So, a return to my traditional Tuesday Tens after the end of year break for rounding up 2011. My girlfriend set me a challenge for two Tuesday Tens last week, and it seemed like an interesting idea. So here is the first part of it, and it will likely be the shortest Spotify Playlist I will ever post.
/Tuesday Ten/146/Short Songs
Oh yes. So this week is short songs – agreed to be less than one minute in duration, and also to be actual songs (as opposed to intro tracks or interludes). Which did, admittedly cut down my choice from the 783 tracks of 0:59 or less in duration by an awful lot, and also reduced the number of genres involved. And with one exception, these songs are also played rather fast. Well, you’ve got to cram as much as you can in, in such a short song, I guess…Next week, of course, we go to the other extreme.
Obviously, blink and you might miss this lot – on Spotify this lasts just 364 seconds, or six minutes and four seconds, if you will, for ten songs.
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. 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).
/Shake Your Hip/0:41
/Worse Case Scenario
So let us start with a song that even affords a fade-in. And unlike most of the songs here, it is at a more sensible pace, and is a marvellous little (anthemic) groove that never really made sense in the musical surrounds of dEUS’s debut album, being rather brighter, and joyous than the darker and more reflective songs that sit before and after it. But that was always the joy of dEUS – confounding expectations, and many years later they continue to do so with every single album.
Let us head back, now, to the early eighties: to a time where punk had got through it’s initial phase, and bands had finally begun to seriously look at moving into new realms with this fast-paced, angry sound. And over in Los Angeles, one furious bunch of guys formed Black Flag, and once Henry Rollins joined, they became one of the earliest – and most iconic – bands to be associated with the term hardcore. And from their incendiary debut Damaged, the second track is this short blast of the apparent joy and defiance in being a graffiti artist.
One of a number of bands that made a virtue in brevity, it was almost as if their sheer rage set them off playing even faster than their peers. And oddly enough, there were more than a few choices for this list, but really, it had to be this. Quite possibly the shortest song to all-but kickstart a youth movement (OK, so it wasn’t the first song to note the Straight Edge ideal, either, but it was definitely the most prominent), this is a hairdryer blast of defiance – proudly proclaiming an aversion to “hang[ing] out with the living dead” and instead, going for a life of no booze, no drugs and no casual sex. And no moshing, either, in Ian MacKaye’s later band Fugazi. Ok, so not a life for me, broadly, but the music was, and is, awesome.
The shortest track proper I own is, of course, You Suffer. However I’ve already used that before, I seem to recall, so it didn’t count here. Instead, this does, though – a twenty second grindcore classic mocking those who believe in the afterlife. And remarkably manages to fit six lines of lyrics – including two choruses! – in its twenty seconds or so…
/Ghost Of A Bullet/0:20
/Prowler In The Yard
I can’t say I’ve ever actually had the time to sit down and analyse, or even read, many of Pig Destroyer’s lyrics. After all, like Napalm Death, they blitz through songs at quite unbelievable speed and in their earlier days, at least, it was something of a surprise if the bulk of the tracks on an album topped ninety seconds in length. One thing is for sure, though – there aren’t any politics, or comments on religion, here – there are darker, more malevolent themes at work here, if you listen for them through the blisteringly loud grindcore.
Yes, more grindcore – but what did you expect when I was looking for really short songs? The brutal, neck-snappingly fast mosh-down of an opener to my favourite of this band’s albums doesn’t hang about, and once again the lyrics frankly aren’t important. Nasum actually ceased to exist when Mieszko Talarczyk died in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, but rather unexpectedly they are reforming with a guest singer for a few shows in 2012, to commemorate what would have been the twentieth anniversary of the band this year.
/Bullshit Gets Up and Walks Around/0:14
/Frozen Corpse Stuffed with Dope
Probably the shortest song proper I have in my collection, aside from You Suffer, this is a full twelve seconds longer (so over six times the length!). Therefore it deserves its place here, and is also notable for that fantastic, chunky riff that dominates the track.
/Death Is Birth
Moving away from grindcore back towards hardcore, this was the comeback track for Gallows last year after they announced the arrival of their new singer, ex-Alexisonfire member Wade MacNeil. And what a comeback – a ripsnorting intro, a pulverising mid-section and chorus, followed by one of the best breakdowns to close out I’ve heard in years. Consider that difficult second album Grey Britain well and truly buried, eh?
By the time of this classic album, the Beasties had long since confirmed their ability to sound comfortable with both their rap and rock sides, but it was this album where they really introduced hardcore and punk into their sound, to pretty spectacular effect – especially as it didn’t feel out of place whatsoever. So this following the now classic, laid-back rap of opener Sure Shot was no great surprise at all. A vicious kick-down of a punk track, the Beasties detailing their beef with a basketball player who is throwing his weight around, and is seemingly heading for a fall…
Finally, something totally different. HEALTH was dubbed “noise” early on – which to me wasn’t really correct. The later term of “noise rock” probably was closer to the truth, HEALTH being a band that specialised in short, sharp bursts of rock with all kinds of odd effects sprayed over the basic rhythms, leading to a dense, and complex sound. In later releases, there has been rather more restraint, but here, there was nothing of the short. This is blasts of sound and rhythm, and vocals used as another instrument, and frankly not a lot else. But it is an intriguing listen, and one that still sounds like no other band.