1. Andrew Bird, “Tenuousness” “Tenuous at best was all he had to say when pressed about the rest of it, the world that is.” What more could you want from an opening line?2. Milt Jackson & Wes Montgomery, “Delilah (take 4)” After a very tasty solo by Milt Jackson, Wes comes in and plays my favorite guitar solo ever in just one chorus. It’s like he says, “Yeah, I’m cool. I know. I only need one chorus.” Admittedly, he does take a longer second solo after the piano, but I like to think that he would have preferred sticking to the first one.
3. The Tallest Man on Earth, “Honey Won’t You Let Me In” Everything this guy puts out is phenomenal – except when he plays the piano. I got goose bumps from this song every time I listened to it for about six months. I don’t even know what all the lyrics mean. I just enjoy the words together. He won’t get old, musically. Ever.
4. Jaga Jazzist, “Airborne” Ten-piece Norwegian electronica/jazz? Oh yeah. I really appreciate musicians who can break boundaries and do something new and cool without making it look like a gimmick. This tune features bass clarinet, keyboard, drum machines, saxophones, a flute and much more. I can’t help but utter a “yeah!” even when I’m in the library with my headphones on. It’s embarrassing, but these guys know how to make music.
5. St. Vincent, “The Neighbors” Annie Clark is small and pretty and from the looks of her, you would expect some sweet vocals with an acoustic guitar, strumming softly singing about butterflies. Instead of that, you get “Disney princess” vocals about psychosis and suspicion in four, floating effortlessly over crunchy – not to mention well-played – guitars and drums in six. In Aesthetics of Music, one of the criteria for musical pleasure was the “inhibition of musical expectation,” and Annie Clark does just that.
6. Jay Sean, “Down (feat. Lil Wayne)” Say what you like, but this guy really knows how to make a fun and catchy song. It’ll get stuck in your head whether you like it or not. What makes this tune truly special in my ears is Lil Wayne’s addition. His verse here is well thought out, flows well and is actually pretty clever. Jay Sean dropped out of medical school to be a pop star. You know, both Mohit and I are Indian and will some day be medical students. just saying.
7. Blue Scholars, “Morning of America” As much as I like popular hip-hop, my true alliances will lie with folks like the Blue Scholars. They rap about the state of the world, music and life in general. In seven minutes, they sum up complicated historical and social factors concisely and coherently using well-placed allusions and metaphors. Trying to do that is hard enough without making it rhyme and flow.
8. Band of Annuals, “Blood on My Shirt” This song shows that country is cool, Utah is cool and that I’m a sucker for vocal harmonies and lap steel guitars.
9. Bedrich Smetana, “The Moldau” So I’m a novice to this whole “classical music” business. I had been listening to classical music for a while and enjoying it, but this was the first piece of classical music where I had an “aesthetic experience.” The imagery of the river as it runs towards the ocean is just great, and I always jump at the very last note.