Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My favorite gravelly-voiced rock vocalists

I'm betting that no other blog post in internet history has the same title as this post. Rock on -- I'm original!

My uncle mentioned that he and my dad have been into Nickelback lately and both really like Chad Kroeger's marble-throated singing. He then asked what other similar-sounding guys are out there, and if I'd do a post on it.

You betcha.

I'm breaking this list down into two categories:

1) Pure gravel sound.
2) Smooth, melodic voices when singing softly, but with an ability to sing-scream with scratchy goodness. There are quite a few of these vocalists out there, so I've noted a few of my favorites.

Category 1 -- Pure Gravel

1) Wes Scantlin of Puddle of Mudd -- the band is from Kansas City so I'm already biased in their favor, but Wes has a great voice. Here's one of their hits from 2008 (for listening only; ignore the visual part of the video as the record label doesn't allow me to post the actual music video here on the blog).

2) Jakob Dylan of Wallflowers and solo work -- yep, it's Bob Dylan's son. He's a great songwriter and singer in his own right. Here's a live performance from when he was still with the Wallflowers:

3) Rob Zombie of White Zombie -- this dude and his band have a lot heavier sound than some of you may appreciate. But his voice is undeniably gravelly. Here's another audio-only clip for you (the images are from some unrelated movie, and that's good, because you don't want to see what Rob Zombie actually looks like):

Category 2 -- Smooth/Gravel contrast, all in one voice

1) Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters -- what an amazing talent this guy is. Formerly the drummer for Nirvana, and for all we knew he was just a drummer. Then after Kurt Cobain's death, Dave went into the studio and started writing and recording great songs, playing all the instruments himself. And yes, he sings too. Not bad for a drummer. Here's their latest hit -- the first two minutes are pure smoothness and then the intensity begins:

2) Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, Audioslave and solo work -- probably my favorite rock voice of all time. He can sing with a sweet, beautiful tenor when he wants to. And he can wail like a banshee when he wants to. He often does both in the same song. Here's a live studio performance of one of his old Soundgarden songs:

3) Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace -- not quite as gutteral and strong as most the other guys I've posted here, but his voice has a kinda breathy and smoky quality that is fun for me to listen to. Here's another audio-only clip for you. Seriously. I don't know what the heck the visual part is about, but this is what we get when record labels protect their real music videos so closely.

Hope you enjoyed! And if not, just hang around as my next list is my favorite DVD viewings from 2008.


Mike said...

Those are all good choices- Glad I watched because I really want to see Unrelated Movie!

t.k.foster said...

Rob Zombie is an excellent choice as is Dave Grohl. Loved your choices.

Tit for Tat said...

Damn.........How could you not have Sebastien Bach from Skid that guy has Pipes!

Redlefty said...

TFT, I do like Sebastian Bach, but for me he's in the same category as Jeff Keith from Tesla -- kinda scratchy, great vocalist, but not my favorites because they're sorta... androgynous?

Ha, but that's why it's my favorite list! I'd love to see yours, so do it and feel free to put Sebastian right on top! :)

hard.rox said...

Spot on with Grohl & Cornell. I just wonder how Dave's voice will hold up after another 10 years of that intensity.

Rowan loves FF's The Pretender.

Tit for Tat said...


I get what you mean about Bach and Tesla.......Ok the lead singer for Shinedown would fit your mold, and check this one from stone sour

Redlefty said...

Excellent call -- Stone Sour/Corey Taylor/Slipknot would've been #4 on my list.

Also on my "just missed" list:

Linkin Park

Until I think of more!

Don said...

Michael- I'm too old to comment on the voices. Fraid I'm still into Johnny Mathis! However, I noticed that book on your nightstand.... What do you think so far??

Redlefty said...

Don, I just finished it two nights ago and this very second am updating the "nightstand" tab with a new book.

It was incredible. I was very challenged by it, and somewhat frustrated that I didn't write it first! :)

His closing chapter or two on the possible nature of the universe was new to me -- I had never read that specific takeaway from current theories of physics. Fascinating to ponder.

I will be working on applying some aspects of the book over the next several weeks. It's not a "read it and move on" piece of work, for sure.

MamaRose said...

How VERY COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!! It'll take me some time to HEAR them all--I'll play them when I'm in the kitchen doing 'stuff'!!!!!!!!!!!!

DAD LOVED IT, by the way--don't know IF he wrote you back or not--he NEVER 'comments' HERE--BOO!!!!!
We'd ALL LOVE to hear what HE has to say!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THANKS for the time it took to 'do' this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LOVE YOU BUNCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Roland said...

These all blow. You suck. What about Brit Daniels from Spoon?

Anonymous said...

The Foo Fighters guy's voice is my favourite. Then the guy from Nickelback. Then the 3 Days Grace guy's voice. I was really interested to read that the bloke who sings about Cinderella is Bob Dylan's son! Didn't know that.
Thanks too for answering my question about your idea of Mission. And yes one day I would LOVE to read a post about it.
But in the meantime I look forward to your post on your favourite 2008 DVD's!

Bob Barbanes said...

Interesting list and choices, Michael. know I can't resist my comments.

While I'm in general agreement with you, I make a distinction between true gravely-voiced singers and those singers who alternate between singing and screeching, a la the Bennington/Shinoda combination in Linkin Park. Screaming does not necessarily mean "gravely."

Which is where Dave Grohl fits in. Not that I don't admire the hell out of him, but he really doesn't have a gravely voice, does he?

Same with Chris Cornell. He has a wonderful voice - he just screamed way too much in Soundgarden. But I loved just about everything he did in the late, lamented Audioslave.

Even when they were screamin', both Dave and Chris sound smoooooth. To me. To *me* I said! So we kinda disagree there.

Now, that Chad Kroeger, I agree with you completely! He is one of my favorite singers lately. Love his voice. And yes, gravely, he. I wish Nickelback many years of rockstar success. Oh yeah, love the new CD, "Dark Horse" (although, in a nod to G. Harrison I wish they would've called it "Dark Hoarse"

Interesting hearing Jakob Dylan live. Without the studio processing, he sounds a LOT like his father, the master of gravely-voice rock songs.

And can we even speak of gravely-voiced singers without mentioning Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen? I know, I know, we're veering off here, and those two are not exactly the same genre as the "scream-rock" guys, but still, man! And don't we even get to mention James Hetfield?

Interesting, fun post!

Bob Barbanes said...

Uh-oh, did I just make reference to a bunch of seriously-ill singers? I probably should have typed "gravelly" instead of gravely.


Tit for Tat said...

How could we forget Bon scott and Brian johnson

Don said...

Had a feeling you would like Braden. I have a number of audio CD's of some of his shorter works and speeches at seminars. I haven't been disappointed by any of them.

Don said...

Had a feeling you would like Braden. I have a number of audio CD's of some of his shorter works and speeches at seminars. I haven't been disappointed by any of them.

Don said...

Sorry about the duplicates.

John Shore said...

What an awesome blog post. this is a classic.

Anonymous said...

Paul Westerberg of The Replacements was my favorite gravelly voiced rocker from the 80's.

Today, you can't get more gravelly than Ben Nichols of Lucero:

Anonymous said...

Joe Cocker anyone... Is there a more gravelly voice?