The countdown is complete!!
100. Radiohead, How to Disappear Completely, Kid A
The opening line " That there, that's not me," has always struck me as a pretty funny line, but the underlying tone of the song is anything but funny. This person appears as though he's thrilled that no one notices him, but is that the case? He could potentially be faking it. Maybe the years of isolation have turned him into a person who loves not being recognized, or even acknowledged. Who could live this way though? That's why the song is so upsetting to me. In the end though, the instruments do as much for the overall dreadful, upsetting vibe as the lyrics do. Iit just seems like this person has no hold over his own life, and that might be the saddest thing of all. A haunting song that sees Radiohead at their most somber best.
99. Sade, No Ordinary Love
Sade as an entertainer has always been a resilient one, unafraid to move to a beat different from other contemporary artists, and this song specifically calls to the heartache of modern day love. It’s difficult for sure, and throughout the song you can hear her gorgeous, textured voice begging to be given the same love she consistently gives out. The beat is mid-tempo sensuous at Sade’s best, but underneath the beauty of the music lies a love that’s not given back to her in the way she deserves, and that’s what makes the song so evocatively beautiful.
98. the Avalanches, Frontier Psychiatrist, Since I Left You
One of the best bands to ever make only a single album, Austrailia’s own The Avalanches created a perfect album, but this song in particular, “Frontier Psychiatrist,” was the explosion that the band needed to get recognized. It’s thumping, and easily to dance to, even while it’s amazing and strange. That’s where the bands exemplary sampling techniques come in. The song weaves and bobs in various ways that makes it hard to form one concise feeling, but in that way it somehow makes the song even more imaginative and memorable.
97. Black Sabbath, Children of the Grave
From the second I heard this song it stayed with me. It’s easily one of the heaviest songs I’ve ever heard, and to this day you can feel the inspiration it had for many rockers growing up. Where to begin really… The drums by Bill Ward are spot on, and they ramble and thrive on in perfect anticipation of the forth coming vocals, while the vocals themselves exude a tale in which the future of the world fights valiantly to overthrow the evils in the world and allow the time in which “Love Comes Flowing Through.” “Children of the Grave,” is also an example of how Tony Iommi is god. The guitar work is effortlessly cool and moving, and as an entity, I truly believe Black Sabbath was never better than on this track. The song is landmark and well orchestrated, and rocks you to the core. There are certain songs that make you want to bounce, and “Children of the Grave” is very easily on the best examples of that element. I could listen to this thumping rocker all day and never get tired of, but I’ll let you have some too.
96. Wu Tang Clan, Triumph, Wu Tang Forever
I’m not as big of a fan as I used to be, but this is still one of the most badass songs this group of influential rappers ever created. Used as the calling card for the group's second album, this song see’s all nine of the members spitting brutally fast lyrics throughout the tracks six minutes. Everyone really brings their best here, but not surprisingly, it’s Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah who steal the show. That’s not to say the others are phoning it in, far from it fact, but those two have always been the best rappers in the Clan, and in this track they elevate the song to amazing heights
95. Animal Collective, In the Flowers, Merriweather Post Pavilion
The soft, but bubbling opening to the song portends the explosion that will soon envelop us, but initially it’s peacefully calm. On “In The Flowers,” Animal Collective pull us into the world of MPP in a subtle, easy going way, only to surprise us around the two and a half minute mark with a bomb of musical color, and key strokes that make everything in the world good for this moment only. Its one of the best opening songs ever on a record, and it lays the groundwork for the band’s most glorious collection of songs to date.
94. Pearl Jam, Given to Fly, Yield
Overwhelmingly optimistic once you get through the rough parts. It’s quite a beautiful song musically, and along with Vedder’s deep, soaring voice, it really brings you to a place where everything is right in the world. The song exemplified so much of what life is really like(Darkness, murder, power, love and optimism), that II can’t help but think that life is supposed to be experiences, and not to be ruined by pleasing other people, or how much money you have in the bank. Living is what happens when you’re busy trying to figure out what’s next.
93. Slayer, Raining Blood, Reign in Blood
There’s no better Slayer song than the masterpiece that is “Raining Blood.” The song begins with darkness, thunder, and imposing evil. Then, all hell breaks loose when the guitar begins, and before long, the whole band is running for it’s musical life to a pace that would make most bands half their age call it quits. I was fortunate enough to have seen this band quite a few times, and this is always the highlight. They’ve even been known to rain blood over the stage from time to time. What i wouldn’t give to see that. The song, even when not discussing the band directly, is mentioned as one of the best heavy metal tracks of all time. For me, it’s up there with Metallica’s “One” as one of the greatest metal tracks of the eighties, and for good reason.
92. The Cure, Burn, Crow Soundtrack
Since the first listen, I’ve been devoted to this song. The movie is still great, and the song is easily one of the highlights of this often overlooked soundtrack. At their Voodoo Music Experience performance, this band performed “Burn” for the first time ever. That is a big deal in itself, but when bands play songs that are over 10 years, going on nearly twenty years old, that is a big deal. For a fan of both the film, and the song, it was the highlight of their whole set.From the opening notes of the whistle, to the deliberate drumming, this is the perfect choice for this list. It’s not a Cure song you hear mentioned often, but it really should be. Even after probably two hundred listens throughout my life, I still love it, and if you haven’t heard it and are a fan of the band, I suggest you check it out. You’re going to love this song
91. Faith No More, Ashes to Ashes, Album of the Year
Everything About this song is simply epic. The guitars are lush, on point, and exacting in their methods, while Patton’s voice is at his low pitched, and soaring best. “Smiling with the Mouth of the Ocean” unleashes a force of emotions the band rarely hits, and while the song is a reflective song full of good bye memories and missed chances, it’s Patton’s voice that is the main selling point. Don’t get me wrong, the drums, and especially guitar(That Solo man omg) are the waves pulling Patton into the force of the track. The whole song is simply incredible, and everytime I hear it I’m reminded why I love it so much.
90. Bon Iver, Holocene, Bon Iver
The gentle guitar strums over a quiet lake, early in the morn. This is one of the best qualities Justin Vernon is able to employ in his role as Bon Iver. Many songs have this similar element and feeling to it, but “Holocene,” off his brilliant second album, stands out among his best. His passionate, soft spoken voice is able to bring all the pain and honesty through with little effort, but the song just get’s better as it progresses and more instruments show up to add layers. It’s a reminder of how much the song is beautiful thing, as also how everything has a purpose and a pace to it.
89. Nine Inch Nails, Right Where It Belongs, With Teeth
On this not amazing album, this song is easily one of the big take aways. Reznor has long closed albums with slower, more ballad worthy songs, but “Right Where it Belongs” stands up against “Hurt,” among the best of the slower tracks, and should be regarded as such. This is a song about fixing what’s broken, but also of being unsure what is going right and wrong. He also uses metaphor brilliantly here when discussing “hiding in the trees.” He wants to fix the problem, but he’s unable to fully do it because he is part of the problem.
88. Pantera, Suicide Note Pt. 1, The Great Southern Trendkill
One of the most damning personal songs in the band's catalog is also one of the most honest and poetic tracks they ever created. It’s the first, and much slower section to a two part struggle, and in all of it’s moments it’s played to great effect. Anselmo’s tired voice trying to find solace, and Darrell Abbott’s distant, wandering guitar playing only help to bring the song to a painful place, but sometimes true beauty in song can only be measured in the depth of pain they’re discussing. It’s certainly through here.
87. Jane Siberry, It Can’t Rain All the Time, Crow Soundtrack
One of my favorite movies of all time, “The Crow” is made that much better by it’s unreal soundtrack. This song, still the only song I’ve ever heard by Siberry, isn’t only the backbone of the movie, but it’s the lovely reminder that love never dies. Her voice, even after all these years still has a way of bringing peace of mind to me, and that when you know a song is an important one. There’s no way to judge how many times I’ve listened to this wonderful song, but it never lost its potency and because of that, it takes a spot on this list.
86. Dr. Dre, Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ THang, the Chronic
These two men, Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, double handedly changed the landscape of rap music forever. This song is fucking perfect. The verses provided by Snoop, paired with the beat that makes you want to continually have your hands in the air, make it utterly memorable. There’s simply not enough good things to say about this song. Songs like this are the reason Dr. Dre gets a pass on making another album even slightly quickly. If the new music is even half as good as this, all these new rappers are gonna have to bow down.
85. The Rolling Stones, Under My Thumb
It’s funky song no doubt, and a reminder of just how great this band is. I mean seriously, they’re the fucking Stones man. They have tons of amazing songs, but for my money there are few that stand up to “Under My Thumb.” The melody in the song has this jingle quality you don’t hear often in today’s popular music choices, but maybe that’s a good thing. The Rolling Stones are on the Mount Rushmore of Rock n Roll, and it’s because of the effort they put into their music, but also the incalculable influence they had on decades worth of aspiring musicians.
84. Beyonce, Single Ladies,
I attempt to not be completely in love with Queen Bee, but when songs as amazing as this show up in the world, it’s damn hard. The bounce to the song is excellent, and she’s able to take a singular feeling of rejection and make it into a very well known power song. That’s true strength. Also, when you’re able to turn a slap in the face into a victory lap of independence and importance, it’s cool. Few artists are able to pull that off, but Beyonce is able to do it here with ease. She’s the Queen for a reason, some of which has to do with this song, but also with the easy as hell to watch music video.
83. Refused, New Noise, The Shape of Punk to Come
The placement of this song is an interesting choice for sure, but hey it happens. To put it mildly, this song, and then the full album, changed how I saw music. The blistering guitar opening, coupled with the brief electronic segway, make for an instantly recognizable song that sets the body into a state of frenetic energy that is hard to back away from. The Refused main one of the most important underground bands of the 90’s and on tracks like “New Noise,” from the untouchable “The Shape of Punk to Come,” they prove why they still remain so important.
82. Lana Del Rey, Summertime Sadness, Born to Die
The song starts with a picture that paints itself on a beach, at dusk, as our heroine is breathing uneasily as her love abandones her. The music is driven and plays an important tode to the Sadness in the song, but obviously, the star of the show is Del Rey, who wanders the coast of loneliness and tragedy in a thinly veiled representation of what it means to be cool in a careless, not interested way. Does she want to be cool, or is being miserable simply in this season? It’s hard to say, but the song is great, and overcomes these major obstacles.
81. Queens of the Stone Age, Little Sister, Lullabies to Paralyze
Such a great song, that I never knew what is was exactly about until years later. Apparently it’s about incest, and I guess that’s cool. I now imagine this song is from the point of view of Jaime Lannister towards his sister Cersei, but that’s likely not true. Either way though, the swagger, musicianship, and overall in your face playing make this song memorable, and of course, that performance on SNL with Will Ferrell and the cowbells only helps to make it even more enjoyable.
80. Arcade Fire, My Body is a Cage, Neon Bible
Win's voice comes out, and the sadness is not only palpable, but it's as if his life depends getting these emotions out. The whole theme of the album really comes into extremely clear view here too. The choral atmosphere, along with the chamber music and organ makes the song thick. The explosion following this is also a big jolt. This song is ripe for use, and to my knowledge, it's been used perfectly twice in regards to other mediums. First, the trailer for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” but more importantly, there's a video of this song being used to compliment the film “Once Upon a Time in the West.” I've still never seen the film, but this combination of music and film is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life. It perfectly draws the tension out, and the symbolism in the song, not to mention the dark tone of the film. The key to the power of the song though, is Butler's unique and simply amazing voice, and in the fleeting moments of “Neon Bible,” it's those things that really make the journey of the album worthwhile.
79. R.E.M., Losing My Religion, Out of Time
One of my earliest memories of MTV was the year this amazing act won Video of the Year. It may not mean much these days, but once upon a time that station cared about showcasing newer, more eclectic music. R.E.M., without a doubt, deserved the recognition. This song boils with religious and emotional undertones throughout, but in that narrative it finds not only it's humanity but it’s wholehearted emotion. Stipe’s voice when he belts the chorus is nothing if not wanting. There’s a reason this band was an influence of Radiohead. They had the thought and musicianship to pull off a truly revolutionary song.
78. The Beatles, Eleanor Rigby,
The song is the best example of storytelling they ever did. The listener often wonders if the main character is a sympathetic person or not. I still can't decide, even after twenty years of listening. It's an incredibly sad song, but the tale is worth telling. The thought of being “being buried along with her name” resonates with everyone. I often wonder what It would be like to be the only person at a funeral, and obviously it's very dark and dreary. Having said that, it's one of my favorite songs, even if the thought of dying alone is at the core of the song.
77. At the Drive In, Invalid Litter Dept. Relationship of Command
While not a big hit at the time, from the moment I heard this song from the El Paso’s legendary At the Drive In, I knew this was a huge moment for the band. The guitar usage is textured to absurd yet perfect standards, and Omar’s vocals as they vocally scribble themes across the musical landscape capture what the band is truly best at. Let’s also not forget the epic as all fuck break down nearing the finish. It’s remarkable to say the least, and it proves a band can be at it’s best even when they shouldn’t quit.
76. Stone Temple Pilots, Interstate Love Song, Purple
For better or worse, this seminal post grunge act has largely been forgotten, but what's the worse thing about it is the fact that they made some incredible music. Between the musicianship of the DeLeo’s and Weiland's vocals, this song especially was a wonderful addition to modern 90’s rock. It’s a story best told on the Interstate, with the wind in your hair, and thoughts of mistakes long since drifted away. In the end though, that makes the song so great. It’s a band rocking to what it knows best, and not caring about what they don’t know.
75. Bon Iver, Skinny Love, For Emma, Forever Ago
The lonely guitar strumming a despondent cord, this song is one that captures pain in a naked, unmistakable way. Vernon’s voice shows signs of remorse, and of not having the patience. He’s begging a person for someone who can’t help anymore. The metaphor of “I’ll be Holding all the tickets and you’ll holding all the finds” is brilliant. He’s giving his all to the subject matter, but she’s not giving anything in return. This song is off of an album full of real world truths about the complexities of a relationship, but it’s still one of the prettiest tracks I’ve ever heard.
74. The National, Terrible Love, High Violet
The first song off of the album, and it sets the pace for the rest of the record. It’s just a bad ass song that opens with a flourish of singing by Berninger and color brought to you by the remaining band members. It’s lush, and poignant, and has a lot of emotional weight to it. I have little idea of what it’s actually about, but this is truly a song that just stays with you, and in my case, there’s no other song by this band that resonates so much in my soul. The last rambles by Berninger of “ It takes an ocean not to break” showcase a strong person who is trying very, very hard to stay afloat in a world where it’s hard to understand. But in the end, that’s why it’s so important to stay positive. You can’t let it get you down, or you’re a goner.
73. Mastodon, Blood and Thunder, Leviathan
Among the benchmarks in this bands career, “Leviathan” is certainly high up there, but his song is a huge piece to the puzzle. The entirety of the record is brilliantly heavy, but “Blood and Thunder” is the pinnacle of the record. The way Troy Sanders bellows the title, not to mention the soaring quality of the overall track really make it fit into the fury of the Moby Dick inspired world, and while you would never want to be in the world for real, you feel completely at peace with the violence of a massive whale and the ocean as you rock out to this classic track.
72. The Cure, Fascination Street. Disintegration
So many of their songs have a storytelling quality without actually telling a story, and this is the song that best exemplifies that. I imagine a smoky street, slight rain coming down. Picture Times Square in the 80’s, at the heart and center of its seediness and shadowy underbelly. On “Fascination Street,” things are always interesting, but never reach good times. The bass parts through the song are very important to the overall cautiousness of the song. You can also sense the desperation in Smith’s vocals, and it really ties the song together. What I like most about the song is its ability to keep going through wall after wall of pure sound, adding and subtracting layers as the machine sees fit.
71. Modest Mouse. Float On, Good News for People who like Bad News
This song, easily the biggest number by the band, lands here. It’s always been a masterful song, and even though it sometimes makes little sense lyrically, it’s the jolliness of the instrumentation that truly make the song a happy go lucky song worth enjoying. While the band was a decently known band before this record and song, it’s “Float On” that gave them a much deserved bigger audience. One of the best things about the success of this song is the fact that Modest Mouse got the recognition they deserved while not changing their approach to music.
70. Nirvana, Drain You, From the Muddy Banks of the Whiskah
While this song really is great on “Nevermind,” for some reason the live version has always hit me in a much more profound way. Perhaps it’s picturing the song in a live setting, or maybe it’s something about the unbridled passion the band seems to be delivering. Everything presented on the track pummels into submission, but it’s the drums by Grohl and Cobain’s screeching and howling voice that make the song so potent. Let’s also not neglect to mention the buildup and eventual onslaught that takes us over the bridge into the climactic explosion of this unbelievable track.
69. Staind, For You, Break the Cycle
Laugh all you want, but this goddamn song right here really helped me through my early twenties, and this band as a whole was instrumental in me learning a lot about myself. Out of the ashes of Nu Metal, Staind was a band that not only discussed turmoil and disillusionment, but they also tackled actual life issues outside of being angry at your parents for no reason whatsoever. Aaron Lewis’ voice is still one of the more unique in rock music, and the power of the track is unavoidable. There’s a reason this band was so big for a little bit. They fit in well to the times, and they were able to give the by then tired scene a little extra strength.
68. The White Stripes, We’re going to Be Friends, White Blood Cells
One of the coolest images from any White Stripes video is the entirety of this video. Jack softly playing guitar and regaling us with the memorable days of school as an adolescent, while Meg peacefully sleeps on the couch next to him. Beyond that though, the song is simple and beautiful in the way many of their songs tend to be, but there’s a gorgeous naivety to it that profoundly displays what it’s like in the simpler years of your life where the only thing you want to do is explore the world with your new favorite person in the world, who you just happened to meet that same day.
67. Interpol, NYC, Turn on the Bright Lights
If “Turn on the Bright Lights” is the anthem for late night wandering in a big city, then undoubtedly “NYC,” the third track on the record, is the single flickering light as you find new parts of the city you’ve never witnessed before. It’s hauntingly cold, and the echo effects that the band uses to make Banks’ voice seem distant only add to the ambience of the entire track. The line “I know you’ve supported me for a long time, but somehow I’m not impressed,” is a line that makes me think of the selfishness of people, but even more the sleeping cities that people occupy at night. There’s so much to witness and experience, and sometimes you need to do it in the dark. If you do, find yourself a bike, and witness the city you live in at two a.m. through the eyes of this masterful track.
66. TV on the Radio, Wolf Like Me, Return to Cookie Mountain
Probably one of the best uses of a song I've ever seen in a tv show was during the firehouse drama “Rescue Me” where the episode closed with Denis Leary's character sprinting down the street with this song noisily breaking barriers behind him. Beyond the usage in the show, it's an incredible song. For a band who does slower, more textured songs, this track is urgent, angry, and even more textured than the vast majority of their other works. It's a selection full of dancing motives, and the lyrics are some of the most concise to date. It's not as subtle and metaphorical as other tracks, but here it really works. The song at once seems to be very much about transforming into a beast, and in a sense it is. The beast though is probably not a werewolf though. I think the beast in question is humanity's need to feed on the less capable, and how it's shaping our world to be a ruthless ugly place. Hopefully it's not too late, we can stop ourselves from “Howling Forever.”
65. Faith No More, Midlife Crisis, Angel Dust
“Midlife Crisis” takes our heart with a track that exemplifies all of the versatility in one fail swoop. The opening drums are reminiscent of bongo’s, and Patton’s early husky whispers soon give way to the normal soaring nature of singing he provides so well. This song wasn’t a huge hit when released, but for the life of me I can’t figure it out. It’s a driving nature and the momentum it builds throughout is better than most everything that was on the radio at the time, and although the keyboard, sample section of the track might have turned some casual fans away, it’s that that made me realize not only the intelligence of the song itself but also of the band. Although I haven’t had a “Midlife Crisis” yet, I hope that it goes down as easy as this song fills me ears and my heart. Seriously, if you haven’t heard this song, stop what you’re doing and find it.
64. The Killers, All These Things That I’ve Done, Hot Fuss
Any of the well known songs off this record had a very good chance to end up on this massive list, but it’s the crooning, soaring “All These Things That I’ve Done” that ended up here. Brandon Flowers basically makes the song his from the opening, and what he’s able to do with the piano and his soft, remorseful voice speaks to the power of the band, even if people don’t really think they’re that important. Most of the record is super hip and catchy, but this is heartfelt in the best, most pure way possible.
63. Kanye West, Can’t Tell Me Nothing, Graduation
“Wait til I get my money right” is the absolute perfect opening to the song, and within seconds you find yourself bending your knees with hands in the hair swaying to the beats. This song is a clear portrayal, I think, of how West sees himself in everyday life. He completely recognizes how the public sees him, and he's aware of his transgression in the very public eye, but you get the impression that for one, he doesn't give a fuck, but also that his mind is so set on the finished product of his music, that anything else is of little importance. The female “oh oh oh” highlighted through the song is likewise a great little added moment in the song that brings out the brilliance of this man to be albe to mix and add touches here and there that most others wouldn't think of.
62. Neutral Milk Hotel, Oh Comely, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Has there ever been a band that commands so much respect from such a initially short career? I’m not sure, but with this record, NMH was album to transcend the modern rock of the time and make an album that is still being recognized for it’s brilliance. On the eight track of the album, “Oh Comely” winds and careens through musical slopes and chilling scenery, all highlighted by the otherworldly voice and vision of the astonishing Jeff Mangum. It’s a deliberate song with an even more persistent pace, but it's wonderful to experience, especially in a live setting with thousands of other people singing the words along with you.
61. Nico, These Days
Songs used in films are meant to highlight a scene in a way no other song could for whatever particular mood they’re trying to sell, and it’s not an easy thing. However, this track’s usage in the modern classic “The Royal Tenenbaums” remains one of the best usages of music in film that I’ve ever seen. Her voice is deep and wary, but it’s an affecting song that is able to draw you in. I picture a colder but clear winter day, where the mistakes of the previous days, maybe months come through and expose themselves, and you’re left with nothing but cold facts, and the memories of what once was.
60. Muse, Map of the Problematique, Black Holes & Revelations
While Muse hasn’t made a good record since this 2006 journey, this song is still full of epic themes. Consisting of everything from brotherhood to fighting against the problems of an isolated public controlled by various governments. The drums are signature here, and they bring out an elegantly pulsating effect that heightens everything in the song. Matt Bellamy’s voice often reaches his crooning crescendo, but it really hits as the song hits full stride around the two minute part. When he belts out “Why Can’t we see when we bleed we bleed the same,” and the tension and sense of loss is palpable. It’s one of the better songs they ever crafted, and it earns it’s spot on this list.
59. The Beatles, Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight/ The End, Abbey Road
I'm well aware that there are technically more than three parts to this medley, but since these are three tracks played together the one time I've seen a Beatle live I'm using these. “Golden Slumbers” is an effective soothing song, and it's only made better with the honesty that seems ever present in McCartney's voice. It's a wonderful lullaby, and it perfectly starts the multi-tiered song. The song part, “Carry That Weight” has the momentum to move a mountain, and thematically, it does so with ease. The horns are excellent, and the rehashed lyrics add a nice touch to making this a perfect track. Yet again, seeing this live and singing along with eight thousand was profound and something I will never forget. “The End” finds us and is even more kickass than the previous song, and rockets this song to levels never before realized. The constant drum pace by Starr is balls to the walls awesome, and all in all, every member overplayed their hand to exceptionally high standards. The song has few lyrics, but they count for everything. If you aren't aware of the final lyrics of this song, search them out, because it's one of the most perfect sentences ever in music.
58. The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter
Only a few artists appear more than once on this year, and all of those are simply warranted, whether it be from my love, or the fact that their perfect songs. “Gimme Shelter” is an iconic song, and while it’s a little bit behind the midway point of our list, it’s a classic that has galvanized people for decades. The guitars by Richards are almost transcendent, and Jagger’s voice and swagger stick to every aspect of the song. You could probably walk up to anyone born in the last twenty years and they’d at least know this song by name. It’s that good. It fits with many worlds, which is why it’s so easy to love. Seen this used in the opening of “The Departed?” It even works there, like it would, because of course it does,
57. Gorillaz, Clint Eastwood, Gorillaz
This is still probably the “band's” best known song, and there’s good reason for it. When this song, and the video that accompanied it came out, it’s type hadn’t been seen in a very long time, maybe ever. The thumping of the beat, the lyrics from Albarn and Deltron, everything just works. Let’s back to the amazing video though. The animation is spooky and top notch, with a very 80’s esque tone. For some reason it always reminded me of something Michael Jackson would have done, but alas, Damon Albarn and company did it. This album, as well as the song came out of nowhere, but it launched a giant band that for many defined the alternative and weirdness of diversity in the early aughts.
56. Bjork, Bachelorette, Homogenic
This song is so amazing in every way that’s hard to pinpoint just one area where it excels in brilliance. First, the music is fits in a post apocalyptic world that sees the skies turn to ash and the slow beat bubbling over a dark world. I’ve always only ever witnessed the song in this context musically. But the lyrics do something different. While the instrumentation is dark and mischievous, the lyrics are a struggle and full of love. All throughout the track, you see examples of her and her partner, and their need for the other. “Love is a Two Way Dream” is an absolute flawless example of the shared love among partners in crime, and with gorgeous blossoming love can come heartache and difficulty. The song is full of epic imagery, and this is without a doubt her strongest track to date. The strength behind her voice is precise and you feel as though she’s not only giving it her all for the power of the song, but also for the strength of her love for her partner. It’s a remarkable song, and one that speaks to the epic scope and feeling of being in love.
55. No Doubt, Don’t Speak, Tragic Kingdom
Quite simply, this was one of the single biggest songs of the whole decade. It was inescapable, but in the best way possible. I myself had never been opened up to ska, so this was the closest I ever got. The band though, isn’t only a ska band. They slightly went the route of Blondie, in the way that they made a few different albums with opposing feelings and vibes, but if this song hadn’t been the massively known hit it became they may not have ever gotten that chance. Stefani’s emotions are much more clear and to the point than most other artists, and it’s refreshing, even today. She’s not mincing words, and she can’t because she doesn’t have time. As a listener, I feel like if she doesn’t get her feelings out to the person she’s trying to express herself to, she’ll be unable to get through her own grief. If you know the backstory, you also know the origins of this song are completely autobiographical, and that adds a whole new spin to this incredibly personal, tragic story.
54. Metallica, Master Of Puppets, Master of Puppets
Never have I seen a better usage of a song in a film than this in “Old School.” The song is super serious, but in the film it’s perfectly used for comedy. You just don’t see it coming, which is what makes the “kidnapping” sequence so hilarious. The overall song though, is more than a little fucked up, and it’s commanding you to tread lightly, and make sure not to piss off whoever your boss in life is. You don’t want them playing with your existence. They hold the strings, and they call the shots. Beyond all of that though, the middle section of the song is a lovely, well-played slower part. It’s a sandwich made of black bread, with a little bit of sunlight in the middle, and then guess what? You’re back in prison suffering at the hands of your master, and hoping for a reprieve that you’re not ever going to get.
53. Soundgarden, My Wave, Superunknown
For some reason I had forgotten that this song was actually a Soundgarden song, and that in fact, I loved it. Again, to the point of redundancy, the guitars are epic and loud, and overall, the song is just so so solid. The lyrics are defiant and deliberate in the way that some of their other tunes simply aren't. Also, the title of the song always makes me think of a horrible video of the 90's that would see Chris Cornell surfing a wave and singing at the same time. Thank god they didn't opt for that treatment. Either way, it's a full throttle song and it's built without effort from the ground up. Really a gem.
52. Nine Inch Nails, Just Like You Imagined, the Fragile
Among some of the best tracks on this great record, “Just Like You Imagined” manages to hold it’s own with a bombastic rush of heaviness and depth that any old school fan of the band is sure to love. It opens by slowly building up the whirlwind, but then the deliberate drums kick in, and you’re off on an instrumental journey few bands are able to match. It’s a testament to how well organized and focused Reznor is, and the way it combines everything from drumming to synthesizers, and even sporadic piano make it even better. It even manages to be an instrumental song while not. One lone scream comes in at the end of the song, but it hardly ruins the song. Instead, it brings everything into perfect harmony and wraps it up in a tense, tight bow of aggression.
51. Rage Against the Machine, Revolver, Evil Empire
I’ve loved this song since the very first time I heard it, and when I heard about their reunion at Coachella 2007, this was the first song I went for. It’s so jamming and rocking it’s impossible not to get into. The vocals are quieter at first, but it serves the purpose of the backing music. It perfectly builds stress in the right spots, until it’s time for a release. The release comes in the form of the amped up chorus, with chanting taking over slowly. The song gradually also gets more intense as it goes from verse to chorus, and back again. The image of fields without fences has to be one of the most beautiful and tranquil things ever in a song by this band, but before you know it, that tranquility is gone again and replaced by immediate urgency and anger.
50. Michael Jackson, Thriller, Thriller
While this song is without a doubt his best known song, the video also changed everything. Before “Thriller” hit our ears and our eyes no one knew things like this could exist, especially in video form. That's why he captured everyone’s attention so well. One could argue that the Beatles are the most important band of all time but what Jackson did almost single-handedly is staggering. Apparently as a young boy I wore out multiple tapes and records because I couldn't get enough of the whole album but this song is especially important. The song, full of haunting beats and an incredible melody, is a classic in every way it can be. All the Music world owes him a debt of gratitude, and it's very likely that we're never going to be in a world where don’t know about this perfect song. .
49. R.E.M., Orange Crush
If you think about bands that had consistently brilliant outputs for most of their careers, you’d be hard pressed to not mention R.E.M. By 1988, the band was already on their sixth album, and with the introduction of “Green,” came the first single “Orange Crush.” It’s track that stubborn in its beat, and all around the song works in a thumping, determined sort of way. Stipe’s voice is also solid here, and represents the enduring nature of the song.They continued making thought provoking,politically and socially conscious music for years and years after this, but this song stands among the best in the catalog.
48. Live, Lightning Crashes, Throwing Copper
Few songs have been as popular in the halls of 90’s rock radio as this song off their phenomenal debut album. The opening of the guitar mildly strumming about, in juxtaposition of Ed Kowalczyk’s soft crooning make the solid memorable from the initial moments, and the way the other elements of the band slowly come into focus show a depth and understanding of pacing that much of their brethren during that period simply didn’t understand. It’s almost impossible to not get swept up in the song when it builds in the way it does, and it makes belting the vocals near the conclusion even more cathartic and enjoyable.
47. Queens of the Stone Age, Fairweather Friends, ... Like Clockwork
This might be the newest song on this entire list, and if you’d heard this song, you hopefully understand why it’s on this list. When Joshua Homme, Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Elton John are all on a song, it tends to be memorable. Simply put, they all gave their best on this song, and it quickly became not only one of their most incendiary, perfect songs, it became my favorite track on the entire record, which is saying a lot since the whole album is memorable. Homme’s vocals scorch, John’s piano playing comes at you like a bar out of hell, and the remaining members help to secure the song in as brilliant of away as possible.
46. Jay-Z, 99 Problems, the Black Album
Lately I’ve been thinking i’m pretty over the whole Jay Z thing, but this song is still a classic track and one of the best rap songs of the last twenty years without a doubt. The beat is absolutely insane and pummeling in a way that many songs can’t stand up to. Carter’s lyrics are also hilariously rebellious, but the also convey the very real truth of black men, guilty or not being mistreated by various law enforcement types. Also, the “Wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight” is one of the best lines in any song ever. He may not be making music this good anymore, but “99 Problems” stands as his crowning achievement.
45. Mr. Bungle, Retrovertigo, California
This song is a triumph in many ways, but in the most obvious way, it’s a triumph of the elegant strength that is Mike Patton’s powerful voice. The song opens with a textured, simple arrangement that enable Patton’s voice to squeak out like sunshine coming through the clouds. Mr. Bungle might not be well known for lovely, powerful tracks, but on “Retrovertigo,” they really shine. All of the instrumentation here is well thought out and produced accordingly. I don’t mention this as much as I should maybe, but production quality really goes a long way in the constructive process of a song, and here Trevor Dunn(who’s also responsible for the lyrics), really knocks it out of the park.
44. Queen, We Are the Champions
Is there a more perfect band to sing along to? I can’t think of another one off the top on my head that can bring everyone together so easily, but there’s a reason why people love this band. May’s guitar shines, but the true star of the band was never anyone but Freddie Mercury. His bravado, confidence, and unbridled passion for the music and words he’s belting out make him one of the most beloved musicians of all time. I mean, think for a second how many people have raised their fists in the skies during sporting events and belted this song out after their team wins? Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions. Queen’s “We are the Champions” above all else remains the song for ultimate victory, and I doubt another song will ever be able to top it.
43. Arcade Fire, Wake Up, Funeral
One of most anthemic, triumphant songs I’ve ever heard finds us just after the midway point of the list. Everything soars here, quite simply. The guitar riff at the outset sets the pace, then the drums add a little bit of force to it, but then the real magic happens when the iconic chant occurs nearing the thirty second mark. The songs on the album speak to the truths of life, and that all things must come to an end, but I think “Wake Up” stands up as a reminder that sometimes life is dismal, but it’s the unfortunate events that truly make us a better people. It’s also a sobering look at the world we live in, and how important it is to stay positive as “our hearts get torn up.”
42. Radiohead, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, In Rainbows
The drum sets the groove, sexy tone right away, but this song isn't sexy at all. Perhaps the feel and vibe of the song are, but the lyrics are pretty fucking sad and thought provoking. Thom Yorke is one of those singers who can make you feel anything he wants when he wants. The background vocals as the music picks up get to me everytime. These dudes know how to perfectly mix a song. "Everybody leaves if they get the chance," is a punch to the stomach that struggles with the realization that life isn't always going to be good, but somehow you have to keep going, keep trying to figure out the puzzle.
41. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Y Control, Fever to Tell
This song always makes me think of a early sunshine fire in the sky, and with the brilliance of Nick’s guitar, it’s easy to witness the start to a day that might see the world engulfed in flames. That’s not to say this is an overly aggressive track, but the imagery of dawn and the pinks and purples that come to our sky has always gone hand in hand with me when thinking about the number one. The lyrics are determined and on a clear path of knowledge, but the song is only so great because of the ability of all three parts of the band to marry themselves perfectly to the others.
40. Pink Floyd, the Trial, The Wall
This one might surprise some people, but it’s always been one of my favorite of all time, standing among the band's best. What the operatic, judgmental nature the song's instrumentation is geared to isn’t completely in line with the other narrative styles prevalent on “The Wall,” but it plays to the center character, and his frail mind trying to break free, all the while being told he shouldn’t have normal human emotions. The juxtaposition of the classical vibe of “The Trial,” mixed with the over the top rock and roll moments of the record do a great job of keeping things fresh and unique, even as we stumble towards the inevitable conclusion of “The Wall” being dismantled and taken around.
39. Daft Punk, One More Time, Discovery
It’s been sampled repeatedly by lesser dj’s, and used in a variety of ways. All of these ways only help to cement DP’s legacy not only as an important band in any genre, but as purveyors of the perfect electronic beat. Even if you don’t know who Daft Punk is, you’ve heard this song. The vocals bring a level of positivity to the table in ways you can’t measure, and overall the song is a celebration of the process of life, and taking every day as it comes, and making the most of all of it, good or bad. The jingles throughout, coupled with the soft tones and energetic horns make the song one of the best dance tracks ever, and it will still be being played for years after we’re all dead and gone. We’re gonna celebrate!
38. Gorillaz, Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head, Demon Days
Certain songs aren’t even really songs, but rather lavish tales that perfectly tell a short, but detailed and polished story. Add in the narrative from the cantankerous Dennis hopper, and you have an incredible song that almost no one mentions. The plot, revolving around the “mountain called monkey,” “Happy folk,” and shadowy figures. Told in the way of a parable about the excess and debt that comes with that excess have always fascinated my mind, but it’s not just the story about the onslaught of the Monkey that fills my mind with wonder. The chill, jamaican vibe that infuses the song together is wondrous, and in that complete package, it’s able to excel.
37. Johnny Cash, Hurt, American IV: The Man Comes Around
Even Trent Reznor admitted that after hearing this song Cash had stolen the song from him, and if you hear it you can understand why. J.R.’s version is so sad, and beautiful you almost forget the nin version. Thats alright in the context too. Cash makes it his own by using a guitar and turning it into a more country version of the song, and his voice is unparalleled in the honesty and sadness it expels. To make even more of the case, the video, featuring an elderly Cash recounting his successes and failures, make the song even more of a reminder of how fucking incredible an artist Johnny Cash was, and how we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to this man for sticking to his guns and never forcing himself to do things artistically that may have not sat well with him. Rest in peace, Man in Black. Thanks for all the amazing songs.
36. Mazzy Star, Fade Into You, So Tonight That I May Sleep
Sadly, this band, which consists of Hope Sandoval, David Roback, and Kendra Smith never got the recognition they deserved, but this song is a classic among 90’s alternative rock, and for good reason. The slow burning nature of the song, which was featured in the pinnacle scene of the teen comedy “Angus,” haunts every inch of the space it finds itself confined to, and the guitar parts paint a picture of a barren western landscape where the days are slow, and things are more pure. Mazzy Star holds an intriguing spot where most people wouldn’t know the name offhand, but they likely heard this lovely song at some point, especially if they came up listening to alternative music.
35. Elton John, Tiny Dancer
Another classic kicks off today’s list. Elton John is up there with the all time greats, and for very clear reason, this song has become not only a big part of my life, but for millions of others. The song opens with his signature piano playing, while the emotion of his voice is gorgeous and innocent. The instrumental parts of the song calmly provide the background we need, but the real shine in the song is the gradual elevation of emotions that john uses. Everybody remembers the scene from “Almost Famous,” in which the disjointed band and their allies are joined once again through the power of belting the song. People love that scene because people have done exactly that, and it’s a perfect moment captured.
34. Beastie Boys, Intergalactic, Hello Nasty
For years, I never knew the opening of the song was just a robot saying “Intergalactic, Another dimension,” but when I realized I felt like an idiot. The song itself is just a masterpiece, and after being gone for so long, it was a huge relief that they came back and showed everyone that they were still in fact, awesome. That’s why it takes the number thirty-four spot on our list. I heard this song in high school, and while I had enjoyed them before, this song is the one I attribute to me discovering all forms of hip hop and rap music. It’s has so much power in it, between the mega beats and the killer vocals, this song really does have everything, and without being turned on to this, it’s difficult to say if I would have ever given rap a chance.
33. Portishead, Roads, Dummy
It's a really sad song, but it's pain is also it's beauty. The whole feel of the song is dreary, but sometimes those are the songs that can bring the most beauty. Pain, and sadness are a part of this world, and understanding that makes the happy moments worth fighting for. To this day the plot, and utter hopelessness of the song, and the pain behind Beth's voice still bring tears to my eyes. Without sadness, and loss, nothing would be special. I'm reminded of listening to this with my grandmother, Audrey. She quite liked this song one time she heard it played in my car, and that always has stayed with me. She left this world, but at least the memory will never escape. That's the ultimate message I get from this song. Memories last forever.
32. Daft Punk, Digital Love, Discovery
Even if I don’t find my soul mate, I’d more than likely still love this song, The feeling of warmth and love flutter all over the song, and the lovely and cute lyrics only make it better. The band hardly has any songs that are this straightforward and wordy, but that’s what sets the song apart from the others. While other songs have minimal lyrics, “Digital Love” has plenty, and it only helps the song reach deeper. This song will be part of my life forever, even if certain memories tied to it have lost their potency. The explosion of sound at the climax brings the track to a height it hadn’t reached, and propels it to the gorgeous ending it deserves. “Digital Love” remains the band's best track, and for anyone who is in love with someone, an example of why “Music Sounds better with You.”
31. Neutral Milk Hotel, Holland 1945, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Probably not the most surprising on the list, but it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life. What this band from a small town in Louisiana managed to do is the story of an indie Cinderella themed epic. The music is more upbeat, but the pain behind the lyrics is clear. It’s World War 2, people are scared, and the song, and the whole album, is a love song not only to Anne Frank, but to times when the lives of people were less complicated. It’s quick, to the point, and it’s one of the reasons this band is still talked about today. One of the best indie rock bands of all time. If you don’t know them you should. You really should.
30. Sigur Ros, Saeglopur, Takk…
I pick this song because for the months leading up to the Bonnaroo 2008 trip, my then lady and I couldn't go a day without this song playing in our house. The song is a perfect build up of everything at which the band excels. The vocals are ethereal and strong, and the pounding of the drums bring the tightly knit arrangements into perfect symmetry. It also happens to be a jam on all levels of epic. Many of the songs on Takk are like this, but the way “Saeglopur” evolves and marinates in sound is the highlight of not only the record itself, but also the band overall. It also works because it gets so dense, but suddenly, the band is able to drop it back down and refocus it in a way that only Sigur Ros is capable of.
29. Deftones, Passenger, White Pony
I'm surprised how many people don't pick up on the connection between this song and Be Quiet and Drive. To me it seems obvious. I can't help but think it's a companion piece. Maybe this song is from the point of view of the other person in the car, or the Passenger as you will. I'm sure it's not meant to be a storyline, but two songs on back to back albums about the explorations of driving? Seems a little bit too obvious to ignore. The imagery in use here is amazing. They perfectly capture what's happening in the song. From beginning to end, it's just an incredible ride. I wish the Deftones were more of the band to try frequent collaborations, but this set the bar pretty damn high.
28. Rage Against the Machine, Wake Up, Rage Against the Machine
Not only the perfect rage song, but also the perfect song for someone who’s frustrated in their life. It’s just so fucking good. It just makes me wanna bounce and rock out every time I hear it. It has everything you could want in a song by this band. It has strength, it has power and it’s an example of going after what you believe is right. It’s also a lesson to everyone living in their own world that what we need is unity. Rocha is literally begging us to explain to him what he has to do to wake us up from our self-imposed ignorance when it comes to dealing with the world. Also it’s refreshing to see that there was once upon a time where big corporate record labels saw the value in bringing bands to the main stream that weren’t just there taking up space, but also in taking on projects that were as thought-provoking and meaningful as the message brought forward by this group of like-minded individuals who were sick of sitting idly by. Just ask yourself: “How long? Not long, because what you reap is what you sow.”
27. Soundgarden, the Day I Tried to Live, Superunknown
Literally since the day I heard this song, it became one of my favorite all time songs. This is Soundgarden at their ultimate best. We haven't really mentioned bassist Ben Shepherd yet, but the bass work this time goes so well with the overall song it deserves to be acknowledged. Also, I'm not in tune with musical instruments, but it's always great when you can hear one full sound instead of hearing only certain elements. That's what makes a great band. Especially here when they meld and create something so tightly woven that even if one part was missing, the whole song wouldn't be nearly as good. All of it works, which is why it's my all time favorite Soundgarden song.
26. the Flaming Lips, Do You Realize??, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The song has now become a huge hit, but truthfully, it’s a damn good song. It’s one that is able to capture the warmth that love brings about, but also the honesty that everyone’s time on Earth will eventually end. The track has a slight science fiction vibe to it(similar to other tracks on the record), but it also feels extremely human. The way the bells and effects come bursting through the song really make it seem like a new and wondrous world has landed at your feet, and Coyne’s voice is scratchy and beautiful in a way only his is capable of. This song changed the trajectory of the band upon it’s release, and it’s well deserved. One of the most honest, and beautiful songs of our time, it’s a song that is loved far and wide.
25. Pearl Jam, Black, Ten
One of their darkest songs, but as you can see from the placement on this list, it’s one of my favorites. This song is emotional in so many ways. The song has so much sadness and desperation in it, but it still brings out pure raw emotions that ultimately make it a priceless song. Quite simply it has so much symbolism you’d think the creator of El Topo and Holy Mountain wrote this shit, but alas he didn’t. All joking aside, this song is one of the best I’ve ever heard in my entire life, and still to this day it’s emotional. Hearing it for the first time last month was easily one of the best single concert experiences of my entire life. If you haven’t yet heard this song, please track it down. It’s the emotional core of not only that album, but the core of the band.
24. U2, With or Without You, the Joshua Tree
The tortuously slow buildup of this track is still one of the best things I’ve ever heard. This band may not be what they used to, but dammit if this song isn’t perfect I don’t know what is. The raw emotion, feelings of helplessness, and all the good and bad that come with any relationship are beautifully portrayed here. By the time you reach the explosion of emotion at the end, you’ve completely forgot about the buildup, and then you will know the song has overtaken your soul. Like I mentioned before, this band isn’t what it was when they made this brilliant record, but when you hear Bono’s voice swoon desperately for an uncertain conclusion, your heart is there with him, and you wish for the best.
23. Foo Fighters, Everlong, The Colour and the Shape
There are few times in music where the awesome quality of the song is matched perfectly by the greatness of the music video, but “Everlong” is one of the rare moments. The video is full of majesty, and while it's a bit silly, to me it's one of the most original videos of the last twenty years. Getting to the song though, it's completely amazing in almost every way possible. The brooding but quickly guitar opening, giving way to the initially subdued lyrics, paints a perfect picture of a happy, loving relationship. As a person who has shared incredible moments with the people I love, I can't help but smile when I think of that. The chorus is also very easy to sing along to, which I think makes it even easier to allow yourself to be taken captive by it. This remains a song that I'll always crank up and scream the lyrics to, simply because it's a fucking amazing track, and when a song this unreal and magical appears, it doesn't do it justice to just quietly hum and sing along to it. A powerful song needs to be met with a powerful reaction, and every time I've seen it performed live, it's been met with the kind of love that only comes from a song being truly great.
22. Smashing Pumpkins, Today, Siamese Dream
They may have started to wane as the 90’s drew to a close, but there was once a time when the original Pumpkins were simply incredible. Especially on “Siamese Dream.” Even more especially on this track, “Today.” From the very first time I heard the opening guitar notes, and the overall nostalgic lyrics, it was like I was transported to a different world. It was easily my favorite song period for years and years, and even if I hear it today, I still take the time to enjoy. All of the band really delivers a potent, classic alternative track. Corgan, Chamberlin, Iha, and Wretzky all bring something simple and pure to the song, and in the end, that’s why maybe the band worked so well, until Corgan officially took over and axed everyone.
21. the Beatles, Yesterday, Help!
To this day a song that brings tears to my eyes. It's an uncompromising view of the world, and ultimately that's what makes it more personal and honest. People often feel overwhelmed, neglected, and not good enough. It's the human condition. The guitars add a level of thoughtfulness to the track and in the end it makes more of an impact than if the song had been performed by a full band. Yet again, the slight orchestral part makes a world of difference. You feel the pain of the main character, and you want to help him. But you can't. People make mistakes, and they must figure it out for themselves. The conclusion though, to me at least, is that mistakes are made, and before you can move on and pick up the pieces you have to come to terms with the consequences and resolve to either fix it or move on.
20. Radiohead, Fake Plastic Trees, the Bends
Always a favorite of mine. Its tenderness and compassion always had a lasting effect on me. Everything for me changed though when I saw them at Lollapalooza. The end of the set was nearing, and the song started. Behind them however, very light, soft fireworks built up (We found out later the fireworks were from a Cubs game ). As the song progressed, the explosions got more intense and by the time the big ending hit, we were singing, and marveling at the unprepared perfection of the situation. There's not a lot in the world that beats crying in a field, singing a song you've loved for years and being surrounded by 100,00 people who feel the same.
19. Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Wish You Were Here
Now we’re getting into some serious heavy hitters. At Number 19, Pink Floyd’s dedicated track to the one and only Syd Barrett. The story I’ve heard is that Barrett showed up at the studio, hardly recognizable, and his manic, drug induced state so devastated the band, and especially Roger Waters, that this song was written as a kind of living eulogy for the once brilliant man. Listening to the song(and the whole record for that matter), you can feel the sense of lost and hurt the band felt during this period. The guitar is gentle and quiet, and the vocals provide the needed hurt to bring out the pure soul of the song. It’s one of the most well known and beautiful songs of our time, and it absolutely deserves to be,
18. the Beatles, Let It Be, Let It Be
My grandmother hated rock music. Hated it. But for some reason anytime I played this for her, she loved it, and would happily sit in the car as it played. That's one of the most prevalent memories I have regarding this song. Like I said at the start of this countdown, everyone has their own favorites from this band, but for my soul, there is no better track ever recorded by this band than “Let It Be.” it's a song about remembrance, understanding,and accepting the things you can't change. The Bonnaroo McCartney show was life changing enough, but hearing thousands of people sing this song, and with the memory of my grandmother fresh in my head, it really did constitute an out of body experience. It's the most perfect song among many perfect songs, and on this day, and most days, it's the best Beatles song I ever had the pleasure to experience.
17. Metallica, One,...And Justice For All
For me, this is the one that started it all. I owe my love for this band initially almost exclusively to the moment I discovered this song. The story of a veteran who is left in terrible shape, is a shocking, but sad reminder of the ravages of war, and how many people come home in worse shape than they left. I’m not sure if any of the members in this band were ever in the armed forces, but the song perfectly describes what I imagine the suffering of war to be like after the ashes have settled. The verses are shocking, and extremely dark. Our narrator is in almost literal hell. He can’t see, can’t walk, has less limbs than he left for war with, and all he wants is to be left to die. He’s a shell of himself, and the music brings everything into the sad, but often true light. The breakdown at the end is as technical as it is brutal, and for a band who have made a career out of morbid tales, this is the epicenter and capital of bone crushing force and sadness. It’s the best metal song of the decade, it’s most likely in the top 3 best metal songs of all time, and as we near the end of the countdown, it arrives at number
16. Weezer, Only In Dreams, the Blue Album
A truly epic song that brings the conclusion of the album to a dramatic climax. I’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics, besides the fact that it seems to be another song about things of love and a whimsical nature. For me the song remains a mythical type of creation. It somehow feels different than any other song they’ve written as a band, and that’s probably why I like it so much. I imagine a couple under beautiful trees at night, being enveloped by tiny lights overheard, slowly holding each other, as if to say “ Let’s not allow this night to end.” Meanwhile, the bass line keeping the pace perfectly, while the drums and guitar slowly maneuver to something explosive and thick at the end of the song. When you hear Rivers Cuomo screaming “Only in dreams,” you realize this song is almost too perfect to exist, and it’s not meant to be heard too often, because it wouldn’t be good, because then it would be normal and not special.
15. Etta James, At Last
What is it about this song that so brings people together? Maybe it’s James’ sultry, inviting voice, or maybe it’s the classically trained orchestra in the background. In the end, it’s neither in particular. It’s both. The voice and instrumentation both help to catapult each other to a perfect elevation. This song, like many on this near its ending list has major sentimental value. Apart from being played on our wedding day, guests were given a cd of our favorite songs, and wouldn’t you know it, this made the cut. It’s the ultimate love song, and it truly encapsulates the spirit of finding someone, and knowing that they are yours, and you are theirs, “At Last”
14. Radiohead, Pyramid Song, Amnesiac
Never have i been so captivated by a music video before, or since. It's calming, majestic and haunting. Everything the song ultimately is. It’s a rare thing for something in space and time to sync up so vividly and ambiently wonderful, but this song does so with ease. I mean, when you watch this clip, and you see the lone diver visiting subterranean worlds enveloped by liquid, you can’t take your eyes off it. But, let’s also mention this otherworldly track. When the album first came out, this song instantly struck a chord with me. For years upbeat was the name of the game for me, but this song did, and still does fill me with joy, and a sense of knowledge that human beings are capable of amazing things. The textural components work well with Selway’s casually precise drumming, and Yorke’s wandering, unsure voice provide even more depth to this new world. It’s eye catching, in every sort of way, and that’s why I love it.
The highest ranking hip hop song shouldn’t really be a surprise. This song from the ATLiens isn’t only their best, but it might be the song of the 2000’s. Released in that distant, long ago year(2000), the song has a twinkle at the start, but before long it’s bass heavy and fantastic. There isn't a better song to throw down to, and it leaves you breathless from dancing. That’s the trick to it. You can’t breathe, and your body is giving up, but the power of music and fun is compelling you to keep going. It’s almost as if Father Merrin is telling you “The Power of Rap compells you.” You have to give major props to Andre and Big Boi. With “Stankonia” they had arrived in the mainstream rap game, and among the heavy hitters of the time, they rise to be better than them. Sure many people consider the likes of Eminem and Jay Z to be better, and while they aren’t as well known as those two, is there any band or artist in their genre except Kanye who's done more for the furtherment of thought provoking rap music? Certainly Em and Jay aren’t. Outkast’s “B.O.B.” is the rap song above all others, trust.
12. Enya, Only Time
This one is probably the most surprising on the list, but if you know me, and my sister, you know how much this track means to us. For some reason, it’s always really spoken to us, and she’s the one person I think of first when I hear this track. Enya gets far too much shit if you ask me, but she’s made transcendent, atmospherically rich music for so long that it’s kinda become her trademark. She has tons of great songs, but “Only Time” is easily her best and most recognizable. It’s a gift to the world when you can close your eyes, smile, and feel a sense of accomplishment, and reflect on all the good you’ve done in your life. For me, this song gives me that.
11. Tool, Third Eye, Aenima
“Think for yourself, question authority,” might be the motto of the band. While this song hasn't been played a lot at the shows I've attended, I've heard that phrase quite a few times. The opening, provided by Tim Leary, basically sets the stage for the most epic, mind melting song in their catalog. This song has more loops and turns than an episode of “LOST.” It also happens to have a persistence that doesn’t quit for the entire fourteen minutes of the song. Seeing this song live, and especially as the show opener is just insane. Most bands don't have the nerve to open a two hour show with the longest song they plan to play that night, but Tool do it without missing a beat. Adam Jones' guitars, to me at least, have always reminded me a little bit of something you'd hear in an Egyptian science fiction movie. Speaking on the topic of mixing, and making sure that every part is central is something no one except maybe Radiohead does better than Tool. They understand the lyrics are the not the overwhelming plot point of the song. Everything you hear is meant to induce emotions. Sure the lyric helps, but all parts are equally valuable. With more than five minutes left, the song takes yet another turn. It goes from ominous foreshadowing to the welcoming of a love thought lost perhaps. Then another turn down a spiraling rabbit hole. Imploring us to open our eyes may or may not have something to do with the opening dialogue on the track. Humans aren't meant to be conditioned by rules. We are too great of a people. Life without boundaries is the most ultimate gift anyone can achieve, yet at times it's those very rules of society that help us to stay safe. Then another, even uglier turn, this time with the intense drums of Carey while Keenan proclaims “ Prying open my third eye,” as the song comes to a final, full circle resting place.
10. U2, One, Achtung Baby
This song creeps in much in the way another classic U2 song “With or Without you” does. It’s the story of two hearts becoming one and slowly killing all the joy surrounding them. Bono has such a gift for concealing pain in his voice, until he can’t hold it in anymore, and on “One” he does it brilliantly. I’m rarely moved by a song by this band, but maybe if they made songs this good more often I’d be more moved. The line “You ask me to enter and then you make me crawl” is one of the most brutal, honest portrayals of love you’re likely to find in any genre. This song not only reminds us what they’re capable of, but gives them a pass on the band they’ve since become.
9. Radiohead, Idioteque. Kid A
This song, but the whole album especially was the first time I think most people realized that not only could Electronic music make it in the mainstream, but it could also be intelligent and thought provoking. Sure, people have always loved Electronic music, but obviously Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers weren't selling out stadiums left and right, at least not in the States. This song also proved that as a band, Radiohead could do anything and pull it off. If OK Computer is the best album of the 1990's, then surely this album, which is better, and probably the best they've done, is the best album of the 2000's.
8. Sigur Ros, Hoppipolla, Takk…
This song, right here, is my fucking jam. There's not a better song in the world to put everything in perspective. Just listening to it brings back memories. Some are good, others are unavoidable. This was the song I listened to immediately upon hearing about the passing of my Grandmother, and it was essential in allowing myself to grieve and and understand that this part of life was necessary. Some moments are amazing though. While seeing them at Bonnaroo, this song was easily the most inspirational of the whole set. There was a point during the song that I became aware of the effect the music was having on me, and how I was thrilled to be not only alive, but experiencing this with my then partner. I also remember realizing that my mouth was completely open from the sheer force of the show, and I instantly felt better when I looked around and other people had the same awestruck reaction as I did.
7. Weezer, Say It Ain’t So, the Blue Album
Probably among their most well known songs, and it’s for a damn good reason. The majority of the album is fun and down to earth, but this song is a verbal “heartbreaker” in every way. We wouldn’t fully see the pain and depth presented on this song until the next album, but the sadness is real. I never found out if the basis of the song has an actual backstory, but I think it works so well because everyone has felt pushed aside, forgotten and used in their lives. It’s never a good feeling, but hearing a song you can relate to is often a powerful song. The song is both anthematic and depressing, and that’s no easy feat. The guitar work at the end of the song ties in perfectly, and the very last lines of the song remind us of sorrow we’ve all felt.
6. Nine Inch Nails, We’re In This Together, the Fragile
This album suffered from what I call the Pinkerton effect. It's a brilliant album, but for the more casual fans wanting a Downward Spiral 2, it simply wasn't enough. Having said that, the Fragile builds on the sounds and technologies of TDS and goes further. For one, this song is one the first times we hear anything even remotely positive and reassuring. It's not a mellow song, but it accomplishes its tasks. I've probably heard this song two thousand or so times, and it still makes me smile and giddy like a child. It overshadows all of the other songs on the album, yet still it's one of the least played songs in the NIN live catalogue. Years ago I remember an interview where TR said it was the best song he ever wrote, and he knew he couldn't do it justice in concert, so he let it be. Maybe one of these days I can stop spending endless amounts of money seeing them live. But first, I must have my WITT live.
5. Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime
The Talking Heads managed to fill a gap that no one knew how to fill. By far the best “Alternative” band of the 80’s, this quirky group of oddballs found a way to bring the world together with their strange sounds, and exposed people all over to different sounds, and in doing so, helped to influence countless bands to go in uncharted territory and experiment and make new sounds not yet heard. The song doesn’t even sound like it belongs among the best of any particular area, and in that skills lies the brilliance of what the band was. Byrne and company were able to construct an overall sound that fits everywhere, and nowhere. Maybe that’s why people are still obsessively in love with the Talking Heads. This track truly is a “Once in a Lifetime” song, and everyone deserves to hear it.
4. LCD Soundsystem, My Friends, Sound of Silver
What is it about this song? Really, I want to know. James Murphy is likely one of the most innovative musicians of the aughts, and with the birth of this song, he solidified his mark on Indie music. Whatever that means today. The song is without a question the song of the decade, and if you listen close it’s hard not to agree. The elevating keyboard notes, over the brilliantly weaving percussional elements reel in the nature of the track. Even better though is the walkthrough of a glimpse of a night that’s provided with Murphy’s engaging look into the rearview mirror of life. The song is just so insanely classic and perfect that it’s hard to not sit down and realize how special it is. Everything he says is something we as a people can relate to. For my money, some of the best, most life affirming advice I’ve ever gotten from a song is “I Wouldn’t trade one stupid decision, for another five years of life.” It works well because it’s true. A stupid choice doesn’t have to be a bad one. I think that’s what he means here. You can have your cake and eat it to. Life is meant to be experienced, and it’s meant to be exhilarating. That’s my thankful take away from this mind blowing track.
3. Tool, Lateralus, Lateralus
This is easily the best Tool song ever made, and a perfect representation of the album. It has every awesome aspect of the album in one perfect, thought out space of time. The lyrics describe the opening of a world to a baby, or perhaps, a rebirth of an older soul. This is where the “Saturn Return” comes into play. MJK has mentioned in interviews about learning from your mistakes and evolving. The song can also have dual meanings, much like people can have different personalities in different environments. It's described as the opening of a LSD trip, where bright colors slowly make themselves known. Now, everyone who is a Tool fan should be aware of how important Justin Chancellor is, but this is the song where he easily shines the most. Now, one of the most interesting things about this song is the time signatures. I'm no musician, but I think most hardcore music fans can recognize the brilliance. The weirdest thing about this song however, is how the signatures, and the lyrics were both thought of separately and without mutual knowledge from the two key participants. In an interview Keenan goes on to explain while he was writing the theme of spiral's turning in on themselves stuck out and brought a clear focus not only to the song, but the band's feelings at the time. Here's where it gets really intriguing though. The original name of the song was 9-8-7, for the weird time signatures, but then the band realized that 987 was the 16th number in the Fibonacci sequence, which also shares interests with the “ Golden Spiral.” I hope that doesn't confuse you. In other words, there are lyrical and musical reasons why this is the most important, and strongest Tool Song. The positivity of the song is worth noting. It's imploring us to live every day to the fullest, and maybe, to always try to expand your knowledge, one way or another.
2. Queen & David Bowie, Under Pressure
So yeah. I have no idea what to say about this, except that it has two of the biggest powerhouses in music at the time working together on a song. It’s just plain awesome. The beat is great, the lyrics are superb, and the buildup to the absolute insane last half is unquestionably brilliant. Queen was always great, and will live in our memory forever, and Bowie will never die, thus this song is a time capsule for how awesome it once was, and will never be again. Getting back to the song though. it’s impossible to resist. The bravado of the opening, as well as the force of nature that is Freddie Mercury makes the song a triumphant of life, and easily one of the most recognizable songs ever recorded. What they manage to do is “Give Love” to everyone who shares in this song. It’s a favorite of nearly everyone I know, and why shouldn’t it be? The song is fucking amazing. “This is ourselves.”
1.Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
And finally, we came to one. This song is majestic in ways no other song is. Let’s start at the beginning. The vocals at the entrance, melancholy and joined, layered in ways that songs weren’t even done in at the time. But then, on top of everything else, Mercury belting out the story of a person near the end of his rope, and his desperate plea for his mother to “Carry On” and not get swept up in his abysmal choices. This early section keeps building momentum, both in spirit and musicianship, but by the three minute mark, shit goes crazy. The harmonizing elements come in, and then the classic scene from “Wayne’s World” is in full effect. That movie while amazing on it’s own, certainly had an impact on the newer generations, most of which had likely never heard that song. Next up though, let’s talk about many times you’ve joined in sing alongs during this track. I know I have, and I’m willing to beat most people who have shared this song with others have too. Which brings me to the last thing I’ll say as part of the “My Top 100 songs of All Time.” During the night of my wedding, as people with sparklers made a path way for my wife and I, this song began playing, and surrounded by all the people we love, we shared in this amazing sing along, to maybe the best song I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s because of song’s like this, and moments like that, that everytime I hear this song, I smile.
Thank you for reading, I’ll see you soon.
During the next eight weeks, we’re going to be discussing what I see as my favorite, most influential songs of all time. This list encapsulates all the big songs that have impacted my life, and covers plenty of genre’s everyone likes. This will include rap, classic rock, metal, electronic, soul, and everything in between. I think this list will really surprise many people.
The only thing worth explanation is how they will be delivered. The normal post days will still happen, 3 days a week, but instead of a new blog everyday with the next five numbers on the list, I’ll just continue adding five to the existing post, all the way down to lucky number 1. I’m looking forward to this, hope yall enjoy!
See You Friday!
Welcome Back after a little break and before something really big happens. First things first though, today’s post. Every now and then a book comes along that changes everything for you. Even more often though, a film is made of that book that while good, doesn’t really knock it out of the park in the way it should. That’s where “The Virgin Suicides” comes in. The film, while able to capture the spirit and essence of the brilliant Jeffrey Eugenides novel, falls short in a few ways. The score of the film though, is an area where French musicians and film maker Sofia Coppola are able to note the gravitas and knock the idea of marrying music and imagery out of the park in a wonderful, yet tragic way. While I’ve read the book more than twenty times, the film score also stands as my favorite score or soundtrack of all time. Today we add another great album to the “Albums Of My Life” series, with Air’s spacey and passionate score to “The Virgin Suicides.”
It’s rare that a score truly hits on narrative points discussed in the inspired work, but even from early on, the lyrics do exactly that, albeit in a loosely narrative way. One of the best things about the novel is how quickly you’re dropped into a world you perfectly understand. Young people are curious people,and that curiosity plays roles in nearly everything in their lives. The score opens up with the jazz, horn infused gentle rumblings of “Playground Love,” If you’ve ever seen the film, or read the book, I can’t imagine you saying this soundtrack doesn’t fit perfectly in the world in which five boys end up falling for the tragic yet wondrous Lisbon sisters. So much detail is known about these girls, but somehow the lovelorn boys miss the true essence of them, and in the end, it’s much too late. They were doomed, and as it is said in both the novel and film, the boys will forever be trying to save them.
By track three, “Bathroom Girl,” the feeling of the time is prevalent, and the hazy quality of the film starts to show itself in audio form. One of the best things about the film is it’s ability to drift among the vibes of the world through snapshots of past and future experiences, but also makes you long for simpler times. You want for the summer where you’re so obsessed with the new girl that you throw yourself off of a roof while pining for her love, only to realize the girl who loved you may have in fact thrown herself onto a steel fence, exiting herself from Earth in a pivotal early scene.
That girl, Cecilia Lisbon, the youngest, most carefree of the bunch, starts the onslaught her sisters later finish in dramatic fashion, under the guise of wanderlust. I mention this because the fifth number of the score,”Dark Messages,” ties in thematically to the inner workings of how not only these five souls, but also their parents must have felt doing the time that changed everything. The track is ominous, and appropriately so, because the next song, “The Word ‘Hurricane” winds and bashes and causes destruction. The word Hurricane, as it’s used in a book, is used brilliantly in a couple of obvious but also very subtle ways.
The most prominent person in the film who isn’t a Lisbon daughter is Trip Fontaine, and by this time in the book, he’s fallen head over heels for Lux Lisbon, who is easily the most free and unhinged of the girls. But as you can imagine, it doesn’t end well. But back to the usage of hurricane in symbolic terms. and how it’s used to move the story along. Luz and Trip meet in the gym during a science video on hurricane’s, but what Trip doesn’t know, and very well may not understand for decades to come, is that while he was watching a video about hurricanes, he was meeting his own force of nature, in the form of the reckless Lisbon, the one and only Lux. The song plays well to this narrative element, and before we know it, the chaos has moved into an upbeat and dark passage titled “Dirty Trip.” It’s full of 70’s themed instrumentation, like something from a nightmare whose conclusion is uncertain. Finally though, we get to a little bit of softer feelings, as given to us in the musical theme to the whole score, “Highschool Lover.” Melodically it’s the same tone and instrumentation as the opening track “Playground Love,” but it’s more poignant, more open aired, and more importantly, it signals a turn of mood in the film that can’t be undone.
The songs on the second half of the score, while sometimes moving in a slower pace, are able to be more enlightening and engrossing, most of all in the way it plays to what’s happening in the film. Things go worse and worse for this family, and I like to think this score is the useless struggle of the five boys trying to save this women, while also not understanding that they have no desire to be saved.
The twelfth song though, “Dead Bodies,” is an unusually upbeat song, and you can sense the dread coming from the speakers. Drums are flailing while bodies drop from existence, and still, you feel the times coursing through the music. This track not only symbolizes the death of the Lisbons as a whole, but as the death of innocence, as seen through the wanting eyes of five boys who wanted nothing more at the time than to save what was unsaveable. These girls, Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese, were all flickering moments in the universe, and they knew it.They just neglected to inform anyone else of their status.
The last song brilliantly lays out the events of the book, and transports us one last time to this world where little is understood about the main characters, but you don’t need to, because it speaks to parts of us all. Some of the last words on the score, which will be presented at the end of this piece, explain to us the feelings of the situation after the fact, and the music compliments it in a perfect, but overwhelmingly sad reminder of life, and how it can be misunderstood, pushed aside, and forgotten.
"Everyone dated the demise of our neighborhood from the suicides of the Lisbon girls.
people saw their clairvoyance in the wiped-out elms and harsh sunlight. Some thought the torture tearing the lisbon girls pointed to a simple refusal to accept the world as it was handed down to them: So full of flaws.But the only thing we are certain of after all these years is the insufficiency of explanation.".
“From five they had become four, and they were all living in the dead, becoming shadows.”
Wednesday will be a quick explanation of the next seven weeks, and then a big ol’ list is coming. Thanks for reading!
Every now and then, you get surprised. In life I find it rarely happens when you think it’s going to, but it never gets old. Especially when you’re surprised in a good way. This weekend I felt a similar surprise at visiting a town I swore I’d never be caught dead in. For a little bit of background, I’m a New Orleans Saints fan. And if you’re unaware, our bitter rivals are the Atlanta Falcons. I can’t think of anytime in the last twenty years that I haven’t hated the team, and dismissed the city. I’m not proud of it, but it happens.Even through all of the Falcons hate though, I’ve managed to separate my feelings and fall in love with many, many amazing musicians from not only the state of Georgia, but Atlanta itself.
So it was with great hesitation that I agreed to visit there for four days and take in what is without a doubt one of the better festival lineups this year. I mean honestly, it’s amazing, and over the course of three days I saw many amazing acts, a few lame one’s, and got to learn that after all the hate, Atlanta is actually a pretty cool town full of people who are interesting, buildings that are a sight to behold, and also beggars on the street who are way more persistent than anyone I’ve met in New Orleans.
Immediately as you enter the Central Park grounds, you find a spacious, yet well organized festival ground that is nothing if not easy to maneuver around. Stages are close enough to never miss more than a little bit of the action via walking, and there’s tons of shade and lay around area’s if you need a quick breather. You’d think most festivals would get this by know, but you'd be wrong. Even in it’s third year, Shaky Knees seems to have it down to a science, which is exceptional for everyone involved.
The first band of the Friday, Surfer Blood, started a near perfect series of on time acts that lasted all weekend. Only one band over the course of the weekend that I saw started late, but we’ll get to that in due time. Surfer Blood was good, but not great, and while they were able to hold the crowds attention, I feel like they should’ve grown a little more in the years since their standout debut “Astro Coast.”
A few bands on Friday were middle of the road unfortunately. Wavves proved that the fanbase is still there, but that was about it to be honest. “King of the Beach” killed, as it always does, but something was just alright about the set, to me at least. The other regret of the day, very sadly, was Death From Above 1979. I’ve loved this band for years, and this being my third time seeing them, I was excited, especially after the amazing show at Voodoo Fest last November. Today though, it was bad. And boy do I mean bad. When a band mentions they haven’t played a show in two months, you might assume they would have practiced since the last show, but there was zero evidence to support this claim. It was sloppy, and you could tell they simply didn’t care. Oh well, you can’t win them all. Let’s just hope they show up ready when the Deftones/ Incubus tour rolls around, because those acts won’t be phoning it in.
With every disappointment however, comes surprises. Two acts on Friday did in fact engage me in a way I wasn’t expecting. Those acts, England's Kaiser Chiefs and Mac DeMarco, both pulled in solid crowds that very full of energy and gave awesome responses back at the stage. Kaiser Chief’s especially. I had a few moments of “Oh it’s that band?!” during their set, and to say the least, I became a fan. Go see both of them if you have a chance, because while both are different shows, they’re both fun and engaging in ways more bands should be.
As the day drew closer to completion though, my main two acts of the day were about to take various stages of the festival. First up was Atlanta’s own Mastodon. For over a decade now they’ve been gradually building into a force within the metal world, and while this venue might be a little out of the ordinary, they proved themselves, even if the crowd was waiting mostly for the Strokes to play in a few hours. For an hour they pummeled the crowd with focused and precise playing, and riffs big enough to rock any veteran metal head. They just killed it, and on top of that, During the incredible, severely mind blowing Pixies set, I was fortunate enough to meet Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor, who was awesome enough to take a picture with me.
But the Pixies man… They proved while they still earn respect. For seventy-five minutes they assaulted the crowd with grimy, fast, garage rock, in only the way they can. A highlight of course was “Where is My Mind,” and while they didn’t play “Debaser” or “Gigantic,” it was still an amazing show worth any hardcore fans time.
Not to be outdone though, the Strokes sauntered onstage fifteen minutes late(as usual), and delivered a hearty set of favorites and rarely played songs. This was my first time seeing them, and honestly, it was pretty great. Most of the songs were solid, and while the band has a sort of “Careless Cool,” to the way they operate, it works for them. They clearly don’t care what anyone thinks, but you have to admire that, especially when they make solid rock n roll when others are trying to stay relevant.
Upon entering day two, a few bands were must sees, but it felt like more of a see how I feel type of day. Speedy Ortiz surprised me, and while they initially reminded me of a better Hole, I enjoyed the show. There wasn’t much time until Viet Cong’s set though, which i didn’t want to miss. For all the controversy their name has garnered, it really hadn’t even crossed my mind. I like to judge things based on merit, not on a name people aren’t thrilled about. Plus, it’s good marketing. Any press for an up and coming band is good press, and people are talking. The music though, is solid as hell, and well executed. I found the set a little bit brutal for a 1 P.M. show, but it was great nonetheless, and the crowd really seemed to dig it also.
Real Estate was next, and while they provided a gorgeous, laid back texture to fit with the beautiful day, I wanted to rock, which is why I sought out the homecoming show for locals The Black Lips. Seeing them before I knew what they were like, and despite the heat, they went off for an hour and left the crowd in a frenzy. But, the big dish of the day, at least for me, was my second encounter with the perfect and incomparable Neutral Milk Hotel. Its rare that a band can command an audience so easily,but their mere presence evokes delight. This is a band so good that a crowd is putty in their hands, and Saturday was no exception. With tears flowing during moments, I watched as the band played most everything you want from them, and the love and beauty was palpable in the air. It was magnificent, as it is every time. After that though, I checked out two well worth it acts, and while Social Distortion rattled off their brilliant self titled record and Wilco scored big with your typical Wilco festival set, after Neutral Milk Hotel, those acts were just icing on the cake, and the hotel pool was calling mine and my friends names.
Which brings us to Sunday. Those days are traditionally rough. After two days of non stop action and more than likely a fair amount of drinking, you need to take it slow. I walked up to The Damnwells thinking it was Matthew E. White, and unfortunately it wasn’t. The best way to describe the Damnwell’s is to say it reminded me of the new millennium's version of the Gin Blossoms. Just really bad and generic. I was even trying to figure out if one of the songs had the same melody as “Hey Jealousy.” Next though, were Mini Mansions from Los Angeles. I had been interested in them due to the Queens of the Stone Age affiliation(they share member Michael Shuman). I guess I was expecting something similar in style and tone, and while that wasn’t present, i did enjoy the synth pop vibrations and funky outfits.
By this point in the day though, I was able to get a taste of home with the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band. This jazz outfit has been a mainstay in Nola for decades, and they once again proved why. The crowd seemed to love it, and truly, it was one of the better sets of the weekend.
After deciding to roam around and see some parts of the grounds I had missed, I decided to head over and check out Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. While it was what you’d expect from a folky punk rock flavored band, the heat was becoming an issue, and water was the main order of the moment.
Towards the end of the weekend though, the crowd still lingering around for the last tastes of the music filled weekend were treated to some really great music. Hopefully everyone enjoyed it,
First off was Panda Bear, who brought the energy up during an unlikely and poorly scheduled daytime set in the only tent at the festival. He was just fantastic, and honestly, the only thing hindering it from being amazing was the fact that electronic shows are so much better during the time of the day when the stars are out. But, it was still great, and well worth everyone’s time. Following that, Ryan Adams and Ride both rocked it, albeit in different ways, and while I couldn’t tell you which I preferred, they were both great choices for this festival.
After all that though, it was time for the Sunday night headliner, Australia based Tame Impala. To say they’ve earned a prime spot at these types of festivals is an understatement. Over the course of two albums and with one being released in July, they’ve brought the psychedelic elements back into the mainstream in a big, big way. The show was everything you would want from this type of band, and after finally getting to see them, it was well worth the wait. New tracks played well among the crowd, while old thumpers like “Elephant” and “Feels Like We’re Only Go Backwards” got the energy up. It’s not too often that the last band of the weekend can hold the attention, but Tame Impala certainly can. I expect them to get even bigger once “Currents” hits us, but only time will tell.
Overall though, this festival was both a revelation and a privilege to attend. Seriously, you couldn’t really ask for better from a fest still in it’s infancy. If they can spruce up the grounds a little bit with some more grass, and add a little more non band merch to the area’s, there’s no reason this festival can’t become a destination festival for many. After all, it was for me. Thanks for reading guys,see you Friday.
Some albums just hit you the first time you listen to it. This record was one of those for me. Through listening and experiencing the force of this record, I came to understand that not only was this one of the best albums ever, but that something from the little Louisiana town of Ruston could have something that was worth anything at all. I present to you the magnum opus from Neutral Milk Hotel, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.”
Even now, very few bands have the electric, buzzy song that these gentlemen perfected. “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” is still maybe one of five albums in my life that I’ve been able to play back to back and not be bored. The big draw of course, is how Mangum’s anything but normal voice can draw you in, while other members(Julian Koster, Scott Spillane and Jeremy Barnes) keep the off the wall sound blazing behind him.
From the opening notes of “The King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1 & 2,” you can feel the honesty behind Jeff’s voice. In modern music it simply wouldn’t work, but here it portrays a certain eerie, but comforting vibe. Some people can’t get into it, and that’s fine. Certain others though, not only get it, but are drawn to it. It’s easily one of the best, most signature voices I’ve ever heard. It’s been noted several times that the Arcade Fire were influenced greatly by this band, and you can tell by both Mangum’s and Butlers distinct and honest voices. Butler’s voice in some points is very much an homage to that of Mangum's. Arcade Fire even signed to the record label Merge because of their involvement with NMH. That how important Neutral Milk Hotel is to the indie rock scene. One of the current biggest names in music was greatly influenced by them.
By the third song, which happens to be the title track of the record, you’re completely engrossed in what is still a unique sound. What this album does is it manages to deliver us to an unhappy place. That place of course, is the world during the time of World War II, and more importantly to the world of Anne Frank, the little teenage girl who was trying to adjust to a time where she was told she wasn’t needed. In the Aeroplane isn’t really a gentle, loving album. It’s a sad reminder of the evils of man. Mangum has never said it outright, but in interviews and shows he has mentioned the album's core subject, which is why people think this is his letter to a beyond this world Frank, and how he wishes he could save her.
The urge to save her is especially obvious in a song called “Two-Headed Boy.” It’s an immediate song which focuses only on Mangum’s voice and his acoustic guitar. It’s one of the more bittersweet tracks on the record, and it’s near the end where you feel the worst about the events that inspired this album. Many of the songs here evoke a certain sadness that is punctuated by the pain in not only the music, but by the loneliness in Mangum’s voice. We’re then treated to a little something reminiscent of a funeral march, complete with slow drums and haunting, somber horns. As a person lucky enough to see this band perform live, this section truly gives the listener goose bumps.
Following that, the upbeat sounds of “Holland 1945” are presented to us. The upbeat nature only concerns the music though. This is probably the most obvious reference to Anne Frank. He’s desperately trying to free her and save her from the ugly world she was never supposed to witness. This is also probably one of their best known songs besides the title track. It’s my favorite for sure. The music just brings me back to a time that was more simple. It’s a beautiful song, but like much of this band's work, it has a dark undertone that is present if you choose to allow the lyrics and methods of storytelling to stay with you in your heart.
The next highlight of the album comes in the form of the long, but very much necessary “Oh Comely.” The opening vocals of this song are perhaps among my favorite lyrics from any band. This song is just insane, but in a good way. Mangum is able to bring more heart and soul than most full bands could. One of the major influences to this band was the never mentioned enough R.E.M., and you can tell in the way the song are not only structured, but the personal torment Jeff Mangum seems to be giving to these stories. Like I’ve mentioned before, some of the most therapeutic music is often the darkest, and when mentioning this album, it’s easy to see why. The band is giving us a piece of their bodies, and letting us experience things from their point of view. A musician, or artist in general can do no better than opening themselves up and letting the world peek in, even if just for a moment. For me, the most heart wrenching part of not only “Oh Comely,” but the whole album, comes after the hauntingly hum done by Mangum, where he laments about not being able to save her and her family in “Some sort of Time machine.” He goes into great descriptions here discussing bodies buried in a mass grave, next to the people who were tormented in the same way she was, and how fragile life can be.
The last three songs showcase the same somber, fearful emotions of the previous songs. “Ghost” might be the song with the most funk on the album, but it's still an eye-opening, slightly anthemic piece of music. The drums and instant kick in the song are it’s best features, and in it’s in this song where it seems to cement the Anne Frank theory. By writing this album and memorializing her life, she will never die, and people will always be aware of the tragedy that took not only her life, but millions of others. “[Untitled Track]” follows, and while it has no lyrics, it more than makes up in they way it kicks total ass. It might be the dirtiest track on the whole album. From the opening strums, it builds and builds to a confrontation of guitar, drums, and what sounds very much like bagpipes. The horns also make themselves known in the battle for control of sound.
As the album concludes though, we’re treated to the slow burn of the perfectly positioned “ Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2.” The opening always reminds me of a weird Polanski film. I imagine a shot of a over head light spinning under the force of a ceiling fan and the camera going in circular motions blurring the scene. The scene then comes into focus at the same time as Mangum's voice clearly shows up. The track has long held a beautiful, alternative form of a nursery rhyme. Mangum is quietly serenading us as we drift to a wonderful world where everything is as it should be. After all, he even says “In my Dreams You’re Alive.” That pure love and happiness. Lyrically, this is likely the most interesting song. The band is just awesome at imagery, and on this, the last track of the album, they make sure you won’t ever forget it.
This album has been a staple in my life for many years, and each time I step into the suit of the album, it’s spot and placement in my heart grows a little bit more. In retrospect, I’m glad I found it so long after it came out. If it had found me in ’98, I likely would have hated it and would have avoided it forever, but it found me at the right time, and has brought me tons of happiness.
There are few bands who came up in the Alternative Indie scene of the late 80’s who are as iconic, and groundbreaking as Boston’s own The Pixies. Fronted by antagonistic Black Francis, and joined by Joey Santiago, Kim Deal, and David Lovering, this band not only defined alternative rock of the early 90’s, but also brought forth a rawness to a scene that hadn’t been there before. In preparation for what I’m sure will be a great set this weekend at Shaky Knees, I give you the Top Ten Pixies songs. Enjoy!
10. Caribou, Come on Pilgrim
The beginning of the song has a mid western, backroads feel to it, and it winds across the valley in a way that makes you wonder if anything is out there. Black’s voice and the softness at which the vocals are expelled don’t last long, but it never gets in the way of the great song .It’s a song that changes pretty quickly, between the throaty latter singing and the abrasiveness of the textures. I get the impression that some people never really think of this as their first record, but it essentially is, and even though it’s considered a mini album, with songs like this it stands as a great starting place for a monumental band.
9. Here Comes Your Man, Doolittle
Certain songs fit perfectly in situations, and if you were looking for a setting for this track, which finds us at Number 9 on the Top Ten Pixies songs, it would undoubtedly be a peaceful day on a gorgeous white sanded beach with blue skies fading into pinkish hues as the sun sets. It’s a breezy, moving song that is gentle and capable of making you forget all of your real world baggage, even if just for a moment. Kim Deal’s add on during the chorus also give the song a little sweet nudge into perfect days with the world at your finger tips. If you want a track that compliments itself to a gorgeous day near the water with people you care about, look no further.
8. Wave of Mutilation, Doolittle
A little bit of a rougher song around the edges, it’s still a damn fine rocker that is everything you want in a immediate rock track. Black’s voice is quick, in control, and it essentially inspires the song to keep up with the pace and force he’s bringing through his voice. It’s also a really swift song, and at just over two minutes you don’t really get the time to settle in and enjoy it, but maybe it works best in a fleeting moment of intensity that makes you want to rock out and get lost in the excitement.
7. Bone Machine, Surfer Rosa
One of the first songs I ever heard from this band, off of the iconic “Surfer Rosa” album, this song, “Bone Machine” isn’t as heavy and intense as you might think from the title, but it’s a damn good song, and the lyrics are wonderfully quirky and subversive. I mean, why would anyone put references to pedophiles in their songs. Also, maybe it’s not the lyrics that are so unnerving by themselves, but the reverence and joy they get delivered with are incredibly unsettling. But that’s what the Pixies do sometimes. They make nonsensical creepy music for hardcore music fans who couldn’t care less the content of the song as long as it’s a good track.
6. Nimrod’s Son, Come on Pilgrim
Another one off this solid record comes at number six on our list of the best Pixies songs. “Nimrod's Son” is a whirlwind of a track, and from the initial outburst of the song, to the gritty guitar playing courtesy of Joey Santiago, it really makes the song more than just another track. The energy they put into this song is yet another reminder of how easily they can switch tempo’s, all the while bringing the heart of soul into one unifying vision. I’m trying to think of more to add to this, but sometimes it’s important to let the song speak for itself.
5. the Holiday Song, Come On Pilgrim
Few bands capture a sound and energy of a certain time quite like this one, but in regards to the spirit of the time, this track fills the void without fail. Number five of the best Pixies song is “the Holiday Song,” which has always felt to me like a tale of two songs. The title makes you think of things that bring happiness, and smiles fill the room. The other end of that message though is how simple joyful event often go to bad places, mostly because people don’t change. It also can be seen as autobiographical, given the long simmering turmoil among all the members, chiefly between Black and Deal.
4. Gouge Away, Doolittle
What drew me into “Gouge Away” initially was the persistence of the drum beat, but underneath and around that there’s much more happening. Deal’s voice whispering around the edge lingers, while the guitar parts are hypnotic and really show much depth the band has. You’ve heard this style of guitar play before, but it’s the Pixies who showed it to the world initially. The band works so well, on songs like this in particular, because they find a way to bring pop sensibilities to an otherwise dirty, punk filled aesthetic and make it their own. Even today there’s not a band capable of that, which might be why the band is still thought of as an important foundation among “the cool kids.”
3. Gigantic, Surfer Rosa
Years ago, I was at a wedding, and was reminded by the groom that this was in fact a love song, albeit a very untraditional, sort of pornographic one. That thought has stayed with me ever since. That reminder has even outlasted the marriage, but that’s neither here nor there. If ever there was one, this is Kim Deal’s shining moment in the band, and credit where credit's due, it’s because the song is fantastically gorgeous. I mean, lyrically it’s sleazy and the innuendos fly at ease, but that doesn’t make a song lose merit. This has been a favorite among the band for years, and that, and for many other reasons it takes the number three spot on the Top Ten Pixies songs.
2. Where is my Mind?, Surfer Rosa
Will anyone ever be able to hear this song without picturing the climactic explosions at the end of the unbelievably superb “Fight Club”? Maybe, but probably not. I guess it all depends on if you’ve seen the movie. Regardless though, this was a main catalyst for the mighty return of the band. These days it’s common place for bands to break up just so they can swindle fans for a reunion tour, but in 2004 it was a foreign concept. The song though, is still cool as hell decades later, and while you might not initially know it’s about skateboarding and trying to land a difficult trick, once you know that you never lose sight of it. Everything about this track works. The lonely guitar chord, Black’s voice, and the distant echo of the instrumentation all play important parts in this masterfully created song.
1. Debaser, Doolittle
How could you go wrong with the opening song from the band’s most amazing album? The number one track on the Pixies top ten songs, “Debaser,” launches us into a world where “slicing up eyeballs” are commonplace, and the surfer vibe throughout only brings the positivity to places the band doesn’t often dwell. It’s always been a phenomenal song, but what it does and how it succeeds go beyond simple guitar parts and cohesiveness. It sets in motion a record that in fifteen tracks solidified the band as legends, and gives us too many worthy songs on a single record. “Debaser” though, is the best, and always will be. It’s also another one that is almost too short for it’s own good, but maybe that plays to the band's strength. I can’t imagine them having nine minutes to build a song. They simply aren’t that type of band. That what makes them so special in the end. They threw together whatever they had, and ran with it, to marvelous success. Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow!
For nearly half a century, David Bowie has not only redefined how creative an entertainer can be, but how he can be creative in various entertainment settings. This isn’t going to be in depth review of his career and life, because frankly I’m not extremely well versed in the ways of Bowie, but it’s going to be a quick piece about how unrelentingly cool he is. Let’s get started!
First example of how great and important he is the fact that he’s still making records that not only bring about his vision, but that he has over twenty albums that the world can listen to and love. A multitude of them are genuinely brilliant, and go freely among genre’s. Some are obviously better than others, but with that much exposure and experimentation, it’s logical that that would happen.
I mean, think of all the amazing, timeless songs you’ve heard from him. He’s been responsible for the hauntingly distant “Man that Sold the World,” as well as the flashy and elegant “Fame.” Among some of the best albums, “Low,” which was the a big inspiration for Trent Reznor in terms of a sound he liked. Also he’s the man responsible for the iconic album “the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars.” If you haven’t listened to either of those albums, I highly recommend listening to these.
Many rock stars are also known for pushing the boundaries of fashion, and in that regard, Bowie is a man who has for years worn cool shit. It speaks to the wherewithal to using any tool to create a certain package for whatever you might be working on. Bowie is excellent at this, and has been everything from Soldiers, to Aliens, to the normal man in his age range, and for the most part, they’ve all worked in the capacity they were meant to.
Lastly I want to discuss his filmography, and how he’s jumped in and out of awesome movies. The two best examples of this are his work as the menacing Goblin king in the 80’s classic “The Labyrinth,” and of course, playing real life bad ass Nicola Tesla in Nolan’s “The Prestige.”
One could argue that “The :Labyrinth” doesn’t hold up, but I’d highly disagree. It’s a whimsical film, and the dark and violent undertones of what his character does in attempts to find his love is way more messed up when you realize what’s happening. Also his cod piece is kind of incredible, and gives even more weight to his badassdom. I mean, with THAT codpiece no one should be surprised that he’s alleged to have relations with Iggy Pop, as well as being married to the powerful and confident Iman.
But for me, “The Prestige,” is a truly wonderful movie, and misportrayal is calculated and intense in the way that a Tesla should be. The whole movie is a giant intricate web, but it’s Bowie’s portrayal that adds a layer of realism and mystique that really sets the film on a different course once he’s introduced.
In closing, Bowie is a man of many tastes, and he’s even a person who can get impersonated by “Flight of the Conchords”and somehow become more awesome, even though he technically didn’t have anything to do with the episode.
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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