Last week I ran a post on five songs that were well-known and rather non-hipster that were among my favorites of all-time. This week however, I’m going a bit of a different direction and throwing five songs out there that are not quite as famous. Although in some instances you may have heard of the band or even the song, for the most part these tracks reflect some of my favorites from albums that are less commercially known. None of these songs were released as singles for mainstream radio play either (at least not in the USA), so unless played at specific request I rather doubt you would hear them by turning the radio dial.
5. Head over Heels (in this Life) – Switchfoot
The follow-up to the follow-up of their most commercially and best received album The Beautiful Letdown, Oh! Gravity adds a distinctly more poppy and upbeat feel than their previous effort of the darker Nothing is Sound. Head over Heels is a very happy song, and has what I would call cute visualistic lyrics. It is nothing too special or fancy, but like drinking a glass bottle of Coca-Cola while fishing on a beautiful spring late afternoon, this song simply puts a relaxed smile upon your face.
4. Howl – Florence and the Machine
Off their debut album Lungs, Florence and the Machine through their two studio albums has solidified as a current favorite of mine in the music scene. I first backtracked from Ceremonials to Lungs and discovered that although not quite as lyrically matured, the good content on Lungs is as good as anything Florence Welch has written. Obviously, “Dog Days Are Over” is probably the most recognized and best song on this release, but even with singles such as “Kiss with a Fist” and “Rabbit Heart” I picked “Howl” to be my second favorite track on the album. The lyrics compare young love and passion to an animal or even perhaps werewolf base desire, and in doing so achieve a dark take on immature destructive love. The lyrics are so poetic, and the way the words roll off of Florence’s tongue is simply mesmerizing.
3. Forest Whitaker – Bad Books
Jonathan Drama’s brother Quintus Dellius first showed me this song through his “What’s the Alternative?” playlist on Spotify. Although I did not think all of those songs were heaven sends, this one jumped out more than enough to me so that I actually took the time to find and download it, something that is rather rare for myself. I confess that I have not listened to anything else that Bad Books has released (this song is off their second studio album entitled II), but if this track is any indication, they definitely have a unique sound. Forest Whitaker has a good beat, creative and relatable lyrics, and is well produced to form a fantastic final product.
2. AKA…Broken Arrow – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Yes, my Oasis obsession continues even through lesser-known tracks that are not even explicitly by Oasis themselves. Besides anything by The Fray, Florence and the Machine, and Lana del Rey, throwing on Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds self titled album is one of my favorite things to do when trying to relax. This song to be honest does not terribly make a lot of sense at first glance, but that’s where I glimpse the most creativity that Gallagher has yet to offer. Judging by some of his previous writings, Noel is no stranger to simply writing nonsense that when turned into song translates to a higher poetic meaning. When asked what the lyrics “slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball” in “Champagne Supernova” meant, Gallagher responded, “I don’t know. But are you telling me, when you’ve got 60,000 people singing it, they don’t know what it means? It means something different to every one of them.” On the surface, Noel doesn’t always make sense when he writes, but when he does it comes off with enough strength that it creates its own meaning and becomes memorable that way.
1. Kings Horses – JET
As Thurston Howell and I both like to point out, JET is best known for their blatant ripoff of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” in their 2003 hit song “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”. Beyond some TV adverts and having songs interspersed in films, the Aussie brothers Cester formed a band that was mostly a flash in the pan, something that existed in mainstream popularity in the mid 2000’s. Heralded as the next coming of AC/DC, with their recentish split it seems that Nic Cester has taken his musical style talents elsewhere, probably to be heard of only when he covers “Back in Black” wonderfully with Muse again. Despite producing some utter garbage (check Pitchfork’s review of their album Shine On for proof) that I loved in sophomore year of high school, there were flashes of brilliance, most notably this song “Kings Horses”. The meaning of the song is quite simple, as it is about a person’s regret over a situation where after everything falls apart they realize that they could have easily prevented it from happening. It’s also hopeful in the fact that even though (stealing from the rhyme and the song) “all the kings horses and all the kings men (couldn’t put him back together again)”, that you can always start over. Where this song delivers its genius is by piecing together nursery rhymes into the lyrics and creating a memorable sing-song ballad that is both creative and simply meaningful. Maybe if JET could have written more songs like this, they wouldn’t get an album review that is simply a video of a monkey urinating in its own mouth.