All music enthusiasts have those special songs. The ones that aren’t really songs, but more so out-of-body experiences. Of course that is the strange, beautiful power of music. It can produce an aural representation of emotions that impact us unlike any other art form. Our amygdalas are super sensitive to sound–it’s the scientific proof that we have strong emotional connections with the music we listen to! There are some songs that are remarkable to us because of personal experience, and most songs we can agree, as a culture, are absolute bangers. 

1. To start, Heroes by Bowie is THE tunnel song (iykyk). Naturally, this track had to be first. It is the perfect anthem for the youth. Even with a chord progression that gets better every listen, I still wish I could go back and hear it for the first time. The groovy feedback guitar and subtle tambourine is reminiscent of The Velvet Underground, but with a more glam rock sound. The contrasting lyrics of, “just for one day,” and yet, “forever and ever,” tell a story of fleeting joy and the unsteady ups and downs that coincide with the coming of age (however it’s deeply ironic if you know the real background to these lyrics). I highly recommend listening to Heroes driving at sunset with the windows down at full volume.

2. Easier–Grizzly Bear. I am a diehard Grizzly Bear fan. This band is truly a rare breed of musical genius. Largely attributed to their eclectic use of genre, Grizzly Bear combines elements from all corners of music and creates a new sound: often melancholic while extraordinarily triumphant. The intricacies of their production needs to be known! All of their releases are works of art, but this one is my personal favorite. “Easier” is the intro track from the 2006 studio album Yellow House, released on Warp Records. It has a brilliant piano and flute instrumental that carries the acoustic melody, accompanied by the harmonizing vocals of all four band members. If you allow it, the track is sure to overwhelm your ears and turn into something that touches your soul. 

3. Call It Fate, Call It Karma by The Strokes Is such a gem! Defining a genre for this one is quite difficult; it is one of a kind. It sounds like a forgotten memory or dream of a captivating lost love. Lyrics like, “Can I stay in your light just for a while,” absolutely add to that feeling. The angelic vocals of Julian Casablancas mix perfectly with the vintage sound of mellotron keyboard. This song is from their LP called Comedown Machine, from 2013. Headphones are highly recommended for this listen.

4. Sea, Swallow me–Cocteau Twins and Harold Budd: This song is one glorious example of the genius that is Elizabeth Fraser, the lead vocalist and lyricist of Cocteau Twins. She is globally recognized as an unprecedented visionary, and rightfully so. All of Fraser’s projects are glittering harmonies that ignite feelings you didn’t know were possible to feel. The track awakens a wild inexplicable feeling of nostalgic euphoria. “Sea, Swallow Me” is the intro track on the 1986 collaboration album The Moon and the Melodies, signed with 4AD Records. It’s one of the more ambient compositions compared to the band’s other work, (besides Victorialand, released the same year). This is credited to Harold Budd, who is an expert in ambience. If you like this tune, but haven’t explored much of their discography, I strongly advise you to do so! Cocteau twins are beautiful revolutionaries of serene synth mastery. A PERFECT song.

5. Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized Is a one of a kind song with tranquil frequencies. This title track from 1997 is a gift to the senses; it is a celestial journey of glorious harmony portraying an undeniably remarkable love ballad. No further words are necessary.

6. Title Fight’s Safe In Your Skin Starts with an abrupt opening and intense waveforms that may cause some listeners to skip at first, but for real, wait thirty seconds for the diminuendo. You will experience arguably one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time, followed by a head banging drop that you feel down to your toes. Title Fight is a quintessential screamo band that surfaced in 2009. Since then, they have reinvented melo-core, adding a shoegaze type distortion to their bass lines. Word on the street says they are on an ‘indefinite hiatus,’ but we need to hear more from this exceptional band. Equally as perfect, Head in the Ceiling Fan is another stellar release from Title Fight

7. Wonder Boy by Morella’s Forest iis a top secret gem that I will not be gatekeeping. Throughout the song, there’s waxing and waning between feedback crescendo and ethereal melodies. This track should be discordant, but instead it creates a perfect balance of that sensational dreamo fuzzy guitar. “Wonder Boy” comes from their 1995 debut EP Super Deluxe. This band is quite unknown with less than 2,000 monthly listeners which is astonishing considering the beauty and grit in their music. 

8. You can t breathe memories by Hood is, yet again, a secret tune I’m slightly reluctant to share. This one is beautiful, soft math-rock tranquility. With layered drum patterns, keyboard, and chilling vocals, this track is a special piece of music. It was never officially released on an album, but you can find the single on “The Lost You” from Domino Recordings in 2004.  

9. Gilded Lily by Cults (an absolute beauty and masterpiece from Cults), is a whirlwind of emotion. It released in October of 2022 on their third album Offering. Since then it has skyrocketed in popularity. The slow rise of keyboard and gentle vocals perfectly builds up the drum drop that’s backed by a beating synthesizer. Further, there is profound depth in the meaning behind “Gilded Lily”. Anyone can identify with the poetic lyrics chanting lines like, “Haven’t I given enough?” This is a sad one folks, but brilliant nonetheless. 

10. Next is Weeks Go by Like Days–My Morning Jacket. The strong appeal of this track comes from the euphonious vocals of Jim James and the sick rhythm of that bumping percussion. The vocal range hits the spot and the guitar solo just melts you. MMJ are the kings of combining psychedelic synth with folk rock for harmonious perfection. This song is from a 2004 compilation from Darla records. It was sampled by the band in 2019 as an Alt. Version; though the original pulls much harder on the heartstrings. 

11. Valarie by Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention. Hearing this song on its own, you’d never guess it’s Zappa. In fact, it sounds like northern soul. Very moving from the first note, and the mix of rhythm guitar, vocals, and woodwinds generates unique melodiousness. This outro track appears on a collab album from 1970 dubbed Burnt Weeny Sandwich. That’s Zappa for you.

12. Lastly, Cover Me Slowy by Deerhunter. I leave you with this; a minute and twenty one seconds of powerful instrumentals from an incredible artist. Headphones on, and full volume. Thank you.

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