“Title and Registration” by Death Cab For Cutie. This was the first song I ever heard by Death Cab. It comes from their Transatlanticism album. What drew my attention to it was the lyrics. They are eloquently written. Ben Gibbard sings, “The glove compartment isn’t accurately named, and everybody knows it. So I’m proposing a swift, orderly change, because behind it’s door there’s nothing to keep my fingers warm, and all I find are souvenirs from better times, before the gleam of your tail lights fading east to find yourself a better life.” It was the first time I really understood that lyrics could be something more than screamed or contain something more than traditional pop culture lyricism. It was fascinating and wonderfully magical that there was intelligent music. The instrumentation is fairly simple in this song, which helps add weight to his confession. If you make a study of words and not beats, harmonies and rhythms, then this is definitely a song worth looking at.
“Everlasting Light” by The Black Keys. This song comes from their latest album, Brothers. Several of people told me to consider listening to these guys, and I had actually read several articles about them, but never really jumped. When I finally did, I understood immediately why people recommended it to me. The Black Keys have perfected the two-man team. Drums, distorted bass and vocals, they have a southern bluesy charm. This track is the first song off the album, and is the perfect song to leap into. It is steady and powerful, like a train engine, and reminds me of a modern Johnny Cash.
“Dokkoise House (With Face Covered)” by Anathallo. I first heard this band because they toured with The Format in 2006 and 2007. This was one of the songs they played, and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I have heard them described as indie, rock, folk, and experimental. With such classifications, I think it is safe to say they belong to all of those tags, and yet none of them. They use a variety of instruments, the traditional ones such as piano, drums, guitar, and bass, but also nontraditional ones such as pipes, velcro strips, and chains. This track has very few words, which leads me to believe that the band wants the music to talk. Though this track is almost life altering upon hearing it live, the recording is still strong. Opening with small chimes, progressing to guitar, percussion and horns, the music stops to allow singer Matt Joynt to utter the few lines of lyrics the song has. Though everyone experiences music differently, I would highly recommend listening to this song on headphones and closing your eyes.
“Time Consumer” by Coheed and Cambria. This was the song that introduced me to this band, and to Claudio’s distinguishing voice. It is off their album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, which Equal Vision Records released in 2002. Often cited as a progressive rock band, Coheed and Cambria have perfected the art of combining complicated guitar rhythms with unique percussion. These factors add to the overall effect Coheed has on its listeners. For me, the music is what made this particular track. The introduction is over a minute of guitar and drums, pausing briefly after thirty seconds. It is reminiscent of a clock, ticking off moments, before Claudio’s vocals begin. Also, some of my favorite lyrics comes from this song: “Pain is only a pulse if you just stop feeling it.”
“Paris (Ooh La La)” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. What is there not to love about this track? A female lead and strong lyrics, great sixties and early seventies rock vibe, something you can really strut your stuff to, with a sound that can be at home both at a party and in the regular day. The band combines sounds from blues, soul, funk and good old rock n’ roll, with lead singer Grace Potter sounding like a reincarnated Janis Joplin. The band formed in late 2002 and has released five albums, the latest of which this song comes from. To my female readers, you need this song. It’s like having a mixture of complete confidence and sexual prowess shot into your arm. So worth the $0.99. (P.S. if you go to Amazon.com, the album is only $5.99.)