(You Make Me Feel Like) Five Songs You Need To Hear

Well, the Iowa Caucuses lived way down to my prescient prediction of “chaos and disorganization” last Monday night, and then some. (I’m gonna claim prescience anyway, but if have you have ever paid any attention to how things get done politically out here, then the absurd outcome really shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Please, let this one be the last time Iowa goes first, ever. Amen).

The only positive caucus experience we had through the pointless, poorly managed hours we spent milling about the cold concourse of our local sports arena — regularly getting told to “stop talking!” by our petty tyrant precinct captain, while our candidate’s floor manager gave us wildly varying and mutually exclusive instructions throughout the evening — was watching our daughter, her boyfriend and their friend get interviewed live by Dana Bash on CNN. The three of them were smart and well-spoken, all on the spot. Good job, you! But then, on the flip side, we also interacted with Jake Tapper as he worked the room, and, uhhhh, he was kind of a jerk.

Add some shit weather to the mix as we’ve been sitting here being embarrassed about our state of residence fully failing per forecast, and we’re very ready to hit the road again, which we’ll be doing tomorrow morning, this time for two weeks in Arizona. I’m sitting here making playlists before we head out, and it seemed like a good time for one of my occasional “Five Songs You Need to Hear” features, while I’m looking at my recent listening logs, and trying to distract myself.

As always, the only connections between these five songs are that I love ’em, and that you probably have not heard ’em. So let’s fix that, yeah? If you do like these songs, and the concept in general, hit this link and you can scroll down through all of the earlier installments, too. Happy spins!

#1. OOIOO, “UMO”

#2. Napalm Death, “Logic Ravaged by Brute Force”

#3. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, “Kyrie From Missa Papae Marcelli”

#4. Subtle, “The No”

#5. The Stan Tracey Quartet, “Llareggub”

(Get A) Five Songs You Need to Hear (On Yourself)

We’re in the midst of a days-long weather hellscape here in Iowa with the nastiest of nasty stuff falling out of the sky, continually. Ice, snow, frozen rain, sleet, vulture urine, aviation fuel, chemtrails, and who knows what else. It’s disgusting and cold, whatever it is. So I’ve been hunkered down, spinning tunes, and thought it an apt time to return to our occasional featurette here, “Five Songs You Need to Hear.” The only things these songs have in common are that I love them, and you probably haven’t heard them. Now you can! Get listening! And then explore the artists further, as they’re all most worthy and deserving of your attention.

#1. “Space Invaders” by Solaris, (available on the outstanding and recommended Soul Jazz Records Presents SPACE FUNK: Afro-Futurist Electric Funk in Space 1976-84 compilation)

#2. “Electronic Eye” by Crisis Actor

#3. “Love Lived Here Once” by Christelle Bofale

#4. “Analog Warmth” by Jad Fair & Kramer (Feat. Paul Leary)

#5. “Crazy Energy Night” by Pom Poko

(Don’t Go Back To) Five Songs You Need To Hear

In which we return to our occasional mini-series, for links to five songs that I know and love, and you probably don’t, but you should, so now you can, no excuses. These five cuts were all released in the past year, all culled from albums that you’ll likely read (much) more about in my “Best Albums of 2019” feature coming in a month or so. Fresh baked, as it were. Warm and tasty. Ready? Open wide your brain, and dig in . . .

#1. “Hollow” by Sin Fang

#2. “Three Sisters” by Daniel Khan (featuring Vanya Zhuk)(Audio Only)

#3. “Spite Alone Holds Me Aloft” by Lingua Ignota (Audio Only)

#4. “Almost It” by Sacred Paws

#5. “Wolf Totem” by The Hu

Five Songs You Need to Hear (Slight Return)

About a decade ago, I had a recurring feature here called “Five Songs You Need to Hear.” The premise was to offer a peek into what happened to be rocking my world at the moment, with a focus on things that might be slightly off the beaten track for most folks. I was spinning an older favorite cut this morning, and would have shared it enthusiastically on social media if I still used social media, so I have decided instead to return to this occasional blog featurette about “gotta share” songs of the right now, right here. So with no further ado, here’s another edition of Five Songs You Need to Hear!

“Bleeding” by One King Down: Crunchy, riff-fueled hardcore from the Albany/Troy quintet’s 1995 Absolve EP, with original singer Bill Brown on the mic, before the law chased him out of town. OKD went on to achieve some national notoriety in Straight Edge circle in the years that followed with Brown’s replacement, Rob Fusco, doing the jumping and shouting parts, but this one song, for me, stands as their most titanic moment, and is perhaps my favorite hard-music cut from all of my years as a critic of record for the Albany region’s phenomenal hardcore and metal scenes of the 1990s. The song maintains a stately pace, with a six minute run time, giving itself far more room to grow and swell than most tracks by similar genre bands, with an absolutely killer breakdown for the time in which we must do the circle dancing. (Note that the image on the video is from the cover of a later album, the CD of which included Absolve as bonus tracks).

“The Creator Has a Master Plan (Peace)” by Leon Thomas: Pharoah Sanders’ 1969 album Karma dedicates its entire first side to the 19-minute  “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” one of the most astounding and electrifying recorded freakouts in the history of jazz, if not music as a whole. It’s one of those songs that I occasionally and literally plan to spin, as it requires full attention, and once you start it, you can’t stop it. That is not allowed! Co-writer and vocalist Leon Thomas offered another version of that titanic cut on his own ’69 album Spirits Known and Unknown, preserving the beautiful core melody and sentiment, but in a more readily digestible four minute arrangement. Lovely!

“I, John” by Elvis Presley: My grandfather had Elvis’ three great gospel albums on eight track tapes, and he played them incessantly at his house in Piedmont Cackalacky, when he wasn’t watching Hee Haw. I know and love them all dearly accordingly, and this is probably my favorite track from the three, a weird apocalyptic counting song with a beat than you can darn near dance to. The King is in fine voice and fettle here, and it’s worth noting that this was released in 1972, the same year as his last great pop hit, “Burning Love.” That’s about as good of an absolute “spirit vs flesh” creative dichotomy as I can come up with in a single year from a major artist’s catalog, Prince possibly notwithstanding.

“Long Island Iced Tea, Neat” by The Coup, feat. Japanther: Boots Riley’s incredible 2018 flick, Sorry to Bother You, had a long and complicated creative gestation. The first public glimmers of the project emerged with a 2012 album of the same name by Riley’s group, The Coup. It’s a bangin’ record, soup to nuts, and the 2018 soundtrack to the film provided a perfect second act of new music to help in telling this craziest of crazy stories. This cut is my favorite from the first album, and it features the late lamented Japanther, a deliriously eclectic duo who made the most exciting and trippy noises with their drums and guitars and voices. It was a match made in heaven. I wish they’d both “feat.-ed” each other more often!

“Heaven and Hell” by William Onyeabor: In my remembrance for Johnny Clegg after his passing a couple of months back, I wrote a bit about what a chore it was to find records and tapes by African artists in the pre-World Music and pre-Internet eras. William Onyeabor was a popular Nigerian musician, label owner and record producer who issued an incredible string of albums in his native country in the late 1970s and early 1980s, thought it was damned hard to get your hands on his stuff States-side. After his 1985 album, Anything You Sow, Onyeabor abruptly ceased recording and refused to speak of his musical career, having undergone a profound religious conversion experience. This cut is from his 1977 debut album, Crashes in Love, though you can more readily find it these days via the Luaka Bop compilation Who Is William Onyeabor? (2013), which annoyingly is now the type of thing that populates the checkout racks at your local Starbucks. Grumble. The lyrics make it clear that William, who passed away in 2017, was already thinking about his eternal soul, long before he walked away from music to protect it.

Beneath the Valley of Five Songs You Need to Hear

1. “Yuppie Exodus from Dumbo,” by Jed Davis. (2010). A brilliant bit of social commentary delivered by a once and future denizen of Albany, over a beautiful bit of 1920s-styled music, recorded by Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu, They Might Be Giants) and featuring the legendary Ralph Carney on clarinet. Bonus feature: this cut is actually available for purchase today via a limited edition Edison-era wax cylinder (no kidding!) designed by Michael Doret, for you really old school music fans out there. This tune caused a little stir in the Brooklyn neighborhood that inspired it, pretty much affirming in full the accuracy of its pithy observations. Excellent!

2. “Super Stupid,” by Funkadelic (1971). An under-appreciated cut off of the titanic funk-rock album, Maggot Brain. Guitarist Eddie Hazel sings lead vocals on a song about a junkie making a terrible mistake with his drug of choice, foreshadowing his own sad demise from addiction-related issues some years later. I love heavy organ music, and Bernie Worrell’s spectacularly swirling Hammond organ work makes this a masterpiece of the genre.

3. “Injun Joe,” by The Good Rats (1974). Long Island’s greatest live band to my ear, here offering a classic cut from their most-widely-heard album, Tasty. I’ve written more about The Good Rats on this blog before, and this is one the songs that first roped me in, with its weird lyrics, and blooze-meets-prog arrangements, similar to what Family offered on the other side of the great pond.

4. “A Human Certainty,” by Saccharine Trust (1981). One of the less-well-remembered groups in the early SST Records stable, this cut is from their awesome debut EP, Paganicons. Like the better-known Minutemen, they merged jazz with punk and created something wild and wooly in the process. The fragility of Jack Brewer’s vocals in this song, especially during the near-spoken-word section and wordless wails of fear and anguish that follow it, still gives me shivers, even as he hiccups that he’s okay now, he’s okay. Joe Baiza’s guitar is also surprisingly subtle on this tune, given the time and place of the recording.

5. “Cool Water,” by Marty Robbins (1959). Robbins originally issued this song on one of my all-time favorite albums from the country side of spectrum, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, which also contained the legendary “El Paso.” I’m not sure when this particular recording was made, but the three part harmonies are sweet, and the instrumentation differs from the studio version, so I think it may actually be live instead of lip-synched, though it’s often hard to tell on Youtube. In any event, this song is a masterpiece, like most of the album that spawned it.

Return of the Son of Five Songs You Need to Hear

1. We Want War by These New Puritans (2010, United Kingdom: A lush blend of orchestral and electronic music; I like just about anything with a bassoon in it).

2. The Human Germ by Snog (1998, Australia: One of the most delightfully depressing bands on the planet, but in a good way).

3. II B.S. (Haitian Fight Song) by Charles Mingus (1963, United States: A jazz masterpiece, even for those who think they don’t like jazz).

4. Waiting Room by Fugazi (1989, United States: A masterpiece of rhythm and energy, a perfect marriage of jittery dub and spazzy call-and-response punk).

5. Litany by Guadalcanal Diary (1987, United States: The best, but now mostly forgotten, live band active in Athens, Georgia when I was down there in the mid-’80s).