1. Yes, “Mood for a Day”
“Mood for a Day” is a classical guitar piece written by Steve Howe that appeared on Yes’ “Fragile.” While I’m not as familiar with this album as, say, “Close to the Edge” or “Relayer,” this track shows a very different side of Steve Howe’s work. It’s a relaxing listening experience that definitely needs a revisit.
2. The Bad Plus, “Silence Is The Question”
This piece starts off with a single evasive bass line and then grows into a sort of jazzy chaos that continues into the back half of the work. Eventually, the piano establishes a melodic line that’s easy to follow and takes you back into a more satisfying silence. Many of the pieces by The Bad Plus feature this same arc in and out of chaos. It’s pretty cool; you should check it out.
3. Ali Farka Touré, “Bandalabourou”
For being one of Africa’s most famous artists I really couldn’t say much about Ali Farka Touré. He was known for blending Malian folk with American blues. It’s definitely a unique sound but being unable to understand any of what he is singing about limits what his music can do for me.
4. Shostakovich, “Symphony No. 5”
I first encountered this piece as part of a concert with Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg’s performing the first Bruch violin concerto. The concert was an incredible experience and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. This piece has everything you need: hate for the government and biting irony. Shostakovich was such a hipster.
5. People Under the Stairs, “Mid-City Fiesta”
“Mid-City Fiesta” is a relaxed track off “The Next Step.” People Under The Stairs is a hip-hop duo from LA that has been producing since 1997. The guitar samples used on this track make it a calm and laid back journey. I really haven’t listened to much West Coast hip-hop but this appears to be very promising.
6. Johannes Brahms, “Piano Sonata No. 3”
Brahms’ “Piano Sonata #3” is one of my absolute favorite pieces. He uses many of Beethoven’s ideas to form this piece; he even quotes “Symphony #5” at one point. I find this to be one of Brahms’ most energetic chamber pieces. It has a ton of material for a piano sonata, being five movements and definitely worth every second.
7. Mono, “Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn”
Mono is a Japanese post-rock band that is largely influenced by the shoegaze movement. This track is off their album “Hymn to the Immortal Wind,” which incorporates the use of a 28-person chamber orchestra. The colors brought to this album from their wide range of instrumentation distinguish it from much other post-rock, a genre that is primarily focused on the color of the music rather than its movement.
8. Led Zeppelin, “Over the Hills and Far Away”
There isn’t much for me to say about this song. I’m sure many of you have unique experiences attached to Led Zeppelin’s music. I’ve been hearing “Houses of the Holy” since I was young and for me this song brings back memories of the joy of summer.
9. Iron and Wine, “Jesus the Mexican Boy”
“The Creek Drank the Cradle” was the first Iron and Wine album I listened to extensively. A friend burned it for me and I became obsessed with Samuel Beam’s music. This song, as does much of his music, seems to wander along without much purpose, only guided by Beam’s whispery voice.
10. Sibylle Baier, “I Lost Something in the Hills”
Sibylle Baier is a German folk artist who recorded several songs in the ‘70s that remained unreleased until 2006. Her album “Colour Green” has a dark sound to it. These poems are often depressing and her melodies are memorable but a bit haunting.