Friday, 25 May 2012

10 Great Deep Tracks

This topic is almost lost with that state of the music world how it is. A deep track is a song that was never released as a single and therefore was pretty much only known to those who owned the album. With the instant availability of music nowadays it's pretty much just a free for all. So this list might have a tinge of nostalgia, but we're gonna do it anyway. 10 Great Deep Tracks.

1. "Shackled" - Vertical Horizon

One of the greatest deep tracks in my opinion. The last track on 1999's Everything You Want, "Shackled" was never released as a single and had a different almost darker feel than some of their poppier singles. When I was growing up everyone thought Vertical Horizon were Canadian...they aren't. They're from Washington, DC. I think they even taped a commercial poking fun at this misconception.

2. "Ophelia" - Moist

This one is on the verge of being a true deep track. It's from Moist's perfect 1996 album Creature, if you haven't heard it do it immediately. To us Canadians though it was also featured on Much Music's first Big Shiny Tunes. A yearly compilation CD put out by Canada's MTV. It's been getting shittier and shittier every year, the first one though had some great stuff on it. Including this gem.

3. "Mankind" - Pearl Jam

This one could be the king of this list. From one of their most obscure album's No Code comes one of their most bizarre tracks "Mankind. Most people couldn't even identify it as a Pearl Jam track unless they played the album. It's no surprise however, as Eddie Vedder doesn't sing on it, guitarist Stone Gossard does and the song plays like a throw-back to early 60's Beatlesesque rock n' roll. One of my faves.

4. "Nutshell" - Alice In Chains

Love this song off of Jar Of Flies Alice In Chain's legendary 1994 release. Although many bands have attempted the miserable, sombre vibe in their even some later Alice songs, they seem to fall short. In "Nutshell" you can almost feel Layne Staley's disdain...alomst like he's sitting next to you. This song has been covered numerous times, but never released as single.

5. "Manhattan" - Kings Of Leon

Kings Of Leon ruled the world in 2008. Their atmospheric rise to the top of the music world coincided with the release of Only By The Night, one of the few albums released in the 2000's that fuckin' everybody owns. Sadly subsequent albums failed to match that success, but atleast we'll always have this one to remember those brisk Autumn nights

6. "Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist" - Muse

When I first heard Muse's 2003 album Absolution it blew me away. Reminded me of Radiohead, just with a harder edge. "Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist" quickly caught my attention for it's energy and originality.

7. "Sulk" - Radiohead

Since I mentioned Radiohead I thought I should include them. Any song really from either The Bends or OK Computer could have been a part of this list, but "Sulk" from The Bends always stood out for me. It was inspired my the killing spree in Hungerford, UK by Michael Ryan which left 16 people dead. Some lyrics were changed after Kurt Cobain's suicide however so it wouldn't be misinterpreted as a song about that. "Just shoot your gun" became "you'll never change"

8. "Journey To The End Of East Bay" - Rancid

Written about their time as Punk/Ska band Operation Ivy, Rancid's "Journey To The End Of East Bay" was included on their breakthrough release ...And Out Come The Wolves. This album actually featured many deep tracks like "Lock, Step & Gone", "As Wicked" and "The Way I Feel". Perhaps one of my favourite basslines in song, by legendary bass man Matt Freeman

9. "Same In The End" - Sublime

Perhaps best known as being the song sandwiched between "Wrong Way" and "April 29,1992 (Miami)" "Same In The End" has long been my favourite track on Sublime's 1996 self-titled release. Sadly frontman Bradley Nowell would never see the fame it brought the group as he died before it was even released from a heroin overdose. Drugs suck.

10. "The Last Stop" - Dave Matthews Band

There's an episode of The Office (US) where Andy is by himself in a roller disco. He tells the dj to play some Dave Matthews Band "no singles! Deep tracks only!" it's kind of where I got the name for this list, so I felt I should honour it and include some DMB. Perhaps they're best known for their non-singles, as most hardcore DMB fans write the radio friendly tunes off and insist on drawn out versions of "Warehouse" and "Two Step" during their epic concerts anyway. I chose "The Last Stop" because it's a truly unique song, featuring some diverse instruments and some intense vocal work from Mr. Matthews. I've always had a soft spot for Before These Crowded Streets as well.


Thursday, 10 May 2012

10 Great Whistling Songs

Whistling. It's one of those things that some people can do and some people can't. And some people it's all they do is whistle all day everyday...whether you want them to or not. Regardless, it was definitely one of the first ways humans communicated and even made music. The right kind of whistling can really make or break a song. Here are 10 Great Songs that feature whistling...and no there is no blowing of whistles....bitch.

1. "Young Folks" - Peter, Bjorn & John

There couldn't be a list without this one. It was everywhere in 2006 and 2007, in fact most people didn't even know it's title, simply referring to it as 'the whistle song'. Sweden's Peter, Bjorn & John (PB&J) were relatively unknown until this song blew up overseas. They initially wanted to replace the whistling with another instrument but realized the whistle was the song.

2. "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay" - Otis Redding

I know i've sung his praises on The Void before, but Otis deserves every ounce of credit he gets. This song is one of those liberating musical experiences. Enjoying life as you let it slowly pass you by. The whistle break conjures the image of a man happily being at peace with himself, not needing anything else but his own mind and soul.

3. "Don't Stop" - Foster The People

The newest song on the list. Foster The People's smash "Pumped Up Kicks" also had a whistling part, but this one features it right out of the gates! Also I used that other song on my best of 2011 list.

4. "Ganja Babe" - Michael Franti & Spearhead

Michael Franti is an American artist who sings lead and is the driving force behind Spearhead. His group mixes hip-hop with reggae, jazz, poetry and spoken word. "Ganja Babe" is a chill song about jammin' and having a good time. The occasional whistle almost sounds like that old sting frequently used in the shoot out scenes from old western movies.

5. "Games Without Frontiers" - Peter Gabriel

"..whistling tunes we hide in the dunes by the seaside..." such a great song that truly stands out among the typical riff raff one encounters on generic classic rock radio. Not only is there much debate about what this song is about (Olympics, global politics), but long before the internet people everywhere were trying to decipher what is being said in the refrain...of course we all know now that it is Jeux sans frontieres the french translation of the title...

6. "Home" - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes

Another song that practically blew up over night. It's got a great vibe and the whistling intro really suits the song well. This song has been used in television shows, movie trailers and covered in countless pubs and coffee shops all over the globe. It was released in 2009.

7. "Mr. Bojangles" - Sammy Davis Jr.

"Mr. Bojangles" is one of those songs that has been given a life of it's own through various recordings and versions. I liked Sammy Davis Jr.'s version...something about the way his voice goes with the song, he really capture's the pain expressed there in. Also the whistling breaks give you a sense of hope that Bojangles is going to be alright, despite all his troubles. The song starts around the 1 min mark in the video, but it's worth watching the whole thing. If you aren't familiar with why Davis Jr was so popular...a simple, propless performance like this can help with that.

8. "Jealous Guy" - John Lennon

If you haven't heard of John Lennon, first of all WHAT'S UP CAVE MAN????? Secondly, he was possibly the most important piece of one of rock and roll's greatest acts: The Beatles. After their split he enjoyed a successful solo career. Spawning many great hits like "Imagine", "Woman" and "Watching The Wheels". Most people forget about "Jealous Guy" but it gets a shot in the limelight here...because hey...whistle break!

9. "Engel" - Rammstein

Going to take a left turn right about here. Rammstein actually had 2 songs I could've included on this list, the other being the sombre "Roter Sand". "Engel" though had a different vibe. Instead of bringing the mood down or on the level with the whistling I feel in 'Engel" is offers an ethereal feel. Whistling in the middle of an industrial rock song is evidently awesome!

10. "Patience" - Guns 'n Roses

What better way to end than with a little "Patience"? Sure Guns 'n Roses have been somewhat of a punchline in the last few decades, but there was a time when they ruled the world. Axl and the boys were unstoppable with songs like this. Relatable, soothing and endlessly listenable "Patience" has that touch of magic that later GNR albums just didn't have. I will get to Chinese Democracy on another list. For now though, enjoy...

Whistle on friends


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

10 Great Acoustic Songs (Female Version)

As promised when I reported on great acoustic songs from the men's point of view, here are 10 Great Songs by the ladies who picked up that lonely guitar and strummed their fingers across it's solemn strings

1. Laura Marling - "New Romantic"

British singer/songtress Laura Marling got her start as part of Noah and The Whale. She soon found her own voice when she left the group for a solo career. "New Romantic" is a great love/hate song from the woman's side. Definitely an old soul in her 22 years on this planet, wisdom beyond her years is evident on this track.

2. Ingrid Michaelson - "Be OK"

It seems to be one of the best ways to get noticed these days is for your songs be featured in a popular TV show. Ingrid Michaelson has had several tracks used on Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy, & Bones among others. As well as had her songs covered and recorded by other popular artists. Not bad for a 32 year old from the New York indie scene

3. Tegan & Sara - "Call It Off"

Canada's twin sister group attack Tegan & Sara have been gaining momentum and a steady fan base since their 1999 debut Under Feet Like Ours. "Call It Off" is a stripped down, bare bones, heart on the sleeve song that really exemplifies the way the sisters are able to play off each other and create something wonderful like only they can.

4. Ani DiFranco - "Anticipate"

Ani DiFranco is a great example of someone finding success on their own terms. It's possible she has released more albums than many major record label acts, but she has never signed with one.  Instead all her albums are released by her own label Righteous Babe . Ask any DiFranco fan to name their favourite song and it's damn near impossible. "Anticipate" is one of mine because it doesn't sound like any acoustic song i've heard her vibe.

5. Schuyler Fisk - "Hello"

I like the name Schuyler for a girl...though i've never seen it spelled as such before. "Hello" is one of those stripped down, straight forward songs that the acoustic guitar was created for. Playing for a household pet or an army of stuffed animals instead of the one the song was written for. Fun fact! Fisk is the daughter of popular actress Sissy Spacek.

6. Priscilla Ahn - "Dream"

Another one of those artists who people might recognize from hearing her songs in TV shows, but are arsed if they can put a name to them. This is one of those songs I can just put on, lay back and forget about everything else. So soothing. So comforting.

7. Meiko - "Boys With Girlfriends"

Here's another sweet little ditty from a little known songwriter who goes by the moniker Meiko. There is a few songs done by ladies with this vibe. Meet a great guy, but then also meet their wonderful significant other whom they're crazy for. Odd seeing the 'friendzone' from the other side I suppose.

8. Joni Mitchell - "Both Sides Now"

How could I do a list like this without Joni Mitchell? Canada's first lady of great music. This one goes all the way back to 1967, long before anyone else on this list was even considered. Rolling Stone plugged this song into #170 on their Top 500 Songs Of All Time list...quite a hallmark. It's been covered multiple times over the past 5 decades since it's release. Just take a listen and enjoy. Joni!

9. Tristan Prettyman - "Madly"

Prettyman got her start in the club scene in San Diego where she met Jason Mraz and a union of music and love was ignited. Sadly their relationship didn't last but her music has continued to impress and inspire fans and critics alike.  Expect a new album from Tristan this year.

10. Holly Brook - "Saturdays"

Holly has since changed her name to Skylar Grey (thats more like it!) and has been nominated for multiple grammys in her career. "Saturdays" is a fun quirky song that digs a hole into your head and builds a nice little nest there. All that is intended in a good way...she's got a very sexy voice too...doesn't hurt.

All done

JZ out