Playlist: Quirky ladies of pop

Not all pop musicians are made alike. Thank goodness for the weird ones. Here’s a list of the ladies that gladly make what they want, whether it’s a night of dancing on the town or sulking in the dark corner of your bedroom.

1. “Zero”- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Karen O is clearly a badass. I love how she can be both vulnerable (“Maps”) or aggressive (“Date with the Night”) with ease.

Karen O of the Yeah  Yeah Yeahs
Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Photo Credit: Damian Shaw)

“Zero,” taken from the album It’s Blitz, is a departure from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ edgier, more punk output earlier on, but clearly Karen O is having a blast. Her outfits are proof.

2. “Northern Lights”- St. Vincent

On the surface, Annie Clark’s work seems like breezy pop/rock songs, but digging deeper reveals rich textures and an underlying edgy tone that isn’t found in the majority of modern pop music. Go take a listen to her new self-titled album via NPR if you haven’t already.

3. “Infinity Guitars”- Sleigh Bells

Juxtaposition is what Sleigh Bells is all about. What other band can say it is comprised of powerful 1980s metal guitars and sugary pop choruses? Singer Alexis Krauss doesn’t have the most impressive vocal abilities, but her ability to intersperse sweet coos with shouts and chants sets her apart.

4. “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing”- Garbage

Oh do I love Shirley Manson. She’s one of the first women that showed me female-fronted bands can indeed be cool (I’ve usually preferred male vocalists).

Shirley Manson of Garbage (Photo Credit: John Kenney)
Shirley Manson of Garbage (Photo Credit: John Kenney)

Though her music can be described as rock, there’s always a pop element to it, and Shirley Manson has an effortlessly cool style and demeanor.

5. “Glass”- Bat for Lashes

I’ve always felt Natasha Khan has a certain mysterious quality about her.

Much like Florence Welch, she creates baroque pop that often incorporates a hint of mysticism. Okay, maybe more than a hint.

6. “Bones”- MS MR

Lizzy Plapinger’s voice is so unique. Her powerful, husky tone compliments MS MR’s dark indie pop.

Lizzy Plapinger of MS MR and her always cool hair
Lizzy Plapinger of MS MR and her always cool hair

The debut album Secondhand Rapture is one of those albums for which you won’t feel inclined to skip a track.

7. “Feral Love”- Chelsea Wolfe

Goth culture has found a new inspiration. Wolfe’s somber music and visuals are hauntingly atmospheric. Too bad she isn’t more popular, because there’s such a breath of fresh air to her approach.

8. “Circumambient”- Grimes

Claire Boucher’s angelic, wispy voice layered over many, many vocal tracks and synthesized sounds didn’t immediately engross me, but take a few listens and you’ll start to realize just how smart and layered her records are.

9. “Falling”- Haim

This talented trio of sisters have soared in success since the release of their debut album Days are Gone in 2013. R & B, soul, modern pop, and classic rock are all sprinkled within the catchy record. Somehow it all works.

10. “Army of Me”- Björk

The fabulously weird Bjork (Photo Credit: Andre Csillag)
The fabulously weird Bjork (Photo Credit: Andre Csillag)

Countless artists have been inspired by her, but Iceland’s most popular musical export is in a league all her own.

Raw yet sentimental, Björk’s otherworldly voice and music has opened up the genre of pop in a whole new way.

11. “Fist of a Flower”- Gemma Ray

Though not as well known as most of the artists on this list, Gemma Ray is a British singer/songwriter that has released several albums evoking a 60s pop vibe for the modern age. Considering she collaborated on a single with Sparks, she’s the definition of quirky.

12. “Spectrum”- Florence and the Machine

That powerhouse voice Florence Welch has can wail about anything and make it sound spectacular, but Welch’s lyrics also separate her from the overtly saturated pop genre. She sings about everything from ghosts to mental breakdowns, yet somehow manages to keep it all sound sweeping and beautiful.

13. “Dreams”- Fleetwood Mac

This playlist just needs to end with a classic. Besides Stevie Nicks’ wild lifestyle back in the day, there’s actually good music there too! Nicks’ vocals are unlike any other, and her style of long flowing garb has inspired many (including the aforementioned Florence Welch.

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A playlist for winter

http://timeentertainment.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/the-shining.jpg?w=720&h=480&crop=1It was 80 degrees outside today, so I’m not sure that this playlist actually compliments the climate I’m in, but for those who are already experiencing snow or want to pretend you are, here is a playlist for you.

Some of these songs don’t include any references to snow or wintertime (and I promise- very few references to Christmas), but it’s a nice collection of melancholy and delicate. A few of the music videos for the tunes also align with the theme.

Click here to listen to the playlist!

1. “Immigrant Song”- Led Zeppelin

That infamous “Ahhaahhhhh…ah!” gives this such a primal feel, it belongs to scenes of hunting in the fierce winter winds of… England?

Also, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Karen O did a fantastic cover version for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack.

2. “In the Cold, Cold, Night”- White Stripes

Before Jack White was in a gazillion other bands
Before Jack White was in a gazillion other bands

Megan White was never the focus of the band, so it’s nice to see her take the spotlight and sing this simple, slightly bluesy track.

3.  “Let Me Sleep”- Pearl Jam

Eddie Vedder has a great voice and all, but he must be one boring Christmas buddy. Anyways, here’s a rarity from their Lost Dogs two-disc collection.

4. “Glósóli”- Sigur Rós

It is just such a beautiful, breathtaking song. Sigur Rós are one of those bands that make mesmerizing music videos that compliment the music- “Glósóli” included.

5. “Untitled”- Interpol

I always imagine a visual of New York City on a chilly evening when “Untitled” is playing, or maybe just a crowded subway and people pushing each other during rush hour.

6. “White Winter Hymnal”- Fleet Foxes

The whole debut album by Fleet Foxes could be applied as sounds for winter. However, this one doesn’t just mention the season in the title, it also perfectly fits the mood of wintertime forests and cabins.

7. “A Hazy Shade of Winter”- Simon & Garfunkel

They probably wouldn't get away with those hairdos in the music industry now.
They probably wouldn’t get away with those hairdos in the music industry now.

Leave to Simon & Garfunkel to create an upbeat tune about dreary winter weather. However, it is a beautiful song, and shows off their famed songwriting prowess.

8. “Violet Hill”- Coldplay

Go ahead haters, hate away. I like this album and I shall listen to it anyway.

9. “This Ship Was Built to Last”- The Duke Spirit

The Duke Spirit are an underrated British band led by the smoky vocals of Liela Moss. They even opened for Jane’s Addiction this year.

10. “Breaking Down”- Florence + the Machine

A beautifully arranged song about gradually losing sanity. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Florence Welch.

11. “Farewell to the Fairground”- White Lies

Happy times with White Lies
Happy times with White Lies

There’s a U2-ish quality to this building track, whose video perfectly correlates with the theme.

Are there any other songs I should add? Just let me know!

Florence Welch has my heart

I’m going to start something a little different on my website. Rather than just announcements and such, I’ll make this a blogging space too. My inaugural blog post is about Florence + the Machine‘s Florence Welch (here’s a quick profile I made about her early this year: http://www.examiner.com/alternative-music-in-national/alternative-music-spotlight-florence-and-the-machine). Besides being gorgeous and stylish in her own way, she’s also a great singer and songwriter. Her powerhouse voice makes me wonder if there is such a thing as vocal steroids. How does she never lose her voice?!

Her new album Ceremonials will be released November 1st, which I’m quite giddy about. Hopefully I’ll have another chance to see her live. She has quite the presence onstage in her dramatic, flowing clothes (that are often more like costumes).

Anyway, enjoy the lovely Florence.

The single “What the Water Gave Me” from her upcoming album

Footage I made from Voodoo Festival in New Orleans last year