- 1. Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground
Probably one of my favourite tunes of all time. Actually, I’ve always said that Stevie Wonder’s worst songs are some of the best tunes I’ve ever heard. Higher Ground has been set as my alarm clock for about two years now, and surprisingly, I’ve yet to tire of it. There is so much funky energy in this song – I just can’t get enough of it!
- 2. The Deep Dark Woods – Charlie’s (Is Coming Down)
(Charlie’s (Is Coming Down))
A great mixture of country, gospel and rock; Charlie’s (Is Coming Down) is just a fantastic song. Music doesn’t need to be complicated to be good. This tune is very simple and just beautiful. I admit I’m a fan, and I like so many of their songs, but the thing that puts Charlie’s on this list right now is that it’s about a well-known icon in Regina: Good Time Charlie’s Pub – part of the Plains Hotel which is scheduled for demolition this month, after being around for decades. Charlie’s has been a regular stay for live bands from way back, and aside from this being a really strong song, I think it’s pretty cool that a local-ish band (from Saskatoon) would take the time to write and record a song dedicated to a place that has seen a lot of music and a lot of good times!
- 3. Ray Lamontagne – Hold You In My Arms
Calm, gentle and just a little rough around the edges – that’s how I’d describe virtually any song by this singer/songwriter. A simple yet powerful melody and 3/4 rhythm are accompanied by handclaps, a shaker and a drummer playing quitely (just when I thought that wasn’t possible). The music is mesmerizing, beautiful and catchy, while the lyrics are just wonderful, “I could hold you in my arms. I could hold you forever.” This song might remind you of the best hug you’ve ever had, or it might make you want to go out and find that one for you – someone to hold forever.
- 4. Sufjan Stevens – You Are The Blood
(Dark Was The Night [compilation])
It’s kind of like pop music and kind of not. Kind of organized, kind of improvised. Elements of rock, folk, electronic dance, brass band, classical and more can all be found in this epic number. Running just over ten minutes long, this is a heavy-duty listen, but worth every second and every repeated play. The musical seams are sewn together so well on this track that you tend to just let it have its way with you.
- 5. Frank Zappa – It Must Be A Camel
Is it jazz? Is it rock? Is it noise? Just what the hell is this? Fans of the Mothers surely already knew to expect the unexpected from Frank Zappa, but when he released Hot Rats, people didn’t know what just hit them. I first heard the album long after its original release (I’m just a tyke, remember), maybe around 2003, and was just floored. I’m not entirely certain but this album might have been my first serious introduction to Zappa (having heard about countless numbers from my saxophone teacher – though not actually having heard them). Upon first listening, I couldn’t help but think, ‘How have I not actually gotten into this before now?!’ It Must Be A Camel, like every other tune on the album, is without lyrics, features complex rhythmical and melodic ideas, and includes a jazz-influenced rock guitar solo, among other cool ideas. The album is something that every Zappa fan should already have in their collection and is highly recommended to anyone who likes to hear something new in music, and this tune is just one example of the cool, yet bizarre things that Zappa does with his music.