All of my music makes me sad, and not in a good way.
December 3, 2009 5:19 PM   Subscribe

Music Recommendation filter: I need to heed my own advice and find some happy music.

I've searched and found a few other threads but they either didn't meet my needs or included music I find distinctly gloomy.

All of the music I currently own (nearly 100 gigs) seems to depress me and I need to find new stuff. The only album I can stand to listen to at the moment is 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul and it's getting a bit stale.

I generally fall into the indie/indie pop/britpop/folk/alt-country/classic country/alternative hip-hop end of the spectrum. My favorite artists include Dan Bern, the Manic Street Preachers, Blur, Scott Walker, The Lucksmiths, Page France, Interpol, Foals, Patrick Wolf, Slim Whitman, and She & Him.

I prefer male vocalists, unless it's a ladytype with a weird voice (think Kate Bush or Joanna Newsom). Most twee makes me cry, especially Belle & Sebastian.

Recommendations for songs would not go unappreciated, but what I really want are albums/bands.

Please, no pop/top 40/R&B. Most of it sets my teeth on edge.

Thank you!
posted by elsietheeel to Media & Arts (55 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Giant by The Woodentops is one of the happiest LPs I've ever heard. This guy likes it too.
posted by i_cola at 5:22 PM on December 3, 2009

Madness! Their new album The Liberty of Norton Folgate is quite awesome, and you can't go wrong with any of their old stuff, either. I mean, seriously: It Must Be Love! Baggy Trousers! Our House! Wings of a Dove! Michael Caine! Madness are priceless and adorable and may they live forever.
posted by scody at 5:32 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Little Willies (with whom Norah Jones sang) are sure fun. And good musicians too.
posted by bearwife at 5:32 PM on December 3, 2009

The Lightning Seeds
The Beloved
posted by pompomtom at 5:34 PM on December 3, 2009

I also recommend Madness, along with David Bowie circa 1964-1968.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 5:35 PM on December 3, 2009

Without doubt you need to get your Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix on.
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:38 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

You need some Oh No Oh My. Stat.
posted by mmmbacon at 5:40 PM on December 3, 2009

Sloan. Start with Twice Removed.
posted by sinfony at 5:44 PM on December 3, 2009

posted by Crane Shot at 5:44 PM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

The Kaiser Chiefs are really upbeat. Fountains of Wayne? Do you have the new Monsters of Folk record? Going back a bit, what about Fishbone?
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:45 PM on December 3, 2009

Did you find this old thread of mine when you were searching?
posted by orange swan at 5:46 PM on December 3, 2009

Madness is great! One of the greatest nights of my life was seeing them on the Absolutely tour. They're fantastic. Some of their stuff is slightly down, but most all of the hits are the funnest.

For stuff now--

Goldie Lookin' Chain. The GLC are sort of a novelty rap act from Newport, Wales. Try on Your Missus is a Nutter--there's lots more, but that's pretty much the only color they come in. If you like that, give them a shot. Just some lads.

I love the Welsh stuff. You've got the Manics, so you need to listen to Super Furry Animals, too. Not that they're anything alike, but they are wonderful. Here's Runaway, from their second most recent album.

Catatonia is made of the best! The singer, Cerys Matthews, has such a fantastic gravelly voice. Here's Road Rage. They are also from Wales.

Saint Etienne! OHMIGOODNESS they are the most fun ever. Sylvie!

Maybe check out these international gems from a question of mine from last year?

This is quite poppy, but j'adore Christophe Willem, winner of French Idol in 2007.

Morcheeba? Sleeper? Elastica?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:51 PM on December 3, 2009

Super Furry Animals (look for the singles, which tend to be more upbeat than the rest)
Tahiti 80
The Last Shadow Puppets
Seconding Sloan, but don't start with Twice Removed. Start with One Chord to Another.
The Soft Boys
Art Brut
posted by dayintoday at 5:52 PM on December 3, 2009

Major agreement on the Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix tip.

I'm still giving regular rotation to Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut almost two years later.

Discovery's LP tends to put me in a bouncy mood too, but it's heavy on the bleeps and bloops if electro is not so much your thing.

The Black Kids album is hit or miss, but this cut from their album always perks me up.

Ditto with Chester French and this and this
posted by 1901gunner at 6:08 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I recommend not only a band (Cub) but the entire indie-pop/cuddlecore/C86 genre.

I'm not actually hugely knowledgeable of this genre but I think it's what you want. "New York City" by Cub is one of the happiest songs I have ever heard.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:12 PM on December 3, 2009

Most twee makes me cry

My bad: disregard I guess.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:18 PM on December 3, 2009

Carbon Leaf. sorry cant do links, cat is on me
posted by The otter lady at 6:19 PM on December 3, 2009

If it's happy you want, you simply cannot beat Herb Alpert!! He is the super duper happiest ever. We made Herb Alpert comp CD's as wedding favours and they were extremely well received by all. I actually might have a few extras kicking around. Memail me if you're interested and I'll see if I can dig them up.
posted by Go Banana at 6:27 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Andrew WK will pummel you with relentless positivity.

People who scoff at Andrew WK are cold-hearted snobs who secretly yearn for the warmth of genuine human contact. Fact.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:30 PM on December 3, 2009

Tenpole Tudor.
Bad Manners.

Am I dating myself?
posted by Devoidoid at 6:32 PM on December 3, 2009

Darren Hanlon certainly. Indie pop, with lots of stories in the lyrics that make me smile. Favourite album would be Fingertips and Mountaintops (though I don't have all others, so perhaps not fair). Suggest you start listening from track 3 (Happiness is a Chemical) as the first song is not as chirpy as the rest.

I think Darren was on the same label as the Lucksmiths for a while.
posted by AnnaRat at 6:38 PM on December 3, 2009

Oh, and The Presidents of the United States of America, the Young Fresh Fellows (is that redundant?), and if you can find them, The Happiest Guys in the World, of course.
posted by Devoidoid at 6:41 PM on December 3, 2009

-Orange Juice Orange Juice Orange Juice. Their lyrics may occasionally be less than happy, but I don't know anyone who could listen to "Rip It Up" or "Felicity" without smiling.
-New Pornographers. (Neko Case doesn't have a terribly weird voice, but she doesn't sing everything.)
-Would Teenage Fanclub make you cry? They have some sadder songs, but in general they are sunny and wonderful.
-Robyn Hitchcock's 1986 album fegMANIA! is pure jangly delight, for the most part.
-of Montreal might be good. Lyrically, they are terribly depressing, but musically joyful.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 6:49 PM on December 3, 2009

Well. Do you want to be hip or do you want to be happy?

Lemon Jelly
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Sigur Ros
David Lindley

And a hearty second for Herb Alpert.
posted by bricoleur at 6:52 PM on December 3, 2009


I think Darren was on the same label as the Lucksmiths for a while.

Yep, the late and very lamented Candle records.
posted by pompomtom at 6:55 PM on December 3, 2009

fun. The indie band with the ironically unironic name.
posted by sinderile at 7:04 PM on December 3, 2009

drjimmy11: I'm glad I'm not alone ;-)

Regards your followup, and the OP's dislike of 'twee', I dunno if a) cub really falls into the definition of 'twee' (Belle & Sebastian-style twee it ain't), and b) if it's really that "happy, cheery" anyway. The first 2 albums certainly aren't, and the 3rd is harder.

Besides, how can "New York City" (ruined by TMBG, btw) be the happiest song you've ever heard as long as "My Chinchilla" exists? Pure, perfect, pop bliss in < 90 seconds ;-)

OP: depending on mood, if you've after a bit of emotional roller-coaster to cheer you up (as I usually do), give cub (& Bu¢k), Scissor Sisters, early Split Enz, or Crowded House a try. And 2nding all the other recommendations for Darren Hanlon, Madness (yes, Norton Folgate is surprisingly good!), etc.
posted by Pinback at 7:06 PM on December 3, 2009

The Meters - Rejuvenation (any album, really)
Yes - Fragile or Close To The Edge
Polyphonic Spree - Beginning Stages Of... (might be a little twee)
anything from Daptone Records

I heartily recommend any of the funky music that came out of New Orleans in the 60's and 70's. Wild Magnolias, Eddie Bo, Lee Dorsey, or more recently Rebirth Brass Band all make me forget my problems.
posted by irisclara at 7:07 PM on December 3, 2009

Flaming Lips?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:22 PM on December 3, 2009

Spiderbait - Glockenpop
Great bubblegum cut from this Australian band, used in LittleBigPlanet PSP
posted by porn in the woods at 7:27 PM on December 3, 2009

The Jonathan Richman best of "Action Packed" has some great songs.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:35 PM on December 3, 2009

The Go Team: Thunder, Lightning, Strike is my go-to happy music.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:45 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think you need some Robyn Hitchcock in your life. Not all of it is unambiguously happy, but his sense of humor is so off-kilter and surrealist that it can make you smile.

Start with flesh number one (Beatle Dennis). It's one of the catchiest songs on earth.

Also Balloon Man, Heaven, So you think you're in love, Vibrating, Uncorrected personality traits (a freudian barbershop quartet), Brenda's iron sledge, My wife and my dead wife, The shapes between us turn into animals.
posted by umbú at 7:52 PM on December 3, 2009

Ditto Herb Alpert (and the Tijuana Brass) - just avoid the 1980s. Instrumental, but oh so chipper!

Muscles - Guns Babes Lemonade is more dancey than you're looking for, but it's a LOT of fun.

The Swedish label Sincerely Yours is pretty fantastic. I love The Tough Alliance. jj's from africa to málaga is wonderful (and a free download).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:57 PM on December 3, 2009

Great Big Sea
posted by various at 7:58 PM on December 3, 2009

Swedish songwriter Loney, Dear isn't always particularly happy, but his song I am John makes me gushingly happy every single time I listen to it.
posted by indeterminacy at 8:03 PM on December 3, 2009

The album Five Roses by Miracle Fortress makes me deliriously happy. I love it so so much.

It's not my style, but I know The Rocket Summer to be stupefyingly cheerful.
posted by Sfving at 8:40 PM on December 3, 2009

King Missile!

Also, LEN's "Steal my Sunshine" always makes me happy.
posted by Ostara at 9:40 PM on December 3, 2009

N-thing Art Brut, Madness, Vampire Weekend, & The Polyphonic Spree.

"The Dog Days Are Over" by Florence & the Machine makes me very happy. I believe she's top 40 in the UK at the moment, but has a stunning voice. I don't recommend listening to the entire album, though, as it is very dark overall.

David Byrne (also: "Toe Jam" by the BPA, featuring David Byrne)
Passion Pit
The Rapture
We Are Scientists (okay, they're kind of poppy...but lots of fun)
posted by bibliophibianj at 9:55 PM on December 3, 2009

the Dandy Warhols can be fun imho (this is from Dandy Warhols Come Down, whole album is decent).

absolutely love this: The Make*Up: Destination-Love Live! At Cold Rice

far as hip hop goes, I've been listening to some of the Pharcyde and early albums from The Roots (Illadelph Halflife) lately..
posted by citron at 11:59 PM on December 3, 2009

Best answer: There's a lot of good recommendations on here, but I've noticed something sorely missing:


You need some good African township jive, funk and highlife music pumping through your brain. It is scientifically proven to make the day sunnier.

Start with The Indestructible Beat of Soweto and move on to Soundway/Kudos Records' Nigeria and Ghana Special comps. You will not regret it.
posted by sleeping bear at 12:22 AM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

You really ought to check out some Mika. He's pretty heavily on the pop side of things, but...delightful. Here is the music video to his most recent single; I can't watch it and not crack a smile.
posted by mismatched at 1:34 AM on December 4, 2009

I just watched Your Missus is a Nutter.

I now consider my $5 investment in metafilter officially paid off.

Thank you, Admiral Haddock.

I like the proclaimers" Oh jean, you let me get lucky with you".

Paul Simon "fathers and daughters"

Also, I'm a rapper with a baby
posted by anitanita at 1:40 AM on December 4, 2009

Jim's Big Ego, Harvey Danger, John Butler Trio, Eddie from Ohio, and seconding various' rec for Great Big Sea. They are SO MUCH FUN.
posted by tzikeh at 1:59 AM on December 4, 2009


They're an Icelandic reggae band, and surprisingly despite that description, TOTALLY AWESOME.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:50 AM on December 4, 2009

Not a band (sorry), but this upbeat song has been my jam lately: Fool's Gold - Surprise Hotel

As a bonus, the music video is extra-cheery: sunshine! dogs! snorkling! bikini-clad lady saxophone solo! old men dousing one another in soda-pop!
posted by sciapod at 11:17 AM on December 4, 2009

Songs that manifest joy in me (I was going to say Patrick Wolf "The Magic Position" but you already listed it as a favorite!) I'm recommending songs because often these artists other music can be more sadlike than these songs:

Ben Lee "Catch My Disease"
The Knife "Heartbeats"
Jason Anderson "July 4th 2004" (and seeing him live is the most joyful experience EVER!!!)
Basement Jaxx "Plug it In"
Why? "Rubber Traits"
Phoenix "Consolation Prizes"
Shout Out Louds "The Comeback"
Voxtrot "The Start of Something"
Self "Better Than Aliens"
The Streets "Could Well Be In"
Josh Rouse "It's the Nighttime"
The Stills "Lola Stars and Stripes"
Sondre Lerche "Sleep on Needles"
Motion City Soundtrack "The Future Freaks Me Out"
The Blow "Hey Boy"
Hellogoodbye "Baby, it's Fact"
OK Go "There's a Fire"
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:10 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

anal cunt - "picnic of love" heh
but seriously? animal collective - "merriweather post pavillion"
posted by yoHighness at 1:19 PM on December 4, 2009

Supergrass and Dodgy are your friends.
posted by arcticseal at 5:30 PM on December 4, 2009

Best answer: Seconding African Highlife. And The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa.
posted by irisclara at 6:45 PM on December 4, 2009

Global A-Go-Go by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. Always gives me a lift.
posted by Crane Shot at 1:06 AM on December 5, 2009

Seconding Vampire Weekend. The New Pornographers also make me ridiculously happy -- especially Twin Cinema.

Amadou & Miriam are also wonderful.

Oh, and Sparks. Particularly Whomp That Sucker and Angst in My Pants. Just typing those album titles makes me grin from ear to ear.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:54 AM on December 5, 2009

Response by poster: There's a lot of stuff on here that will totally make other people happy, but they've got memories of a certain time and place for me that make them woesome (Art Brut, Supergrass, Sparks, Madness, The Rapture, Super Furries, Kaisers, Teenage Fanclub, etc).

I do love the Chain (you knows it!) but after six years they're not doing it for me anymore. Except for Half-Man Half-Machine. That one will never not make me laugh. I'm a woman... called Janet...

Thanks to the people who suggested highlife. When it comes to West African music I usually default to mellow Mali acts like Toumani Diabate and Vieux Farka Toure, so that was a nice smack upside the head to branch out. And it worked well to just put "highlife" into and have some streaming happiness. Hiplife is awesome too.

Ultimately, I have been listening to a lot of Weezer (hated them for 15 years, now I'm in love), The Boy Least Likely To, and Owl City.

Thanks to everyone who responded!
posted by elsietheeel at 8:33 PM on December 22, 2009

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