10 Songs to Wean You Off Radio Music

1. TV on The Radio: Wolf Like Me

 Wolf Like Me begins with a gentle optimistic beat, like that of a typical hard rock song, but soon you are taken away into almost uncomfortable heights, both of the tone and of the mood. It's filled to the brim with atmopshere, it wants to make you feel something, even if that's just some abstract sense of despair.
"Brooklynites' third full-length and major label debut is dense, kaleidoscopic, and challenging, both the band's finest record and a highlight of 2006." - Pitchfork
 But this sense of despair isn't here from the beginning from the song. Song begins with a short tingle and an almost optimistic drum beat. However transition into the darker half is done so masterfully its impossible to notice and looking back, when you listen to the song for the third or the fourth time you notice the first signs of forthcoming mood already entwined with the very first notes.

2. The Decemberists: Mariner's Revenge Song

By Sage Ross - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Mariner is the best example of the Decemberists' delicate handling of sharp contrast between the topic and the mood of the song. The lyrics describe to you an utmost tragedy in vein of Pinocchio and Moby Dick, majority of which happens inside whale's belly. All of this is accompanied by a cherfull melody of accordion, which reminds you more of an old seaside tavern than of the grave tale of revenge.
"Upright bass, steel guitar, accordion, and piano all weave their way into their sound, and that versatility is something they rely heavily on." - Punknews
This contrast isn't jaring however, even though it is explicit. You don't even notice it until you pay it some attention and this noticing gives many depths to this song.

 3. The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1

Now this is a genuiely cheerful song, filled with hope. It's also quite actual, not due to inevitable robotic apocalypse (which, lets face it, is impossible at best/worst), but due to panicky anticipation of it, which isn't going to bear any fruit.
 "Yoshimi is a delightful iridescent bomb of buoyant electronics, imaginary Japanese anim√© and plaintive vocal surrender." - Rolling Stone
But even if next few years prove me wrong and evil robots start waging war against us, some Yoshimi will probably rise up to the task (sadly quite possibly leading to atomic winter).

4. Lo Tom: Covered Wagon

 Wagon is in the end a song about a failed relationship and of a loss of freedom, but unlike most of song of its ilk it manages to stay cheerful, jaringly breaking the narative with occasional archaic thee.
 "A loveless couple sits in a hotel room with champagne and a joint, wondering where everything went wrong but unwilling to say a word to each other." - Pitchfork
Even though the music is good it's topped in greatness by the minimalistic and visibly artifical album cover, cuteness of which luckily doesn't wander too far into the uncanny valley.

5. Dillon: Thirteen Thirtyfive 

 Quite like the Decemberists' Mariner this song is based on a contrast between mood and topic, the first espoused by finger snaps, the second being a tale of a paedophillia (or miscarriage, depends on whom you ask) slowly descending into madness.
"The implicit moody balladry in a song like Thirteen Thirty-Five is balanced by how the feeling of finger snaps gives a warm, fuzzy kick," - AllMusic
Narrative is occasionally broken in almost post-modernist fashion by a line or two, for example with "you turn my legs into spaghetti", which forces you to see that this narrative is still art, that it's still artifical.

6. John Frusciante: Wayne

By Edimilson Neto, CC BY 2.0
Imagine a 10 minutes long guitar solo, which without words captures an entire symphony of feelings. This is Frusciante's Wayne, a loving tribute to a friend.
"John Frusciante has released a lengthy, darkly emotional rumination, written for a friend that went back to the guitarist’s days in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Wayne Forman, tragically, died before he could hear this tribute." - Something Else!
Give it a listen if you ever believed that you need words to express emotions, or even if you believed that words are better for this porpuse than just notes, connected together in deep insightful sequnces, entwined into a complex net of a life-long affection, coloured by a melancholic anticipation of loss.

7. Neutral Milk Hotel: In The Aeroplane over the sea

 This NMH's song can best be described by just two words: carpe diem, live in the moment, for the moment before you didn't have what you have now, and in the next one you will already lose it.
"In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is a personal album but not in the way you expect. It's not biography. It's a record of images, associations, and threads; no single word describes it so well as the beautiful and overused 'kaleidoscope.'" - Pitchfork
It isn't pure carpe diem however, for it is a bit retrospective, cherishing the previous moment, which was and reliving it.

8. Mogwai: Take Me Somewhere Nice 

Another overused word is "atmospheric", but this song can't be described by any other word.
 "it can be magical, the mood is set with the first few notes then sent off in different directions without ever telling you that its doing so." - Sputnikmusic
It's overaching feel is the one you feel when you are doubting the reality of your memories, when you are imagining them as false. It's a deeply melancholic feel, yet sweet, for when all your memories are (imagined as) false anything is possible.

9. Alvvays: Archie Marry Me

By Paul Hudson, CC BY 2.0
Magical, just magical is probably enough to describe this song.
"Such quarterlife-crisis concerns—the bane a generation that, as one song puts it, feels like it’s “too late to go out, too young to stay in”—are natural preoccupations for a band of twentysomethings that is the very product of upheaval and a clean-slate reset. " - Pitchfork
Alvvays truly knows how to capture the deeply contrasting nature of our generation(s).

10.  Gogol Bordello: Undestructable 

Gogol Bordello is a very specific band, as in you will either love them or hate them. It's an attempt to bring Roma, Slavic and Eastern-european musical traditions into (USA) mainstream, merging them with rock and punk for this purpuse. The resulting combination is certainly some of the most interesting and fresh music that you can hear today.
"In many ways, the fact that they ooze the same kind of stinky, trash-soaked, Greek-pizza-joint-coffee-tastin, Canal Street-on-a-high-summer-afternoon aroma through just a band in a room is even more amazing than the cut-and-paste J.U.F. record. (If not quite as thrilling.) Gogol don't play funk, but they sure are funky. And no one, not even Greg Norton, has a better mustache in rock than Hutz." - Pitchfork


Popular posts from this blog

Lal & Mike Waterson: Bright Phoebus

The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding

Spoon: Hot Thoughts