Sad-Ass Music #5
Alright let's get all up in this shit.
So the world, in fact, DID NOT END on December 21. I know this because I was sitting pretty with my roommates, in the living room of our house, ripping the shit out of X-Mas gifts. We celebrated early just in case the real armageddony type shit did pop off. But guess what? By 12 AM—December 22—I was drunk as fuck watching those same roommates play in their little band with a bunch of other totally alive motherfuckers standing around me. So... Yeah, no end of the world. Hurray.
So while we're all alive, LET'S FUCKING PARTY.
Here we go: Sad songs you could totally get away with slipping on at a party...
Now, you might think this is a cop out, but it's not. Listen to this groove-banger and tell me it's not gloomy as shit, while all around foxy as shit. The laid back percussion, the lush synth atmospheres, and bright and bold sax lines. All this from a main track from the motherfucking VIRGIN SUICIDES score. Sure, “Sexy Boy” is a much more frolicking, get-down-make-love type jam, but we're attacking from our patented strong & sad angle, and “Playground Love” works much better from that position. Those Lisbon Girls...
I probably could've went with some other, more well-known Grandaddy songs, but really, this one's my favorite. The whole vibe of this one, honestly, sort of just makes me want to imagine myself as a weird, fucked up soul-vampire, kind of like Sean Bateman did in Rules Of Attraction. Dawson was a stone-cold freakazoid in that movie—I never read the book, well kind of, I did read the last page to see if it really did end all abrupt, mid-sentence AND IT TOTALLY DOES! Anyway, yeah, something about the slow, pulsing organ and the droning synths, just makes me wanna roll through crowds of dumb faces and scowl. Sometimes you just got to get really weird and raw in a thick crowd of heads. I also really like when he says, “I try to sing it funny like Beck, but it's bringing me down.” Good line.
I think Trent's written a lot of somber, distressing tunes that have been heavily disguised as something perhaps a bit more flustered, pushing towards angsty, unnerved, and chaotic; when they're really just tales of desperation, isolation, and a sense of full-bore uneasiness. “Somewhat Damaged,” sounds pretty fucking vicious with lines like “lick around divine debris, taste the wealth of hate in me” and “tear a hole exquisite red, fuck the rest and stab it dead.” So yeah, OK, Trent is pretty pissed, I get it. What we're really dealing with here, is a tale of loss, a change for the worse. “How could I ever think it's funny how everything you swore would never change is diferent now?” Trent's screaming about how fucked it is that everything he had come to know and have faith in has changed abruptly; guess it could be a lovey-dovey kinda thing, or who really knows. That's the way it speaks to me and most every other human that's had a relation-SHIT go sour, right? So how well would this go over at a party? Well as long as your partygoers don't masturbate to the Garden State soundtrack on a regular basis, all heads are gonna burst into headbang city when this heavy pummeler charges out of the speakers. Get wild. TOO FUCKED UP TO CARE ANYMORE!
Pure X are cool dudes. I played a show with them and Sleep Over once—and while our set was one of crooked, half-baked ferocity that kinda fizzled into the shitty night—Pure X (and Sleep Over, as well) did their thing and made people sweat out a soft, sweet pheremonic fog. Once you drop this one, there's no question whatsoever why it works. It's sad in sound and spirit, that's blantantly obvious. It sounds like a rainy night on a lost highway. That's just the way this song works. However, it oozes a vulnerable quality that is both reserved by highly sensual, damn near the point of erotic. Lurid nights of sweaty thrashing, bodies moving in slow motion; a hand touches slick skin and then people exchange spit in a naughty hall closet. This one is an absolute fucking no-brainer. And, like, drugs and stuff.
Once you hear the bass thump on “Tinseltown In The Rain,” you'll just immediately know what's up. It's got a muscular, growling groove. It doesn't just end there, with that... This is a classy song, one that you and nine-thousand other motherfuckers could sway along to. I know you wanna sway along to music with nine-thousand other people, who are all probably on drugs and looking to get down to frisky business. You have to understand, this is a song about love going down the shitter, like most sad songs, but that's what we adore. Right? We wanna open our arms to another person, embrace them, maybe suck their tongue, and when we can do that to a song where homeboy says: “Do I love you? Yes I love you. But it's easy come, and it's easy go. All this talking is only bravado.” Goddamnit it anyway.
This is a roasting burner of the highest quality. A lot of this modern-day electronic-pop-downer stuff is really hit or miss. Trust does it right, mixing goth-tinged, codeine-drenched vocals atop a beautiful synth structure. It's not witchy, it's just gorgeous. This music has a melancholic atmosphere to it, but it's still the kind of music you could listen to while sitting on a porch, with a bloody nose, after getting in a fight at a party. This actually should be the song that plays during the fight, and the dudes should be forced to fight in slow motion, and fireworks should go off in the background, and weird cheerleaders should come out with pig tails and pom-poms, and at 2:47 a spaceship should come down and abduct everyone and take them to a planet where everyone just gets stoned and fucks telepathically. Yup. Where's my music video director money?
For Similar Results: Blouse's “Into Black” / Chromatics' “These Streets Will Never Look The Same” / John Maus' "Do Your Best"
This is that classic shit. This is that you're about to get your ding-dong sucked while you're holding a wine glass and smoking a cigarette on a balcony type shit. Or if you're a lady you're straight up about to get eaten out by a dude with a mustache and maybe his name is Felix, maybe you just smoked some pretty decent hash, and yeah, your boyfriend is gonna be texting you the entire time, but it won't matter because you're absolutely fucking beautiful. Breathtaking, even.
Typical Party Scene: There's beer around and there's people looking to fuck. This ain't rocket science. Motherfuckers always wanna try to be like Bukowski or some facsimile, this could be their anthem. Plus, Paul Westerberg is kind of like the hipster version of George Thorogood. I happen to think the real George Thorogood was pretty cool, so like, what the fuck am I even talking about? “Tonight I'll be doing pull-ups on the toilet bowl,” is a pretty fucking great line. Good job guys.
80s shit, maaaaaaaan. Doesn't matter what it is, from Tear For Fears to Toto, Hall & Oates to Huey Lewis; you put it on at a party, heads will bounce. That's just fact. That's nature. That's science. Now, to me, Talk Talk are kind of an underrated band, as far as their huge influence on all the stellar strand of sad-ass we enjoy so much, we're talking Slowdive and Bark Psychosis all the way to DJ Shadow and Death Cab For Cutie, shit, even No Doubt made a bajillion dollars off covering them. Anyway, “Such A Shame” has got that 80s synthpop bounce that'll get things jiggling at any party – regardless of the fact that everyone should own their fucking albums and be listening to them religiously anyway, and not just putting on one of their MTV hits to make booties move. Oh yeah, and because you need to see the realness that was Mark Hollis and crew, fuck the actual music video I linked up there, watch this live performance right here. They're so on, and Hollis looks like he could fucking slay every individual in the room with just a well-placed stare. Holy shit.
Dude, this homegirl is mega-weird, but goddamn can she belt out that real intense shit. “Troy” is a bonafied classic. She's all squawking like a total maniac about something or other, I think like maybe her boyfriend started poking around in some other zone, and so she just went fucking cuckoo for cocoa puffs, talking about turning into a phoenix and killing dragons. That's some wild shit. Homegirl has come out and talked about being bipolar, so I guess it all makes sense. Or maybe, it's about something deeply spiritual—what do I know?? But that's really neither here nor there; it's a tragic epic that plays out at near 7 minutes. The thing about it is, you can put this on at a party and watch heads trip out. The string arrangements and Sinéad's ever-ascending howl might scare them at first, but trust me when the drums drop at four minutes-n-some-change in, the heads will be nodding and wondering just what the fuck went wrong for homegirl. Put it on repeat and see how many muggs scream along to “I KILLED A DRAGON FOR YOU!” on that second, third, fourth, fifth, etc go 'round. Shit is so heavy.
To me, Portishead should be setting vibes at every party from now 'til the end of time. But, y'know, maybe I want to attend a different type of party than most... I spent enough time as a teenager smoking stolen cigarettes, thumbing ashes onto an ashtray resting calmly on my stomach in a depressing bedroom to realize that these guys had it figured out. I mean, it's a perfect combination of downtempo melodics with a stombing swagger; it all comes oozing out of speakers with the same finesse as Nina Simone, Brian Eno, Tricky, and Ennio Morricone combined. Sure, there's depression fucking caked all over the Portishead sound, but there's those elements of seduction and posture and passion that makes this just so right for the perfect night. Put it on in a crowd of people, open a door to a balcony, shit, open a closet door, and come back a little later, see how many tongues have found other mouths or other sundry, naughty holes. So I guess, maybe we all do wanna go to the same kinda parties, right?
So, OK... There's a lot of hype on this homie, and hey dude, it totally makes sense. There's the lush production, that seems as informed by Timbaland, Young Money, and Clams Casino as it is by Siouxsie & The Banshees, Beach House – both of whom The Weekend have sampled, and Cocteau Twins—Weeknd and Cocteaus alike have a song called “Heaven Or Los Angeles.” That's some sad-ass shit to sample, and you see melancholy is a lusty and robust ingredient in the foundation of The Weeknd's style. Even when this dude, who is only like 22 years old or something which is just fucked, is singing about nailing all the trapdoors shut, smoking all the ganja green, snorting all the whatever, doing all the illicit shit; he's still spouting it like he's fucking bummed about it. Like, what gives homie? BUT, if he sang it like a legit thug, it wouldn't be The Weeknd, and that's what we love. Honestly, on this song, “28” I don't have the slightest clue what the fuck he's getting at, but it sounds so fucking slick. Better turn the bass up on this one.
You can't ever go wrong with Wire, like ever ever, regardless of how brooding they come across. They're just too good at writing stellar songs that are quirky, catchy, and just cool.
Whew boy, have I been looking for an in for this song since I started this column. Well, I don't give a fuck, I just worked it in. National Skyline are the ex-Hum, ex-Castor dudes making some of the best emotional indie-rock out there. I like this shit, because they're not afraid to experiment with electronic beats and textures, while still managing to retain what makes them them, the things that harken back to, dare I say, the past, the same types of melancholic pop tendencies that made us like bands like Castor and Hum and Failure and even Bedhead and Codeine. It's their modern edge that makes this shit so easy to throw across the speakers at any type of social gathering and people will get down with it. Hell, maybe this'll drop and two fools that came alone won't leave alone, and maybe just maybe, they'll get real weird with each other.
Remember when Mr. Scientology Hansen dropped the world's greatest break up album, like, ever when he released Sea Change on us? We were all like, watching Eternal Sunshine every day for three weeks, and felt real weird walking around and stuff? Well, you can actually take that and put it on at a party, and simply because of the fact that everyone wants to be an adult, everyone will mingle and sip Newcastle and talk and touch like they're not actually listening to the world's greatest break up album, like, ever. Given everyone at this party looks like a whack-ass, flunky English professor or a pothead librarian with a couple cats, but hey, we're all just looking for our piece of the pie.
Imagine if you were Jesse Custer from that comic book Preacher, like if you were the main dude, the Preacher guy, this would be the baddest song to play when you walked into any room. So, yeah, it's a given this would be cool to drop on the stereo at the party. I mean, shit feels like partly gothy shoegazer gremlin, partly gnar-dawg cowboy stomper; all party. It's got enough grit that a dude would tilt his Budweiser at you when the riffs bend, and the ladies will dip and maybe let you touch just behind their knee. Shit's dope, don't front.
Sure sure, there's absolutely songs like “Exit Music (For A Film),” “How To Disappear Completely,” and even “Creep,” that might be sadder; and there's tracks like “Idioteque,” “Electioneering,” and “I Might Be Wrong,” that would probably serve you better in the dance-happy, we wanna suck-n-fuck party environment... Sure sure. However, to me, there's something about “Climbing Up The Walls” that takes liberally from the many vibes of everything I've just listed and creates this weird steamy stew/sludge of wild, anxious sexiness. It's burly and stout, rounded out with a lot of warm and heavy tones, but it's still got that vulnerable weirdo-whine that Thom Yorke has basically trademarked at this point, and all the while, it moves and bends and slinks forth with prowess. It's a beautiful song that sounds muscular, but also insecure at the same time. Radiohead, y'know, shit talk if you will, but those homies have always been able to create a type of sonic-takeover that satisfies a large, maniacal pallette. Sad-Ass classics, k?
THIS IS ABOUT A SEXY MOTHERFUCKER RIGHT HERE.
For similar results: Just put on Depeche Mode, fuck it.
So now you're ready to get out there on the weekend and serve up the fuckers with delight. Prep you a little iPod playlist, burn you a CD—who does that anymore?? Just get yourself some tracks together and unleash on the masses. If you're reading this article, it simply shows me that you're out for all the Sad-Ass Musical knowledge you can gobble, and baby, I'm trying to slather you in everything I have. I want you prepped for any given situation.
And you know, you don't have to stop here, by any means... I could've kept going. There's tons more artists out there who have made and are making perfectly sad-ass bummer music that could still annihiliate speakers, minds, and souls alike at any of your recent get-togethers... Silver Jews, Built To Spill, Ariel Pink, The Smiths, Burial, Bodycount, etc etc etc... We could go on forever... It's a time for celebration.
The world certainly didn't end, I know because I was there and so were you. We should all be celebrating. Not even because the world didn't end though, but just because we're fucking alive in the first place. Because we're able to reach out and touch each other and talk about awesome stuff that we think is really neat and makes us feel all excited. We should be partying because we're stoked that we exist at all, and that we can stick our fingers and weiners into things, and there are things for weiners and fingers to be stuck into, and that all that stuff feels really good, because there's LOVE in this world. We should be jumping off of rooftops because when we put our mouth up against another mouth, it creates a magic vortex of awesome. There's all kinds of reasons to be very psyched on life, and thus celebrations are necessary. There's also a lot of wonderfully bleak, yet very versatile music that we can play through loud-ass speakers at these celebrations. So let's get to it.
YOU CAN'T HAVE THE SWEET WITHOUT THE SOUR.
As always, I love you more than anything... ever.