The Top 10 Bands You Ought To Be Ashamed You Don’t Know

I love top ten lists.

Nothing is more satisfying than seeing your favorite author named “One of the Top Ten Novelists of the Twenty-First Century.” Nothing more satisfying except perhaps, a nice healthy fit of indignant rage when Rolling Stone completely snubs your favorite guitarist in their “Top 10,000 Musicians of All Time Ever” List. (Steve Bartek!) Whether they provide soaring vindication or crushing disappointment, top ten lists effing rule.

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesdays at RPL. Every few weeks I’ll introduce a new list, and then unveil my picks each Tuesday. The twist? Rather than counting down, I’m going to reveal the picks in autobiographical order.

And now, I present the first list:

The Top 10 Bands You Ought To Be Ashamed You Don’t Know (or know better)

#5: The Elizabeth Kill


The Feeling

What I love most about music is the way it makes me feel. My favorite bands convince me there’s a sexier, darker, more adventurous life I could be living – if only I could capture the essence of this one song. The Elizabeth Kill are on this list because they do that for me.

By the time the first chorus crashes down on me, I’m already dancing around the fire at their gothic steampunk séance. I have to keep restarting the song so I can focus on the critical musical elements for my post.

The Players

The first thing you want to do when you hear TEK is compare vocalist Sarah Goff to somebody famous. Maybe Tori Amos or Siouxie Sioux or Dolores O’Riordan; but none of those are quite right. And then you realize that, like those three alt rock legends, Goff is a rarity – she doesn’t sound like anyone else. There’s a desperate edge on the long notes, and she chews those diphthongs like she’s squeezing the last drop of juice from a particularly pungent lemon. You can’t stop listening.

Guitarist Jeremiah Roiko is largely responsible for the space Sarah’s vocals are afforded. He paints stark, searing guitar parts, hangs them on the wall, and then lets them drip there, like he’s got nothing to prove.

Underneath all that (and around it, and in the cracks and spaces) you’ve got the one-two-punch rhythm section of drummer Corey Manske and bass player Gabriel Guyer. I can only describe Manske’s style as homicidal – but in the professional hit-man kind of way. He’s precise and brutal, but he’s got finesse; and onstage, you can’t take your eyes off him.

Now, I’m a bass player, so Guyer gets his own goddamned paragraph. This guy is an artist/filmmaker/designer who manages to play the bass like a bass player. He honors the groove, but never lets his parts sag into cliché. If you’re listening, you’ll enjoy his tasty sub-hooks. If you’re not, you’ll just nod your head and find yourself moving; he’s the reason why.

Why You Need Them In Your iPod

While everyone else is busy writing the perfect pop/country crossover or pimping their dubstep remix to the club market, The Elizabeth Kill are carefully crafting and relentlessly releasing original, legitimate alternative rock – right now in 2012. Your music library has a hole in it. That hole is shaped like a little brass sprocket. The Elizabeth Kill will fill that hole.

Gateway track: Freakshow
Catalog available: iTunes, Amazon


Alternative Rock, music, The Elizabeth Kill, Top Ten Tuesday

Jeff Garvin

Author of SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN and THE LIGHTNESS OF HANDS. Cohost of THE HERO'S JOURNEY podcast. Rock musician, D&D geek, aspiring revolutionary.

Comments (5)

  • You nailed these guys, Mr. Garvin. The Elizabeth Kill occupy a unique niche in my musical pantheon: that of the lushly theatrical, laser tight rock band, whose stock and trade is the absinthe-soaked ballad, poised dangerously on the rim of a painfully exposed, almost-erotic abyss. TEK proffers songs laced with Goff’s soaring, almost orchestral storytelling, accented by deliciously visceral, sledgehammer hooks. Like you, I have played their music repeatedly, almost obsessively; just to tease out a certain flicker of fiery perfection. This fleeting, tantalizing virtuosity draws me inside the music, helpless to ignore its sensual siren call. A full run-through of this band’s impressive canon, free of distraction, almost requires a cigarette when you turn on the lights. I cannot recommend anything they have released highly enough to all who would listen. You should.

  • “He’s precise and brutal, but he’s got finesse; and onstage, you can’t take your eyes off him.”

    Absolutely true, no matter how many shows I went to. He’s friggn’ awesome.

  • Finally got the chance to see them late last year, and holy wow were they amazing! I’ve always enjoyed watching Corey play; he’s so passionate and precise and you can see how much he absolutely loves what he’s doing with every moment of every song.

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