Mudhoney] what he thought of some of this “new folk” stuff like Fleet Foxes, since he works in Sub Pop’s warehouse now: he said, “If I wanted to listen to Crosby Stills and Nash, I’d f—ing listen to Crosby Stills and Nash!”

Radio.com: Let’s talk about Boston, the band.

Scott: I always get squeamish when Boston’s Brad Delp hits the high note on the “Sign the record company contract” line on “Rock and Roll Band”…men aren’t supposed to sing that high. Talk about deflated balls! I think if there were a Seattle band called ‘Seattle’ everyone would think they were douchebags.

Radio.com: So let’s have some head to head combat. They Might Be Giants vs. Presidents of the United States of America?

Scott: Both of those bands are cute, TMBG have more guitar strings…POTUSA have the better drummer….it’s a toss up!

Radio.com: Queensryche or Extreme?

Scott: Hmmmm. Never cared for Extreme at all, Queensryche were pretty good when they were trying to be Pink Floyd, but their early stuff is as bad as Extreme…and the clothes they wore in photos on their first couple of records would give Michael Jackson nightmares.

Radio.com: Here’s a tough one: Pixies vs. Nirvana?

Scott: Well obviously the Pixies were a huge influence on Kurt Cobain, but so were the Wipers and the Melvins… being from Seattle I’m probably a bit Nirvana-saturated by this point, so I’d go with [the Pixies’] Frank [Black] and Kim [Deal].

Radio.com: Wow! I didn’t expect that. What say you, Matt?

Matt: I gave the overall edge to Nirvana in an article that I wrote yesterday, but it was mainly because of their commercial, social and cultural impact. BUT if we’re only talking about the music, then I have to give the edge to the Pixies. And it’s not just because Kurt Cobain admitted he ripped them off. Some of the biggest bands today have cited the Pixies as a major influence: Radiohead, Arcade Fire and the Strokes to name a few.

Scott: True that. The Pixies SHOULD be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame….Hello, Cleveland?

Radio.com: Hello Cleveland, indeed. The entire post-punk era (the Cure/the Smiths/Joy Division from the UK, Sonic Youth/the Pixies/the Replacements from the U.S.) is completely overlooked. They go from the Ramones and the Clash to U2 and R.E.M. and skip everything in-between. A discussion for another day! But back to the subject at hand. Here’s the million-dollar classic-rock question: Aerosmith or Heart?

Scott: Both bands were flat out riff-rock geniuses, but I’d give the edge to Aerosmith. Both bands also have some embarrassingly bad stuff from their later era: I don’t know which is worse, “What About Love” or “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing.” But Steven Tyler’s a great singer, and a pretty great lyricist, but only Ann could make Robert Plant cry.

Matt: Musically I actually give the edge to Heart, because they’ve always been versatile in terms of their sound and style, and the Wilsons’ vocals hold it together very well. But in terms of songwriting they don’t come close to Aerosmith.

Radio.com: Fair enough! Six Mix-A-Lot or Marky Mark (with or without the Funky Bunch)?

Scott: Mix, definitely. Super nice guy, and funny as hell.

Matt: Easily Sir Mix-A-Lot. “Baby Got Back” is iconic. “Good Vibrations” is…a song.

Radio.com: Mix is funny, and he even collaborated with the Presidents of the United States of America. On the other hand, he did not co-star in Rock Star with Zakk Wylde, as Marky Mark did.

Scott: Marky Mark is a much better actor than musical attraction.

Radio.comOn that I think we can all agree. How about instrumentalists: Dick Dale of Boston vs. Kenny G?

Scott: Dick Dale is from Boston? Well… did I mention that Jimi Hendrix is from Seattle?

Radio.com: Let me clarify: instrumentalist/non-singers.

Scott: Ever heard “Third Stone from The Sun?”

Radio.comHa ha, fair enough!

Scott: And again, Kenny G is from Bellevue. Actually, so are Queensryche and Heart. Actually, so am I, but I got out.

Matt: Isn’t Kurt Cobain from Aberdeen?

Radio.comYou’re talking to a guy who lives in New Jersey, near a football stadium that’s also in New Jersey…and both of the teams who play there have “New York” in front of their name. Sometimes you get “rounded to the nearest big city.” Ergo, anyone from near Seattle is from Seattle.

Radio.com: Next question: Candlebox or Godsmack?

Scott: How about if I just shove some knitting needles in my eardrums?  Most everyone in Seattle is embarrassed by Candlebox.

Radio.comDropkick Murphys or Band of Horses? And who would win in a brawl? (For the brawl, Band of Horses can team up with Fleet Foxes.)

MattBagpipes over pedal steel every day of the week.

Scott: Band of Horses are probably Panthers fans by now.

Matt: I picture them having a nice campfire singalong that just gets trampled and smothered by a bunch of rowdy drunk Irishmen.

Scott: I’m with the drunk rowdy Irishmen on that one.

Radio.com: OK, here’s the most sensitive question: Cheers or Frasier? I think we could even call the game the “Frasier Bowl.”

Matt: Well this goes back to Nirvana/Pixies, doesn’t it? There’s no Frasier without Cheers, period.

Scott: Though they did green-screen the Space Needle in once in a while, and said “Seattle” here and there, no one here felt much connection to Frasier.

Radio.comFinally, call the game: who wins, what’s the score, and what does Katy Perry perform with Lenny Kravitz?

ScottI think it’ll be closer than last year’s Super Bowl, but it’s “New Dynasty Time.” Seattle 27, New England 20, and simulated-f——o, in that order. Been a few years since we got the FCC all riled up. It’s time. Pete Carroll will have his revenge.

Matt: I say the Patriots win 27-10. “DeflateGate” is rallying them like they have against haters/doubters in the past, and they dominate in those spots. Definitely gonna be a “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over” duet, with at least some twerking. If not, what Scott said.

Radio.comAny last thoughts?

Scott: Put the Upper Crust in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Let them eat rock!

Matt: I honestly believe Seattle’s music history rivals just about any American city. But when it comes to sports? We’re still king. Oh and put the Pixies in the Hall, please.

Radio.comI think that all of us, from Seattle, Boston and New Jersey (which is near New York) can agree on that: the Upper Crust and the Pixies both belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Good luck on Sunday, everyone!

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