1. The Books - "Smells Like Content"
The Books never cease to surprise me with their unique blend of folk, experimental, and spoken word. It's hard to pick a single song to represent them because their songs are incredibly diverse. While they often incorporate the guitar, banjo, and cello in their music, they also make use of various samplings ranging from famous quotations to music found discarded at thrift stores.
They experiment with many non-traditional musical instruments as well, like toys and filing cabinets, which are looped as background sounds.
Their lyrics are extremely abstract and can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. My favorite line in this song is "Expectation. Often leads to disappointment/ If you don't expect something big and exciting... usually...", at which point the song ends, driving home the point that it is important to live life in the present, and not constantly worried about future gains.
2. The Streets - "Blinded By The Lights"
I have always been a huge fan of Mike Skinner, known by his stage name The Streets. After his latest album was released this February, I've gotten really into him again.
"Blinded By The Lights" is one of his older songs, and one of the first songs that attracted me to The Streets. It's a really relaxed song, documenting the frustration Mike experiences losing his friends at a club, then ultimately discovering his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend. The song documents his initial spiral downward, but ultimately culminating in complete bliss and overcoming his emotions.
3. Borgore - "Guided Relaxation Dub"
With the dubstep genre becoming increasingly popular, I feel that many artists have simply become interchangeable with one another. It's just a difference of where each artist decides to throw in the mandatory "whoomp... whooomp." Borgore puts an entirely new spin on the dubstep genre, creating a much grimier and almost metal sound.
While his music might not be everyone's cup of tea, I find it refreshing to see an artist reinventing a genre becoming overwhelmed with generic sounds. The drop after the initial guided relaxation sampling makes you realize this isn't your generic, American Apparel hipster dubstep.
4. Immortal Technique - "Leaving The Past"
Current hip-hop artists tend to focus on glorification of a criminal lifestyle, drugs and violence. Immortal Technique is unique with his music in that he focuses on political activism in his lyrics. He expresses commentary on poverty, racism, religion, governmental oppression and conspiracy and historical facts. It's impressive how he manages to merge impressive rhymes and beats with controversial topics.
In "Leaving The Past," he discusses the dangers of our capitalist society and the oppression we freely impose on other countries with our military strength. He also explores the topic of racial inequality that still exists in modern society even though we tend to overlook it. One of the most powerful lines in this song I think is, "I hate it when they tell us how far we came to be/ as if our peoples' history started with slavery."
5. Rodrigo y Gabriela - "Tamacun"
I've been obsessed with this band ever since I saw them last year. The band is comprised of Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero. Their music is a fusion of Latin rock, folk rock, and metal. Both musicians share a passion for metal music, and incorporate fast rhythmic guitar-playing and extended solos in their music. It's hard to find a song by them that I don't like, but I think "Tamacun" is a good example of the unique style they have created.
6. Yello - "Oh Yeah"
I just had to include this song in my blog as an homage to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which I just re-watched a couple days ago. Every time that I ace an exam or do well on a presentation, this song inevitably starts playing in my head. It's the perfect soundtrack to success.
--Billy Bracken, Sales Director