Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Favorite Songs Part 1

My wife recently revived her blog and gave it a makeover. See it here:

And whilst reviewing it, I saw a post she made titled "My Favorite Songs." That post was actually a poem or some other artistic musing, but it inspired me to make my own post taking that title literally. And that's what you're reading now!

I take the music I like VERY seriously. And the music I like, I REALLY like. And I take my favorites very seriously as well. I've always been very choosy; eager to pick a favorite out of any set of things. Colors, food, animals (like everyone) but also strange things, like vegetables, video games, pinball tables, cat breed, smell, element, etc. I work at a library and I decided to pick my favorite rolling book cart (it's the one named Felix). I even pick favorites of things I admittedly dislike. Like American football. It's my favorite sport, and I don't especially like sports. :P Well, my favorite sports are croquet and badminton--but I meant in terms of big watchy-crotchy sports that I never watch.

Anyway, so these favorite songs are very carefully selected and ordered, and selected for very specific purposes. Here is the list!

10: Kenya Dig It? - The Ruby Suns

Most of the songs on this list are chosen because they follow a through-composed structure--meaning they aren't just verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus. They don't repeat. This song sets the foundation of this list perfectly. It's a beautiful and arty song with lots of synth and dreamy instruments like bells and flutes. It starts out in one dimension and ends in a completely different one--giving you the feeling you've teleported from a candy-coma hallucination to a drug trip. You can listen to it by watching the video embedded here, if it's still up on YouTube at the time you're reading this. I especially like the beginning of this song with the impulsive snare pounds and the "bum bum bums" that bounce through the ear channels. And the flute solo that bridges the two distinct halves of this song is sugar for the ears. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. The Suns just came out with a new album, Christopher, so check that out if you like the synth-aspect of their music.

9: Marvee Miusov Goes to Pieces - The Color Bars

There's not much I can say about this song that isn't entirely true about Kenya Dig It? It's ambitious, it's glossy and upbeat, everything a lover of complexity and melody like me can sink his teeth into. This song has three different sections, all of which tell the fictional story about a mentally unstable guy named Marvee who considers suicide. It's a lot happier than it sounds. The final movement is an uplifting anthem for health and happiness with a little bit of a celebration of the meaningless of life. "So what if the universe is one big accident? It's beautiful, and you're a part of it." The instrumentation of this song, especially, is excellent. With flaring keyboard runs and subtle gurgling synths... but there's plenty to like for fans of rock too. Listen here, straight from the band's YouTube.

8: You Might Be Caught in Tarantella - Bryan Scary

I know, we're getting a lot more obscure as we go, and we started out pretty who-the-hell-is-that from the start. But give this song is a chance. It will blow your mind. It's manic, energetic, interesting, and completely original. It's part of a concept album about the wild west called Daffy's Elixir by the unbelievably gifted Bryan Scary. You should see this guy play piano. He's like Frank Zappa blended with Franz Liszt. Anyway, this song is a semi-supernatural story about a gent being caught in a town where time stops or moves forward super fast (I'm not entirely sure). Basically he's stuck in a house with an old woman named Miss Lotus, and she traps him there. The art for this song has her grown to the size of a mountain, reaching for the poor guy as he flees. She's also causing a lightning storm, which may be metaphorical but it is in the lyrics "She's got her fingers in the lightning." The style is start and stop with excessive chunks of music crammed together in a tiny, dizzying sonic space. The bridge of this song has an amazing western shoot em' up feel, too, that I'm sure we can all appreciate. You can listen to the song here for free here at Bryan Scary's bandcamp page:

His other albums are great too. He's done a sci-fi fantasy epic and a gothic-dark-humor album as well.

7: Mingusings - of Montreal

This is an addictive song from of Montreal's masterpiece Skeletal Lamping album. The whole LP is full of through-composed songs and schizophrenic glimpses of frontman Kevin Barnes' psychotic and melancholy mind. The first half is an electric dance jam with a delicious initial hook and wonderfully dark lyrics about Barnes debating the abandonment of everything he knows. "Wanting to fire all my friends and just start over again." I also love the line "No motion dancing. Feel like we're an impossibility." After a brief toned-down interlude the second half of the song kicks in, which is a gutsy rock-out mess I think everyone can enjoy. Give it a listen at the band's official YouTube page.

6: Blueberry Boat - The Fiery Furnaces

Close to being my favorite song of all time, but since a Fiery Furnaces song is already number one, this one gets bumped to number 6. That's how it works apparently. Now, we've talked about epic rock-opera style songs of super ambitious proportion, but this one (almost) takes the cake. It's a nine minute story about a ship captain exporting blueberries who runs into pirates on the open ocean. It's an amazing, sad and hilarious tale with unforgettable keyboard melodies that sound so perfectly like what you'd think a fruit-packed pirate ship would sound like. There are so many parts to this song that listening to it is like enjoying a whole album--and it's only one of 13 off the album of the same title, "Blueberry Boat." Give it a listen. I'm particularly fond of the loudest section after the quirky beginning with roaring organs and twinkling xylophone sounds. You feel like you've stepped into a garage band practice run by toy robots.

I hope you enjoy the list! I'll see you soon for the top five.

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