Music

Songs in Our Hearts

Music to stir your passions.

Dreamboat Annie
Heart
1976, Mushroom / Capitol

I’m writing to you from Vancouver, where Dreamboat Annie was recorded in 1975 (the #1 reason I like this city). This feels like a double album, because every single song is (a) ALL KILLER NO FILLER and (b) just FEEEEELZ in general. As in: total emo, passion, voodoo, raw power, ET AL. There is a song for every possible mood you will experience in a single week (or, if you are like me, a single day). The Wilson sisters have completely mastered the whole soft-pretty-acoustic-ballad thing and the heavy-SLAY-guitar-and-banshee-operatics-boogie-rock-cowbell thing, which they proved when they covered “Stairway to Heaven” at a tribute to Led Zeppelin in December—and SUCK IT LED ZEP because you know Heart was and is better, and everyone please watch this video for some sweet vindication, and try not to cry (and wait for Obama rocking it). This is HIGH ART:

Heart has been my favourite band for more than half my life. Half of my art is about Heart. True story: in 2005, I made a huge mural in a public art gallery of the band’s old logo (which you can see on this album’s cover. When I was done with the installation, I found out that the gallery’s director had suffered a heart attack. band logo. Like Heart, I work on 100% intuition. I like to say that I make art to survive love, and Heart is my soundtrack for this struggle, which I habitually lose, but so what? I have this music to listen to, and it has kept me company for 20 years. If you do not already possess Dreamboat Annie, please go get it! It might complete you. Don’t make me ask you again (and get Little Queen too while you are at it). —Sonja

Letting Off the Happiness
Bright Eyes
1998, Saddle Creek

Long before this decade’s romance with “It Gets Better,” I had a motto of my own, “It gets worse,” and I carried it like a secret wound and a badge of honor everywhere I went. I had this idea that the bleaker I felt and the more loneliness I experienced, the more I would have to say in my art, and I felt like my pain definitely wasn’t enough. I hadn’t experienced physical violence or the loss of a loved one or come close to death or been permanently separated from my family—as fucked up as this is gonna sound, I almost envied people who had gone through stuff like that, because their sadness was concrete and understandable, whereas mine was just this amorphous self-inflicted darkness that in comparison seemed indulgent, unnecessary, and dumb. Then when I was 15 my “internet boyfriend,” who lived in Omaha and frequently attended house shows where local bands would play, told me about Bright Eyes, which was just this very scrawny, very intense teenager named Conor Oberst. The first thing I listened to was Letting Off the Happiness, the second Bright Eyes album, mostly recorded in Conor’s parents’ basement using his dad’s four-track cassette recorder. Musically, these songs are all over the place: always lo-fi, but sometimes electronic and scratchy and distorted, sometimes frantic and punk, sometimes folksy and quiet. There’s a thrilling undercurrent of experimentation and play that feels so youthful to me. Nothing is polished or perfect; everything is rough and urgent. And the thing that struck me most back then was how much pain there was in these songs. When I listen to them now that I’m no longer a teenager and no longer experiencing everything for the first time but usually for the 100th time or the 1000th time, their commitment to articulating relentless, agonizing pain seems almost like some kind of joke. But it’s not a joke. Conor Oberst is serious when his voice pitches to a scream as he threatens to “drive right off a fucking cliff” if things don’t get better in three days, which on the one hand is like LOL, but on the other hand isn’t even remotely funny because people less famous, less well known, dare I say less sympathetic, than a indie-rock singer from Omaha have made these exact threats and gone through with them. Some of the songs feel really narcissistic to me now, like “Padriac My Prince,” a tortured, self-pitying lament about the death of the narrator’s baby brother—Conor Oberst never had a baby brother who died. But he made songs that indulged in sadness, disappointment, love, and yearning. I know now that all the times when I wished I had more tragedy in my life, it wasn’t actually because I wanted to be an orphan whose parents died in a fiery car crash, but because I wanted some way to legitimize my pain, to make it more beautiful, to make a story out of it. These impulses are gone now, but this album is still around to get us through the dark days of winter, into the the great glowing warmth of spring. —Jenny

In Utero
Nirvana
1993, DGC

“Teenage angst has paid off well / Now I’m bored and old” are the lyrics that kick off In Utero, accompanied by the raggediest-sounding guitar chords that sound like they are emanating from a special “fun” level of hell. Sure, 1991′s Nevermind was the record that made Nirvana famous, but as amazing as it is, it feels like Kidz Bop next to this one. I fell in love with Nirvana because a friend put “Heart-Shaped Box” on a mixtape for me. That’s a love song only that super smart but super quiet boy who sits in the corner could ever come up with. And it is beautiful. When this album came out I listened to it over and over on my headphones, laying down on the floor in front of my mom’s stereo in the living room with my eyes closed, and I was in another world. It’s a dark record, but Kurt’s wit always shines through—like in “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle,” when he sings “I miss the comfort in being sad”—probably one of my favorite lyrics ever, because dammit, that is a real fucking emotion. There are also songs that are heavy and sloppy and raw and you can’t understand what Kurt’s saying and you just feel like thrashing around your room, especially “tourette’s,” where Dave Grohl (love you forever and ever) is just BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF HIS SET and it bounces off in your ears and around your walls and around your soul and it’s only one and a half minutes long so you put it on repeat until you’re all worn out and sweaty and then the last song, “All Apologies,” comes on right after it and that song is so beautiful, and it ends with “All in all is all we are” and you keep repeating that in your head as you drift off to sleep, exhausted, from general emotions and from life, of course. —Laia

mbv
My Bloody Valentine
2013, self-released

My Bloody Valentine is a rock band from Dublin who have been making dreamy music since 1983. Their fuzzy, reverb-heavy sound came eventually to be known as shoegaze, and their second record, 1991′s Loveless, is one of the best (if not the single greatest) shoegaze albums of all time. After that, MBV didn’t release anything else for, oh, TWENTY-TWO YEARS. The lead singer, Kevin Shields, kept saying he was going to put something out and then wouldn’t, continuously teasing us MBV fans! So when mbv was suddenly released on the band’s website on Saturday, everyone flipped. I’ve been listening to it since then, and it’s super beautiful! All of the songs are fuzzy and loud, no matter what volume you play them at. My favorite track is “New You,” but that’s because I’m partial to the songs that the band’s guitarist, Bilinda Butcher, sings. If you’re looking to fill your ears with some dreamy, distorted sounds, put this album on. —Hazel

When the Pawn…
Fiona Apple
1999, Epic

Released three years after her debut album, Tidal, and two years after her legendary bullshit-calling MTV Video Music Awards speech (beautifully captured here by our own Laia), Fiona Apple’s second record showed that she still had plenty to say, as evidenced by its full title: When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ’Fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right. It is a record of extremes: extreme anger, extreme sadness, extreme loneliness, extreme righteousness, extreme acceptance. Fiona almost seems to be fighting herself throughout, moving between open wounds and extended claws, in the most painful of breakup modes, where you can’t decide if you want to crawl back into a bitter cave or build a new home out of the ruins. It is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking albums I have ever heard–still, after almost 15 years of listening to it–and one of the only records that I think captures the feeling of brokenness that you feel when love is gone. —Pixie

Misora
Sachiko Kanenobu
1972, URC / 2006, Chapter Music

I’ve been wanting to tell you Rookies about this album for a while, because it feels like a secret that needs to be shared. My friend Guy gave it to me right before I went to Japan for a work project, and I listened to it obsessively while I was there—like 20 times a day for two weeks. The music is hypnotizing and pretty and just lovely to listen to (especially if you have spaz tendencies). Sachiko wrote and performed all her own songs, and is generally acknowledged as Japan’s first female singer-songwriter, in the vein of Joni Mitchell. Misora was originally released in 1972, but didn’t get a lot of press or publicity, partly because they day before it came out, Sachiko snuck off to California to marry a Rolling Stone music critic, and the album went completely fell through the cracks. THEN YEARS LATER, a friend, the science-fiction writer Philip K Dick (!!?) got her back in the studio to record. By the 1980s she had reinvented herself as a “folk-punk” singer and formed a new band called Culture Shock that still performs to this day. Here’s one of my favorite songs from Misora, “Look Up at the Sky.” —Sonja

Evergreen Vol. 2
The Stone Poneys
1967, Capitol

The Stone Poneys were a three-piece folk-rock band that featured a young upcoming singer named Linda Ronstadt. This album, the band’s most successful, includes a couple of standouts: the yearning, baleful “I’ve Got to Know” tells the story of a woman who feels insecure in a relationship and begs her beloved to tell her how they feel about her—the lyrics (e.g., “I’ve got to know if you think you might leave me / Baby won’t you break it to me / If you’re planning to deceive me”) remind me of unhealthy relationships I’ve seen, and they make me for everyone who’s ever felt so uncertain of their partner’s love. That song was the B-side of the wonderful, super-catchy hit single “Different Drum,” which tells a very different story: “I’m not ready / For any person, place or thing / To try and pull the reins in on me,” Linda sings, yearning for freedom from a dude who “wants to love only” her. Michael Nesmith originally wrote the song for a male singer (he offered it to his made-for-TV band the Monkees, but their management rejected it), and there is something exciting and subversive about hearing Linda deliver it from a woman’s perspective. It’s not surprising that “Different Drum” was the only hit on the album, and eventually paved the way for Linda’s massively successful solo career. —Minna

Little Red Boots
Lindi Ortega
2011, Last Gang Records

Linda Ortega has a voice like Dolly Parton or Emmylou Harris and the attitude of a punk band like Social Distortion. In fact, that’s how I discovered her—opening for Social D in her signature little red boots, wowing the punks with country songs written in the classic vein of Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. My friends and I rushed the merch booth to buy this album, and I’ve been swooning over it ever since. It’s got some gorgeous songs about lies and broken hearts and a fabulous tribute to James Dean (“Jimmy Dean”) that always gets stuck in my head. The title track is reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” in a way, the perfect tune for getting ready on a night when you want to conquer the world. And then there’s my personal theme song, “Fall Down or Fly,” which is all about following your passion no matter how tough it gets. —Stephanie

One Beat
Sleater-Kinney
Kill Rock Stars

The first time you put this record on and you press play and Janet Weiss’s BOMBASTIC drum beats come rolling out of your speakers with the force and rolling thunder of a million hurricanes, you know you are in for a thrill. One Beat is Sleater-Kinney’s fifth record and definitely its most political, and although I generally dislike music with ~a message~, this being Sleater-Kinney, the rules obviously don’t apply. The title track is a ROUSING call for battle that will get you pumped up to fight for your right to…well, for your right to fight. The rest of the record runs through with the same energy while tackling a myriad of issues: there are overtly topical songs like “Far Away” and “Combat Rock,” about living in a post-9/11 world, but there’s also “Oh!” a love song so lovely that every time I hear it I smile and imagine myself on a swing set going higher and higher with each swing while my paramour pushes me in a playground of love. The band’s signature tongue-in-cheek humor come through in “Prisstina,” a song about a perfect girl totally corrupted by ROCK & ROLL, and “Funeral Song,” where Carrie Brownstein sings, “Nothing says forever like my very own grave.” Then you’ll get to the last song, “Sympathy,” which singer Corin Tucker wrote after her son was born nine weeks too early and was in the hospital, and it will make you bawl your eyes out with its beauty and sincerity and I AM NOT EVEN A MOM. This is definitely one of Sleater-Kinney’s best records—which is really saying something, since all their records are amazing. —Laia

Goddamnit
Alkaline Trio
1998, Asian Man Records

This is the first full-length album by Alkaline Trio, a punk band (with emo and goth tendencies) from Chicago, and it’s basically pure passion injected straight into your eardrums. A relationship set to music, the record perfectly encapsulates what it feels like to fall in love hard and fast (“Nose Over Tail”) and that crushing loss when it’s all over (“My Little Needle,” “Southern Rock,” and…well, basically every song on the album touches on this because Alkaline Trio seems to understand that passion burns quick and hot). “Clavicle” is probably my favorite love/lust song of all time. I mean, “I wanna wake up naked next to you, kissing the curve of your clavicle”—uh, yes, please. —Stephanie

Gord’s Gold
Gordon Lightfoot
1975, Reprise

I’m actually kind of crying to “If You Could Read My Mind” as I write this because it’s one of my favorite songs of all time and goddamn, Gordon Lightfoot is such a great singer and songwriter. If you’re going to get into Lightfoot, I recommend this album, on which he rerecords his greatest hits, including classics like “I’m Not Sayin,’” “Ribbon of Darkness,” “Carefree Highway,” and another personal favorite, “Beautiful.” His music is so, so ’70s—it’s romantic and simple and has this “just a man and his guitar” folk quality that I dare you to not fall in love with. —Hazel

If I Were a Carpenter
Various artists
1994, A&M

Oh, 1994. I remember you! All my friends had this record. That big-eyed cover art was branded into my brain. This album is all covers of songs by the soft-rock brother-and-sister duo the Carpenters, and the lineup is a crazy cross-section of NINETIES shizz. Like…Shonen Knife and Cranberries and…whazzat, Sheryl Crow? and REDD KROSS (who RULE) and Babes In Toyland and SONIC YOUTH’S “Superstar”…oh, and throw in some Matthew Sweet and some 4 Non Blondes for some more WTF? Long live the Carpenters! I don’t want to talk about the tragedy of Karen Carpenter‘s death right now, because this album is a tribute to the amazingness that was her. —Sonja

Evil Stig
Evil Stig
1995, Blackheart Records

This is an amazing tribute/benefit album that was born of a terrible loss. In 1993, Mia Zapata, lead singer of the Seattle punk band the Gits was raped and murdered—a crime that went unsolved for more than 10 years. Joan Jett did a series of benefit shows with the remaining Gits and recorded this album (“Evil Stig” = “Gits Live” backwards) to raise funds for a private investigation into Mia’s murder. In addition to fiery performances of some of my favorite Gits songs (“Another Shot of Whiskey,” “Guilt Within Your Head,” “Whirlwind,” and “Second Skin”), and a stellar version of “Crimson and Clover,” it includes some great original tunes too. Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill lends her talents to “You Got a Problem” (and sings on the hidden track “Go Home”). “Activity Grrrl” was one of my biggest inspirations as a teenager because it basically described the girl I wanted to be. —Stephanie

Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them
Various artists
1989, Giant Records

I love love love Shonen Knife, so of course I’m going to love an album where some of my favorite artists—like L7, Sonic Youth, and Lunachicks—cover songs by the legendary Japanese pop-punk duo. If you love Shonen Knife too, this is worth owning. Every interpretation is personal and special and totally rockkkkking. —Hazel ♦

37 Comments

  • Bug February 7th, 2013 11:48 PM

    Why are the 11pm articles being posted so late?????

  • thefilmrookie February 8th, 2013 12:02 AM

    definatly going to check all of these out!!!

    http://www.pink-lantern.tumblr.com

  • Katherine February 8th, 2013 12:26 AM

    Fiona Apple!

  • taste test February 8th, 2013 12:32 AM

    SLEATER-KINNEY OH MY GOD FINALLY YOU HAVE MENTIONED SLEATER-KINNEY THEY ARE MY FAVORITES. I love them & their music very much. as my username probably shows. and if my high school had done senior quotes, mine would have been “if I’m to run the future, you’ve got to let the old world go.” (see old high school I had it all picked out and everything and then you crushed my dreams)

    also, every band has a shonen knife who loves them is amazing, but also obscure enough to not be on itunes. so if you want to hear, you will have to seek out some, ahem, alternate way of getting it. just throwing that out there. (it is possible. I have it.)

    • taste test February 8th, 2013 1:04 AM

      oh oh and. one more mostly related thing, because I just remembered Stephanie writes here. one of the first ways my future best friend found out about my music taste, which was one of the first things that brought us together, was I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. I usually try to keep my music nerdiness secret then because it weirds a lot of people out, but I saw her reading that book and I was so excited to see sleater-kinney that I did something I usually wouldn’t and said “wow, that book is named after a really cool song!” and she said “it’s named after a song?” I said “uh… never mind,” figuring I had just ended up looking like a weirdo again, and she said “NO NO WHAT IS THE SONG I WANT TO KNOW I BET IT’S AWESOME.” so I told her what was and she actually looked it up and loved it and it was great. and I read the book later and it was awesome too. :)

      • Stephanie February 8th, 2013 10:16 AM

        Oh that is a cool story! And I have to say that the people who realize that book is named for a Sleater-Kinney song are my favorite people :)

  • thisisaflag February 8th, 2013 12:57 AM

    I am ridiculously excited to see Bright Eyes on here. Conor Oberst is so perfect and amazing and ugh I adore him. The first time I listened to If Winter Ends I was walking to school and I had to go sit in a back alley and cry for a while because that song is THAT AMAZING.

  • moose February 8th, 2013 2:17 AM

    This is the best list o’ albums yet, so many feels.

  • ivoire February 8th, 2013 2:21 AM

    heart forevaaaa, you are so right that album COMPLETED me.

  • jwells February 8th, 2013 2:50 AM

    ok, so i don’t wanna be this guy, BUT, my bloody valentine, not scottish, irish.

    • Anaheed February 8th, 2013 3:27 AM

      Thanks – that was my mistake. Fixed now!

  • Lucy February 8th, 2013 2:51 AM

    Don’t get me wrong, Heart is great, but nobody does Stairway to Heaven better than Led Zeppelin!!!

  • Elizabete February 8th, 2013 5:39 AM

    Oh, my, those are so beautiful ♡

    When I think Heart, I always think of Magic Man and The Virgin Suicides, Trip Fontaine, baby!

    + I can totally relate to Jenny and wanting to experience “real”pain, it’s incredibly wrong, but, ugh, I’m just another white, straight, middle class girl living in safe Eastern European city, I kind of don’t have any rights to be depressed.

    http://melodyfairitale.wordpress.com/

  • Sorcha M February 8th, 2013 5:51 AM

    Best music recs EVER.

  • starsinyourheart February 8th, 2013 6:19 AM

    If anyone likes Fiona Apple check out Bonnie McKee’s Trouble from 2004. she wrote the whole thing before she was 16 and it’s so freaking beautiful. It didn’t do well and she ended up songwriting for Katy Perry and Britney, but her own stuff is so so good and she’s out with a new album this year, I’m so excited.

  • Isabelle97 February 8th, 2013 7:36 AM

    I haven’t even finished the article but the Nirvana review is fucking amazing

  • caro nation February 8th, 2013 9:26 AM

    I had a heart attack when the new My Bloody Valentine came out. It felt prophetic, spiritual, messianic! I don’t mean to compare Kevin Shields to a divine being, because I think sardonic horn-rimmed music journalists do that WAY too much, he’s a just a guy, a little bit of an outsider artist, maybe, but just a guy. BUT THIS FELT LIKE A MIRACLE. IT SHOOK UP MY TINY WORLD AND BROKE MY ALT GIRL HEART. NOT TO MENTION IT WAS GOOD. IT WAS REALLY, REALLY GOOD! It also gave me a sense of community to literally liveblog mbv’s release with a bunch of other people. My dad tried to be all, “I was waiting for the imminent release of this record BEFORE you were BORN” BUT HE NEEDS TO SHUT UP BECAUSE THIS WAS MOMENTOUS and and and I’m really happy.

  • Stephanie February 8th, 2013 10:17 AM

    Laia, In Utero is my #1 favorite album of all time ever and you described it perfectly. Thank you!

    • Laia February 9th, 2013 1:58 PM

      <3

      i have been listening to it non-stop and i had totally forgotten about how important it is to me. IT IS SO GOOD.

    • paige.xo February 9th, 2013 10:01 PM

      same. i tried to get my friends into nirvana and grunge music, and they were totally against it until they heard heart shaped box and all apologies. its perfect.

  • fromanotherearth February 8th, 2013 10:17 AM

    omfg i was listening to bright eyes as i was reading this article! no one understands how much i adore conor oberst/bright eyes/mystic valley band/desaparecidos. letting off the happiness is a fantastic record; june on the west coast and if winter ends are some of my all time favorites.

  • decemberbaby February 8th, 2013 1:47 PM

    WAITTTTT, CARRIE BROWNSTEIN WAS IN SLEATER-KINNEY?!?!

    HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS

    I JUST THOUGHT SHE WAS A COOL CHICK ON PORTLANDIA

    LASFDKJASLDFJHLASLDF

    Rookie enlightens once again.

  • iamrachii February 8th, 2013 5:07 PM

    Ugh yes Alkaline Trio! They were my first proper rock show when I was 12 and Crimson came out. Good Mourning is my favourite album (I actually don’t have Goddammit) but I’m glad you mentioned Clavicle, such a good song!

  • Bananaskid February 8th, 2013 6:01 PM

    These are artists I have never heard about.
    Why are some articles being posted so late???
    I mean like, seriously???

    • Anaheed February 8th, 2013 6:23 PM

      Because sometimes we get behind. We are a very small staff made of humans.

  • MissKnowItAll February 8th, 2013 6:03 PM

    I
    am
    upset
    because
    this
    was
    the
    prefect
    opportunity
    to
    talk
    about
    one Direction.
    Why Tavi Why

  • PZ February 8th, 2013 8:07 PM

    june on the west coast is my LIFE BLOOD!!!

  • Bluedabagel February 8th, 2013 9:20 PM

    Not to be that other guy… but Loveless is MBV’s second album.

    • Anaheed February 8th, 2013 9:24 PM

      OMG — thank you! And I actually have their first one!

  • Resh February 9th, 2013 9:14 AM

    Laia! I had the same feeling of why-am-I-crying-I’m-not-even-a-mother with another song that’s a bit more mainstream: Ed Sheeran’s “Small Bump”. It’s the closest I can get to passionate feelings through music while being a mainstream listener. I really want to go a little more “Underground” but I just can’t find something suitable for me. Sorry :)

  • Franckswife February 9th, 2013 10:25 AM

    “and SUCK IT LED ZEP because you know Heart was and is better” I’m sorry Sonja, but I CANNOT agree with this sentence.
    Even if Heart is amazing. Even if I bought Dreamboat Annie one month ago and I’m dancing to it like everyday.

    Bright Eyes, Nirvana ♥

    Thank you for this article Rookie !
    (and sorry for my bad english)

  • barbroxursox February 9th, 2013 12:28 PM

    OH MY GOD I WAS CRYING THROUGHOUT THE WHO;E HEART TRIBUTE TO ZEP OMG BOTH BANDS ARE PERFECT JUST GAHHH FEELS

    http://lizard-on-a-window-pane.tumblr.com

    • barbroxursox February 9th, 2013 12:50 PM

      Also literally every single album on here is/looks like it will be AWESOME so thank you so much for this Rookie. You make my life worth living <3 xoxo

  • llamalina February 9th, 2013 2:25 PM

    the nirvana review. oh my god. is so perfect. everything is just so true and excuse me, i’m just going to blast in utero and turn off all the lights and lay on my bed now thank you.

    http://llamalina.blogspot.com

  • teenidle February 10th, 2013 2:10 AM

    Someone else knows of the existence of Gordon Lightfoot???
    That man was a constant presence in my childhood when riding in my dad’s car.
    Pretty sure I was raised almost exclusively on him and Neil Young.

  • Iris Rookiereader March 6th, 2013 2:58 PM

    Everyone who’s ever seen Parent Trap the LiLo version (I’m guessing 99% of the readers hopefully!) should love Shonen Knife, their cover of Top of the World is the song at the beginning of the movie when they’re at the camp! I looked for that song for yearsss and it haunted me how I could only sing the first 2 lines, but I had those lines down at least. “Such a feeling coming over meeeee….”