“Hanuman,” by Rodrigo y Gabriela

I came across this guitar duo when they performed for National Public Radio’s “Tiny Desk.” Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero are Mexican guitarists whose musical sound is closely compared to “heavy metal flamenco,” according to NPR writer Bob Boilan. They play hard with their nylon-string guitars, emanating powerful and deep, resonating sounds, combined with rhythmic drumming on their guitars. Often, Rodrigo and Gabriela will switch back and forth, one guitar performing the underlying, pulsing beat and the other replacing the vocalist.

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“Not that Beautiful,” by Papa Roach

The music industry is familiar with songs about spurned lovers. Lead singer Jacoby Dakota Shaddix remembers a relationship that’s finished but still lives in his memory. He hates his obsession with the past, and he tries to move on from a lover who’s “haunting” him. I like Papa Roach because their songs cover problems that many people can relate to. I recommend “Scars,” “Last Resort” and “Getting Away with Murder” from Papa Roach’s previous albums. If you don’t mind a little screaming, check out “Not That Beautiful.”

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“Last to Know” by Three Days Grace

Angst alert: This song is stripped down compared to Three Days Grace’s usual songs, meaning the focus begins on the piano and the guitar. “Last to Know” is another relationship song, about the ones that end suddenly, without explanations. This type of finish inevitably leaves internal suffering. Rather than direct his anger to his former lover, lead singer Adam Gontier sings to the guy his girl just left him for. Different, right? Gontier’s vocals are haunting and harmonize perfectly with backup from other band members. Unfortunately, Gontier resigned from the band in January 2013. I’m not sure what’s next for Three Days Grace.

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“Moonlight Sonata,” by E.S. Posthumus

Sorry, if you’re looking for “happy” music, because this is another dark one. E.S. Posthumus is known for making cinematic music that combines classical music with electronic sound. This song in “Makara” recreates Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” An orchestra of violins and violas replaces the usual piano. Below the singing orchestral sound is a humming bass. I highly suggest that you check out the group’s other albums “Unearthed” and “Cartographer.” Sadly, E.S. Posthumus ceased its music production when Franz Vonlichten, one of the founding members, passed away. However, I’m glad to report that the remaining half of E.S. Posthumus, Helmut, has since formed Les Friction, another independent music group.

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“Circus for a Psycho,” by Skillet

Right from the start, you know that this song is about fighting back – and you can relate this to any issue, whether it be about a bad relationship or societal pressure. With high-energy guitar riffs and pounding drums, the band doesn’t apologize for fighting for what they believe is right.

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