Music is one of the most amazing and diversified art forms on our planet; it is constantly shifting, evolving, and adapting to our continually changing preferences. The proliferation of music has led to hundreds of genres, thousands of bands, and millions of songs - there’s truly a limitless supply of music for you to listen to and love. However, I’ve noticed that despite the limitless options of songs to choose from, I always listen to the same songs over and over, never venturing into music I’d never heard. This seems to be the case with other people as well. With all the amazing music in the world, it’s likely that your next favorite song is one you haven’t even discovered yet. If you want to break out of your musical comfort zone, but don’t know where to start, this article is for you. Venture into the realm of unfamiliar music and listen to the ten songs below.
Velvet Ring, by Big Thief
The band Big Thief originated in New York in 2016 and is best known for its indie music with folk roots. This particular tune is softer than most of their songs, with a wispy handpicked guitar and harmonic vocals. Despite the sweet melody, there is a destructive theme underlying the surface of this song. It focuses on the wonders and precautions that come with falling in love. The band’s vocalist, Adrienne Lenker, repeats the lines “love is a gentle thing, yours is thicker than a velvet ring,” in a melancholy and remorseful voice, singing about a man and woman who discover how easy love can change.
Eighteen is Over the Hill, by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band is exactly what its title says; the band was formed in Los Angeles in 1965 and is widely celebrated for its innovative take on music as a whole. Their songs are mainly psychedelic rock but possess eerie and even bizarre undertones. This song, Eighteen is Over The Hill, doesn’t differ from that signature style. The lyrics are a bit fatuous but represent the transition from a child to adulthood, and embracing the road ahead. The melody changes from a haunting chant to a sunny tune, which was so contemporary for their time. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band is generally unknown, even to avid music lovers, so I would recommend checking out some of their other songs, (particularly I Won’t Hurt You and Suppose They Gave a War and No One Comes.)
Saying Goodbye, by The Muffs
The Muffs are a classic pop-punk band that deserves triple the credit they are given in the music industry. After being overshadowed by bands like Social Distortion, (who’s an amazing band - check out their song “Story of My Life,”) and Offspring, the band never grew very famous, despite the incredible music they wrote. And this song is one of their best. There’s no other way to describe it than catchy. It has the type of melody that gets stuck in your head, and a chorus that you will be singing long after the song ends. The lyrics are relatively simple, focusing on a person who is kicking someone out of their life. The lyrics are so catchy that you will listen to them over and over again. If this song is one that you like, listen to other pop-punk bands such as The Descendents, The Addicts, and The Dickies.
Makeba, by Jain
Jain a French singer-songwriter, wrote this song as a tribute to South-African singer and activist Miriam Makeba. Written in 2015, the song reached number seven on the French singles chart, but its popularity in America is brought on by its use in Levi’s commercial. The indie song is one that you could easily find on a dance floor, and the steady beat provides a solid rhythm and constant pulse to the song.
Working Class Hero, by John Lennon
Everyone knows The Beatles; they’re one of the best and most famous bands in the world. John Lennon was the guitar player and one of the main songwriters, and after The Beatles broke up, had a successful solo career. However, this song is one of his deep cuts, and not many people know about it. It’s in Lennon’s series of “protest songs,” and notices important juxtaposition between different social classes. This song was controversial, as many people considered it prudent for Lennon to consider himself “working class.” Despite that, the song is beautiful, with rough guitar and impactful lyrics. The instruments blend perfectly but stay free enough to create a discordant, delicate, and beautiful sound.
Glad Girls, by Guided By Voices
Ok, being completely honest here: I do not like the band Guided By Voices. Most of their songs sound unfinished and raw to me, and their music is hard for me to absorb fully. (Maybe you’ll feel differently - listen to them and find out!) However, I do feel like they have a few good songs, and this is definitely one of them. While still keeping the rough, garage sound, it has a steady rhythm and thought-out melodies. Glad Girls has a good variety of dynamics, with mellow bridges and rocking choruses. The lyrics are a bit cursory, with no real meaning, but they still provide a great ground for the heavy guitar and continuous pulse. If you’re a big fan of garage music, then Guided By Voices is a band you should check out.
Wolf, by First Aid Kit
First Aid Kit is a folk band from Sweden started by two sisters, Johanna and Klara Soderberg. If they seem familiar to you, it might be because they played at Coachella in 2018, where they performed many of their amazing and unique works. Their song, Wolf, is just as extraordinary as all their other tunes. The lyrics are fantastical and filled with whimsy as if you would find them in a book of fairy tales. The music itself stays with this theme. The heavy drums and melodic guitar combine to form a perfect combination, and the doubled vocals turn a simple song into a harmonic masterpiece.
Soup is Good Food, by The Dead Kennedys
The Dead Kennedys emerged from the California punk scene in the 70s, and their influence on punk culture is still widely seen today. You may have heard one of their songs before, but this one is not well known. The song features raw, rough, and rambling vocals that somehow seem to add melody and cohesion to this chaotic song. The lyrics make a bold political statement about capitalism and automation present in our society; the words paint a picture of a dystopian future but in a deep and meaningful way. The Dead Kennedys are a band you should listen to, and this song especially showcases their talent.
Nameless, Faceless, by Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett is an Australian singer, songwriter, and bass player, who has written three studio albums and over twenty singles. I had the privilege of being able to see her in concert, and I was not disappointed. This song is one of her best, and Barnett sings it with such a commandment that you’re instantly drawn to it. The chorus repeats, “I want to take a walk in the park at night / Men are afraid that women will laugh at them / I want to walk in the park at night / Women are afraid that men will kill them.” It’s a line inspired by “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which Barnett found interesting, and used to create this amazing tune. “(It’s) a really powerful way to say something so strong,” Barnett says, and that is clearly shown in her stunning song.
Feels Like Home, by Cavetown.
Cavetown is a pretty popular, up-and-coming musician, so there’s a chance you may know or even love his music. However, I felt that this needed to be added to the list. It’s just that good, and everyone deserves to be familiar with his music. Cavetown has a distinct style of music, with soft instruments and mellow vocals. He manages to cram a ton of meaning into a light and airy song. This one is no exception, as it covers the difficulty of self-expression and gender identity. This is absolutely one of my favorite songs; it has a solid structure, an amazing tone, and a beautiful harmony between instruments. This song is a masterpiece.
Music is a beautiful thing. It has the power to make us feel emotion, allows us to express ourselves, and connect people all over the world. While it may seem easy to stick with the same songs you love, venturing out into other genres will allow you to experience music even better. Listening to new songs and bands will introduce you to a whole new world of expression and freedom. It may seem daunting to look past your go-to songs, but trust me: it’s worth it.