When people ask me what sort of music I like, once I get past the lame joke of saying "yes", I usually say trip hop before anything else. Maybe it just matches what my mood happens to be most often, or perhaps I missed my true calling and should have been a stoner, but as a genre its most often at the top of my list. Which is incredibly frustrating at times. The number of what I would consider good trip hop groups is actually very small, despite the genre being pretty big. The problem comes from there being essentially two different sounds that can be considered trip hop, and one of them I really can't stand. There is also of course the required amount of just horrible bands in any genre. Technically any guy with a drum machine can call his girlfriend over to sing a few songs, and you have a trip hop group. So every few months I try to weed through all of this nonsense to try and find the decent bits, which I am now sharing with you so that you don't have to. I should say right now that years of gothyness have warped my sensibilities, so you won't find me saying shit about Thievery Corporation. Now you know my bias, proceed accordingly.
Tricky, Massive Attack, Portishead - They're the reason you have read this far. They're the ones who pretty much defined the style. Not much for me to say about them, aside from watch out for the later Tricky albums. Stick with the first few.
Muggs - Formerly of Cypress Hill, had his name attached to a Tricky album despite doing almost nothing on it, he came out with a solo album called "Dust" a few years ago. Worth checking out, if nothing else for the song that Everlast sings on, because Everlast will always manage to sound badass.
Haloblack - One of the main reasons I'm so pissed that mp3.com went away. Haloblack sounds like the sort of thing they listen to in the after hours bars of the Silent Hill dimension. Two albums to watch for, Funkyhell and Throb, Throb being the better of the two.
Ruby - I loves me some Ruby. For those not in the know, Ruby is made up of two former Pigface members, if thats the right word. How about they used to be in Pigface, and now they do their own thing. Super sexy and chill, while managing to be angry and industrial at the same time. First album is called "Salt Peter", my personal favorite. You probably heard a song called Paraffin on the radio in the mid 90s. That was them, and I think the worst song on the album. So much good to check out.
Terranova - German band that follows the standard trip hop pattern. Great album called "Close the Door". filled with all sort of trip hoppy goodness. Then their next album came around, and it turns out that they reinvented themselves to "embrace a smoother, more electronic sound", which of course sounds like everything else you've heard. One thing I will say for them is that I found out that my favorite Tricky song is actually a Terranova song that Tricky just plays the mumbletron on.
Collide - This group is more firmly in the gothic camp than the other bands here, but don't hold it against them. Not only do they do a cover of "White Rabbit" that I don't hate, they cover "The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum" by Fun Boy Three. Look for an album called Chasing The Ghost, and a remix album called Vortex, or possibly Xetrov, or both.
Lovage - The exception to the rule. Slow cheesy ass love songs over mellow beats. Sung by Mike Patton and Jennifer Charles, music by Nathaniel Merriwether, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala. This is exactly the sort of shit that I should really hate, but I just can't.
ok thats all. hope it helps.