in Music

The ABC’s of iTunes

A: Part One of Max’s Twenty-Six Part Post

They say that music is the tunnel to one’s soul. Okay, so I might have just made that up, but for the sake of not being able to come up with a better intro sentence, I’m gonna go ahead and run with it.

There’s a grain of truth in that fake saying, and it’s this: taste in music is often reflective of who one is as a person.

With that in mind, I decided to take on a mammoth project that should give you an idea of who I am. This is the first in a 26 part post that will cover my top ten favorite songs from bands of every letter of the alphabet. (I’m basically doing this because there’s no way I could narrow my favorite songs down to an all encompassing top 10 list… so I settled for a top 260 list instead. Yep.)

Let’s get started! Woohoo!

Airborne Toxic Event – “Missy”

Missy got off the bus one day
In a crowd of people, downtown LA
She looked around as if to say, ‘I’m home’
But I’m home

There are two reasons why I love this song. Okay, actually there are three – the least important of which is that it’s catchy. The other two reasons are that it tells a story – something I love in songs – and that the upbeat melody is combined with semi-dark lyrics. Yet at the same time, the overall message of the song seems to be optimistic.

Alex Winston – “Velvet Elvis”

When I feel your velvet, I can’t help it
Hold your frame, whisper your name
When I feel your velvet, I can’t help it
And you don’t breathe, so you can’t leave

My god, this song. An old-school, peppy arrangement, once again mixed with dark lyrics. Who can’t love a song about a girl who falls in love with a picture of Elvis and gets taken away to an insane asylum, all because she’s too afraid to take a chance and risk being hurt by a real person?

Alexi Murdoch – “Crinan Wood”

It was cold you hid your hands inside your sleeve
As we walked I heard the laughter in the leaves
See the shadows lying now where once we stood
And I would lie down with them if I only could

If anyone can tell me what instrument is being played in this song I would really appreciate it, because I want to hear more of whatever it is. The unique sound is mixed with pretty standard breakup lyrics, but still, it’s on my list because of that awesome mystery instrument and finger picking.

alt-J – “Hand-Made”

Legions upon legions of craftsmen handmade my feelings.
There’s bears in the wood and they’re out to get me,
And I’m safe from harm if I stay in this chalet.
And hold me tight and I’ll sink in,

Ah, a trusty love song. What sets this apart for me, though, is the odd lyrics expressing said love. I love the chalet symbolism, and there’s a sense of paranoia surrounding the pair at the center of the song that gives the whole thing an interesting feeling of dread.

Andrew Bird – “Orpheo Looks Back”

There are places we must go to
To bring these hollow words on back from
You must cross the muddy river
Where love turns to love turns to fear

The lyrics of this song are obviously a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, yet there seems to be a deeper meaning, too. While researching song interpretations (yes, I do that, what of it?) I came across one that likened the lyrics to a metaphor for the process of being creative and plagued with self-doubt. I’m pretty partial to that viewpoint.

Animal Collective – “Peacebone”

A Peacebone got found in the dinosaur wing
Well I’ve been jumpin all over, but my views were slowly shrinking
I was a jugular vein in a juggler’s girl
I was supposedly leaking the most interesting colors

This song combines a crunchy electro beat with complex lyrics that I am nowhere near done figuring out. At first glance they seem to suggest a long history lesson and the idea that humans being are made of nothing but meat, but deeper down it is a confusing mess that I have fun listening to while trying to understand.

The Antlers – “I Don’t Want Love”

You want to climb up the stairs
I want to push you right down
But I like you inside
So you can push me right now

This is the first song on the followup album to The Antler’s previous work, Hospice – an autobiographical concept album about a dying love interest. I assume the outcome of that situation lead to this new song, which, when you know the story behind it, is heartbreaking.

Arctic Monkeys – “From Ritz to Rubble”

Last night these two bouncers
And one of em’s alright
The other one’s the scary one
His way or no way, totalitarian

After listening to your favorite music alphabetically and slogging through all that depression, it’s nice to just have something fun and slightly hateful to fall back on. Who doesn’t love hearing rocking songs about drunken debauchery?

Astronautilus – “The Wondersmith and his Sons”

I was born a charming man with silver tongue, pearl teeth.
This’s never how it’s ‘sposed to end, we’re promised all we dreamed
The envy of the Everyman our family seemed complete,
Our father was a charming man, our mother a serene.

There’s something endearing about nerdy white history buffs rapping. The fact that this nerdy white rapper has managed to make this song sound so sinister is an awesome feat.

Atmosphere – “Puppets”

Don’t ever do a dance with the devil now
That smile is a sign that you’re sellin’ out
Judgement, gossip, ethics
Let’s just exploit all this excess

For some reason, I always imagine this song playing during the trailer of a modern-day western movie. I don’t know why, but that makes me like it even more.

Photo credit: Megan Thompson