Lo-Fi has tagged me to continue a song meme originally started by Information Overlord. As with these memes, it’s totally arbitrary, and all the more fun for it! Perfect for a Friday, and a good way to get blogging again (I’ve been even more remiss than usual recently). The idea is to name five of my favourite songs by artists beginning with the letter “S”. And here we go:
Shellac: “Wingwalker“. One of Shellac’s first singles, and possibly their best. It has all the elements: rumbling bassline, whipcrack drumming, sheet metal guitar, Steve Albini’s impassioned ranting, and the stop-start dynamics that make them such an entertaining live band. I’m going to see them in a few weeks, I hope they play this!
Studio: “No Comply“. This was the track that introduced me to these guys. It’s like Happy Mondays meets Can on the beach in Ibiza with Swedish accents, and is as fun and sun-kissed as that sounds. A perfect pick-me-up on those quickly drawing-in Autumn nights.
Steinski: “Lesson 2 (James Brown Mix)“. Steinski was an early exponent of what are now called “mash-ups”, and is about 100 times better than most of the exponents of this around now. He specialises in using old hip hop and funk breaks to create something both witty and true to its roots, and was obviously a big influence on the likes of DJ Shadow. This is a concatenation of about 10 snippets of fantastic James Brown tracks, along with a load of other samples, and is truly get on the good foot stuff!
Smog: “Cold Blooded Old Times“. By the standards of Bill Callahan (Smog’s guiding force and songwriter) this is a pretty cheery number, if a song about domestic violence and unrequited love can ever be considered cheery. It’s the infectious riffing and handclaps that make it feel, if not exactly like a party number, then at least a happy way to feel depressed.
Slint: “Good Morning, Captain“. It’s difficult to write about this song without sounding horribly pretentious, but here goes. It’s in the long tradition of gothic seafaring stories, along the lines of Moby Dick or The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. A shipwrecked captain realises he is alone on his ship, only to see a (ghostly?) child looking in at him through the window. This is backed with slowly developing, ominously intertwining guitar lines and a relentless rhythym section. The song reaches its climax with a cathartic howl of regret and loneliness from the captain, with a raging guitar maelstrom behind, possibly one of the heaviest (both in the “heavy metal” and “bad vibes” senses) things I’ve ever heard. It still sends tingles down my spine on hearing it to this day.