“I Loved The Way She Said L.A.” by Spitalfield. This song is found on the Remember Right Now album that Victory Records released in 2003. I was first introduced to this song when I was a senior in high school. I have a very distinct memory of being on a road trip with my mother during spring break and having this song on repeat. The track has a very memorable guitar riff, and excellent overlapping vocals. The lyrics speak about moving away and leaving behind those you love, but singer Mark Rose sings from the perspective of the one left behind. Favorite lyrics: “She goes to California, oh California, not so far. When I close my eyes and wonder where you are, and you wish upon a star, two thousand miles doesn’t seem so far.”
“Happy Ending” by Mika. This track is found on Life In Cartoon Motion. I heard this song through a great friend of mine. She had spent a semester abroad and when she returned, this was one of the musical acts that she talked about. I downloaded the album, gave it a listen, and was immediately hooked. Mika is the stage name of Beirut born, London raised Michael Holbrook Penniman, a classically trained musician. This specific song has very unique parts to it, beginning and ending with female voices singing the chorus, with a middle where Mika showcases his vocal range and song writing abilities. Near the end, there is a cacophony of voices, piano, strings and drums that sound more at home in a musical and not on the radio. From beginning to end, this track is phenomenal.
“After Hours” by We Are Scientists. I love this track, which is found on 2008’s Brain Thrust Mastery. It is a drum and guitar driven song that can lighten your mood and get you pumped for the day, or more specifically, a night out. The lyrics are simple, yet are diverse in understanding, appealing to a wider variety of people. Keith Murray could be singing about a night out with friends that he just doesn’t want to end, or it could be the perfect illustration of what we think, but don’t have the courage to say, on a first date. He sings, “This night is winding down, but time means nothing. As always, at this hour, time means nothing. One final, final round, ’cause time means nothing. Say that you’ll stay, say that you’ll stay.”
“Swing” by Taking Back Sunday. I have followed this band since 2002. One of the things that I always love from Taking Back Sunday are the lyrics. They are biting, and Adam Lazzara is a great vehicle for delivering them. He has a strong voice and breathes life and emotion into each word. Lazzara sings, “Open the gate to your apartment complex, you’re not getting off that easily. I climb the fence, the one that you’ve been sitting on. How long, before I’m just a memory, how long, before you can’t remember me, remember me.”
“Orange Shirt” by Discovery. Combine one part Vampire Weekend with one part Ra Ra Riot, add electronica and a dash of pop, and you get Discovery. The first time I heard this song, I was unsure what to think, with 808 beats and random electronic instrumentation, it took over the ears. Beginning with a single tick, it blasts into the song and brings you into a different world. Rostam Batmanglij (of Vampire Weekend) and Wes Miles (of Ra Ra Riot) collaborate to bring you a very distinct sound slightly reminiscent of each band they hail from. The lyrics are hard to decipher, but it is not harmful to the song. It’s an energetic track that just makes you want to bounce your head and dance.