I’ve never been one to go about and collect every record, special edition, or B-side of my favorite artist. Strictly speaking, I enjoy music most when I’m cruising down the interstate. I’ve never been one to develop a vendetta to find absolute meaning in every song I hear – because frankly, I think that ruins the simple feeling of just enjoying the music. That said, the songs I chose represent a fair mix of artists I enjoy and songs that either didn’t get enough airplay or got none whatsoever. Thank your lucky stars I didn’t put Mumford & Sons or One Direction up here. (Thanks Dale, much appreciated – Ed). #1: The Black Keys – Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be I’ll fully admit to being a newfound Black Keys fan. I hadn’t heard the band until the release of their hugely popular album ‘Brothers‘ – but once I heard it I knew I loved them. ‘El Camino‘ followed that a short time later, and in order to prep myself for the newest album, I went out and got all of their other releases I could find. By far, ‘Rubber Factory‘ is my favorite. By far, ‘Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be‘ (from ‘Attack & Release‘) is in my top five favorite Keys songs of all time. If Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are good at one thing, it’s painting vivid portraits of sheer emotion. Their songs are realistic in feeling, and the best examples I can use are this song, ‘The Lengths‘, and ‘These Days‘. Simply put: The Black Keys put out music that speaks to the very core of whatever misshapen soul I have. #2: The Kinks – This Time Tomorrow I first heard this song while watching Wes Anderson’s ‘The Darjeeling Limited‘ (one of my favorite films, by the way) – which is odd because it’s been around since 1970. Forty-two years. Nonetheless, it’s a relatively simple song. The song, from what I can tell, is about leaving fear behind. I can relate. A lot of people can. “Seven miles below . . . I can see the world and it ain’t so big at all” is the lyric that impacts me most. I mean, to anyone, the world can seem like a frighteningly large place – but up from above, when compared to everything else, it’s a relatively small pale blue dot. What’s to fear? #3: Voxtrot – The Start Of Something Unfortunately, Voxtrot are no longer together – a true shame for such a talented group. I was introduced to this band during my freshman year of high school by my friend Jon. It’s a fun song, and I’m sure there’s meaning to it, but when it comes on my shuffled iTunes playlist I can’t help but to shake and nod my head along with the rhythm. Other great picks from the band are ‘Whiskey‘ and ‘Kid Gloves‘. #4: Wugazi – Last Chance For The Clientele Kid: Fugazi is a post-hardcore band out of Washington, D.C., and Wu-Tang is a rap group based in Staten Island, New York. In July 2011, Minneapolis record label Doomtree released an album of mash-ups between Fugazi and the veteran rap crew titled ‘13 Chambers‘ under the name Wugazi. Fugazi, however, did not have any involvement with the release and wasn’t particularly impressed with the release. I, however, was. The album is full of mixed gems, my favorites being ‘Sweet Release‘, ‘Shame On Blue‘, and the above mentioned. I know what you’re thinking – how do you go from The Black Keys, The Kinks, and Voxtrot to Wu-Tang? There’s only one answer: Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to fuck with. And it’s true – the rapping superimposed over varyingly heavy rock lines is genius and it’s a shame Fugazi didn’t give the album a better report card than they did, because it’s truly something to be proud of. #5: Infant Sorrow – Going Up: I refuse to apologize for this. As big a douchebag Russell Brand is, and how stupefied I am at the fact that he was married to Katy Perry, the man has released some catchy songs. His movie, Get Him To The Greek, featured many of said songs. For all Infant Sorrow’s satire, there is a powerful narrative inlayed in ‘Going Up‘ – a narrative of overcoming rock bottom and showing everyone just how wrong they were about you. I was tempted to use ‘Bangers, Beans, & Mash‘ for my fifth choice, but ‘Going Up‘ had that ever-important lesson that many children need to hear: If some son of a bitch kicks dirt in your face, or someone ever tells you that you’ll never amount to anything, you prove them wrong. Hardship is no excuse for giving up.