Describing your own music isn't easy. My albums each intentionally contain a variety of different genres of music. The most representative is Rock and Roll, although there are many subgenres that my music might qualify as. The most prevalent style features Acoustic instruments. Therefore, perhaps the best description of recorded Scott Cooley music is Acoustic Rock. Several other categories and classifications are listed below, each with a brief description of how my music fits.
Scott's Top Genres And Why
Singer-Songwriter - My music is based on the folk-acoustic tradition, I write & sing my own songs, I guess they are written as solo vehicles even though I play several instruments, they sometimes address topical issues, they can definitely be introspective, sensitive, romantic, and confessional, so in these ways I suppose I’m similar to the popular guys you think of in this category such as Bob Dylan, James Taylor, or Paul Simon.
Adult Alternative / Contemporary Singer-Songwriter - Not polished enough or mainstream enough for adult contemporary, hence the alternative, yet more modern than the singer-songwriter heyday era of the 70s. My songs are intended for an adult audience, too. Maybe since I write & perform original songs on my recordings and I'm not totally soft rock, these might be a good fit.
Alternative Folk / Contemporary Folk - Definitely not straight-ahead folk like Pete Seger or The Kingston trio, not focused on heavily serious subject matter or fancy finger-picking, yet somewhat more modern. Since it's not actual traditional folk songs, but rather, ones I write myself, it's not just folk, but on the other hand, I play old-timeyish songs in a way that is obviously self-taught and on modestly-priced instruments, so in that way it's old.
Folk Punk - Similar to the derivative anti-folk, my music is in some ways a fusion of folk & punk rock, with sea shanties and gypsy music thrown in for good measure, with original compositions, in the style of punk rock, but with folk instruments such as acoustic bass and accordion, so for these reasons, it is not unlike the Violent Femmes, The Pogues, Velvet Underground, or Meat Puppets II.
Lo-Fi / Indie Folk: The songs I record are done using inexpensive home recording equipment to achieve a lower fidelity aesthetic, and I am similar to artists like Jeff Buckley, Elliot Smith, or Conor Oberst in that I am a singer/songwriter in the indie rock community influenced by 60s & 70s folk, country, and indie rock, so this combined with the fact that I'm self-produced may mean I fall under these genres too.
Folk-Rock - For me, this might need to be switched - instead of playing folk music with rock instruments, I play rock music with folk instruments. Folk music with rock instrumentation, including electric guitar, is not really my thing, although being compared to the Byrds, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, and Cat Stevens is good. I use drums & percussion, and I play both rock & folkish music, so maybe this works.
Acoustic Rock - This is more of what I think of as rock songs played on acoustic instruments, a.k.a. "unplugged" like in the old MTV show, and here I'm probably most qualified.
Roots Rock - Since I tend to blend rock w/ folk, blues & country; use no synthesizers or slick production, I guess in this regard I’m sort of like artists who fit this category like John Mellencamp, Steve Earle, Wilco, Dylan, The Band, or CCR.
Garage Rock - Think of frat rock like The Troggs and The Kingsmen, combine with the basic rock of The Rolling Stones and the pre-punk of The Who and The Stooges, the simplicity of Michigan bands like Question Mark & The Mysterians, The Shondells, MC5, Grand Funk Railroad, and more recently, The White Stripes, not to mention the Black Keys, only now make it all acoustic like the folk punk of The Violent Femmes, and you’ve got a recipe of how Scott Cooley music is Garage Rock. It has that raw, amateurish, unrehearsed and naive quality, and covers subjects such as high school life and lying girls...only it’s all acoustic.
Heartland Rock - Even though my music is all acoustic, it does exemplify socially concerned roots rock from the rust belt, influenced by 60’s garage rock, with working class/blue collar themes along the lines of people like Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Bob Seger, and Tom Petty when they’re not in arena-rock mode. Plus, I’m from Michigan, which is in the Heartland I think.
Indie Rock / Alternative Rock - In the sense that I’m an independent artist with my own record label, and more alternative to mainstream rock, only all acoustic, if that makes any sense. This one is more confusing like folk-rock, and maybe leads one to think of more electric guitar-based rock that has keyboards or something, but my style here would be more like REM college rock or grunge rock like Nirvana...only acoustic.
Novelty / Comedy Rock - I guess I’ve got a few “lighthearted” songs w/ funny lyrics, but it’s more along the lines of the old folk guys who would occasionally throw in a cleverly funny tune as a crowd pleaser. I’m definitely not an intentional comedian like Adam Sandler who writes pure novelty songs, nor am I a parody guy like Jimmy Fallon or Weird Al Yankovic.
Classic Rock - I'm most influenced by what is considered classic rock like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, CCR, Neil Young, etc., so even though my music is sort of post-classic rock and certainly not classic yet, some of it might be in the same vein.
Americana - My lyrics often involve things that are very American, and because of my blend of country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll; and because my music features acoustic instruments and an unpolished sound, I probably could be compared with the likes of John Hiatt, Neil Young, and Wilco.
Acoustic Blues / Detroit Blues - I live in Michigan, and I’ve written and recorded blues songs, but they’re all acoustic and more like blues rock, and although I ain’t no John Lee Hooker, it might be somewhat related to this genre, only more of a folk blues. Also known as Country Blues, my music is acoustic guitar blues sold to a white audience, so in that way it might be somewhat like the greats of these genres such as early Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boy Williamson, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee.
Alternative Country - My songs are not very country, they're way more rock. However, I lean toward Hank Sr. old country, which is alternative to the new, highly polished stuff by dudes of today wearing cowboy hats in Nashville. So, whereas new country sounds like polished rock, and old country is just called country, the alternative might be that I’m unpolished and using no electric instruments.
Calypso / Reggae - Alright, for this genre, think of a blend of Caribbean styles with instrumental surf rock, add some Hawaiian acoustic lap steel slide, the gulf & western style of Jimmy Buffett only replace steel drums with marimba, with a pinch of Marleyesque Jamacian reggae, ska, and even modern sea shanty, only the whole thing has the acousticness and simplicity of Mento, and now you’re cookin’ up some Cooley Calypso, for lack of a better genre name.
Zydeco / Cajun, or Tejano / Norteno - So, when you’ve got acoustic music with accordion, you can do a Mexican thing or more of a Louisiana thing - that is, when not doing straight-up polka - and I’ve done both. I don’t play a bajo sexto, nor a fiddle, but I can play a mean washboard....and triangle for that matter. I'm definitely including latin percussion as well, so I've got some "world" elements while still being very American.
Jam Band / Vocal Jazz - Since I've got some songs with improvisational instrumental breaks, jazz chord progressions and percussion style, and acoustic bass, these may also apply. I try to write some songs as if they are vocal jazz standards, even though they don't come out that way when recorded. These aren't even really related to each other, but what the hey.
A List Of Some Others
The songs on my albums that I've written and recorded might fall into the following other categories:
Modern Maritime, Trop Rock, Unplugged, Rock and Roll, Pop Rock, Album-Oriented Rock, Independent, Anti-Folk, Blues Rock, Caveman, Alt-Country, Traditional, Old-Timey, Acoustic Blues, Ballad, Soft Rock, Beach Music, Blues Ballad, AcoustiCana
Scott's Personal Genre Listening Preferences
High (most): Rock, Blues
(I like a vast majority of Blues songs, and most Rock songs)
For Rock, I prefer “classic rock” of the 60s, 70s and 80s, or “hard rock” before they started calling it “heavy metal” in the 80s. I especially like “bluesy rock”, and “unplugged” acoustic rock, and “folk-rock”. I’m also a big fan of surf rock.
For Blues, generally the older it is the more I like it (Muddy Waters). I tend to like acoustic & electric equally here.
Medium (many): Folk
(I like many Folk songs)
When it comes to “folk”, I prefer the type of folk that is more on the “folk-rock” side of folk and not too serious.
Similarly, when it comes to “Americana”, I like the type that is closer to “blues, rock, and folk”, rather than the type that is closer to “country”.
I also really enjoy “mento & calypso”, which falls under this broader category sometimes, and for that matter Native American, Hawaiian & cajun/zydeco.
Low (some): Classical, Jazz, Alternative, Metal, Country, Pop, Funk, Soul
(I like some of all these)
For classical, there are pieces by Mozart, Beethoven and Vivaldi I like a lot, and would probably like many more if I explored the genre more. This is good “before bed” music, or “stress relief” music for me.
As for jazz, I love the original New Orleans brass band sound, and some traditional acoustic jazz. I also enjoy some Dave Bubek, and of course, Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis, but none of the jazz made since then, unless it’s a throwback to the old styles.
When it comes to “country”, the older the better is my general preference (Hank Sr.). Newer artists still alive who sound older and mix in jazz, folk & blues influences I also like (Willie Nelson).
Never really knew what “alternative” was exactly, but I probably like some of it.
Some “metal” since they started calling it that, which sounds more like the “hard rock” of the late 60s to late 70s is good, otherwise the glam hair metal of late 80s is crap.
Some “pop” is awesome, but most of what I hear nowdays is terrible. Loved the old “Motown” stuff and the “bubble gum” rock like the Monkees and Archies, and simple rock/pop like Jackson 5’s “ABC”, or even Hanson’s MMMBop. I even liked some BeeGees and KC & Sunshine Band when “disco” was pop. Super confusing category though.
I probably like more soul than funk, but these overlap. Aretha and James Brown were great. Not crazy about Barry White, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross or Marvin Gaye – types, but chicks love this stuff and will want to have sex with you if you tolerate it, so, you tolerate it.
Very Low (few): Hip-Hop (I like a very few of rap songs, but the ones I do like I like quite a bit)
Can’t help but like some Beastie Boys, a few by Run-DMC, and the odd gem from Tone Loc, or Bell-Biv-Devoe.
Not At All (none): Religious, Electronica (Probably a couple of each I could tolerate, but none immediately come to mind.)