The Best Music of 2010 - Side B

If you missed Side A and the inspiration for this playlist check out the earlier blog here.

SIDE B

1. Paper Tongues - Trinity

Paper Tongues bring a unique sound to the mainstream from a very unique starting place.  This band formed over a period of time in which they were engaging in something called the "Improv Music Experience".  Aswan North, frontman for the group, helped to start a regular gathering of musicians in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they would come together and play on the streets for the homeless community of their city.  Out of this experience this band was born.  YES!!

My own discovery of the band came when I was searching for new music (a constant habit of mine) and came upon a song named "Trinity" on a short EP called "Ride to California" before it's re-release on the longer 2010 self-titled album.  I was intrigued because my wife was due to give birth soon and if a girl, we had settled on the name Trinity (which inevitably did occur).  I gave it a listen, and I was hooked.

Again several songs from this album could have been chosen, from Rich and Poor to Ride to California.  Tonnes of passion and emotion from Aswan in his songs... love it!

The reason to choose Trinity (besides the fact that it is my daughter's name) lies in the lyrics.

"I try to live my life for the people who need a come back"

"So feel me when I fight for the cause of bringing hope back"

"Love and action takes the widow with her loss
True commitment takes the orphans pain"

Too good!! It we all directed our battle towards restoring hope in seemingly hopeless situations, what would this world look like?

Extra cool tidbit.  Paper Tongues toured with Knaan and they release this mashup that uses two songs from my best of list. 

2. Gogol Bordello - Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)

I'm including the video... because it's great!

I finally discovered Gogol this year, and it's been AWESOME!  Again, this album is FULL of songs that I could include; Rebellious Love (WHAT A TITLE!!), Raise the Knowledge, Transcontinental Hustle (Title Track).

Immigraniada is another great song in the face of Arizona's stringent immigration laws of this past year.  The song declares;

All those who made it and quickly jaded
To them we got nothing to say...
... for them it's Don Quixote's kind of way

For those who come from an immigrant background (myself included, first generation Canadian), don't forget where you came from.  You get here, get established and then so quickly turn on others who have the same dream of a new life from other parts of the world.  Quick to love the life of the aristocrat, you can come from poverty and then come to despise others experiencing the same.

In corridors full of tear gas
Our destinies jammed every day
Like deleted scenes from Kafka
Flushed down the bureaucratic drain

While even my father and other European immigrants experience the fear, hatred and prejudice of their fellow Canadians, certainly the scene did no look like the above verse from Gogol... but many have.  A hopelessness as governmental red tape keeps their dreams at bay.  Yet each scene is followed by the unrelenting determination to get the same opportunity that the immigrants before them got, and they won't give up... They're coming rougher.

But if you give me the invitation
To hear the bells of freedom chime
To hell with your double standards
We're coming rougher every time.

I get pumped every time I hear this song... Gogol, who describe their music as GYPSY PUNK, have drawn me into the struggle. The song gets added integrity and intensity from leader and singer Eugene Hütz's own story.  Eugene was evacuated to Western Ukraine in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster and lived as a refugee in Poland, Hungary, Austria, and Italy before moving to the United States in 1993.  His own experience as an outsider provides the fuel that drives his music.

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(Special Mention to The Dead Weather's Blue Blood Blues which was my last cut from this compilation)

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3. Blue October - Jump Rope (3:19)

I loved Justin Furstenfeld's voice from the first time I heard it, many moons ago.  It is so capable of expressing emotion with such a raw edge to it, seemingly effortlessly.

The message of the song is simple, but great.  Life is like a jump rope.  There are ups.  There are downs.  Hold on through the tough times, cry if you want, but things will get better. There are downs.  There are ups.

The construction of the song also lends itself to the message.  Very upbeat, bouncy, the use of children's vocals, it's as if the song is supposed to help you get through the down times.

4. The Black Keys - Next Girl

In my opinion, one of the best albums of the year.  The blues are getting some great treatment recently by bands like The Black Keys and The Dead Weather.

"I wanted love but not for myself
But for the girl so she could
So she could love herself"

The song is about a former girlfriend who was very beautiful but despite his best efforts to help her see her beauty and know love, she was unable to see it.  I certainly had many experiences of this in one form or another over the years, including in dating relationships.  A girl who appears confident who is anything but.  What's on the outside doesn't always match what's on the inside.  Certainly this is not exclusive to women.  Dan Auerbach's lyrics declare that in his next romantic relationship it will be paramount that it be with a woman with confidence and inner beauty.  His next girl, will be nothing like his ex-girl.

We all need a reminder that Beauty Doesn't Come In A Magazine.

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(Another late cut from the best of 2010 was DeadMau5, Ghosts N Stuff... that song just gets me pumped)

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5. Michael Franti & Spearhead - Say Hey (I Love You)

This is the love song submission for the year.  Michael Franti's lyrics read;

I’ve been a lot of places all around the way
I’ve seen a lot joy and I’ve seen a lot of pain
but I don’t want to write a love song for the world,
I just want to write a song about a boy and a girl
Junkies on the corner always calling my name
And the kids on the corner playing ghetto games
When I saw you getting down well I hoped it was you
And when I looked into your eyes I knew it was true.

The song sets up an interesting context; in the ghetto, familiar with junkies.  This is his neighbourhood, and the place where he first sees the woman he loves.  He is going somewhere and might not be back for some time.  The message of the song is that very little is certain in this life, "the more I see, the less I know", but that if they can be certain of their love, it will get them through.  Cheesy, definitely, but it can be equally true.  If we have to face poverty, growing up in neighbourhoods with addiction and violence, if we have to be apart for a time, but we are certain about our love, things will be okay.  I can be certain about one thing, I love you, and that's a lot.

Unfortunately, this song is contrasted by the reality of so many relationships that split up in the midst of life's uncertainties and circumstances.  However, I foolishly hold on to hope that it is possible for that love to carry you through those things if you are both committed to it and if love is defined, not be fleeting emotion, but by a bedrock of dignity and respect, honesty and trust.

Hooray for a love song!

6. Ingrid Michaelson - Everybody

Okay, fine... this is kind of a love song too... certainly a song about love.

Everybody wants to love, everybody wants to be loved, so let the love begin... the song says it all.

Happy is the heart that still feels pain,
Darkness drains and light will come again.
Swing open up your chest and let it in,
Just let the love, love, love begin.

Happy is the heart that still feels pain?  What is she crazy?  No, not at all!  We will all feel pain in this life and it is important to remember that "light will come again".  It is better to still be able to feel pain than to so shut out the possibility of being hurt that you forget to risk to LOVE.  If you can't feel pain, you will also never love.

The power of songs about love lies in our definition of love as well.  Let's define our love in terms of how we treat one another and these songs have revolutionary capacity.  If when we hear the word love, we think only of romance and/or sex, these songs are robbed of their power, and lose their meaning.

7. Bad Religion - Wrong Way Kids (2:46)

Another of my favourite albums of the year... but I am a huge fan of this band.

The main premise of this song can be found in the lyrics;

The kids today are gone away petitioning the dust
With nobody to look up to because they're looking up to us
Just misfit melancholy dregs gone lost in the mall
Wanderers to nowhere at all

A very hopeless feeling maybe, but the onus is not put on the youth by Greg Graffin but rather the rest of us to whom they are learning this aimlessness from.  They are taking our bad advice and it is pointing them in the wrong direction.  Their main gathering place is a hub of consumerism rather than a hub of actual human connection.  We have put up a 'thorny fence' in our obsessive individualism that keeps others out instead of letting others in.

There is a sense in the song like the youth must know that there is more to life than we have shown them, but we have not given them the alternative.  Greg doesn't clearly articulate one in the song either, but a REVOLUTION OF HUMAN CONNECTEDNESS seems to be what would counter the desperation found here.

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(Check out Avett Brothers, I and Love and You, for another late cut from the list)

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8. Arcade Fire - City With No Children

My Canadian quota for side B.  Give the whole album a listen.

This song has a similar theme to the Bad Religion song above.  We have not created cities with life in them.  There is such a bleak emotion that is evoked with the idea of a 'city with no children in it'.  We haven't fostered life in our communities.  These are communities without beauty, without laughter... but there is money.

"Never trust a millionaire, quoting the Sermon on the Mount."  This line is enough to get this song into my best of the year.  The Bible has two accounts of this sermon from Jesus.  The less pleasant of the two is found in the book of Luke.  Blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who thirst... very specific blessings for those experiencing hardship and without the basic necessities of life.  It is followed by a series of 'woes'.  "Woe to you who are rich", "woe to you who are well fed now"... yet, you will find the wealthy quoting Scripture, talking about Jesus despite this very clear message that sets Jesus opposed to the wealthy in a society, who's wealth stands in contrast to those in their communities who are without food.  How can you quote the Sermon on the Mount as a millionaire without a sense of very dire irony?

Don't trust a millionaire quoting the Sermon on The Mount.  The message has been distorted to their own understandings and their own ends.  Their message, much like a city with no children, has been robbed of its vibrancy, its life and its possibility for bring hope into our streets.

Another interesting bit is that after that line the song says "I used to think I was not like them, but now I have my doubts".  It is important that we recongnize our tendency to be just the same, especially when we acquire fame, wealth, success etc...  I remember listening to K-os (Toronto hip-hop artist with a very cool, unique sound) and loving his stuff.  There was some good societal critique and desire for some thing better (I still recommend Crabbuckit and Hallelujah).  When I heard Yes!, his most recent album, it still had some cool tracks, but the lyrics were missing something.  Then I heard an interview with him that I still haven't fully recovered from.  He talked about falling into the traps of fame that he used to critique.  But he justified it by saying that all he really needed was just to get laid to mellow him out.  When someone comes up to him now and starts critiquing society and wanting to take up a cause for the poor or oppressed he asks them, "When was the last time you got laid?"  I couldn't believe what I was hearing!?!?  K-os sold out HARDCORE.  Maybe his passion for change came out of a youthful angst that an orgasm could fix, but some of us are motivated by compassion, hope and love.  If we're not careful we become the thing we criticize.

20. Black Eyed Peas - One Tribe

Enough with the glum stuff, back to hope!

The Black Eyed Peas managed to put a real gem in the middle of their 2009 album.  I didn't discover this song until last year, but was thrilled when I did.

One Tribe, one time, one planet, one race
Its all one blood, don't care about your face
The color of your eye or the tone of your skin
Don't care where ya are
Don't care where ya been...

...I don't need no leader
That's gonna force feed a
Concept that make me think I need to
Fear my brother and fear my sister
And shoot my neighbor or my big missile...

...One love, one blood, one people
One heart, one beat, we equal
Connected like the internet
United that's how we do
Lets break walls, so we see through
Let love and peace lead you
We could overcome the complication cause we need to
Help each other, make these changes
Brother, sister, rearrange this
The way I'm thinking that we can change this bad condition
Wait, use you mind and not your greed
Let's connect and then proceed
This is something I believe
We are one, we're all just people...

Pretty straight forward stuff.  So simple, so why does this way of thinking and living not define us?

"Forget about all that evil that they feed ya."  The majority of humanity is not defined by the polarizing hate that so many media outlets and governments seem to be trying to feed us.  I believe that they vast majority of humanity would prefer to be defined by the concepts in this song.  Yet we are distracted by greed, self-preservation, and so much FEAR that we are fed day after day.

"Use your mind and not your greed."

Every time I hear this song, I want everything to stop and for every one to break out into a party.  If you can't get excited by a good beat and words of absolute global transformation then I have to wonder if you have a pulse at all.

(Last shout out to a cut from the list goes to Trevor Hall and Volume)

21. The Submarines - You, Me & The Bourgeoisie

Okay, I was way behind on finally discovering this 2008 release, but what a song!

The song starts by saying, let's be honest, we want higher ceilings and a happiness that we think is come from living not a good life, but a rich life, full of expensive junk.

Plastic Bottles
Imported Water
Cars we drive wherever we want to
Clothes we buy it's sweatshop labor
Drugs from corporate enablers
We're not living the Good life
Unless we're fighting the Good fight
You and Me just trying to get it right.

When we are living right in the middle of the 'first world', the richest countries on the planet, where even the middle class are among the richest people in the world, it is too easy just to indulge and not even consider what we are really living for.

Everyday we wake up
We choose Love
We choose light
And we try, it's too easy just to fall apart

Every day we need the reminder.  Every day we need to choose something other than the easy.  We are being inundated with messages constantly telling us that the wealthy life, the life full of stuff is the good life.  You better believe that if you are not deliberately fighting against those messages, those messages will win.

Then come the best lyrics of the whole song when Blake Hazard sings;

Love can free us from all excess
From our deepest debts
Cause when our hearts are full we need much less.

There's nothing else to say about that.  BRILLIANT STUFF!  FREEDOM FROM EXCESS!!!!!!!!

22. Shooter Jennings & Hierophant - Black Ribbons
 
 
 
I like to end my albums on a contemplative note. (The album version wasn't available on YouTube, so I had to upload it myself).
 
So far, most of my 2010 album is filled with hope and insight into how things could be, it might seem peculiar to end with this selection.  Shooter sings from the perspective of someone who seems to have lost hope, "with no direction or guiding light".  Everything seems dark or 'black' and the storm of his life is getting so bad  that he can't even seem to keep the one he loves 'out of the rain' (from being affected by the pain that is consuming him).
 
The glimpses of hope are very small in this song.  However, I think it is important for us to hear, read and see things at times from the perspective of those who are drowing in their pain.  How else can we be a true friend to those who need one so desperately?
 
There is hope though.  "Tie a ribbon for the child in me", is recognition by the singer that  the child in him is still present... a sign of some innocence remaining, before pain consumed him.
 
I do want to 'tie a ribbon' for the child in everyone I've met who has lost themselves into the desperation of time and circumstance.  It can be hard to remind someone at this moment that 'life is like a jump rope' and that 'light will come again'.  Sometimes you have to enter the pain, feel the pain and stand in the rain with someone.  There are times when easy answers won't do and you just need to be with someone.  Can you be a friend when it means you might get rained on?
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Well, that's it.  80 minutes of music that I want to share from the soundtrack of my life in 2010.
 
I hope you were able to find something that you liked... but even more importantly, something that spoke to you, moved you or inspired you.

Different Font Colour

Why the last song is in a different colour, I have no idea.

Tried to change it, no luck.

Fixed :)

Fixed :)

 
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