11 Songs to Be Thankful For

In a mainstream musical landscape of, for the most part, rapidly declining talent and increasing acceptance of incredibly low musical standards (I mean, you have just read an entire blog about people actually performing and videotaping jack ass Soulja Boy’s song, complete with the lyrics “superman dat ho,” and didn’t think it was entirely out of the ordinary, in fact, you were probably entertained), it’s important to keep somewhat grounded by recognizing the unrecognized…the real musicians and rappers that slip through the crack because they can’t sell or ink deals with the majors. Also in need of recognition are songs of the past that we sometimes discard as the next CD/download comes out.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I give you a newly discovered or enjoyed song from each month of my musical year. Not all of them are new to this year, the month merely represents when I first heard them or came back to them. Some of them you might have heard, some you may not have, but the idea is these are songs that immediately sunk in and made an impression, and can probably offer you three minutes or more of something you’ll enjoy more than taking a hammer to your head (which is what 94.9 makes me feel like doing). For whatever reason, of the 600 or so new/refound songs I’ve heard this year, these stood out and deserve a listen if you’re looking for something new, or a revisit to a song you’ve heard that’s worth hanging on to. Copyrights prevent us from posting the actual songs, but I’m sure y’all are smart enough to do a little research…

January: “Tulips (Club Version)” (Single) by Bloc Party. Actually a 2005 song, but hidden in single format, this one sounds just as relevant as their more current work. With the driving rock mixed with a melancholy edge, the song is at once both energizing and haunting. Honorable Mention: “Classical Hit” (Straight From the Crates, Vol. 1) by Phil Da Agony

February: “Float” (Half Full Ashtrays, Half Empty Glasses) by the Lab Rats. Off their 2006 self-release, “Float” provides some of the most intricate and touching lyrics of any of their songs. This group, independents out of Ohio, usually vent on the struggle of a below middle class life and the difficulties of getting their music conceived, written, produced and distributed. This one though finds a more harmonious tilt and examines the feeling of letting the tide of life come to you rather than chasing it. “Where you are right now is a specific composition of every single decision that you’ve made in the past.” Honorable Mention: “In Love” (The Medicine) by Planet Asia feat. Jonell

March: “4 AM in 4 Parts” (Prox EP) by edIT. Off the 2006 various artist EP, this super glitch song displays edIT‘s diversity as he breaks the song into 4 parts to elicit different aspects and moods of the rave culture. A must listen for anyone trying to get a grasp of what edIT is all about. Honorable Mention: “Mirror in the Sky” (Atlantis – Hymns for Disco) by k-os

April: “Cooter Brown” (To Tha X-Treme) by Devin the Dude. Off his 2004 release, the laid back beat and old sample of this song had me cruising for weeks. His smooth delivery as he examines the issues in his life and his progress through them drift over this melody with a relaxed purpose that make it good for any mood. Honorable Mention: “Pusherman” (Supafly Soundtrack) by Curtis Mayfield

May: “Groundswell” (Moonbeams) by Throw Me the Statue. If you wonder why we keep plugging TMTS over here, it’s because the music is worth the listen and you may not hear it elsewhere. This song, utilizing the same excellent mixture of driving rock, positive sounds and yet still slightly melancholy feel that made “Tulips” stick to me, does it with horns and an acoustic riff that you can take with you. Honorable Mention: “Do It” (Loose) by Nelly Furtado (I’m still dancing to this one, a rare tasty pop treat)

June: “The Killing Moon” (Songs to Learn and Sing by Echo and the Bunnymen. Odds are, if you were born when I was, this song doesn’t remind you of a pop radio hit. But it was, back when we were running around in DARE programs and listening to Bush and Dukakis square off. It came back to me through the repeated watching of Donnie Darko. It’s eerie, fleeting and perfect for a fast drive down a dark street. Honorable Mention: “Got Me Lost/Driving In LA” (Telefon Tel Aviv – Remixes Compiled) by John Hughes

July: “Relax” (Port Authority) by Marco Polo feat. J*Davey. A mellow hip-hop/R&B cut with a Tribe Called Quest sample, this song is lounge perfect hip-hop and nightcap music. Honorable Mention: “Back in Your Head” (The Con) by Tegan and Sara.

August: “Play Your Cards Right” (Finding Forever) by Common. Off his newest album, this track works on your way to or from your evening. The up-tempo throwback sound and Common’s expert delivery work again and again, and the feet keep moving to this one. Honorable Mention: “None Shall Pass” (None Shall Pass) by Aesop Rock

September: “Good Life” (Graduation) by Kanye West. I don’t think I need to break this one down…if you haven’t heard it, it’s very possible you’re living in a cave and not reading this. Sampling a little Michael Jackson, Kanye toasts to his newfound status and keeps it moving. Honorable Mention: “Crunk de Gaulle” (Certified Air Raid Material) by edIT feat. TTC, Busdriver and D-Styles)

October: “Bayani” (Bayani) by Blue Scholars. This one is short, sweet, uplifting and at the same time borne of pain. Honorable Mention: 15 Step (In Rainbows) by Radiohead

November: “Windmills of Your Mind” (Thomas Crown Affair Soundtrack (1968) by Noel Harrison. A fantastic oldie/goodie I hadn’t heard before checking out the original movie. Cut in the echo filled folk sound mold of some of Simon and Garfunkel’s work of that era. Honorable Mention: “Dancing In the Dark” (Born in the USA) by Bruce Springsteen

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