Five Songs, 8/15/2017

A bit of a mixed bag today. Too bad we missed the Amon Tobin track that immediately followed these!

Arsonists, "Blaze"

Underground rap act out of Brooklyn, Arsonists are odd simply for the fact that they signed to legendary indie rock label Matador for their two records. The two turned out to be excellent, with the group itself doing all the production as well as the rhyming, which is always a pleasure. I can't really think of any other rap artists who ended up on Matador off the top of my head, so this remains just a fascinating experiment for the label.

Machines of Loving Grace, "Butterfly Wings"

Industrial dance has come up a few times here. Nine Inch Nails was the big success in the genre, although NiN moved past the genre tropes pretty quickly. Machines of Loving Grace appeared dedicated to the proposition that Reznor should have just kept remaking Pretty Hate Machine, and that's basically what they set out to do. Combining the genre's blurting keyboards, stutters of guitar, and robotic drums with more melody than was typical, they were squarely aimed at the dance floor. They also have not aged particularly gracefully.

Tar, "Viaduct"

Tar, noise rock band out of Chicago, was the first band I ever heard from my beloved Amphetamine Reptile Records. Jackson was a real eye opener for me. I hadn't really ever encountered anything that murky on an album before. But I liked what I heard, and quickly grew to adore that album. I turned into a big fan of the band, saw them a bunch of times (including what was probably the loudest show I've ever been to), and think their records are great.

(NB: the song starts at 7:52 on this video. In a super picky distinction, this is "Viaduct" from the Peel Sessions disc that Tar contributed to, not "Viaduct Removal", which is the same song that appears on Jackson, as a different take.)

Badly Drawn Boy, "Rachel's Flat"

Badly Drawn Boy, which is basically just Damon Gough, burst onto the scene by winning the Mercury Prize for Best Album in Britain for The Hour of Bewilderbeast. That album, basically a chamber pop record in the vein of other indie acts at the time, caught the eye of Nick Hornby, which resulted in Gough scoring the film About a Boy. That's where this song comes from, although it's just a tiny piece. We'll talk more about Badly Drawn Boy next time he comes up.

The Vaselines, "Slushy"

The story of the Vaselines is inextricably tied to that of Nirvana, as Kurt Cobain was tireless in citing the Vaselines as a big influence. That led to Sub Pop putting out The Way of the Vaselines, a compilation of all their music, which let everybody hear what had Cobain so interested. Despite that recommendation, though, the Vaselines never really clicked with me. They struck me as not notably better than plenty of other jangly pop bands.