Mother by Danzig

Who said metal vocals have to consist exclusively of incoherent screams and guttural wrenching? Glenn Danzig, lead singer of Danzig and previously of The Misfits, is proof that you can be a talented singer and be in a metal band. I like to refer to him as the Elvis of metal, and one listen to this track proves that this seemingly contradictory genre fusion works superbly. “Mother” is a track off their first album, and it is the best example of Glenn Danzig’s self-assured jump from punk to metal. I usually put this song on while I’m walking to class in the morning – you know, when I need that extra push to make walking seem worth it but I don’t want to give myself a headache. It is the perfect mix of motivational guitar badassery and carefully crafted vocals that will make any boring walk feel like you’re about to take on the zombie apocalypse (in a good way).

Belispeak by Purity Ring

Don’t let the band name fool you – these people have nothing to do with the Jonas Brothers. This Canadian synth-pop duo is relatively new to the big time, which depresses me a bit because they’ve only had time to release one album. “Shrines” was dropped over the summer and it’s been blowing up ever since. I’ve been lucky enough to see Purity Ring twice since the release of “Shrines,” and their live show is equally as psychedelically calming as their music. Each song on the album is a calculated mix of drum and synth pads along with the vocals of Megan James, whose singing style can only be described as incomprehensibly cute (just like Megan James). “Belispeak” stands out for me because it is the one song on the album that differs in terms of its emotion. While other songs seem to be born from opiatic warmth, this track is a haunting descent into the collective mind that is Purity Ring.

Left Aligned by This Town Needs Guns

TTNG is one of my favorite math rock bands for two reasons: they have a great vocalist, and they are still just as good as when they started. For those of you who aren’t familiar, math rock is a genre based on strange time signatures and complex guitar noodling. Most math rock bands don’t have a vocalist because it’s simply too hard to add another layer over impossible guitar riffs (e.g. Hella), and most that do have a vocalist eventually turn into second-rate indie rock bands because it’s too difficult to keep making new music of that caliber (e.g. Maps & Atlases). However, TTNG defies all. Originally a four-piece, they recently lost their vocalist and bassist, replaced them with a singing bassist and released a new album last month as the world’s coolest power trio. “Left Aligned” is my current favorite off their latest album. It makes you ponder the definition of intensity; the Welsh-accented vocals are soft, the guitar is without distortion, yet the song still forces me to be lame enough to play air guitar and mouth each word every time I hear it.

I Get a Kick Out of You by Ella Fitzgerald

Alright, fine. You all were expecting a Valentine’s Day playlist in a Mirror issue released the day before that godforsaken holiday. This is the best you’re going to get. To start, I don’t need to explain to you why Ella Fitzgerald was one the coolest cats in history. If I do, you clearly haven’t listened to her sing yet. This particular song shows what a true badass she really is. In professing her love (or at least fondness) to the recipient of this tune, she takes a unique route. Instead of going with the typical Hallmark approach, Ella starts off by asserting that alcohol and the prospect of cocaine don’t excite her. She then questions why she only feels amazing when she is around this one person, and why she can’t get enjoyment out of substances that seem to be doing it for everyone else around her. I think that’s one of the most sincere ways a person can describe their feelings for someone they strongly care about: you make me feel eternally drunk, but my addiction to you doesn’t result in endless hangovers, divorce and unemployment. Isn’t that all love really is – a natural high?

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