Ten songs you should hear

I am extremely grateful to the many friends of mine who have introduced me to new music over the course of the last few years. Below are a list of ten songs that most people probably will not have heard, but which I heartily endorse. Unfortunately, I cannot actually give you the songs, because goons from the RIAA would break down my door in the night. The list is therefore provided for the benefit of those in search of new music, and capable of acquiring it for themselves by means that satisfy the legal and ethical codes that apply to them.

Since most of these artists are relatively unknown, I would definitely think better of you if you actually went out and bought their albums.

1) Nina Simone, “Feeling Good” from the album Nina Simone in Concert

This energetic song was sent to me by Lauren Priest. I have always been an appreciator of strong female vocalists and, along with her jazz accompaniment, Nina Simone definitely rises to that level. This is the kind of song you’ll find yourself singing automatically while walking briskly home from something really enjoyable.

2) Idan Raichel
, “Mima’amakim (From the deep)” from the album Mimamakayim

While I can’t speak or understand a word of Hebrew, I love the complex melodies in this song, as well as the interesting texture of the language itself. The interplay between vocals and instrumentation in this track is really fascinating, in a way that reminds me of Robert Miles transported into an entirely different genre and mood. I got it from Lindi.

3) Antony & the Johnsons, “Beautiful Boyz” from the album Noah’s Ark

Alison introduced me to this sombre and mournful, yet beautiful, track. This is the kind of music that wanders into my mind during really long solitary walks of the sort that it’s sometimes advisable to take when sad.

4) KT Tunstall, “Black Horse And The Cherry Tree” from the album Eye to the Telescope

Almost the exact opposite tone from the previous song, this song is energetic to the point of being positively jaunty. I could easily imagine Astrid dancing to this track, after she lent it to me.

5) Neko Case, “Hold On, Hold On” from the album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

This is the only really superb song that I ever got as a free song of the week from the iTunes music store. From Neko Case’s new album, this autobiographical piece has the same combination of powerful female vocals and enigmatic lyrics that I so appreciate from Tori Amos. A video of this song being performed can be viewed here.

6) Lorraine a’ Malena, “Just Me and Eve” from the album Mirror Mirror

A somewhat comic retelling of Genesis, this song was apparently written by Neil Gaiman and is performed by his assistant. It may be my appreciation for Paradise Lost manifesting itself again, but I quite enjoy the tune. I am grateful to Jessica for introducing me to it. This one is actually available free online. How cool is that?

7) Feist, “When I was a Young Girl” from the album Let It Die

Many thanks to Jonathan for sending me this song. I love the rhythmic interplay between the drums and vocals. It reminds me, to a certain extent, of a few songs from the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack, insofar as it accompanies a kind of moralizing message (probably ironic) with really enjoyable sounds.

8) Mad Pudding, “First We Take Manhattan” from the album Grand Hotel

This cover of Leonard Cohen’s song is done by a Vancouver folk/celtic band that is somewhat similar to Spirit of the West. The contrast between their energetic interpretation and Cohen’s determinedly poetic style of delivering is striking. I first heard this song from a CD owned by my father.

9) The Vincent Black Shadow, “This Road is Going Nowhere” from the album The Vincent Black Shadow

Since Neal gave me the superb debut album of this Vancouver band, I have listened to it more than sixty times. This is the kind of song that alters the way you experience everything for a good fifteen minutes, at least, after you hear it. I especially like the musical interludes with strings and saxophone.

10) Rae Spoon, “To Find You” from an unknown album

On the first CD from which I ever heard Tori Amos and Tegan and Sara, my friend Jenny also included this wonderfully downbeat vocal and guitar track by a Vancouver artist. A complex and evocative piece of music.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please don’t feel insulted if a song you sent me isn’t listed here. These are just songs that happen to have found particular resonance with me, during the time when I’ve been in Oxford.

[Update: 25 February 2007] Since so many people were looking for them, some Idal Raichel lyrics translated into English have been added.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

18 thoughts on “Ten songs you should hear”

  1. With my shoes on, the toque Sarah gave me, a fleece pull-over, and a fleece sweater, it is still exceptionally cold in our flat, now that the college has turned the heat off. I can see my breath fogging the air in front of the monitor.

  2. Sorry you’re so cold – my office is not quite so chilled, but I am double wrapped in scarves as I have a substandard throat atm

  3. An assembly of lyrics from the above songs:

    1) And this old world is a new world
    And a bold world
    For me

    2) Mime’amakim kar’ati elaich boi elai
    mul yare’ach me’ir et darkech shuv elai
    nifrasu venamsu mul
    maga shel yadaich

    From deep depths I called to you to come to me
    the moonlight I will again light your way to me
    they’re spread out and melted again
    the touch of your hands (translated)

    3) All those beautiful boys,
    Kings and Queens,
    And criminal queers,
    All those beautiful boys,
    Tattoos of ships and tattoos of tears

    4) and my heart had a problem, in the early hours,
    so it stopped it dead for a beat or two.
    but i cut some cord, and i shouldn’t have done that,
    and it won’t forgive me after all these years

    5) in the end i was the mean girl
    or somebody’s in-between girl
    now it’s the devil i love
    and that’s as funny as real love

    6) Well I say Madam, she says Adam, she says simply take a nibble
    It’s no intertribal libel, neither question it nor quibble,
    And to follow she’ll extol it in a low recitative:
    And this is it:
    It’s just me and Eve

    7) When I was a young girl I used to seek pleasure
    When I was a young girl I used to drink ale
    Out of the ale house down into the jail house
    My body’s salvated and hell is my doom

    8) I’m guided by a signal in the heavens
    I’m guided by this birthmark on my skin
    I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons
    First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

    9) As for another day
    As for something worth the price you have to pay
    The stakes are up and the runs are down
    You step right up for another round
    Another round of going nowhere

    10 You love so completely, I’m scared I’ll consume you
    You love so completely, every time we touch
    I’m rubbing pieces off of you

  4. 3) Antony & the Johnsons, “Beautiful Boyz” from the album Noah’s Ark

    Alison introduced me to this sombre and mournful, yet beautiful, track. This is the kind of music that wanders into my mind during really long solitary walks of the sort that it’s sometimes advisable to take when sad.

    I could only find this on the iTMS by the band CocoRosie?

  5. Lots of people seem to be looking for these lyrics:

    Im Telech
    Idan Raichel

    If you leave who will hug me like this
    who will listen to me at the end of the day
    who will console and calm me
    as only you know how

    And if you leave
    who will I wait for me by the window in a pretty dress
    to come hug me so,
    when you arrive

    When you leave, I’ll go out to the sun,
    in the golden fields, morning and evening,
    the moon will light up my face
    which dreams all day long of you

    When you come back,
    you’ll carry me in your arms,
    from the field to the river,
    you’ll wash my face and tell me words
    as only you know how

    Milim yafot me’ele
    Idan Raichel

    It doesn’t mean that I am never (there/here)
    it’s just (the way it is right) now so wait
    and then I will come when the fury passes
    and then I will return – when it clears up.

    It doesn’t mean I’m not thinking
    about you every day, every hour
    There still isn’t any tranquility, any silence
    for in every place your figure rises in front of me.

    It is also hard for me to say
    words more beautiful than these
    even if I didn’t find a way to feel your (words)
    know that I love only you
    know in my heart I’m always with you
    do know that I’m always always with you.

    It doesn’t mean that it’s so (i.e. this way) and no other way
    it’s just a storm on a passing day
    and then you’ll see how when the sun will shine
    I will return to you from the rainy day.

    Many thanks to Lindi Cassel for the translations.

  6. And the most commonly sought:

    Idan Raichel

    From the depths I called out to you – Come to me
    Upon your return, the light will return to my eyes

    From the depths I called out to you – Come to me
    Against the moon that lights your way back to me

    They spread out and melted against the touch of your hands
    In your ears I whisper, and ask…

    Who’s that calling out to you tonight, listen up
    Who sings out loud to you, to your window
    Who gave his soul so you’d be happy
    Who will give a hand and build your home
    Who will give his life, and put it beneath yours
    Who will live as dust beneath your feet
    Who will love you more than all other loves
    Who will save you from every living spirit

    From the depths…

    From the depths I called out to you – Come to me
    Against the moon that lights your way back to me
    They spread out and melted against the touch of your hands
    In your ears I whisper, and ask

    Who’s that calling out to you tonight …

    Thanks again to Lindi for the translation.

  7. Pesenta e strahotna oba4e za6to q nqma v data ili v nqkoi dr sait za svalqne? Ili ako znaete ot kade moga da si q drapna kajete mi!

  8. The Idan Raichel Project is fascinating. where can i find more translated lyrics?

  9. My friend Lindi sent me the translations above, which I think she did herself.

    If you find others elsewhere, please link them here.

  10. Good to come back to this list 3 years later.

    I would add the following to the list :

    Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel in Montgomery” on the Stoney Plains label

    Wailing Jenny’s “One Voice” (I think on their Fireweed album as well as the “Women of the World” CD on the Putomaya label.

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