I always approach the subject of music … cautiously.
For one, I know next to nothing about it. Though not for lack of trying, really. I learned to play guitar, but without a chord sheet in front of me I’m useless. And don’t you dare ask me to tune the thing. Music doesn’t flow from me. I get it and I appreciate it. But it will never come from me.
Also, there is always an element of judgement that comes in when people talk about their favorite music. Claiming to like, say, Justin Bieber will get you either ridiculed or praised depending on where you happen to say it. So deep in the part of my brain that is still insecure and self-conscious, I fear judgement if my preferred musics are not cool enough for whatever crowd I’m talking to.
But some music is special. Some music has that neat ability to reach inside my creative centre and stroke it gently to life. And I want to share those albums that do that.
1) Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog – Joss Whedon
If you have not seen Joss Whedon’s classic short film, you are missing out. On life. Seriously. It’s a mere fortyish minutes long and it deserves to be watched. You can find the entire show on Youtube. It’s witty, zany and full of fun. It’s a creative masterpiece. Go watch it. Seriously, don’t finish reading this blog until you’ve seen it. It’s better than this blog. And so is its soundtrack.
2) Siren Song of the Counter Culture – Rise Against
A fellow can get used to anything. Even screaming. Rise Against has been a favorite since I first heard them in Pakistan. Their anger-charged music touches something primal and pure. That righteous dissatisfaction with a screwed-up system. I was seriously sad when I found out they are coming to Toronto the day I fly to Pakistan.
3) Introspection – pjt
I went to school with this guy. Isn’t that cool? This whole album is great. All the songs cry out for freedom and authenticity. “I don’t believe it’s right / to let others define your life / I can do anything I’m interested in / And I’m interested in all that I can do.”
4) Aaja Nachle – Salim and Sulaiman Merchant
This Bollywood gem is about a girl returning to her hometown to convince her conservative neighbours to put on a play. It’s a celebration of the creative spirit and every single song carries that flag. “Stand apart from the crowd / Show us your dreams / Show Me Your Jalwa (glory)”
5) The End is Near – Five Iron Frenzy
These guys were huge with the Christian white kids in the 90s. But don’t hold that against them. They are worthy in their own right and rise above the shameless preaching of a lot of their contemporaries. This is one of their last albums and, I think, their zenith.
6) Last Night on Earth – Noah and the Whale
It was hard to pick only one album for these guys. I’ve only known about them for a little while but I’m seriously in love with them. Their songs touch on every part of humanity, from it’s highest to its lowest.
7) First Love – Emmy the Great
Silky sweet voice and melancholy songs. What could be better? She just came out with a new album, too, though I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet. She lives up to her name.
8) Exodus – Bob Marley
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t love Bob Marley, at least a little. His wild optimism and spirit of Love is infectious.
What songs and albums and artists have inspired you?