1. Ihsahn - Rec (from Das Seelenbrechen, 2013)
One among many highlights from my album of the year (so far), Rec is equal parts Scott Walker and Yurei; Ihsahn's trademark sense of calm unease gives way to untrammelled intensity. Moody, strange, unique.
2. Vàli - Gjemt Under Grener (from Skoglandskap, 2013)
Another consistently great album that I could have chosen any song from. Beautifully atmospheric acoustic, folk-influenced autumnal instrumental music, timeless and
3. Simon & Garfunkel - Kathy's Song (from Sounds of Silence, 1966)
Just a lovely, sad song.
4. Alanna - Reasons to Live (from Under the Open Sky, 2002)
Another beautiful sad song, this time from the sadly now split-up folk-ish group from County Kerry.
5. Andres Segovia - Sor: Study in B Minor (from Masters of the Guitar, 1955)
A lovely mellow and reflective piece of music, beautifully played.
6. My LIttle Airport - Victor, Fly Me To Stafford (from The Okay Thing to do on Sunday is Toddle in the Zoo, 2004)
One of the outstanding songs from a great debut album; quirky and possibly even twee, but there's nothing twee about the wistful feeling.
7. Hanny Steffek (as Amore) - Gli Sguardi Trattieni (from Orfeo ed Eurodyce Vienna State Opera, dir. Charles Mackerras, recorded 1966)
One of the prettiest bits from Gluck's beautiful baroque opera.
8. Black Sabbath - Anno Mundi (from Tyr, 1990)
Not a great Sabbath album, but a great song; dramatic and slightly pretentious.
9. Buffalo Tom - Tailights Fade (from Let Me Come Over, 1992)
Just a great song from a band who tend to be underrated because they came to prominence along with lots of the grungey dross of the early 90s.
10. Ihsahn - M (from Das Seelenbrechen, 2013)
One of many surprising songs on Das Seelenbrechen, M segues from the restrained menace of the Bladerunner-esque intro to a surprisingly lyrical, bluesy, almost Dave Gilmour-like solo.
11. Ozzy Osbourne/Blizzard of Ozz - Goodbye to Romance (from Blizzard of Ozz, 1980)
Surprisingly lovely and poignant restrained Beatles-influenced ballad from what was recorded by band 'Blizzard of Ozz' but which became Ozzy's first solo album. A shame really since it seems to have been far more of a collaborative band experience than Ozzy had had with Black Sabbath.
12. Tom Waits - Eggs & Sausage (in a Cadillac with Susan Michaelson) (from Nighthawks at the Diner, 1975)
Lovely late-night bohemian romanticism.
13. The Smiths - Back to the Old House (from Louder than Bombs 1987)
Yearning autumnal loveliness.
14. the Byrds - My Back Pages (from Younger Than Yesterday. 1967)
Probably the best Dylan cover among the Byrds' many Dylan covers.
15. Morrissey - The World is Full of Crashing Bores (from You Are the Quarry, 2004)
One of Moz's best ever performances, and great lyrics too.
16. The Beach Boys - Gettin' Hungry (from Smiley Smile, 1967)
Smiley Smile may be one of the high points of The Beach Boys' psychedelic period, but in terms of its instrumentation the album is surprisingly sparse, nowhere more so than on this great track, dominated by its groovy organ.
17. Aviary - Mystic Sharon (from Aviary, 1979)
Pop-flavoured, Kansas-style prog, Aviary's neglected debut is a somewhat Marmite-ish acquired taste but this song shows the band at its most eccentric-yet-accessible.
18. Ihsahn - Pulse (from Das Seelenbrechen, 2013)
Probably the most atypical song on Das Seelenbrechen, but also the most accessible for non-metal fans, this piece of low-key moody electronica has some of the best and seemingly most personal lyrics of Ihsahn's career.
19. Bessie Smith - Baby Doll (1926)
Pretty much a 1920s pop song, but made into an immortal blues thanks to Bessie's expressive vocal.
20. Donovan - Season of the Witch (from Sunshine Superman, 1966)
Creepy psychedelic classic.
21. Funkadelic - Can You Get to That (from Maggot Brain, 1971)
There is very little that is stereotypically funky about the music to this song but the whole is nevertheless 100% soulful funk.
22. Oranssi Pazuzu - Reikä Maisemassa (from Valonielu, 2013)
Disorientating space rock with a flavour of Syd Barratt-era Pink Floyd on this excellent instrumental from the Finnish psychedelic black metal band's exceptional new album.
23. Focus - Sylvia (from Focus 3, 1970)
Over-familiarity can't completely take the shine off this lovely-if-cheesy instrumental by Dutch prog-masters Focus.
24. Vàli - Morgenry (from Skoglandskap, 2013)
Another beautiful and wistful autumnal folk-influenced soundscape.
25. Týr - Sinklar's Visa (from Land, 2008)
Land is the most underrated album in the Faroese warriors' discography and this gem is the perfect blend of Viking metal and Faorese folk music.
26. The Rolling Stones - Tell Me (You're Coming Back) (from The Rolling Stones, 1964)
Although theoretically more 'rock' than The Beatles, this great song has an almost girl-group pop sound, albeit with bluesy feeling in the performance.
27. Wicked Lester - Keep Me Waiting (from Wicked Lester, 1972 (unreleased))
Paul Stanley & Gene Simmons' pre-Kiss band was, as they have often stated, unfocussed and lacking direction. But some of the songs aren't bad, like this pleasantly 70s sounding pop-rock song.
28. Ride - Polar Bear (from Nowhere, 1990)
Lovely, powerful-yet-fragile song (sort of) based on JD Salinger's Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters.
29. Satyricon - Phoenix (from Satyricon, 2013)
Satyricon have consistently been ahead of the game, and their assimilation of trad rock elements into their intensely focussed and dynamic black metal sidesteps most of the current BM trends for something more direct and effective.
30. Ihsahn - Regen (from Das Seelenbrechen, 2013)
Again, Ihsahn plays against his reputation for complexity with something (initially) simple and sad, before becoming a piece of overblown dramatic metal more consistent with perceptions of his music.