The Top Songs I Downloaded for Free in 2012

Regular readers of this blog (of which, tragically, there are still none) will no doubt remember last year’s post about the five amazing songs that your humble Monkey downloaded for free as as song of the day podcasts. in 2011

Well due to overwhelming popular demand (okay, due to absolutely no demand), everyone’s favorite feature is back for 2012.

Here are five songs that your Monkey found online for free that have changed his life in meaningful and profound ways during the past year.

1. “Passage” by Exitmusic

Exitmusic lead singer Aleksa Palladino is an excellent actress on the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire, but as one-half of the band Exitmusic, she is a force of nature.

The band consists of her and husband Devon Church, and the couple makes incredible music that is beautiful and unsettling. Her voice gets under your skin and stays there long after the song is over.

Here is an amazing live performance of “Passage,” the title track to their full-length debut that came out in May.

2. “October” by the Helio Sequence.

Your Monkey is still in the “getting to know you” phase when it comes to Helio Sequence as a band, but he cannot deny that they have put out some incredible singles over the four years. Their 2008 album “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” boasted both the amazing title track and the song “Can’t Say No.”

Their 2012 album, “Negotiations,” features this incredibly melodic song. Just listen to this voice….

3. “Time to Run” by Lord Huron

Your Monkey first stumbled upon Lord Huron thanks to a glowing review in Rolling Stone, but upon checking his song of the day feed from KEXP radio in Seattle, was happy to see that this gem of a song was there for the taking. The more you hear this band, the more you like them. They have a sound that is both classic and refreshing.

4. “Amongster” by Polica

OK, this one is a bit of a cheat because your Monkey had already purchased Polica’s debut album, “Give You The Ghost,” by the time this song came around as a free download last March.

But it is worth sharing because a.) the song is amazing b.) it’s a great illustration of the power of the band’s unique lineup (two drummers playing two full drum sets) and c.) the video is so earthy and erotic that it could get you pregnant just by watching it (editor’s note: this is not a scientific fact).

5. “The House that Heaven Built” by Japandroids

It is with a heavy heart that your Monkey includes the Japandroids on his “best of” list, namely because the Vancouver , B.C. duo seem to be a couple of pricks.¬†At least they came off like pricks when they talked to Jim Derogatis and Greg Kot of the excellent music podcast Sound Opinions earlier this year.

But hey, a great song is a great song, and this one is worth the recognition. Sometimes great art comes from less than perfect people. This song is a blast of energy and melody that stands up to repeat listening.

And the band is getting plenty of love from music critics with a lot more credibility that this paltry primate. So congrats, you two pricks. Here is your song.

Music, Podcasts

KEXP Live Performance Podcast Roundup

Your Monkey has been hard at work this week typing away and feeding the beast with new copy, but he has had a chance to catch up on the past three weeks of KEXP live performance podcasts.

A good mix of new bands, old bands, and one talented female singer with amazing potential.

Japandroids — This duo from Vancouver, British Columbia are the critical darlings of the moment. Another guitar and drums duo like the White Stripes and the Black Keys, the Japandroids make a huge wall of sound using just two instruments. They are nice guys and well worth a listen, but your Monkey is wondering if their sound will sustain itself for an entire album. Three or four tracks at a time seems just about enough for the moment.

The Vaselines — This Scottish band is perhaps best known for being an early favorite of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain. Nirvana memorably covered/interpreted the Vaselines’ song Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam during the band’s MTV unplugged performance. What this Monkey did not know is that two other Nirvana songs from the Incesticide EP (Molly’s Lips and Son of a Gun) are Vaselines covers as well. It is fascinating to hear the male and female vocal harmonies on these original tracks.

Bat for Lashes You don’t need this Monkey to tell you that Bat for Lashes (real name Natasha Kahn) is the real deal. She has a soaring voice and a talent for writing atmospheric songs that are laced with mysticism. Or something like that. Once again this is a good listen, though your Monkey can’t help feeling like it’s not quite as great as it could be. Perhaps Kahn hasn’t reached her full potential yet. But hey, she’s young, she’s talented, and she’s got plenty of time.

Plus she makes a great video. Check this out.

You’ll have to click through and watch it on youtube because embedding is disabled. The video is worth it, though.