You mentioned some bands I haven't heard of and will have to check out, man! (Split Enz, Brand X, Max Webster)
I am a pretty huge Zappa fan I have to say. Aside from 60+ albums, everything he did to fight censorship?! What an awesome, dude! Oh and totes with the Jethro Tull. I seem to remember they Won best metal album of the year at one time when Metallica was also up for the nomination. I trust they also could have won best album of several genres that year :-). Steely Dan is amazing too... I don't know if you've heard the guitar player, Scott Henderson? He is one of my favorite Jazz/Rock guitar players and he said that he loved Steely Dan because they essentially had the harmonic depth of , but wrote great "pop" songs songs. Over course, we likely think differently of what is meant by the label "pop" these days, but you probably get his point.
One pretty alien artist, you may like, or even know about already... Allan Holdsworth.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RDoE … hJbU1zbOeE
On a side note, I think it is true to say that what people refer to as "Pop" and "Avant Garde" can have great, great music. But I don't think those names really work for a genre. "Popular" doesn't seem accurate because if the Beatles came out today they would probably be called a fusion or alternative band, for having songs like "Live and Let Die" that go from orchestral-rock to reggae, etc... And Avant Garde means "new and unusual experimental ideas", which is totally appropriate as a concept, but as a genre people often fulfill certain idioms that are considered Avant Gard and contradict it. Names like Jazz, Rock, Blues, Metal, etc. all work best as names, because they have either been totally invented or been given new meaning at least. CRAY CRAY RAMBLING, sorry, haha.
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