Frustration at lack of progress, a lack of things being done, at work colleagues, at slow people on the street in front of me. Oh yes, I perhaps have had a habit of showing my frustration all too readily over the years (and it’s something I’m trying not to do in future). So, needless to say, there’s now a /Tuesday Ten about it.
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /369/Something I Can Never Have /438/Pure Uncut Anger
/Assistance /Suggestions/77 /Used Prior/16 /Unique Songs/67 /People Suggesting/40
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/36:59
This was one of those subjects that turned out to be a little more difficult to nail down. Indeed I asked for song suggestions for this one about a month ago, and initially, I found it difficult to get the inspiration to write about it (you might say it was, at first glance, a frustrating set of responses). But with a fresh pair of eyes and a bit of time, once I looked again yesterday this turned out to be a surprisingly easy post to write. Amazing what a bit of time and distance does. Anyway – thanks to all of you that offered suggestions, the stats are above.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/A Certain Shade of Green
On one of this Californian bands’ greatest, most energetic songs, Brandon Boyd is beyond frustrated. Whomever he’s dealing with simply won’t move forward, won’t make the necessary decisions, and he’s totally lost patience with their procrastination. “What are you waiting for / A Certain Shade of Green?” – “perfect is the enemy of good”, in other words, the phrase commonly attributed to Voltaire.
Incidentally, join me, Kynon and Daisy for /A Certain Shade of Green/004 on Friday evening (18-Feb), the latest in our occasional series of 90s Metal Dancefloor livestreams.
A song that has an interesting history (especially around their controversial use of Charles Manson samples), and indeed perhaps reflects the frustrations around the expectations put on the band by others as they prepared to release the still-astounding Draconian Times. Nowadays a much-loved classic by the band, it rather bombed in the charts (at least comparatively) – and as a gloomy, slow-paced song, maybe it never was one for mass consumption. The song deals with the frustration of failing to achieve even modest goals in life, as I see it, and Nick Holmes’ strained vocals reflect the battle against futility, at least until the sublime, melodic chorus.
/Born of Frustration
While Sit Down remains an ever-present part of the indie canon, some of the other singles by James warrant another listen, too, such as the sublime melodies of Born of Frustration, that I was reminded of by recent re-runs of Top of the Pops (which have now reached well into 1992 on the Friday re-runs on BBC Four) – indeed I was singing along by the first chorus to a song I’d not heard in years. Tim Booth is, perhaps, taking a similar subject to Paradise Lost, as he muses on the frustration of never being able to meet ones’ material and mental goals, but also providing a reality check in the biting couplet: “Stop stop talking about who’s to blame / When all that counts is how to change“.
One of the first, and still wildest, songs I heard from Brainiac when teenage me was introduced to them, and the synthpunk chaos therein still makes for a bracing three minutes. Tim Taylor had a habit of putting his vocals through the inputs on Moog synths (among others), never mind the oblique nature of his lyrics in the first place, but Sexual Frustration crackles with the horniness of someone who really needs to get laid.
For a band who ceased to exist in 1997, long before most gigs were filmed on a regular basis, a few live videos (of varying quality) have surfaced, but this gig, that opens with this track as Tim Taylor literally bounces off the crowd, gives you an idea of what you could expect.
/Manic Street Preachers
/My Little Empire
/This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
Amid an album that was noticeably lighter in tone than what had come before (at least for the most part!), My Little Empire still stands out as a song that is locked in grief and darkness. A song that to me reflects a band who were wondering exactly what they’d got themselves into, lumped in with a Britpop scene that they barely had any connection with, aside from a few unexpected big hits, and frustrated at being continually misunderstood and misrepresented (just look at what the mainstream remembers of the mighty, rousing working-class anthem that is A Design for Life – “We only wanna get drunk” rather than “Libraries gave us power“). The slight build of the song ends with a defeatist sigh, “I’m happy being sad“.
/Song From Under the Floorboards
/The Correct Use of Soap
I mean, it says a lot about the pretensions of some bands within post-punk – and yes, Magazine are absolutely one of them – that Howard Devoto could condense Dostoevsky‘s Notes from Underground into a four-minute song. Here, the sneering, hateful resentment of a model worker bursts from beneath that floor, a frustrated figure that thrives on that resentment and needs it to continue their life, but there is more than a bit of frustration that comes to the fore in that they will never be any better than the pitiful figure they are now. Sound familiar? I’ve certainly been there in the past.
/The Smashing Pumpkins
/Bullet with Butterfly Wings
/Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The snarling lead single to the ‘Pumpkins third, sprawling album (an album that sold well beyond ten million) was perhaps not a song that really gave us an idea of the scope of what was to come. Instead, it’s a grungy, quiet-LOUD monster of a track where Billy Corgan perhaps leans into petulance in airing his frustrations over industry and fan expectation, after the brilliance of Siamese Dream. He’s still just the performing rat in a cage, is expected to use his anger to sell records. ’twas ever thus, frankly, and as it happened, this period as good as the band ever got.
Poor young Mike Muir. All he wanted as a teenager was to find his own solutions to his social problems, avoid clashes with his friends and parents, and get all the more frustrated with (presumably well-meaning) people trying to tell him what’s wrong without people actually listening to him. As has been parodied and referenced by so, so many other bands since, all he wanted was a Pepsi, and his family think he’s on drugs and needs an intervention. That the song explodes into a punk rage is entirely understandable, as Muir points out that it’s their upbringing that has got him so mad.
Maybe they should have just given him that Pepsi.
/Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please
While all Max Splodge wanted was the titular two pints and a packet of crisps (and pickled onion and some cheese, I guess the title was long enough as it was). The inspiration was, apparently, Splodge going to The Crown in Chislehurst, and not being served before the bell for time went. It isn’t the most complex of songs, as Splodge keeps asking for his order, and gets all the more frustrated as he is passed over by the barman for someone else every time, before eventually… it’s “Time, Gentlemen, please” and he’s still not got his pints and crisps.
A perhaps surprising chart hit on release, maybe it struck a nerve with a number of frustrated drinkers at the time…
/“Weird Al” Yankovic
/First World Problems
The utter comedy treasure that is Weird Al is the last entry this week, a musician who has used comedy (and own musical skills) to parody and skewer seriousness in music for longer than I’ve been alive, and incredibly, a number of his takes on popular songs are probably better and more fondly remembered than the originals. On this later song – released in the last decade – musically he’s taking a clear aim at Pixies (and it’s a bullseye), but lyrically, he’s taking on the shallow frustrations of the modern, Western world, and the tiny frustrations that too many people make far too much of. And to put it mildly, distract from the perhaps bigger issues that no one will dare face.