1. Mark Lanegan- Mark Lanegan, the solo artist who formerly led Screaming Trees, is like Tom Waits meets Wilco meets industrial. He's rough, gritty, and strangely poetic. I recommend Bubblegum, which I believe is his latest album. My friend Micah recommended it to me back in September and I've been hooked ever since. Check out "Methamphetamine Blues" and "When Your Number Isn't Up" for two very different sides of the same hard-rockin' coin.
Youtube- Methamphetamine Blues
Youtube- When Your Number Isn't Up
2. Uncle Tupelo- This early 1990s band pretty much defined the alternative country genre. Jay Farrar's lyrics take center stage, while Jeff Tweedy's musical stylings shape the music and run the gamut from hard rock to bluegrass to covers of old Americana folk music to even some punk stylings. Although they split up in 1994, Uncle Tupelo remains one of my favorite artists of all time, and their music should definitely be listened to by anyone looking to experience a real solid American band. My personal favorite album is "March 16-20, 1992."
Last.fm- Whiskey Bottle
Last.fm- I Wanna Be Your Dog (live)
3. Explosions in the Sky- I've been trying to introduce people to these guys for years, and it almost always goes well. If you're familiar with Mogwai, you probably have a general idea of what these guys sound like. I think it's described as "instrumental post-rock" by Pitchfork or Wikipedia or whatever, but really it's just a bunch of guys with guitars who play some rocking songs that really explore textures and layers in instrumental guitar rock. I know that's a pretty horrible description, but I promise they're good. It's amazing how much emotion can be conveyed by a band even without using words. Check out "The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place" for a great starting point.
Youtube- What Do You Go Home To?
Youtube- First Breath After Coma
4. Doug Burr- Doug Burr is a Denton-area musician with a unique sound. It's part Neil Young, part Johnny Cash, part Will Oldham, part Tom Waits (sidenote: that's two Tom Waits-sounding artists I've recommended, even though I don't really like Tom Waits. Interesting). I first heard Doug Burr about 4 years ago opening for a Bob Schneider show and I've been following him ever since. His last full album, On Promenade, is probably in my top 10 albums of all time. Even his new release, The Shawl, which is select Psalms set to music, is really top-quality music. Out of all these artists, I recommend Doug Burr the most, both because I want to see him succeed and because I really stand behind my recommendation of him. Check him out on Myspace, and if you like his stuff, buy a cd on iTunes so he'll keep making music for years to come.
Myspace- Doug Burr