There's over 700 CDs in my apartment, and these do not actually represent every album I know by heart or have especially liked (for some weird reason).
I'm not able to qualify these from best to worst: here's the top 6 Essential Songs, in my world lately.
A: 'Like A Honeycomb', British Sea Power:
I love this band greatly. Their vocalist has this curious hook in his voice that's very obviously British but which I can't pin down to a particular area of the nation.
I love this song especially: it's blowsy, slow, and just a hint melancholy. but in between the morning and the evening light/ is how the days go by/ and in between the evening and the morning light/ well don't the stars look nice? This one can be found on their recent album 'Open Season'
B: 'The Tain', The Decemberists:
This is an EP. all 20-some minutes of it are one track, though. And they play it all back-to-back-to-back live. So it's one GODAWFUL LONG song. I have to say that any attempt to write 1) an interpretation of Irish myth in rock opera and 2) a rock opera which involves an accordion, an upright bass, and a rather folksy ensemble of music... I have to approve. the hooks in this piece are just completely ineluctable, too.
Damn your ankles and eyes wide/ From your fingernails to your ponytails too/ King of the Insects and the M-5/ Over Charlemagne in a motorcade too/ In this- place called Heavenly/ You were born here
C: 'What Do I Do Now?', Sleeper:
Sleeper were a little band from the mid 90s. You probably never heard them. You missed out. In some ways, their sound is very much in line with the Garbage albums that do not suck. This song especially pleases me because of the humor of lines like makeup like glue, she danced 'round the room to the sound of her corduroy flares.
D: '14th Street', Rufus Wainwright:
There aren't enough ragtime-influenced piano arrangments in popular music. This one's also got a curious dichotomy between the somewhat sad lyric and the rather upbeat arrangement: it's impossible to not smile at it because of the contrast. Why'd you have to go and break all my heart?/ Couldn't you have saved a minor part/ I could have clipped, and saved, and planted in the garden?/ Damn you, guess I'll have to get a new one
E: 'Miss Moneypenny', Placebo:
This one is enjoyable for the sheer assaultive Bondness of it. They use as much of the traditional James Bond lick as you can use without violating copyright (2 bars, which they loop through the whole song), and the lyrics are just funny as sin if you're overly well-read and know your Bond canon: Pitter-patter of the eyelid on the first roll of the dice/ Feel the atmosphere it's gently laced with nicotine and spice/ It's a long walk home- the Interzone at night is scary/ Only trouble is, he never learned to shoot the same gun twice
F: 'Sunday', David Bowie: while the album this song comes from (Heathen) is pretty forgettable overall, this particular song just pulls at my mind. A large part of that pulling is in one of the chunks of lyric: For in truth, it's the beginning of nothing/ And nothing has changed/ Everything has changed
Is that 'nothing/everything' dichotomy to do with the Buddhist sense of nothing? Or should one read the lyric as 'nothing's changed: everything, just like always, has changed'? Or...
this little quirk combined with the strange construction of it, the rising feeling of the music as the song goes on... It just really pulls me in.