Recently I’ve been finding some interesting music with a heavy blues influence from a source that may surprise you: http://www.mtv.com/. On MTV’s website, you can find some music that you would not expect MTV to advertise. Look under their “Music” section under the sub-category “Downloads.” Under “Indie Downloads” and occasionally under “Rock Downloads” there will be something relatively obscure. At least obscure compared to MTV’s normal musical fare. Unfortunately, you have to be registered with the site to download the songs and some of the songs have an expiration date. I think it’s worth looking sometimes.
Anyway, a couple of the more interesting artists I’ve found have been Jolie Holland and The Black Keys. Jolie Holland is an up-and-coming musical prodigy who hails from Texas who can play the piano, the fiddle, and the guitar. In general, her style could be described as a jazzy fusion of folk and blues that is, in the words of O Brother, Where Art Thou, “old timey.” Her powerful vocals harken back to the days of old, female jazz vocalists like Billie Holliday. One could also describe her music as being honestly raw in content. No punches pulled. But it isn’t like heavy metal with a lot of screaming and profanity. You can feel the soul of a powerful songstress pouring through. Just listen to “Old Fashioned Morphine” with the light, breezy percussion, the gentle strum of her guitar, and the lazy drawl of the trumpets backing up her beautifully, provocative singing. This song comes from her album Escondida. Also worth checking out is her previous album Catalpa, which is essentially a demo that was rereleased as an actual album but is still high quality stuff.
Just as good as Jolie Holland is a blues-rock duo from Ohio called the Black Keys. Both college drop-outs, the two members of the Black Keys, vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, have created a very interesting sound that is capable of rocking hard and still remain faithful to the blues at the same time. Their sound is very engaging and their music is worth checking out. To convince you, check out their song “The Lengths” off of their album Rubber Factory. Their album Thickfreakness is worth checking out as well.