The week leading up to Christmas and through the first week after New Years is generally quiet – the phones aren’t ringing. Clients, contractors, and sub’s are all taking some time off. This means I can come into the office and get a lot of work done without distraction … and turn the music up while I’m working. I think there is something to music and the creative process and I frequently have something playing in the background all day, every day. As a result, I listen to a lot of music … except the more popular something is the less likely I am to want to listen to it. As a result, I tend to jump around in what I am listening to at any one moment. One of the luxuries of having a private office (other than naps at your desk) is that I can play whatever music I want to listen to without having to get permission or reach consensus from the group … or as I like to call them (hand in flippy motion while looking in opposite direction) “those people”.
As a warning, in an effort to get these songs on here, I went to Youtube and tracked down these videos. None of these songs is on this list because of the video … except for maybe the very last one – but it’s just too hilarious not to mention.
(for some reason, some YouTube videos won’t display on some mobile devices … sorry, you’ll just have to come back once you’re off your phone)
Bill Withers – Use Me
What can you say about Bill Withers – he dominated 1970’s soul music with a half dozen of songs that everybody knows. Put some of his music in your rotation and get your groove on.
Ben Harper – Use Me (from Live from Abbey Road)
I always like to throw one pair of comparison songs whenever I put together one of these lists. Since I started with Bill Withers, I decided to pair him up with the smoothest folk rocker to enter the music scene since the early 90’s. Of course, it’s easy to see how Ben Harper can take a soul classic like Use Me and make it sound fresh. By the way, this video is from the series ‘Live from Abbey Road’ which is typically one of the best hours of TV you will find – it airs on the Sundance Channel.
Curve – Fait Accompli
Curve was an early 90’s band that I listened to when I was spending a lot of late nights up in the architecture studio while in college. They have a very big sound – you can’t listen to this one without the volume set on 11, otherwise, it all sounds like chaos. On a side note, I went and saw them in concert and I was probably 20 feet away from lead singer Toni Halliday and I was absolutely convinced (still am) that she spent most of the night looking right at me while singing. Probably part of the reason I liked the band so much…
Don’t judge the song by the video … and if you want to judge me for liking this group, knock yourself out, they were ahead of their time. nobody I know has ever heard of Curve and that’s a shame.
Frightened Rabbit – Swim Until You Can’t See Land
Out of Scotland (the first of two on this list), I just started listening to this group … and I couldn’t figure out how to describe them – so I looked it up. According to Justin Farrar over at Rhapsody, “Glasgow’s Frightened Rabbit fuses art school indie pop and stripped down folk-rock while filtering its influences — everything from Interpol to Joe Jackson to Thin Lizzy — through a fragile tenderness and naked earnestness that seems to be uniquely Scottish.”
That’s pretty much what I was going to say.
Peter Gabriel – Shock the Money
When this song came up in the rotation, without even thinking I started to groove in my desk chair like I was the monkey getting shocked. For that reason alone I decided to include it. Besides, it deserves to be here on the genius of the line “Don’t you monkey with the monkey” … doesn’t everybody know that you should NEVER, EVER monkey with the monkey?
Radiohead – Lotus Flower
What can I say, I am a fan of these alternative rock superstars. Thom Yorke (I almost wrote Mayne – you have to be an architect to get that) is at his falsetto-y best on this song. To truly understand some of the greatness of this song and the mixing going on, you either need headphones or decent computer speakers. Listen to the snare drum and how it moves from left to right channel around the 2:50 mark. That is some attention to detail people.
Mumford & Sons – Dust Bowl Dance
Another UK based indie rock/ folk/ bluegrass group for your listening pleasure. Between Mumford & Sons and Frightened Rabbit, I am itching to go back to the UK and listen to pub house music while drinking as many pints as I can.
We Were Promised Jetpacks – It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning
Oh no I didn’t … but of course, I did. Two Scottish bands on one list? You tell me if they are worth listening to.
Julian Plenti – Games for Days
Julian Plenti’s real name is Paul Banks and his other main gig is as lead singer for one of my 3 most favorite bands in the last 10 years – Interpol. If you’ve heard of Interpol, you have a chance of knowing Julian Plenti … otherwise, you have no shot. Great melodies, driving bass, interesting instrumentation … I think my wife loves him (just not the version seen in this video).
LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk is Playing At My House
This song came up in the rotation and is infectious. After listening to the song, everyone was walking around muttering “Daft Punk is playing at my haus … myyy haus“.
Edgar Winter Group – Frankenstein
Okay, I’ll admit that I like this song but the reason I included it here is that this video is completely over the top … particularly at the 1:03 to 1: 10-minute mark. Just what in the heck is the guitarist on the right doing? He’s definitely thinking something deviant.
One of the comments on this video was spot on so I am going to rehash it here – “I’m pretty sure Edgar can play every instrument known to man and several known to monkeys…”. You are right emperorsenshi, absolutely right.
Let me know in the comment section what you’re listening to – I clearly need some help.