A certain friend suggested recently that I open a suggestion thread for songs with four-letter titles (that were actual words – no punctuation, no abbreviations, no numbers). It spawned something of a monster, as I also asked about three-, two- and one-letter song titles (with the same rules).
Needless to say, I’m starting with one-letter titles (where the punctuation rule was bent – as I didn’t have that many suggestions. I wanted to ensure I had ten songs, rather than interludes (as single-letter titles often are). In addition, the excellent suggestion of Bongzilla was made – except that their album Terminal, which appears as single-letter titles on Spotify, is actually two tracks SLOW and DEATH, and it’s only Spotify that splits it down, so that didn’t count.
Overall, there were 71 suggestions – not a single one of which had been used before (which I think is a first). 57 unique songs were suggested, and 32 people suggested songs. A special mention for Kevin K., who suggested a song for every letter of the alphabet… Thanks to Kevin, and everyone else, for their excellent suggestions.
Two letter songs next week!
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).
/‘A’ vs. Monkey Kong
Where else to start, than with the band that got a name that would see them at the beginning of a record rack – but in years to come, would make them really damned difficult to search for online. Remarkably, they began as a band in thrall to Rush (!), but changed their name fairly quickly and became part of that rush of pop-punk/alt-rock bands in parallel to Nu-Metal (and became a surprisingly successful band, even in the US). I’m not really sure why this song is called A – although the backing harmonies seem to be singing the letter alone – but, then, why not? Lead singer Jason Perry has – like quite a few other alt-rock people – become a songwriter and producer for other, more pop-oriented bands in more recent years, reuniting this band again sporadically.
/These Are Not Fall Colors
A band who existed for a very short time – just two or three years – and only recorded one full-length (this one), Lync made quite a splash, being seen by some as one of the early antecedents for what became Emo out of post-hardcore. Amid the bone-dry sound, with swarming guitars and precise drums, Sam Jayne’s vocals – making references to knives and serial killers, and perhaps betrayal – sound utterly unhinged and dangerous, and a world away from the positivity of the themes of other alternative music that was coming out of Olympia, Washington at the time…
The attitude of “fans” to bands who got some level of success and then were sneered at for daring to make some money is something that really doesn’t shine a great light on the alternative scene. As if the bands shouldn’t ever dare to try and make a living from what they do, and should remain on their parent’s couch. Sadly, the story of the intriguing band Pist.On was exactly that, to the point that their seething second album was entitled $ell Out as a gigantic middle-finger to their fanbase and the world in general. This track – just titled C – is less of a middle-finger, though, and sounds like the murmurings of a defeated man, across what sounds very much like power-ballad territory.
/Mi Media Naranja
Labradford were one of the earlier bands to be dubbed “post-rock”, even if at times their delicate, near-ambient tones were barely anything to do with rock whatsoever. The sublime Mi Media Naranja is one of gentle guitars, hushed piano tones and a general feeling of open space and being…alone. Unlike the heart-stopping dread and fierce power that their peers Godspeed You! Black Emperor often specialised in, Labradford went for the smallest details, droning sounds and wordless vocals that left you, the listener, having to pay close attention. As for the song titles? With near-anonymous, drifting music like this, I have a hunch the titles mean nothing at all, and exist merely as an identifier.
Always to my mind, one of the lesser songs on the mighty Ænima – perhaps because it follows the raging storm of Eulogy, for a start – but listening to it as a standalone track, perhaps I’ve been a bit harsh on it over the years. It starts quietly and almost unassumingly for a Tool track, before building into the explosive chorus that sees Maynard James Keenan unleashing his formidable vocal power. The song’s unusual title (sometimes with a period after the H, sometimes not – although the liner notes do show it as H.) is apparently a shortening of “Half-full”, as the song was originally introduced as. Anyway, the six-minutes of this track is worth it alone for the second half, as it blasts into a groove-led coda before collapsing under it’s own weight.
The extraordinary technical prowess and metallic experimentation of Meshuggah has pretty much spawned entire genres of metal, and influenced countless more bands – but frankly, they stand in a field of their own. Basically, no-one sounds like Meshuggah. Complex polyrhythms and production depth means that their music can be incredibly intimidating to get started with, but the rewards are enormous. That said, the sprawling, twenty-one minute EP I, that is one single track, is perhaps one for the existing fans only. It was recorded in sections from improvisation (!) and then pieced together, and perhaps unsurprisingly, even for a band this technically gifted, has never been played live.
Ok, first up – how the fuck is Trickster now twenty-three years old? Probably the biggest regret of our honeymoon was leaving LA one night before this band were playing relatively locally to our hotel in Hollywood – probably our one chance ever to see them live, and we missed it. Anyway, this track is pretty much as cryptic as the title, although appears to allude to sex (not the only kidneythieves song that does!) amid the sultry grooves and samples that wind around it – it also functions very much as a mid-album interlude after a pretty intense A-side of the album.
The M here reputedly is the term of endearment Robert Smith had for his (then?) wife Mary, although this song has very much the feel of paranoia, as if said partner is about to run away with someone else, like they are too good for him. Early Cure, of course, had that shroud of darkness and disillusionment in every second, and listening back to this song now, the music is remarkably…jaunty and upbeat for a lyric so dark and miserable.
I know absolutely nothing about this band – and there is precious little about them online, either – other than that they appear to be a post-punk(-ish) band from the turn of the eighties. Colin Lloyd-Tucker went on to solo work alongside being part of The The for a while, and working with Kate Bush (among many others), but there appears to be a strange mystique around this. The track suggested – O – is a weird, analogue-synth-led wheeze that shambles along, with vocals that you’ll either love or want to throw out of the window, and seems to point toward some of the more experimental electronics that follows in the decades after.
The latest single from this band who appear to be far more than the sum of their parts – and their name might suggest. A young band who have a fierce political edge – to the left, naturally – and also seem to have a deep interest in post-punk and industrial-adjacent synthpop, as their excellent debut album suggested. This single takes a deeper dive into the latter sound, frankly, that muscular, powerful rhythm pattern making me think of a number of underground industrial rock bands, while the heavily-treated squalls of guitar take us back a bit further in history. Anyway, this is fucking great, and can we have more of this style on the next album, please?