Songs You Never Heard Of
by Michele Christopher
The title may be misleading. Perhaps you have heard of some of these songs. But they are all tunes I listen to and think to myself "Am I the only one who likes this song? Does anyone I know even know this song/band exists/existed?" And then I wonder why there is so much crap out there on the radio and in the record stores and stuff I think is great falls into a musical crack.
Eh, maybe it's just me. Maybe I have weird taste in music. Maybe I'm tone deaf. Or maybe your favorite band sucks and everything I listen to is amazing stuff that only people with extra special musical knowledge powers can understand.
I'm sharing this with you in the hopes that you will dig up some of these songs and listen to them (let me know if you want a.....sample.....) or maybe one of you will raise your hand and say "Holy shit! You like that song, too?"
Gnomes of Zurich - Big Teeth, Skeletal Face
I found this by digging through Turtle's CD collection. There was a sampler from AmRep records that looked interesting so I stuck it in the car CD player. Some pretty good tunes on here, but it wasn't til I got to song number 10 that something really grabbed me. Since I first put this disc in, I've hit repeat on song 10 about 60 times. I'd describe it as minimalist rock, in the same vein as Steve Albini's stuff with Shellac. In fact, I think the Gnomes singer sounds a lot like Albini. I can't find out much about the Gnomes, either. This is about it.
Shellac - Prayer to God
Well, I mentioned Albini and Shellac so I may as well throw this in here. What an awesome song. It's a striking, bare essence tune where the music is not as important as the words or the emphatic singing. A prayer for God to kill two people, voiced over stacatto guitar bursts.
Him - just fucking kill him, I don't care if it hurts.
Yes I do, I want it to,
fucking kill him but first
make him cry like a woman,
(no particular woman),
I don't know why I find that so compelling, I just do. And a lot of people think Albini is a musical genius. He's worked with a lot of bands I like - Nirvana, Pixies, Fugazi, Failure (see down this list), Zao....but I never really dug a lot of the Big Black or Shellac stuff. I know a lot of you have probably heard of Albini, but I rarely come across anyone who knows this particular song.
Far - Waiting for Sunday
I know of three people who know of this disbanded Sacramento band, and all three people knew some of the band members personally and all three people hate them. I guess I'd describe Far as emo/alternative. The singer - Jonah - sort of whines his way through a lot of the lyrics but I think his lyrics are a lot deeper than your average emo crap. Yea, there's self pity here, but not of the "I want to cut myself because my girlfriend decided she would rather just be friends" variety. Waiting for Sunday is an interesting take on organized religion.
We're all so tired
We wear our raincoats every day
To keep the wet and wind and world out
Waiting for Sunday
You probably need to hear the song to appreciate that part of the lyrics. But the tune itself is so quiet it's almost prayerful. Interesting stuff. I really dig that whole album.
Crowbar - Planets Collide
This is one of the heaviest songs I ever heard. The whole album is like this. I call it sludge rock because it makes you feel like you are trudging through a lake of, well, sludge. It's raw, it's heavy, and you feel the bass from the pit of your stomach to the bottom of your feet. It's heavy, heavy metal with hardcore punk roots. Listening to this is like suffocating yourself aurally. Why would anyone want to do that? Eh, sometimes you just want to immerse yourself in some bad ass music. Beavis and Butthead called their music "slow and fat" which kind of fits. This band has featured at one time or another members of Eyehategod, Corrosion of Conformity, Acid Bath and Pantera.
Failure - Stuck on You
How to describe Failure.....hmmm...melodic, for sure. Alternative, for want of a better, more specific word. Part Deftones, part Tool. part Stone Temple Pilots....I don't think I'm doing them justice here. Stuck on You - a song about a song that gets stuck in your head - comes from Fantastic Planet, which I think is an absolutely brilliant album. This album featured Troy Van Leeuwen, who went on to play with A Perfect Circle and then Queens of the Stone Age (my favorite band!).
Glassjaw - Piano
The prettiest song on what is basically an album filled with lots of screaming and emotion. Hence, the (kinda stupid) label of emocore. The guys are from Long Island, which is what made me listen to them in the first place. And I just found out this minute that one of the dudes in the band was also in Gorilla Biscuits and CIV. And also, the lead singer, Daryl Palumbo, is also in Head Automatica, a nifty dance rock band with some groovin tunes. But back to Glassjaw, Everything You Wanted to Know About Silence is a kick in the gut from start to finish. It's vulgar, it's mean, it's sad and it kicks your ass.
Puya - Oasis
Puerto Rican heavy metal fused with Latin beats. Awesome. I saw these guys open for Fear Factory in 98 and fell in love with the sound. I mention this band a lot and people are always like "WTF? Puerto Rican metal? Whatchoo talking bout, Willis?" Turlte is the only one I know who knows of Puya. And I don't really listen to it a lot around him because the other day he mumbled something like "too much vodka!" when I was playing Oasis and I think he had a Vietnam-like flashback.
So that's a bunch of songs that I really like that make me wonder if anyone else but me walks around singing them or if I'm the only person who ever bought their album. I'm thinking that maybe some of you have heard of Glassjaw or Failure, but I'm betting I'll get a zero response on those damn Gnomes of Zurich.
What about you? What's on your playlist that you think no one else ever heard of?
Michele knows damn well you have all heard of (insert obscure indie band here), so she didn't mention them.