Hip Hop Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Nas – One Love (feat. Q-Tip)

Day 15. We’re on the homestretch. Soon I’m going to have to decide on the theme for the next Song of the Day series. One Love is taken rap wunderkind Nas’ debut album, Illmatic, produced by some of the greatest Hip Hop producers in New York (including Q-Tip).

This is essential Hip Hop. Intelligent, storytelling lyricism over crisp, clear beats.

[Verse One]
What’s up kid? I know shit is rough doing your bid
When the cops came you should’ve slid to my crib
Fuck it black, no time for looking back it’s done
Plus congratulations you know you got a son
I heard he looks like you, why don’t your lady write you?
Told her she should visit, that’s when she got hyper
Flippin, talk about he acts too rough
He didn’t listen he be riffin’ while I’m telling him stuff
I was like yeah, shorty don’t care, she a snake too
Fucking with the niggas from that fake crew that hate you
But yo, guess who got shot in the dome-piece?
Jerome’s niece, on her way home from Jones Beach – it’s bugged
Plus little Rob is selling drugs on the dime
Hangin out with young thugs that all carry 9’s
At night time there’s more trife than ever
What’s up with Cormega, did you see ’em, are y’all together?
If so then hold the fort down, represent to the fullest
Say what’s up to Herb, Ice and Bullet
I left a half a hundred in your commissary
You was my nigga when push came to shove
One what? one love

[Verse Two]
Dear Born, you’ll be out soon, stay strong
Out in New York the same shit is going on
The crack-heads stalking, loud-mouths is talking
Hold, check out the story yesterday when I was walking
The nigga you shot last year tried to appear like he hurtin’ something
Word to mother, I heard him fronting
And he be pumping on your block
Your man gave him your glock
And now they run together, what up son, whatever
Since I’m on the streets I’m gonna put it to a cease
But I heard you blew a nigga with a ox for the phone piece
Whylin on the Island, but now with Elmira
Better chill cause them niggas will put that ass on fire
Last time you wrote you said they tried you in the showers
But maintain when you come home the corner’s ours
On the reals, all these crab niggas know the deal
When we start the revolution all they probably do is squeal
But chill, see you on the next V-I
I gave your mom dukes loot for kicks, plus sent you flicks
Your brother’s buck whylin’ in four maine he wrote me
He might beat his case, ’til he come home I play it low key
So stay civilised, time flies
Though incarcerated your mind (dies)
I hate it when your moms cries
It kinda wants to make me murder, for real-a
I’ve even got a mask and gloves to bust slugs for one love

[Verse Three]
Sometimes I sit back with a Buddha sack
Mind’s in another world thinking how can we exist through the facts
Written in school text books, bibles, et cetera
Fuck a school lecture, the lies get me vexed-er
So I be ghost from my projects
I take my pen and pad for the weekend
Hitting L’s while I’m sleeping
A two day stay, you may say I needed time alone
To relax my dome, no phone, left the 9 at home
You see the streets have me stressed somethin terrible
Fucking with the corners have a nigga up in Belleville
Or h.d.m., hit with numbers from 8 to 10
A future in a maximum state pen is grim
So I comes back home, nobody’s helping shorty doo-wop
Rollin two Phillies together in the Bridge we called ’em oowops
He said, “Nas, niggas could be bustin’ off the roof
So I wear a bullet proof and pack a black tres-deuce”
He inhaled so deep, shut his eyes like he was sleep
Started coughing, one eye peeked to watch me speak
I sat back like the mack, my army suit was black
We was chillin’ on these benches where he pumped his loose cracks
I took an l when he passed it, this little bastard
Keeps me blasted he starts talking mad shit
I had to school him, told him don’t let niggas fool him
‘cos when the pistol blows the one that’s murdered will be the cool one
Tough luck when niggas are struck, families fucked up
Could’ve caught your man, but didn’t look when you bucked up
Mistakes happen, so take heed never bust up
At the crowd catch him solo, make the right man bleed
Shorty’s laugh was cold blooded as he spoke so foul
Only twelve trying to tell me that he liked my style
Then I rose, wiping the blunts ash from my clothes
Then froze only to blow the herb smoke through my nose
And told my little man that I’m a go cyprose
Left some jewels in his skull that he can sell if he chose
Words of wisdom from Nas try to rise up above
Keep an eye out for Jake shorty wop
One love

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) playlist?

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Music Overlooked Classics Rock Synth Pop

Overlooked Classics: David Bowie – Earthling

David Bowie’s 1997 album Earthling was the first new Bowie record I was aware of as a teenager. I already knew songs like Space Oddity & Ashes To Ashes, & even liked what I knew, but Earthling was essentially my generation’s Bowie album.

Bowie, finger ever on the pulse of the zeitgeist, was inspired by emergent genres like Drum & Bass, IDM & Breakbeat. Earthling was written & produced with these influences at the fore. Everything could have gone so horribly wrong. Many other classic artists who embrace genres of younger generations fail miserably (in my opinion), take Neil Youngs synthetic experiments in the ’80’s for example.

Luckily, Bowie was able to understand & appreciate what it was about these genres that made them special & unique. Instead of bending the technology & techniques used to create Drum & Bass to match his songwriting, he bent his songwriting to match the technology.

Album opener & lead single, Little Wonder, is a great example of this. A thumping, Junglist, Drum & Bass beat underpins trademark. His incredible vocal melodies floating above the hard, Junglist beats. In line with a key influence at for Bowie at the time, The Prodigy, Little Wonder’s skittering breakbeat manglement gives way to headbanging, anthemic hard rock sections.

Elsewhere, other influences come to the fore. Looking For Satellites is heavy downtempo breakbeats, somewhere between Hip Hop & Trip Hop (Meat Beat Manifesto?), but with rhythmic vocal melodies that wouldn’t be out of place on a Talking Heads record.

Prodigy vibes abound on Battle For Britain (The Letter). Crunchy, digitally harsh guitar chords juxtaposed against similar Junglist rhythms to Little Wonder. Bowies trademark melodic melancholia & a space rock glueing the whole thing together. Free jazz piano segments notwithstanding.

Seven Years In Tibet brings us more downtempo drum machine shenanigans, with heavy, metallic guitar riffing. This is more in Nine Inch Nails’ sonic territory than Prodigy though.

Dead Man Walking sees modem noise distorted guitars over thumping four-to-the-floor beats. Techno synth arpeggios & harmonic vocal loops give this a distinctly ’90’s vibe to it. Perhaps reminds me a little of Björk’s Hyper-Ballad. I could easily imagine a successful mix of the two songs in the hands of a competent DJ.

Telling Lies sees the return of the Drum & Bass rhythms. Lowkey baritone Bowie vocals & incoherent moaning help to build an oppressive sonic atmosphere.

The Last Thing You Should Do is upbeat, cut-&-Paste breakbeat with melancholic, subdued verses & explosive, distorted choruses. Like The Chemical Brothers with a more experimental sensibility. Grunge dynamics feel strangely at home here.

I’m Afraid Of Americans is more downtempo, industrial influenced darkness. Wears it’s Nine Inch Nails influence proudly on its sleeve. Doubly so on the various Nine Inch Nails Remixes which were also made, Trent Reznor’s unique production style bringing out Bowie’s darkest artistic impulses. You’ve got to hand it to Reznor. Not only did he do a great job of this, but he did it from the position of being completely starstruck & in awe of Bowie.

Finale, Law (Earthlings On Fire) is another dive into the sonic textures of Techno. Four-to-the-floor drums, bubbling, sidechained bass lines & stabs of distorted noise. Vocals mimic the rhythms brilliantly, acting as just another instrument in the soundscape.

I forgot how much I loved this album & I’m glad I was reminded of it by a post on Facebook earlier this week. One of Bowies darkest, & most sonically adventurous, albums, Earthling still sounds incredibly contemporary today, 23 years after its release.

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Indie Rock Music

Cheekface – Emotional Rent Control w/ Original Composition

New Cheekface single, Emotional Rent Control, is a politically charged slice of laconic, slacker Pop. Minimal three piece fuzz Rock with witty, abstract poetic lyrics. The bands Twitter account says that Emotional Rent Control comes from a mishearing of Bernie Sanders saying “we need national rent control”. The melodic guitar riffs are in tribute to Ric Ocasek &, they say, the song is influenced by the Power Pop of Fountains Of Wayne in tribute to Adam Schlesinger. Emotional Rent Control, I think, is referring to greater mental health provisions & community togetherness. “

Break down the boxes and put the lid on the trash
I’m feeling good, but I’m sure it will pass

Original Composition is a downtempo, spoken word poetry speak singing, solid rhythm track inspired by Minutemen’s History Lesson Part 2. This seems to be addressing wider social & political issues, especially the looming, and increasingly unavoidable, environmental breakdown. The song is, according to their Twitter, about “solipsism in the face of a big, big catastrophe.”

Emotional Rent Control w/ Original Composition is available now from all good digital distributors & streaming services.

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Indie Rock Music

Bully – Where To Start

Sub Pop band Bully’s new single, Where To Start, is a cathartic slice of Grunge Pop fuzziness. Singer Alicia’s voice is a raspy, raw snarl. There’s a Punky naivety to her voice which places it in similar sonic territory to Kurt Cobain (seriously, check out their cover of About A Girl). A thick, fuzzy bass line propels the song along on upbeat drums in a way that calls to mind Debaser or Freak Scene. Melodic & harmonic guitar parts tick all the relevant ’90’s revival boxes too, from strummed Nirvana progressions to off-kilter Pavement melodies. In the ’90’s this would have been huge & we’d still be hearing it today.

Check out the great video. The fuzzed up visuals, psychedelic cuts & broken VHS effects compliment the song beautifully without devolving into shameless ’90’s pastiche. Plus there’s a dog in the video, so bonus points there. Come to think of it, the dog in the video makes me think of the (previously mentioned) Debaser video.

Where To Start is available now on Sub Pop records.

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Music Rock

Neil Young – Vacancy

Neil Young has released another song form his “lost” 1974 album, Homegrown, as a single ahead of its release on the 19th June. Vacancy is the kind of fuzzy, proto-grunge rocker that Neil Young is famed for. His excellent falsetto vocals piercing a rocksteady rhythm section & his expressive, intuitive guitar playing. Sections of harmonica ground Vacancy in atmospheric Country Rock which would inspire early Alternative Rockers like Dinosaur Jr. Another excellent single.

Vacancy is out now on all good digital music platforms.

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Hip Hop Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message

Day 11. Old School. Oldest School. Released in 1982, The Message was the first successful Hip-Hop tune to address social issues rather “self-congratulatory boasting or party chants of earlier hip hop” (The Message, Wikipedia). Lyrically, The Message addresses issues of inner city poverty, drug addiction & homelessness.

Lead rapper, Melle Mell told an NPR interviewer “we didn’t actually want to do ‘The Message’ because we was used to doing party raps and boasting how good we are and all that.” Thankfully, they did decide to make The Message & other rappers, taking notice, decided to write about their own lives, hardships & politics.

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Broken glass everywhere
People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far
Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car

Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Standin’ on the front stoop hangin’ out the window
Watchin’ all the cars go by, roarin’ as the breezes blow
Crazy lady, livin’ in a bag
Eatin’ outta garbage pails, used to be a fag hag
Said she’ll dance the tango, skip the light fandango
A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peep show watchin’ all the creeps
So she can tell her stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got so so seditty
She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

My brother’s doin’ bad, stole my mother’s TV
Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy
All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors, they ring my phone
And scare my wife when I’m not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
Neon King Kong standin’ on my back
Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I’m goin’ insane
I swear I might hijack a plane!

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

My son said, Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school
Cause the teacher’s a jerk, he must think I’m a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
They pushed that girl in front of the train
Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again
Stabbed that man right in his heart
Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
I can’t walk through the park cause it’s crazy after dark
Keep my hand on my gun cause they got me on the run
I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jaw
Hear them say “You want some more?”
Livin’ on a see-saw

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too
Because only God knows what you’ll go through
You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate
And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alleyway
You’ll admire all the number-book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
Drivin’ big cars, spendin’ twenties and tens
And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh
Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers
You say I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool
But then you wind up droppin’ outta high school
Now you’re unemployed, all non-void
Walkin’ round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
Got sent up for a eight-year bid
Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag
Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
Bein’ used and abused to serve like hell
Til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young so

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlist?

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Hip Hop Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Blackstar – Definition (feat. Common)

Day 10. Blackstar is Mos Def & Talib Kweili. Respiration, with guest raper Common, Blackstar adress the issues of violence within the Hip Hop community.

Known for intelligent, thoughtful lyrics, Blackstar are often credited as one of the first handful of Alternative Hip Hop acts. They were initially active at the very end of the ’90’s, when Hip Hop production was gearing more & more towards slick, Pop radio friendly productions. Alternative Hip Hop gained popularity with the underground fans. It’s raw, old school inspired productions reached out to old Hip Hop fans who were disenfranchised by the glossy, corporate aesthetic of the mainstream.

“What’d you do last night?”
“We did umm, two whole cars
It was me, these, and Main Three right?
And on the first car in small letters it said
“All you see is” and then you know
Big, big, you know some block silver letters
That said “crime in the city’ right?”
“It just took up the whole car?”
“Yeah yeah, it was a whole car and shit…

“Escuchela, la ciudad respirando
[Listen to it, the city breathing]


The new moon rode high in the crown of the metropolis
Shining, like who on top of this?
People was hustling, arguing and bustling
Gangsters of Gotham hardcore hustling
I’m wrestling with words and ideas
My ears is picky, seeking what will transmit
The scribes can apply to transcript, yo
This ain’t no time where the usual is suitable
Tonight alive, let’s describe the inscrutable
The indisputable, we New York the narcotic
Strength in metal and fiber optics
Where mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips
For profits, thirsty criminals take pockets
Hard knuckles on the second hands of working class watches
Skyscrapers is colossus, the cost of living
Is preposterous, stay alive, you play or die, no options
No Batman and Robin, can’t tell between
The cops and the robbers, they both partners, they all heartless
With no conscience, back streets stay darkened
Where unbeliever hearts stay hardened
My eagle talons stay sharpened, like city lights stay throbbing
You either make a way or stay sobbing, the Shiny Apple
Is bruised but sweet and if you choose to eat
You could lose your teeth, many crews retreat
Nightly news repeat, who got shot down and locked down
Spotlight to savages, NASDAQ averages
My narrative, rose to explain this existence
Amidst the harbor lights which remain in the distance

So much on my mind that it can’t recline
Blasting holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathing
Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening
Sigh before we die like the last train leaving

Breathing in deep city breaths, sitting on shitty steps
We stoop to new lows, hell froze the night the city slept
The beast crept through concrete jungles
Communicating with one another
And ghetto birds where waters fall
From the hydrants to the gutters
The beast walk the beats, but the beats we be making
You on the wrong side of the track, looking visibly shaken
Taken them plungers, plunging to death that’s painted by the numbers
With crime unapplied pressure, cats is playing God
But having children by a lesser baby mother but fuck it
We played against each other like puppets, swearing you got pull
When the only pull you got is the wool over your eyes
Getting knowledge in jail like a blessing in disguise
Look in the skies for God, what you see besides the smog
Is broken dreams flying away on the wings of the obscene
Thoughts that people put in the air
Places where you could get murdered over a glare
But everything is fair
It’s a paradox we call reality
So keeping it real will make you casualty of abnormal normality
Killers Born Naturally like, Micky and Mallory
Not knowing the ways’ll get you capped like an NBA salary
Some cats be emceeing to illustrate what we be seeing
Hard to be a spiritual being when shit is shakin what you believe in
For trees to grow in Brooklyn, seeds need to be planted
I’m asking if y’all feel me AND THE CROWD LEFT ME STRANDED
My blood pressure boiled and rose, cause New York niggaz
Actin spoiled at shows, to the winners the spoils go
I take the L, transfer to the 2, head to the gates
New York life type trife the Roman Empire state

So much on my mind I just can’t recline
Blasting holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Yo don’t the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathin
Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening
Sigh before we die like the last train leaving

Escuchela, respirando ?

Yo, on The Amen, Corner I stood looking at my former hood
Felt the spirit in the wind, knew my friend was gone for good
Threw dirt on the casket, the hurt, I couldn’t mask it
Mixing down emotions, struggle I hadn’t mastered
I choreograph seven steps to heaven
And hell, waiting to exhale and make the bread leavened
Veteran of a cold war It’s Chica-I-go for
What I know or, what’s known
So some days I take the bus home, just to touch home
From the crib I spend months gone
Sat by the window with a clutched dome listening to shorties cuss long
Young girls with weak minds, but they butt strong
Tried to call, or at least beep the Lord, but didn’t have a touch-tone
It’s a dog-eat-dog world, you gotta mush on
Some of this land I must own
Outta the city, they want us gone
Tearing down the ‘jects creating plush homes
My circumstance is between Cabrini and Love Jones
Surrounded by hate, yet I love home
Ask my God how he thought traveling the world sound
Found it hard to imagine he hadn’t been past downtown
It’s deep, I heard the city breathe in its sleep
Of reality I touch, but for me it’s hard to keep
Deep, I heard my man breathe in his sleep
Of reality I touch, but for me it’s hard to keep

So much on my mind I just can’t recline
Blasting holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Yo how the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathing
Chest heaving, against the flesh of the evening
Kiss the Ide’s goodbye, I’m on the last train leaving

Looking for some great music? Why not checkout the Song of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlist?

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Hip Hop Music

Song of the Day (BLM): Fugees – Zealots

Day 8. I actually wanted to choose a different Fugees song for this, Rumble In The Jungle (feat. A Tribe Called Quest & Busta Rhymes), but it isn’t actually available on Spotify & I feel that the blogposts & the Spotify playlist are intrinsically linked.

Instead, I have chosen the song Zealots, which is easily my favourite tune from Fugees critically & commercially massive 1996 album, The Score. Every MC on this track gives top tier performances but my MVP would have to be Lauryn Hill. Her verse is ridiculous, her rhyme scheme is incredibly sophisticated & complex.

I haunt MCs like Mephistopheles, bringing swords of Damocles
Secret service keep a close watch as if my name was Kennedy
Abstract raps simple with a street format
Gaze into the sky and measure planets by parallax
Check out the retrograde motion, kill the notion
Of biting and recycling and calling it your own creation
I feel like Rockwell, somebody’s watching me
I got no privacy whether on land or at sea
And for you biting zealots, your raps are cacophonic
Hypocrite, critic, but deep inside you wish you had the pop hit
It hurts don’t it, a refugee come to your turf
And take over the earth

See my rhymes, are the type of fly rhymes
That can only get down with my crew
And if you try, to take lines or bite rhymes
We’ll show you how the refugees do

Yeah, yeah behold, as my odes, manifold on your rhymes
Two MCs can’t occupy the same space at the same time
It’s against the laws of physics
So weep as your sweet dreams break up like Eurythmics
Rap rejects my tape deck, ejects projectile
Whether Jew or gentile, I rank top percentile
Many styles, more powerful than gamma rays
My grammar pays, like Carlos Santana plays “Black Magic Woman”
So while you fuming, I’m consuming mango juice under Polaris
You just embarrassed cause it’s your last tango in Paris

And even after all my logic and my theory
I add a “Motherfucker” so you ignant niggas hear me
Crew remember take notes, as I sow my rap oats
And for you biting zealots, here’s a quote

Another MC lose his life tonight, Lord
I beg that you pray to Jesus Christ, why
Oh Lord, father don’t let him bury me, whoa

You can try but you can’t divide the tribe
These cats can’t rap, mister author I feel no Vibe
The magazine says the girl should have went solo
The guys should stop rapping – vanish like Menudo
Took it to the heart, but every actor plays his part
As long as someone was listening, I knew it was a start
For me to get my chance, grab my pen and revamp
Do a cameo while everybody do the dance
Quick now, cause you running out of luck-a
Playing Mr. Big, I’m gonna get you sucka
While you munching at your luncheon
I’ll be planning your assassination, then hit you like the Dutchman

I compress sound sets with my rap DBX
Then drop vocals on my 456 Ampex
Bring terror to the shop of horror
As she cry, “mi amor, ” the phantom dies in the opera
And to the younguns who carry gadgets
And kill six days a week, then rest on the Sabbath
Violence ain’t necessary, unless you provoke me
Then get buried like the great Mussolini
And for you biting zealots, your rap styles are relics
No matter who you damage, you’re still a false prophet

As a bonus, here’s the excellent Rumble In The Jungle (feat. A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes & Forte):

Looking for some fantastic music to listen to? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlis?

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Indie Rock Music Overlooked Classics

Overlooked Classics: Mercury Rev – Yerself Is Steam

Someone in a Facebook group asked today for recommendations of artists & albums a little like The Flaming Lips. I suggested Mercury Rev as I feel that they have material which is similar in style & intensity to each phase of The Flaming Lips discography. I think the poster was more interested in the more melancholic, Psyche Pop of the Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots-era but thought they may be interested to hear two songs which almost serve as polar opposites within the Mercury Rev discography: Chasing A Bee & Goddess On A HiWay.

Another reason I thought it would be interesting to suggest Mercury Rev to this Facebook user is that the two bands are very closely linked, sharing personnel at various parts of their careers. Mercury Rev frontman Jonathan Donahue played guitar with The Flaming Lips for around two years, appearing on the albums In a Priest Driven Ambulance and Hit to Death in the Future Head.

Chasing A Bee is the opening track from Mercury Rev’s gnarly, noisy debut album, Yerself Is Steam. It’s maybe not fair to refer to it as ‘overlooked’ per se, but I definitely feel that it deserves a higher place in the pantheon of great Indie Rock albums which we revere to this day. On one level, Chasing A Bee is a chaotic & furious assault of brutal guitar noise but, on another level, it is melodic Psyche Pop based around the hypnotically childlike melodies you’d expect from Syd Barrett or Ringo Starr. The juxtaposition between these elements is a surprisingly apt way of musically charting the experience of Psychedelic drugs. There are moments of elation & moments of horror. There are segues between the melodic Pop & harsh noise that feel like that moment when a bad trip turns into a good trip.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to describe the music of bands like Mercury Rev & The Flaming Lips in terms of psychedelic drug experiences. The Flaming Lips named one of their own compilations Finally the Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid. I think the title of this Flaming Lips compilation is an excellent description of the early Mercury Rev sound.

From Chasing A Bee, Yerself Is Steam wonders into faster, upbeat territory with Syringe Mouth, a terrifying Glam Punk stomper with shrieking backing vocals & twisted gnarly guitar patterns & feedback snaking between breakneck mechanical rhythms. This is very similar to very early Flaming Lips.

Coney Island Cyclone tones down the speed, emphasises the melodies & keeps the feedback & amp noise levels very high. This is the kind of thing which could’ve seen some chart success if it was marketed properly (& the abrupt fade out at the end was less abrupt).

Blue And Black starts with David Baker’s sinister monotone vocals following narcotically deranged nursery rhyme melodies & technicolour self harmonies. The music remains restrained for much of the first half, but you can feel the simmering menace of the creepy melodies & building noisescape. Something like a revving chainsaw appears around the 3-minute mark, threatening to send the song tumbling into a violent noise storm which it never quite does. The implicit threat of chaotic noise is almost Lovecraftian. The evil glimpsed in the shadows, or just missed, is far more psychologically terrifying than even the most well rendered CGI monsters.

Sweet Oddysee Of A Cancer Cell T’ Th’ Center Of Yer Heart is another epic Psych Rock noise fest in the vein of Chasing A Bee. This one however, is built around Johnathan Donahue’s falsetto melodies & almost Prog-ilike percussion elements. This is cinematic in scale in a way that much of their later music doesn’t quite reach. With it’s repetitive explorations of chord structures & explosions of guitar noise this could well be seen as a foundation stone, alongside Kentucky weirdos Slint, of the genre which would eventually become known as Post Rock.

Frittering, another long, cinematic jam, fades in over some clean, acoustic guitars that sound completely alien in the sonic landscape this album has painted thus far. Reverb-soaked vocals sound like they’re coming from miles away & melodic lead guitars start to appear like anarchic butterflies (or bees) frittering around the psychedelic landscape. There’s a big payoff at around 2:30, when the percussion drops in & the noisier guitars overtake the pleasant acoustic strumming in volume. From that point on, the melodic vocals are buried in a shoegazey mess of pedal noise & amp feedback. Different melodic elements surface occasionally through the melancholic murk.

Continuous Trucks And Thunder Under A Mothers Smile is a noisy skit. A blast of semaphoric bleeping, distorted radio chatter & furious guitar riffing. At 44 seconds, it’s over before you’ve properly heard it & we’re into the epic 12 minute finale.

Very Sleepy Rivers is doomy, sinister noise track. Built around hypnotically simple rhythms & melodies, it’s said to be about a serial killer, the rivers a metaphor for the calm of a serial killer & their tendency to snap, on a moments notice, into brutal, bloody violence. There’s an ebb & flow quality to Very Sleepy Rivers, which plays beautifully into the thematic imagery of rivers.

The band released a single, Car Wash Hair, which didn’t appear on the original release of this album. It was included on later reissues & on a second disc that was bundled with international releases, entitled Lego My Ego (which is available as a separate album on Spotify etc.). I’m going to include the video for Car Wash Hair here, as I feel it acts as a kind of “missing link” between the noisy, art Rock of Yerself Is Steam & the cinematic, Psyche Pop of later albums like Deserters Songs.

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Indie Compilations & Label Samplers Indie Rock Music

Terminal Sales Vol. 1: Songbook of Songs – a Sub Pop sampler

So here we go again with another excellent Indie compilation. And another sampler from the Sub Pop label. This time we’re looking at the 2005 Terminal Sales Vol.1: Songbook Of Songs, the first of 5 volumes. By the vagaries of eCommerce, I am currently in possession of Vol.1, 2 & 4 of the series. Vol. 3 & 5, I have found, though they are prohibitively expensive at this time. If you want to buy them for me, or have a copy you’d like to send me, then please get in touch. I know you won’t but I thought it’d provide you, my reader, with a little chuckle in these dark times. “He expects me to what?” I’m sure you’d be in hysterics at my baldfaced cheek if I hadn’t gone on to invalidate & ruin the joke (or is it a prank?) by explaining it to you. For this I apologise.

Opening up, we have the excellent Garage Rock shenanigans of The Constantines, who we also saw on 2004’s Patient Zero. Working Full Time ticks all of the boxes of the early ’00’s Garage Rock revival, therefore maybe arriving a year or two late. I can definitely picture them sharing a bill with the likes of The Hives & The Datsuns. Rocking those ’03 summer festivals.

A Frames, a Punk band named after an advertising board, contribute Galena, a spiky, aggressive slice of late ’70’s style Punk which totters on the precipice of Post Punk. You’d expect to find it on compilation devoted to either genre, to be fair.


Portland, Oregon’s Sleater-Kinney (named after a freeway exit road in Washington State) lay down their trademark brand of patrician Punk Rock. All angular Post-Punk rhythms, noise rock guitars & soaring Grunge choruses, Entertain is accomplished & exciting. They should have been way, way bigger than they were.

California by Low is sunny (as you’d guess from the title), upbeat Indie Pop. A minimal arrangement with diabetes inducing melodic sweetness & warm pleasing vocal harmonies. Ticks all the right boxes for an Indie band bothering the charts in the early to mid ’00’s. It’s a wonder it was never used on an advert.

Fruit Bats Lives Of Crime is artful, minimal Pop Rock. I was surprised to find that they’re from Chicago as I thought they dripped with hipster, New York coolness & artfulness. Some of their chord changes & key changes swerve across the alternative music freeway & into the Prog lane. These moments of uncertainty give this tune a character & identity I struggle to put my finger on.

Love As Laughter

Dirty Lives by Love As Laughter is a more Pop orientated affair than their usual brand of abrasive, lo-fi Rock and Roll. It wallow’s in the kind of seedy American background class that drinks beer from a cooler box in an after hours gas station. The kind of working class sleaze that unites such diverse bands as Silver Jews & Suede. Bet that’s a pair of bands you hadn’t expected to see in the same sentence. Love As Laughter populate this realm with a Glam Rock swagger which wasn’t too fashionable in 2005. Nether the less, it was novel & welcome.

Kinski take us back to the realm of the Garage Rock revival with The Wives Of Artie Shaw. Artistic, noisy & just on the Punk side of things, Kinski aren’t dissimilar to another Sub Pop band I’ve recently rediscovered & fallen in love with, Comets On Fire.

Italian Psych Rockers Jennifer Gentle are as indebted to the sonic textures of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd as you’d expect from their name. Even the cod-English accent (& language come to think of it) suggests a musical anglophilia which is typical of my only experience of Italy. My band were invited to play at a British Beer Festival in Ferrara. The man who ran the festival also runs a British themed bar in the town, complete with Carnaby Street & London Underground signs. I Do Dream you is ridiculously Barrett-esque, even down to the swirling Hammond Organ & busted up vintage amp sounds.

Austrian Hippy Folkster, Kelley Stoltz, delivers some fuzzy, lo-fi Indie Rock with a similar New York, hipster vibe as the Fruit Bats tune mentioned above. Some energetic piano playing gives it a smokey barroom vibe, an Indie Rock drinking song.

Wolf Parade, with You Are A Runner, And I Am My Fathers Son, is the stuttering, lo-fi Post Punk sound of the band at the beginning of a long career. Percussion is the key here & the song’s unusual rhythm’s are as unsettling as they are hypnotic.

Chad VanGaalen

Chad VanGaalen, also at the beginning of a long & successful career, delivers the characteristic upbeat, lo-fi Pop which he’s famous for this day. Completely off kilter, Clinically Dead is an absolutely amazing piece of music which heralded what was to come beautifully. As well as being a musician, VanGaalen is multitalented & is also extremely proficient as a visual artist & animator. His production skills are also in high demand & at least a couple of albums in my collection were recorded by him in his studio.

Pretty Dress by Rosie Thomas is wonderfully anthemic but dark Folk Pop. This is probably the cleanest, most “commercial” song on this album & I would expect to hear it on everything either gritty BBC dramas or gritty Scandinavian Noir dramas.

Holopaw’s Curious is lo-fi, experimental Indie Pop music with one of the most unusual sonic palates here. Opening with a straighforward, clean acoustic guitar, it builds & morphs into an unusual soundscape of synthesisers, oboe’s and stuttering rhythms. This sounds way ahead of it’s time. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this as a new song coming out tomorrow.

The Postal Service

Be Still My Heart (Nobody Remix) is the kind of falsetto voiced, metronomic Psychedelia I love bands like The Flaming Lips for. At once futuristic sounding & nostalgically retro, The Postal Service are a unique band with a unique sound which I will definitely be exploring in greater detail going forwards.

Iron & Wine’s Woman King is rhythmically propelled, downtempo Folk with a fuzzy, bluesy vibe. There’s a mantra-like quality to it. An almost hypnotic invasiveness. You’ll be whistling or humming Woman King well into the following day after listening to it.

The Baptist Generals keep the dark Folky vibes going Under A Cloud. The most melancholic sounding tune here. & probably the most minimal in sound palate. We’re treated to a raw, stripped back performance consisting of just fuzzy guitar & voice. Other instruments are overdubbed onto it in the second half of the song but the minimal feel remains, even when it’s wrapped in soft tones of violins & basses.


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