Monthly Music: June 2014
I started using Spotify a short time ago. I actually had an account for a year or so, but no one properly convinced me to use it regularly. It’s nice moving away from your traditional iTunes and media players and ripping CDs, and just having the music there for free. The free version is good; if I had to point out a downside it is probably that I get too many irrelevant donut advertisements when I hate donuts.
Sometimes I can find a lot of obscure music and not a lot of well known music (I mean, how is it that there is no original version of Yvonne Elliman’s If I Can’t Have You?), but it is good for sharing music and curating playlists. Since May, I have been making a monthly playlist of songs I love within that month. In this post I’m going to be sharing a handful from my May and June playlists.
Most of my readers know that I love Brisbane band Hey Geronimo, and that my music taste is “stuff you’ve never heard of”, “almost hipster” and “the occasional metalhead”. When I share my experiences about concerts, people often wonder what kind of music the bands play. I hope that sharing these playlists opens your ears to some more music or at least gets you a glimpse of what I like (which is pretty much anything).
1. Stevie Wonder – Isn’t She Lovely
I’m on a bit of a jazz roll this month, with at least two of my workmates favouring the upbeat but versatile genre. I listened to a lot of Stevie Wonder at the beginning of this month, and this classic happens to be one of my favourites as well.
2. Don McLean – American Pie
Clocking in at eight minutes, just like the ol’ Stairway to Heaven and other eight-minute long epics, this is one of my favourite narratives in song. It’s repetitive as hell, unfortunately, but it’s also a beautiful ballad with lots of rolling emotions, and a load of fun to listen to with its range.
3. Dionne Warwick – That’s What Friends Are For
Yet another classic, this one is the first non-exam, non-classical piece of music I learned how to play on piano/keyboard. I didn’t have the full sheet music, but I learned a very simplistic version. I absolutely love this song and the dynamics of all the singers (Dionne, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight). There are so many points in it that make me smile, particularly Elton John’s vocals in the verse he sings, and the outro chorus. Beautiful.
4. Van McCoy – The Hustle
This is now a thing, thanks to Futurama and the lovable character of Philip J. Fry, and unfortunately, at work, it is all my fault that it has become a mode of cheering someone up… because I bothered to watch a little more carefully than the average person, and copy exactly how Fry was dancing. Regardless, hooray for 70s dancing stuff.
5. Kool & The Gang – Celebration
Here’s one thanks to Cookie. Every time there is something to celebrate, hands down, you’ll get a link from Cookie to this song on YouTube. You’re welcome.
Edit: Also, happy birthday Cookie for yesterday. *cue song*
6. Solange – Lovers in the Parking Lot
Ever since going to my first R’n’B concert and seeing Solange, I have been enthralled by her soulful music. I stumbled upon this one again whilst going through some of the music I listened to a few months ago. Lovers in the Parking Lot is my favourite Solange song because it shows off her sweet vocals in an emotional number.
7. Architecture in Helsinki – Dream A Little Crazy
If you only listen to one song on this list, I would go for this one. After their popular hit The Owls Go, which was featured on one of HTC’s advertisements, I have enjoyed a lot of their eclectic, dance-like pop. Seeing them at Groovin The Moo was a load of fun, they had a wicked choreographed dance to it. This song poses the question “why won’t everybody dream a little crazy?” And really, after listening to this song, why wouldn’t you?
8. British India – Summer Forgive Me
I… don’t think I’ve ever seen British India live. Or at least, I can’t remember. They played at Winterfest, where I met Tristan, but we left before they played. I know my friend Kim loves them a lot too. This song… I have heard people say the lead singer is an awful singer, and in all honesty I don’t love all of British India’s stuff, but something about this song drew me in. The angst, the power, and whining – I guess it all adds to it, making it fit in with your favourite heartbreak anthems.
9. Nat & Alex Wolff – Rules
I found out about Nat Wolff from watching The Fault in Our Stars (he plays Isaac). There is an Easter egg in the film where he wails part of Rules, a song recorded by him and his brother Alex. This ballad is really bittersweet, featuring crisp guitar strumming and subtle harmonising.
10. Divinyls – I Touch Myself
Featured in one of the Austin Powers movies, the original version of this song makes you feel part-awkward, part-amused, and part-wanting-to-sing-along. It’s obvious the song is an ode to female masturbation, and while the bridge feels a bit awkward with the slightly exaggerated “ooh, ooh” moaning, it’s really a rock classic. Writer and lead singer of Divinyls, Chrissy Amphlett, passed away from breast cancer in 2013, and her wish was to have this song as an anthem for breast cancer awareness and women’s health. This year, the I Touch Myself Project was established.
11. Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?
A true classic from Arctic Monkeys’ latest album AM. I love it, I am in love with it, never mind that a handful of the songs on the album ask questions (Do I Wanna Know?, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, R U Mine?). I had such an obsession with their other song I Wanna Be Yours, loving the line “if you like your coffee hot, let me be your coffeepot”. I mean, it’s romantic, creepy, amusing, and at the same time absolutely adorable and pretty friggin’ weird. Along with Do I Wanna Know?, Alex Turner’s crooning vocals over one-too-many-syllables-per-line, and the murky, slow rock and roll is a perfect marriage.
12. Velociraptor – Ramona
I love Velociraptor, it’s no secret. But this song is their latest and greatest. Powerful and a great rock tune, fun to sing along to, and has a nice 80s vibe.
13. Bob Evans – Sister’s Wedding Day
I have adored this song ever since I heard Bob Evans sing it live. It’s a beautiful acoustic ballad that only appeared on one of his singles, and not on any albums. It tells a beautiful yet amusing narrative of love, and the line that makes me laugh a bit is “what with the sink in my chest, you in your bridesmaid’s dress, oh God could get a bit carried away”.
14. Shortstraw – Good Morning, Sunshine
Ever since I reviewed this number for Casual Band Blogger, I’ve been in love with it. Seems innocent enough, but this South African indie rock band have made a great deal out of crooning “wooh wooh, you’re such a bitch in the morning”, complete with dazzling guitar riffs. It was a favourite I shared with some officemates, and hurrah, it’s really caught on, because yeah, we can all be bitches in the morning.
15. Broken Bells – The Mall & Misery
I love a handful of songs by Broken Bells, but this is one of my favourites. It has an interesting introduction with string instruments, ever so slightly country-inspired, while the song is packed with wondrous electric guitar. Tristan introduced me to this band, saying I would like them, and I do indeed. Broken Bells explores a variety of styles, but are generally soft pop.
16. Mayday Parade – 12 Through 15
It was totally hard to pick a Mayday Parade favourite. They are my brother Brandon’s favourite band (ever), and I finally got around to listening to them. I like a lot of their songs, but few stand out to me, and some are awfully emotional. This is one of the less emotional ones, and is one of their newest.
17. Plain White T’s – Should’ve Gone To Bed
I was an avid follower of PWTS but have not listened to them lately. This one is one of the more recent ones (you know, they did release stuff after Hey There Delilah), which is pretty upbeat with lyrics that coincide with texting someone when you’re probably drunk. The title sums it up well.
18. Fightstar – Mercury Summer
They haven’t done anything for a while but I love Fightstar. James introduced me to them a while back. This was the first song I heard by them, and is by far my favourite. It’s simply gorgeous. If you’re into post-rock, or heavier rock, you will like this. It sounds a bit like a ballad, which makes it different from Fightstar’s rougher music.
19. David Bowie – The Man Who Sold The World
Super classic. Yeah, argue with me that the Nirvana version was better… it wasn’t better, and I know I love Nirvana to the moon and back, but the songs have ultimately different styles. It’s nice to enjoy the original over Kurt Cobain’s achy scratchy voice (though I am not such a fan of the quaint percussion).
20. Toto – Africa
You should listen to the song just to hear the ridiculousness of the line “as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti”.