I remember driving old back roads in Indiana listening to these songs. I used to steal all these mixes from my older brothers friends, and I listened to them so much I remember where the skips used to be. These are songs that made up my youth. I hope they give you that old feeling I had of being invisible and lost in the best way.
I wanted to share a few of the artist and more specifically the songs that shaped my writing style from a very young age. These artists all had something to say with the lyrics of their soulful songs, and by my teens I was singing back these lyrics before I truly knew what they meant. These freedom fighting songs paved the way to speak truths to the masses…and realize the concept of “if one person isn’t free, none of us are free.” Artists are needed at this time to respect the roots of activist music, in all it’s form, and to keep the soul in resistance.
Keep up with Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics here.
Brooklyn-based indie funk/rock act Cosmonaut Radio – consisting of Austin Deyo (drums, back up vocals), Russell Castiglione (lead guitar, back up vocals), and Freddy Millan Jr (lead vocals) –
Peg-Steely Dan – Could’ve chosen any of their songs honestly. And although we don’t sound like them (I don’t think anyone ever will), the way they wrote music, and found success with strange vocal melodies and crazy jazz chords is inspiring.
The Chicken-Jaco Pastorius – Arguably the best ever, this song paved the way for fusion music and bands like Snarky Puppy. It’s so catchy and the band is so top notch.
Thing of Gold-Snarky Puppy – Some of the best music I’ve ever heard, and the Moog solo will change your life.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings-100 Days, 100 Nights – Brooklyn based, funk revival, powerful vocals, groovy horns. It’s the best of like 5 different kind of musical genres combined. They’re one of the biggest reasons that funk and funk based music is popular again.
And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going-Jennifer Holliday – Jennifer hudson’s version is also impressive. This song is so epic. Musically, it’s interesting, and complex, vocally, it’s out of this world.
Love On The Rocks-Sara Bareilles – I love everything Sara Bareilles does.
Miss You-The Rolling Stones – This is one of my favorite songs, and we used to cover it. I put it on this list because it also symbolizes the end of “The Cosmonauts” and the beginning of Cosmonaut Radio. Although rock, and more specifically, blues, will always influence our music, this new record is an evolution and graduation to the next level for us. And I know you can’t graduate from the stones, but this song specifically signifies the next chapter for me and and for the band.
Another Kind of Green-John Mayer Trio – Steve Jordan, Pino Palladino, and John Mayer. Come on. The pocket is as solid as solid gets. And everything else about this song is fantastic.
1. “Daylight” by Failure
“Daylight” is a weird but great song to jam out to while pondering life and the universe, and it serves as the final song (and bookend) to my favorite album of all time.
2. “Dance, Dance” by Fall Out Boy
The song that originally made me want to join a rock band, the appeal of “Dance, Dance” is right there in the title, with an energy and style that always makes me want to get up and move.
3. “Ogre Battle” by Queen
One of the best songs by one of the best bands of all time, “Ogre Battle” is a microcosm of everything that made Queen great: experimental yet catchy songwriting, intensity and energy bred from tight and layered musicianship, and the inimitable vocal stylings of Freddie Mercury.
4. “Emotions” by Mariah Carey
What else can be said about Mariah Carey? Her insane range and riffing abilities were big inspirations to me as a vocalist growing up, and this song is a showcase of those talents at their peak.
5. “Greedy” by Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande is one of very few A-list pop artists right now who I think is bringing anything interesting to the table, and this song combines her pop, R&B, and theater sensibilities, powerhouse voice, and knack for insanely catchy hooks and key changes into something that’s arguably better than any radio single she’s ever released.
6. “Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen is what I wish more radio-friendly pop sounded like, and “Run Away With Me” perfectly tinges her overt sentimentality with slightly more melancholic tones to produce a song that’s somehow both romantically fleeting and timelessly grounded.
7. “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes” by Janelle Monae
As far as I’m concerned, Janelle Monae is almost single-handedly carrying on the musical legacies of Prince and David Bowie in the mainstream, and she’s doing justice to both of them. I debated between a lot of songs to put here, but few songs demonstrate Monae’s effortless cool and subtle sensuality as well as this one.
8. “Starship Trooper” by Yes
Yes is one of my favorite bands to put on and just chill out to, and “Starship Trooper” puts their unusually long song runtimes to good use by constantly changing while remaining consistently catchy and engaging from start to finish.
9. “Glory Box” by Portishead
I love Portishead because they are a seemingly very sad band with certain songs that speak to an inner torment that I never knew I had, but I decided to go with the vaguely more upbeat closer to their stellar first album.
10. “Fortress” by Queens of the Stone Age
I’ve always liked Queens of the Stone Age, but I was not expecting to love their newest album as much as I did, and this song about vulnerability and getting back up when life knocks you down is definitely one of its many highlights.
1. People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul – James Brown
This song has definitely influenced me as a funk guitar player. It was one of the first James Brown songs that I fell in love with instantly.
2. What A Fool Believes – Doobie Brothers
I love this song because Michael McDonald has a hauntingly amazing voice, the harmonies are killer, the key change into the chorus is a lovely change, and the song itself is so happy! I could have the worst day, listen to this song, and instantly feel better.
3. Reckoner – Radiohead
This is my favorite song from Radiohead at the moment (it changes). Thom Yorke is a huge inspiration for me because of his high falsetto range and the melodies he chooses over the band’s interesting chord progressions.
4. Skate U – Snarky Puppy
This song has an incredible build up with great breakdowns and solos, one of the best by this band in my opinion.
5. No Quarter – Led Zeppelin
This is my favorite band of all time so I had to include this. This song in particular captures the expertise of each member so well and is just really a beautiful/powerful song.
Keep up with the band here.