By Shannon Carlin
You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but it’s possible to teach your good ol’ dad about new music. There’s a really easy formula to help you update your dad’s playlist so it includes something from this millennium: find younger artists who remind him of his favorite classic artists.
OK, it’s a bit of a cop out, but we know better than anyone that dads can be stubborn about their music. How many times has dad uttered the archetypal “in my day” line when comparing today’s music to the music he grew up with? Too many to count, we imagine.
Well, don’t worry, we’ve figured out the easiest conversion that will result in minimum complaints from your pops. If he’s a fan of Bruce Springsteen we have a Springsteen-like act that will remind him of the good ol’ days. If he likes Tom Petty, do we have a heartlands rocker for him. He’s a big John Fogerty or Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin fan? You bet we have a new(ish) artist for him.
We promise all of our choices are the perfect remedy for getting dad out of his classic rock slump without shaking things up too much. And to make this plan even more foolproof, we’ve listed a track by each artist that sounds just similar enough to your dad’s favorite artist that he won’t be startled by all the change taking place. We certainly don’t want to rush him into anything.
Your dad may not thank you for this gift now, but we bet he will do it later, once he’s finished acclimating himself to these new, yet familiar sounds that will finally take away some of that dad rock stigma.
If your dad likes Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, try Gaslight Anthem
This is a no-brainer. Both New Jersey born and raised, just working on a dream and showing the world what it’s like to be a blue collar guy with a poet’s pen. Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon’s never tried to deny that he bows at the altar of Springsteen, but from the moment he opens his mouth to let out that howl, your dad will also be unable to deny how much he sounds like BRUUUUUCE.
Best Bet? “The ’59 Sound” off the 2008 album of the same name, which Springsteen performed with the band at London’s Hard Rock Calling festival in 2009. A fun fact that is sure to get these guys on your dad’s good side.
If your dad likes Tom Petty, try War on Drugs
Adam Granduciel, the mastermind behind War on Drugs, is an ’80s baby whose musical inspirations stem from all the classic rockers he grew up listening to, including Tom Petty. Specifically Petty’s 1985 album Southern Accents, which featured “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” But War on Drugs’ latest album, 2014’s Lost in the Dream, which tackles the year he spent battling crippling anxiety that kept him from leaving the house, isn’t just for the Petty loving dad, it would be good for any dads who just love classic rock: Bob Dylan, Springsteen, Neil Young. No Grateful Dead though, as Granduciel told Radio.com, he’s got mixed feelings about those guys. Granduciel is just a down to earth guy who loves classic rock, just like your dear ol’ dad. Bonus, Granduciel is a big fan of his own dad who often comes out to see him play: “He’s like 82 years old and he’s always f—–g there to the bitter end.”
Best Bet? “Red Eyes.” Your dad will be free falling to this song off War on Drugs’ third studio album with his American girl and might even get some Rod Stewart “Young Turks” vibes in there too. A plus if your dad’s into that sort of thing.
If your dad likes Pink Floyd, try Tame Impala
With their 2012 debut Lonerism, Tame Impala couldn’t escape the Pink Floyd comparisons, but in the end it turned out the band’s leader Kevin Parker was actually an inspiration to Pink Floyd. “Kevin Parker is a pioneer of psychedelic rock,” David Gilmour said in an interview, explaining that his band used Parker as “a crutch” for their 2014 album, The Endless River—the band’s first studio LP in 20 years. If that doesn’t convince your father to listen to these young Aussies, honestly, we don’t know what will.
Best Bet? “Eventually” off the band’s new album Currents seems like it was delivered straight from space, or even better, the dark side of the moon.
If your dad likes Led Zeppelin, try Alabama Shakes
Does your dad wish he could be transported back to the days before Robert Plant was making music with Alison Krauss to that time when he could easily hit those really, really high notes? We’re talking “Immigrant Song” high notes? Well, what if you could tell your dad there is someone who has a comparable vocal range and her name is Brittany Howard. The Alabama Shakes frontwoman’s got a rasp that will send chills up your spine. To prove she’s got the Plant-like chops, just have dear ol’ dad listen to her band’s cover of Led Zeppelin‘s “How Many More Times.” It’s uncanny. Even Plant, who’s become a friend of Howard’s (yes, she thinks it’s weird too), can’t deny it.
Best Bet? “Don’t Wanna Fight.” Just listen to that howl, it’s enough to start putting a down payment on that stairway to heaven.
If your dad likes Talking Heads, try Ought
The Talking Heads are never ever getting back together. Your dad just has to come to terms with that and move on. We suggest in his travels he picks up Ought’s 2014 debut, More Than Any Other Day. The Montreal band’s singer Tim Beeler channels all of David Byrne‘s weirdness and vocal tics to rightfully give his band the moniker of Talking Heads 2.0. They’re just a cover of “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” away of making it official.
Best Bet? “Habit.” On this bass-heavy track off More Than Any Other Day, Beeler sweetly mumbles his way through descriptions about your limitations as a human in a way that are both frightening and comforting. How Byrne-ian of him.
If your dad likes Jimi Hendrix, try Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr. is a guitar player who’s carved out his own niche, which means, this blues guitarist from Austin Texas who gets compared to Jimi Hendrix all the time has his own style. So no, he doesn’t really sound that much like Hendrix. That’s why we suggest Clark Jr. as an alternative for those dads who desperately need to fill the hole Hendrix left in his guitar-loving heart.
Best Bet? “Numb” off Clark Jr.’s 2012 debut, Blak and Blu starts with a down and dirty guitar solo that sounds like a play on The Beatles‘ “Come Together,” a band Hendrix had no problem paying tribute to himself.
If your dad likes Johnny Cash, try Sturgill Simpson
Dressed in a button down and jeans, Sturgill Simpson is the new outlaw in country, which may be hard for your dad to wrap his head around if he was a fan of the Man in Black. But, next to all those guys singing about beer, women and trucks, Simpson, who last year Radio.com called the “Metamodern Outlaw Savior of Country,” is a breath of fresh air. On “Turtles All The Way Down,” off Simpson’s sophomore album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, he references Stephen Hawking right in the title before shouting out Jesus, Buddha, reptile aliens made of light and, no surprise, various psychedelic substances—marijuana, LSD, psilocybin and DMT. Pretty badass if you ask us.
Best Bet? “Turtles All The Way Down,” according to Simpson, is “actually all about drugs, and some other things, but mostly drugs.” Something we imagine Johnny Cash fans could get on-board with.
If your dad likes Pearl Jam, try Courtney Barnett
For those dad’s who still love their grunge, Courtney Barnett is a name they should know. This Australian knows how to turn a phrase about having an allergy attack during a gardening session or a wannabe elevator operator with a great head of hair while never letting up on the distortion. Just maybe don’t call it slacker rock, a term Barnett told Radio.com she’s still on the fence about. “It sounds like a compliment, and sometimes it sounds like it’s not a compliment,” Barnett said. But, no matter what you call it, one thing is clear: while Pearl Jam‘s ’90s hits have become an alt rock radio staple, she may just be the woman who will keep it chugging through the aughts.
Best Bet? “Pedestrian at Best” off her 2015 full length debut Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, which she wrote in a moment of weakness, has her playing the sad clown, quite literally in the video, making this track part kiss-off to the music business and part ode to her own neuroses.
If your dad likes David Bowie, try Father John Misty
Father John Misty is not a real person, it’s the musical alter ego of Josh Tillman. Like David Bowie, this iteration of himself allows him to do things Tillman perhaps could not do. Like take the stage to pose and do a bit of soft-shoe for the ladies drooling in the front row who don’t seem to mind that he’s singing about being a horny, man-child, Mama’s boy. Like Bowie, he’s an enigma with nothing to hide. There’s definitely a bit of the Thin White Duke in him, that’s for sure.
Best Bet? “Bored in the U.S.A.” This orchestral track off 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear, which gets at the despair one can feel when thinking about the world as a whole, is like the spiritual cousin to Bowie’s “Young Americans.” Though, don’t think it’s some sort of liberal theme song. “I think the tendency for white liberals is to get their jollies from that song, because it’s attacking this straw man that is not them. That’s the thrill the song comes from. If that’s all the song is good for, it’s a bad song,” he told Radio.com. “Then it may as well be a Toby Keith song. A liberal Toby Keith song, which is not my goal.” We imagine Bowie would lift his glass of wine to that sentiment as well.
If your dad likes Neil Young, try Desaparecidos
If your dad is excited to hear Neil Young sing all about agribusiness on his upcoming concept album Monsanto Years, then you should definitely get him listening to Desaparecidos, who also have some things to say about capitalist corruption, After a 13-year hiatus, the band, which includes Conor Oberst, is back with a new album, Payola, that has them calling out the NSA, the disappearance of the middle class and immigrant rights in just 40 minutes. It’s safe to say none of these guys are drinking Starbucks or shopping at Walmart.
Best Bet? “The Left is Right” off the band’s latest album will definitely keep your dad rockin’ in a free world.
If your dad likes Van Morrison, try St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Van Morrison became famous for his unique brand of Celtic soul, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones singer Paul Janeway definitely has the spirit in him. So much so, he gives Van the Man a run for his money. This Alabama kid is the epitome of blue-eyed soul, raising the rafters with his smooth vocals. Seriously, can we get a hallelujah?
Best Bet? “Call Me” off St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ 2014 debut Half The City has him wishing his brown eyed girl would just pick up the phone and ring him up.
If your dad likes Creedence Clearwater Revival, try A Thousand Horses
John Fogerty is the equivalent to catnip for a dad. From his solo tracks like “Centerfield” to his entire CCR discography, they just can’t seem to get enough of him. But for those dads that need to update their southern rock playlist, we recommend turning on A Thousand Horses. The Nashville band represents the best that the South has to offer right now. “There’s something about our Southern personality [that] came out in every single song naturally,” the band told Radio.com. “There’s breakup songs, makeup songs, ballads, party songs, feel-good songs and rockers. It has a lot of great movement to it.”
Best Bet? “Smoke” off the band’s 2015 debut Southernality, which has them comparing smoking to loving a woman. Whether you’re from New York City or the bayou, no one can deny the power of a good metaphor.
If your dad likes Sam Cooke, try Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges, who not so long ago was washing dishes at Del Frisco’s Grille in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, is here to scratch your Sam Cooke itch. With his throwback soul style, each of Bridges songs sound like they could be a Cooke cover. But his actual cover of Cooke’s “Chain Gang” sounds like it’s all his own. The smartly dressed Bridges is proof that the change has come and it’s worth embracing.
Best Bet? “Coming Home” off his debut album of the same name is a timeless love song that would have sounded as good in the ’60s as it does in 2015. Something that can be said of Cooke’s discography as well.