The List: The best band for each month

Joel Oliphint
Photo of Earth, Wind & Fire by Randee St. Nicholas

Portland, Oregon-based folk-rock act the Decemberists will stop by Express Live on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The band's name inspired us to find the best musical act for each month of the year. So here ya go.


I've always been partial toDeath Cab for Cutie song “The New Year” from 2003 albumTransatlanticism, more so for its January 1st sentiment than its melody: “So this is the new year, and I don't feel any different.”


In Ohio, February is synonymous with the shoe-soaking, gray-brown slush kicked to the sides of the road by salt-stained cars. A band with more than a hint of sunshine is blasphemous in such an environment.Radiohead it is.


March is cruel. It's supposed to be spring, but sometimes you get a blizzard. So instead let's celebrate basketball withFuture's “March Madness.”


Let's go back in time to April 1, 2008 — an era whenSun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek, before he was an internet troll picking fights like a schoolyard bully, was an immensely talented, sad-sack songwriter who could play some open chords for nine minutes and never sound uninspired. On that day, Sun Kil Moon releasedApril, Kozelek's second-best album (Ghosts of the Great Highway forever and ever amen) and a great early spring soundtrack.


Local musicianTodd May is one of the most overlooked songwriters in the city. You probably know him as the guitarist for Lydia Loveless, but go find 1995 albumShifty's Tavern by the band he used to front, the Lilybandits. Then seek out May's 2013 solo release,Rickenbacker Girls, and his material in bands like the Mooncussers and Fort Shame.


It's the month during which you can consistently drive with the windows down, day or night, music blasting. It's a goodChance the Rapper month.


It's America's birthday month, and one of the songwriters most accurately and poignantly reflecting life in modern-day America is Two Cow Garage'sMicah Schnabel (see 2017 albumYour New Norman Rockwell).


I still ride forCounting Crows'August and Everything After (even though the Lilybandits were better).


In a normal year, i.e. one in which school isn't canceled because of the heat, September is a welcome switch from scorching days to cooler temps, which is a perfect time to cue upEarth, Wind & Fire'scelebration of the fall equinox, “September” (a far better choice than Green Day's “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” a terrible song with a title better suited for February).


It's World Series time, and Philadelphia native Reggie Jackson was nicknamed “Mr. October,” so I'm going with Philly emo-rock actModern Baseball.


Guns N' Roses, of course. (Cut to a bow-tied Axl Rose kneeling over a grave in the cold November rain.)


The Decemberists inspired this list, but I need something more seasonally inspired for the month that contains all the best things about winter. Because of his box sets of Christmas songs,Sufjan Stevens is in constant rotation around my house in December, with tradition-steeped classics (“Silent Night,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”) and goofy originals (“Come on! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance,” “That was the Worst Christmas Ever!”).