The best music isn’t the throwaway stuff that’s playing on the radio all the time or that happens to be on when you pop in to Duane Reade to pick up some anti-fungal foot powder and/or weave glue. Music is personal. Music is escape. It provides the soundtrack to our lives and to our most important moments. When we listen to our favorite songs we are actually trying to relive and recreate those moments over and over again. That’s why everybody has their own favorite kind of music or favorite kinds of sounds. Because it means something to you. And that’s why the best music, music that really speaks to us individually, is the stuff that creates a fictional world around the artist. Not stuff that’s just meant to sell sell sell, but those gems that create a special musical and artistic universe.
Here are six addictive songs that really transport you someplace else.
1. “Lessons,” SOHN
I love electronic music that’s a little bit chilly — cold but seductive and full of atmosphere. “Lessons,” a new track by London-based arty R&B wunderkind SOHN, starts with a thumping, running drops beats (a la Steve Reich/Phillip Glass) while his soothing, cottony voice enters and dabs up some of the percussive force of the beats. But by the end, the song erupts into a beautifully aggressive cacophony of sound that will please any beat fiend.
2. “Reflektor,” Arcade Fire
If you know James Murphy and his now deceased :( LCD Soundsystem project, and if you also know that he is deeply involved with Arcade Fire’s forthcoming release Reflektor, it’ll only take you a few seconds to hear his influence on “Reflektor,” the title track from the record. Arcade Fire, who are known for a certain kind of huge chamber pop, seems to have put on their disco shoes for this new album. Oh please PLEASE let this be the new direction for the band!
3. “This Is What It Feels Like,” BANKS
BANKS is indescribable and undefinable. After dropping a slew of videos, singles and smart remixes, her’ hotly anticipated genre-crossing London EP is finally out and poppin’. The four song record itself is fabulous, but “This Is What It Feels Like” definitely counts as one of the best, most addictive tracks on the thing. It’s soulful with catchy R&B hooks you will be caught singing loudly to yourself in public. So just, you know, be mindful of your peers. “Bring it down-own-own-owwwn. Bring it onnnnnnnn. Bring it now-ow-ow-ow-ow-owww. Bring onnnnnnnnnnn. This is what it feels like.” YAS.
4. “Wenn Meine Mutti Wusste,” Soundstream
The bass in this one is absolutely killer. The BPM is not too fast but just slow enough that you can kind of groove to it. It’s techno with some soul up in it. But the most interesting thing about this track, which appears on the album Fünf celebrating the fifth year anniversary of the German Ostgut-Ton/Berghain label, is that every song on the record includes some sound from within the massive Berghain nightclub itself. When people speak about the Berghain they often talk about how the music fits in so well with the industrial architecture. This time, though, “Wenn Meine Mutti Wusste” includes sounds from within the actual club. Listen closely and see what you hear.
5. “Gripp,” George Maple, Kilo Kish & Kwes
You guys this song is so fresh it only has 16 YouTube views, so consider yourselves among the cognoscenti! This moody track by a bunch of Londoners is straight up indie-soul, featuring vocals by George Maple and Kilo Kish, with Kwes assisting on production.
6. “We Were In Love,” Ta-Ku
Ta-Ku is so awesome. He’s got this really interesting way of producing beautiful, heartbreaking songs that you can’t stop listening to. His chilly but bombastic, amazing but sad “We Were In Love” is just a taste of what’s to come on his new EP called — what else — Songs To Break Up To. Breaking up never sounded so beautiful!