My friend George turned 43 this week. He and his fianceé threw a great small party–friends, drink, food, stimulating conversation. I decided to make a YouTube playlist of some of the bands and artists we listened to and discussed.
George’s Birthday Playlist
Black Flag, “Rise Above”: An inspiring, make-you-mosh anthem from the smartest act in American hardcore music. This is a very youthful Henry Rollins already pumping up your mind.
the Meatmen, “Crippled Children Suck”: A decidedly NON-inspiring hardcore band from the 80s. Vulgar, throwaway fun.
the Butthole Surfers, “U.S.S.A.”: There’s not much to the song, but I want to talk about the evilness that was this vinyl. It was deliberately labeled oddly, with all the track listings on only one side of the album. Some of the tracks were recorded at 33 1/3, others at 45 rpm. Song breaks were deliberately hard to find. A weird “fuck you” to the nation’s DJs.
Dash Rip Rock, “DMZ”: Early work from one of America’s best unsung bands. Rev. Horton Heat, Social Distortion, Southern Culture On the Skids–none of them would have sounded the same without the early influence of this New Orleans band that’s still going strong.
Mojo Nixon, “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child”: If you don’t know Mojo Nixon, then your brain could use some fixin’. He’s wild, alcohol-fueled rock and roll fun. And check out a young Winona Ryder in the video!
the Dead Milkmen, “Instant Club Hit”: Being one of the people this song makes fun of doesn’t make it any less funny. “You’ll dance to anything by Depeche Commode . . .”
Cypress Hill, “Insane In the Membrane”: Still my all-time favorite stoner rap song, with a bounce that can’t be beat. “I got to get my props, Cops, come and try to snatch my crops”
Foetus, “Sick Man”: A driving force in industrial music for thirty years now. Jim Thirlwell, more than any other individual, is responsible for the rise in piercings as a signifier of alternative culture.
Primus, “Tragedy’s A-Comin’ “: What else is there to say? Fantastically proficient and wildly imaginative, Primus has been on the cutting edge of music for decades without ever losing the groove.
Pearl Jam, “Even Flow”: OK, as much as I like Kurt Cobain the guy gets too much credit. He was one important figure of an entire musical scene, and his early suicide gave too much caché to Nirvana over equally great bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and the Melvins. OK, stepping down from the soapbox now.
the Joy Formidable, “This Ladder Is Ours”: Finally, some music from this century! (Give me a break, most of us at the party were middle-aged.) The Joy Formidable are an attractive, exciting, loud, and innovative new power trio out of Wales. One of my absolute favorite new acts in years, and I’m jealous that George gets to go see them soon.
Neko Case, “Thrice All-American”: I know she’s Canadian, but Vermont gets to claim her now too. Case is probably the best songwriter in alt-country, but she’s also known for her rich honey voice and her work with pop supergroup the New Pornographers.
Nine Inch Nails/Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me A Hole”: This one’s a stretch, but we did mention Nine Inch Nails last night. Really, I’ll just use any excuse to share this brilliant mashup by pomDeter.
Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon, “Love Me I’m a Liberal”: Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra teamed up with Mojo for a wonderfully irreverent album a few years back called Prairie Home Invasion. It includes this brilliant update of Phil Ochs’s classic skewering of establishment liberals as they look to radicals–”ten degrees to the left of center at the best of times, ten degrees to the right if it affects them personally.”
Metric, “Sick Muse”: Another great single from the seemingly inexhaustible supply of Toronto’s Metric. One of the most savvy and accomplished 80s revival acts, Metric isn’t in the game to faithfully recreate New Wave. They’re using the ideas of 80s college rock to do their own thing, and it’s beautiful.