Top Five Wednesday: Prolific Bands You Don’t Know

I’ve always been a completist. When I find a band or author that I like, I have a compulsion to own all of it. I don’t feel like a real fan unless I can talk knowledgeably about everything that particular artist has created. There are some artists, however, who defy my petty attempts at completism. These guys put out songs faster than I can imagine, and since some of them have already completed their output, I have a lot of catching up to do. WIthout adieu, the top five most prolific artists that you don’t know.

5. Josh Ritter – Deceptively prolific, folkster extraordinaire Ritter has released 13 albums or EPs since 1999, but several of the EPs are out of print,  some require buying a UK version, and still more are live releases. Still, putting out this many songs under your own name is pretty astonishing. It would take a lot of catching up to get to completism.

4. John Vanderslice – Eleven releases in ten years, although it does include several remix albums. Still, to put out this much material takes guts. I would say that this type of approach saturates a market, but seriously, since you haven’t heard of him, I’m not really sure what it does except give fans lots and lots of acoustic pop Vanderslice. As proof that men of prodigious output flock together, Vanderslice and John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats have a long history of touring, performing and recording together.

3. William Elliott Whitmore – Mr. Whitmore put out seven releases in six years. This is pretty astonishing. The fact that six of them were in a three-year span puts him on par with the Beatles for most prolific writing spree ever (or Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoise/The Avalanche blitzkrieg, which produced at least forty songs in a year). His banjo-laden folk actually did have a rest, though; he spent three years crafting his latest album, Animals in the Dark, which came out in February.

2. Mountain Goats – Jon Darnielle started recording in 1991. He has released 17 studio albums, which means that he has an album for every year he’s been recording except one. He’s grown up substantially, going from low-fi acoustic ramblings on his early albums to clearly defined and excellently executed pop songs on piano and acoustic guitar. He also has a drummer and a bassist now. Their latest album, The Life of the World to Come, was released yesterday, prompting this post.

1. Guided by Voices – From 1987 to 2004, Guided by Voices released 16 albums, 16 EPs, 15 singles, and two box sets that contained several hundred discarded song fragments. That’s almost five hundred songs. To say Robert Pollard and co. were a little prolific is like saying water is a little wet. It is not a description; it is the defining characteristic. The stuff ranges from acoustic ditties to all out guitar-slinging rock. It is all defined by a sweet melodies, though.

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