Saturday, December 23, 2006

Music In Your Stocking

Inhale. Exhale. That might be the first time in two weeks I’ve been conscious of my breathing. The full force of being a consultant in the financial industry hit me like a Mack truck as clients swung into year-end mode starting in mid-December. I’ve been out at client offices much more than usual, then coming home to work a couple more hours on the clients I didn’t have access to during the day. (It’s extremely bad consultant manners to log onto another client’s computer if you’re on-site, even if you’re on a break.) One of the jobs I’ve been working on was particularly painful and complicated, in fact I did the job twice before they decided on an end-number they liked, resulting in me having to do it a third time. My director at the consulting company I work for actually pulled me out of there early (they refer to this as an "extraction", which made me feel like Sydney Bristow).

Anyhoo, I can breathe now because I’ve met all my obligations for the week and can take the weekend and Christmas Day off! But that’s it. It’s at this point I’m thinking to myself, if I was still an employee of a public company I would have the entire week off. That’s OK, there are always trade-offs and the good far outweighs the bad as far as I’m concerned.

As my gift to you I’ve compiled a list of songs from my Top 21 “new” artists of 2006. These are artists that I first discovered this year, even though some of them have been around for a while.

In alphabetical order with links to song samples:

Knock em Out by Lily Allen, from the album Alright, Still – she reminds me of Pink with a British accent

Ootischenia by The Be Good Tanyas, from the album Hello Love – alternative folk by talented Vancouver ladies

Heaven by Bitter:Sweet, from the album The Mating Game – bossa-nova pop I can’t stop listening to, in the Pink Martini realm

All the Pretty Horses by Calexico, from the album At the Crossroads – A Benefit for Homeless Youth – smoky Tex-Mex jazz-inspired goodness (the link is to their most recent album Garden Ruin, since the Crossroads link doesn’t have song samples)

Sons and Daughters by The Decemberists, from the album The Crane Wife – literary indie storytellers extraordinaire (yes, I know, I’m way behind on getting behind these guys), their earlier stuff is more baroque but this is a good place to start

Your Head’s Too Big by The Ditty Bops, from the album Moon Over the Freeway – I showcased this quirky duet in an earlier post, it’s just different, lots of influences including vaudeville & folk, with a sense of humor I find refreshing

Rue De Lis by The Essex Green, from the album Cannibal Sea – a Brooklyn band who wishes it were British, The Monkees meet The Shins, delightful

When I Was A Young Girl by Feist (Leslie Feist), from the album Let It Die – another Canadian singer with a torch song voice who writes lyrics that get under your skin, especially this song

Bad Idea by Thea Gilmore, from the album Burning Dorothy – a British singer in her mid-20’s with an old soul and an attitude (link is to Avalanche, another album that has song samples, try Juliet (Keep That In Mind))

Goodnight and Go by Imogen Heap, from the album Speak for Yourself – with a strong voice and utilizing layers of multi-tracking, her music is accessible yet introspective

Train by Sonya Kitchell, from the album Words Come Back to Me – she’s 17 with the soul and talent of someone much older, she wrote and plays the guitar on all the tracks, her voice has a natural smoky blues quality

Only A Fool by Marit Larsen, from the album Under the Surface – a Norwegian beauty making her way into the folk/pop space (link is to her myspace page for samples, you can get the album at Amazon)

The Taste of You by Erin McKeown, from the album Grand – I saw her open for The Waifs a while back and I’ve been hooked ever since, I didn't discover her this year but I had to include her, her songs are fresh and winsome, from acoustic country-rock to lush orchestral offerings; I felt her later album We Will Become Like Birds tried to be too commercial, losing some of her uniqueness (no song samples here but you can find lots on iTunes)

Your Belgian Things by The Mountain Goats, from the album We Shall All Be Healed – these guys trick me, some songs I love, like this one, while others make me jump to the iPod to skip the track, you decide for yourself (link is to their newest offering Get Lonely as it has song samples)

The Day the Earth Stole Heaven by Nine Horses, from the album Snow Borne Sorrow – I didn’t have a clue who David Sylvian is, all I know is I heard this song on our houseboat on Lake Shasta and I instantly fell in love with his voice…it’s deep and soulful and sexy (link is to their new album Money For All, coming out next month, for samples)

Needle and Thread by Psapp, from the album The Only Thing I Ever Wanted – they play the Grey’s Anatomy theme song, but worth a deeper listen for their “electro-folk melodies” as Amazon calls it

La Gran Siesta by Gabriel Rios, from the album Ghostboy – utterly irresistible Latin pop, he’s a Puerto Rican Adonis living in Belgium, some songs are in Spanish (like this one), some in English, either way you know exactly what you should do, get up and shake that thang (link is to his personal site, click on Music and Lyrics for samples, you can get the album through Amazon)

Hotel Song by Regina Spektor, from the album Begin to Hope – I had a very hard time picking a song from Regina, there are so many good ones; born in Russia, a classically-trained pianist with a flirty side, her voice is clear as a bell one moment and growly the next, a mix of Tori Amos and Fiona Apple yet better than them both

This Is Where by The Wailin’ Jennys, from the album 40 Days – if the name alone isn’t enough to get you to take a listen I don’t know what will; they’re from Winnipeg, Manitoba (my Mom’s home town!), and darlings of the Canadian folk circuit, with Celtic tinges

Iceskaters by Richard Walters, from the album Pilot Lights – I literally heard this song for the first time yesterday and I fell in love, so I’m still discovering him, an Oxford acoustic musician channeling Elliot Smith with a nod to James Blunt (link is to his personal site for samples)

Chocolate On My Tongue by The Wood Brothers, from the album Ways Not To Lose – sparse modern folk and blues guys, these real brothers have wonderful harmony and a sweet upright bass

As you can see, like a good Scotch, I'm mellowing with age. I have to admit I put on SexyBack when I'm on the eliptical but for the most part I'm looking for deeper than the radio can offer. (Ollie, I apologize, there's probably nothing in this list for you!)

If you want the zip file of ALL these songs, just email me or include your email in the comments. You’re welcome. And have a wonderful holiday.


  1. Hi Donna,

    OOOOOOOh! Thank you! I would love a zip file when you have a moment, after the holiday. ;-)

    I have been so overwhelmed the last few weeks, I've missed visiting over here. After the new year things will slow down.

    I've been thinking about you, hoping you are well, and here's wishing you a very merry Christmas holiday and all the best.

    Warm regards,


  2. Hi Donna:
    Glad to hear you are breathing! Hope you get a bit of down time soon! Happy holidays!

  3. Awesome Donna! I loved the last mp3s you put up, so I'm psyched to get some more ideas. I'm musically-challenged so I love getting suggestions. If you have a chance I would be very grateful for a zip file.

    Any big plans for Christmas day? Judging by your last few weeks I'm hoping for some peace and quiet for you.

    Have a great weekend, and a merry merry christmas!

  4. Thanks for the play list! And it certainly sounds like you're ready for a well-deserved break. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and happy and peaceful new year. xo

  5. Glad you can at least have Christmas day off! Enjoy and don't think about work a bit! Merry Christmas! - Kym

  6. I would love the zip...

    Merry Christmas!

  7. Donna, I hope you had a nice break over Christmas.

    Thank you for your kind comments on our loss.

  8. Hey Donna! Thanks! I had fun checking out the music, most of it new to me.
    I'd also like the zip file, if you wouldn't mind ramonaisatgmaildotcom
    Hope your Christmas was Merry!

  9. Oh, me too! Now that I'm back from an hours' long sojourn on Amazon and iTunes to listen to all of these beauties.

    I hope you had a holiday that made you feel as good as this playlist made me feel.

    xoxo Jenna (

  10. Ooh, would love a zip file so I don't have to bug Darren to find all of them for me :)I think you have my email address...

    And I know the request is late - I also have been under the weather lately, mood wise. And New Years is sort of weird, even though its a couple of years since a good friend disappeared around this time. But its starting to get better and better every year. :)

    I hope you had a merry merry and will have a happy happy.

  11. thank you Donna!
    happy new year to you, may it bring you wonderful surprises!

    p.s i do want the zip file. my email is

  12. I'm not typically a fan of female vocalists, but there are several on this list that I like very much. It may not be Scotch, but still soothing. Thanks for the list.

  13. Hi Donna,

    I'm loving the playlist right now. A lot of the style of music is new to me, so it's taking a couple listens to get used some of them. My favorites at the moment are: Knock em Out, Goodnight and Go, Only a Fool, and La Gran Siesta.

    Just saw this link in my search for more ways to find music and thought you might want to peruse it.

    hope your new years was great fun. -e.

  14. wow, this is amazing! I can't wait to listen. HOpe you had a wonderful holiday season.

  15. Glad to hear you got a bit of a breather. Hope you are still getting a chance to ride. I would love a zip of the songs. I've got a couple of them--Imogen Heap and Calexico--and have enjoyed all your other musical selections, so I'm sure to like these as well. Thanks!

    (And thanks for the dog-friendly travel suggestions. The three of us had a great trip. I think the dog wants to move to CA.)

  16. LOVING Lily Allen. I had to get the album. A lot of the rest I like, too, but I'm very happy about the LA suggestion. Thanks!!