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Five Musicians Whose Voices Are Sexier Than Their Faces
Don't judge a voice by its cover.
by Alex Heigl
Look, we're not saying everyone has to be good-looking to make it in the music industry. We're just noting that there are certain musicians who, for whatever reason, have been blessed with a voice that doesn't necessarily match up with its housing. By way of example, when first presented with an image of Tom Waits after hearing his music, you might think, "Yes. That craggy man dressed like an old-timey prospector is exactly who should be making this music." But below, we present five musicians whose appearances somewhat belie the sexiness of their music.
1. James Murphy
LCD Soundsystem's music is all swanky, cosmopolitan sheen and big, bombastic grooves. Which is why there's a brief cognitive disconnect when you're confronted with the group's mastermind, James Murphy, who looks like a Irish miner. And not in the sepia-tinted, really-toned-arms kind of way. Despite his golden voice and impeccable indie cred, Murphy's one barstool short of being a Frank McCourt character.
Listen: "Dance Yrself Clean"
2. Mayer Hawthorne
Apparently, when Mayer Hawthorne (neé Andrew Mayer Cohen) first presented his demos to his label head Chris Manak, Manak assumed he was being presented with old Motown B-sides. Manak's reaction is understandable — if somebody who looked like Hawthorne presented you with a collection of impeccably produced and soulful R&B songs, wouldn't you assume they were the work of someone else?
3. Jim James
My Morning Jacket's music is many things: sweeping, intense, and positively swooning with feeling. Frontman Jim James' voice is the perfect match for the group's expansive sound: it's warm and emotive, and he's got a great range. However, as skybound and reaching as their music is, you'd be hard-pressed to find a group who looks more like a band of itinerant dwarf warriors from Middle Earth, and James is certainly the Gloin of the group.
Jay-Z's nimble, authoritative flow bobs and weaves its way around beats like a prizefighter. But unlike say, Tupac, whose face was practically runway-ready, Jay's a little closer to the Biggies of the world, aesthetically speaking. Of course, he wound up with Beyonce, so there's hope for us all!
Listen: "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
5. Bon Iver
When For Emma, Forever Ago came out, its woodsy tale of heartbreak sounded like the work of a burly but sensitive lumberjack with a beautiful falsetto, like the Brawny paper towel guy had a baby with Joni Mitchell. When his second album came out, things became more clear: Justin Vernon is just your average schlub with a jones for Peter Gabriel and a knack for wistful melodies, and not the earthly representation of Pan, God of the Woods. Sigh.
Listen: "Re: Stacks"