The weather is taking a turn for the cold, but the sweatshirt weather is always preferable to hot and humid nonsense. These are some songs that have been in recent rotation in my library.
“The Zookeeper’s Boy” by Mew
The majority of my collection has a source in the UK or North America. Mew is one of those outlier bands, calling Denmark home. What makes this song so catchy is the crazy vocal work. Jonas Bjerre manages to hit stratospheric notes that are perfectly suited for the spacey sound established by the band. Mew really hits it home well with contrast here. After a seemingly hard-edged start, dreamy sonic structures and soaring vocals enter. The juxtaposition of wild guitars and piano is stunning and very much worth the time.
“NYC” by Interpol
Turn on the Bright Lights is a very dark, seductive album. Stunning bass and powerful rhythm drive slinky guitars and the very monotonic Paul Banks. Interpol does everything right within this framework, crafting an absolutely solid debut, full of memorable moments and wonderful songs. “NYC” is slightly depressing, slow tempo piece that has Banks making the early claim that “I’m sick of spending these lonely nights/Training myself not to care.” But then the heart-wrenching chorus pulls through – “New York Cares.” The layers of sound make for a unique first listen a very rewarding hundredth. It’s best to listen to this with a good bass system, though.
“I’ll Believe in Anything” by Wolf Parade
Some songs simply must be experienced to be fully understood. This, the greatest song of 2005, is perhaps the most powerful piece of emotional music released this decade. Both the desperate vocals and the wall-of-sound guitars combine to call forth intense listener reactions. But the pure aural interaction isn’t the only amazing thing about “I’ll Believe in Anything.” After gaining even a slight understanding of the lyrics, it’s immediately evident how pathetic, how pining, how goddamn human the band is. It’s hard to articulate the precise feeling of chills down your spine as goose-bumps rise on the skin. Wolf Parade gives you a ride to be remembered.
“Take Five” by Dave Brubeck Quartet
I’m not sure what it takes to be “cool.” There might be some appearance factor, or maybe a way of acting. But with “Take Five,” you can find out how to sound cool. The irregular time signature (5/4) serves to set this piece apart, instantly sounding different from any other jazz track. From there, the band proceeds to lay down sounds that exude confidence and innovation. Literally, the saxophone sounds badass (thank you Paul Desmond). Even with a crazy drum solo (not always a good thing in music) the song keeps a distinct style, remaining excellent throughout. This is a jazz song that manages to be in my playlists for most every occasion. It’s good on the road, just chilling in a room, or for background noise during thermodynamics homework. Reaching back from 1959, this is a piece that should be in every collection.