Part Sixteen: 70-61
It’s been interesting for me to hear from the random people that have apparently been following along with this countdown. I know a lot of people but I very rarely give much thought to their musical tastes. It’s just one of those things that doesn’t seem to come up very often in conversation. So thanks to all of those who are making this feel slightly worthwhile, even if I don’t exactly know how many of you that is.
70. Pixies – “Greens And Blues”
My buddy Mark, you know, the guy who is still cursing me out for dropping his beloved Foo Fighters “Something For Nothing” in at #75, has for a long time confused my complete and utter hatred for The Smiths/Morrissey for my lack of interest in the Pixies. In order to clear up this obvious mistake, I present the first of two, yes TWO Pixies tracks to appear in the Top 70 of the Woof 200. See, Mark, people can change. Anyway, I never got into the Pixies back in their heyday because I was too busy rocking out to cock rock and power ballads to be bothered with college rock, and every time they’ve been pushed on me since I have resisted. That changed with the release of their latest album, Indie City, particularly when this nugget of a tune first made its way to my ears. I’m totally into the jangly little guitar bit on this song, along with the pleasing bounce of the rhythm track. Even Frank Black’s vocals are a pleasant find here, even though for some reason I was completely turned off by his solo work back in my mid-90’s record store days, proving once again that I’ll give just about anything a chance if the time is right.
69. Big Wreck – “Hey Mama”
I’m not sure I have enough awesome things to say about Big Wreck, my favorite new discovery of the last 5 years (yes, darling, even moreso than the Rival Sons). Ian Thornley is such a ridiculously talented (and underappreciated) genius that it almost annoys me. Gritty, impassioned vocalist; colorful and inventive guitarist; thoughtful and unique song-writer; I mean there’s really nothing the man can’t do when it comes to constructing perfect rock music. All of his skills are on firm display with yet another track off of Big Wreck’s masterful Ghosts album. Love the dobro and mandolin during the intro, because I’m a sucker for that shit. And to close with an obscure reference, this song totally reminds of a mid-90’s band called Royal Jelly that likewise went completely unappreciated in their time (check out “Ceiling” for point of reference).
68. Coldplay – “A Sky Full Of Stars”
First things first, this video is a shitload of fun, even though I have no idea how it relates to the song (particularly at about 1:30 in when we see the entire band playing a variety of instruments that we can’t really here under the synthesized track). As for the song, I don’t really care how far away from their “original sound” Coldplay gets, Chris Martin’s voice will always keep me coming to the party, and the band has somehow managed to keep churning out thoughtful, positive music without succumbing to the fame monster that similar acts (sit down, Oasis) have done when faced with such a meteoric rise. It’s weird; I kind of want to grow tired of them, but with each new release I find myself latching on to a number of songs that just remind me that life is pretty awesome and it’s even better with a good soundtrack.
67. Band Of Horses – “Detlef Schrempf [Live Acoustic]”
In a way, including a live version of a previously recorded song feels like cheating, but I’m giving myself a pass on this entire album for a couple of reasons: one, given its acoustic nature it really does change up the songs over the originals; two, I wasn’t aware of the band until recently so even though I’d heard the originals before this came out, these versions are the ones that are imprinting on me; three, it’s a fucking awesome album. Besides, nobody really cares about “rules” when it comes to my dumbass countdown. Beyond that, I’m not gonna say anything else about this song other than to say that you should listen. It’s gorgeously rendered. (Oh, and +1 for being named after an 80’s NBA pseudo-star from Germany that I remember fondly from my youth.)
66. The Pretty Reckless – “Heaven Knows”
In This Moment’s Black Widow album was released in November, whereas The Pretty Reckless dropped Going To Hell in March, which probably explains to some degree why I had 3 ITM songs in the upper portion of this countdown and 3 TPR songs in the bottom portion (of which this is the first). It pays to have a head start. Which isn’t to say that the bands are precise clones of one another, but let’s face it, each delivers a radio-ready form of modern hard rock featuring a sexually charged blonde female singer who isn’t afraid to use their image to ship a few extra units. Of course, there are differences as well. In This Moment delivers a much more gothic and metallized product, using electronic splashes and soundbites (ala Rob Zombie) as well as heavier (and more generic) riffs, whereas The Pretty Reckless go in more of a traditional rock direction, augmenting with acoustic guitar and cleaner production. Plus, I tend to find ITM’s Maria Brink’s sex act to be more of a put-on, like Lady Gaga but for the metal scene. Taylor Momsen of the Reckless (and movie/TV fame prior to that) tends to come across more naturally sexual to me, as if it was just part of her that she chooses not to hide rather than a marketing ploy. Oh, right, there’s a song in here somewhere. I really dig the stomping rhythm/gang chorus of this song and Momsen is in fine voice throughout it and the entire album. That should cover it.
65. Nasty Habit – “Goodbye”
More 80’s style hairband goodness via the lads from Syracuse, this time delivering a mid-paced rocking ode to leaving small town life behind in search of rock n’ roll superstardom. This song would have felt totally at home on Slaughter’s debut album, with another great sing-along chorus and chunky guitar riff. Oh, and a fret-burning solo, because that’s how we did things back in the day, kids. Nostalgia rules!
64. Twin Atlantic – “Be A Kid”
Speaking of nostalgia, here’s a tremendous nod to never having to grow up, a concept which I support wholeheartedly. The fact that it’s delivered with that bloody thick Scottish accent that I adore so much only adds to the awesomeness of the song. This one’s a bit of a slow-down for the boys from Twin Atlantic, though I’d hesitate to call it a straight up ballad. It’s sort of a lazy afternoon, sit around and smoke a couple of joints while contemplating the point of it all kind of song (I assume; I was never a pot guy). You know, a really, REALLY mellow form of rebellion, which is sometimes the best kind.
63. Royal Bliss – “Drink My Stupid Away”
I’m perfectly willing to admit that the vast majority of the music I listen to is not what we’d call “in the public favor” these days, so even when I like the hell out of something I get why it’s not tearing up the charts. In this instance though, I have no earthly idea why the band in question, who was already scratching the bottom rungs of the radio airplay ladder, didn’t release this track as a single. It’s got a memorable title, introspective and highly relatable lyrics, and just enough radio friendly power balladness to really make an impact. I mean, this song is destined to be the miserable anthem of a thousand broken hearts and shitty days, and no record company has ever gone broke marketing to that particular audience.
62. Big Wreck – “Break”
Big Wreck is back, a mere seven slots removed from their last entry. Have a mentioned I love their latest album? Like, a LOT? Even though it checks in at #62, this is actually my second favorite song off of Ghosts, and though never released as a single, it’s a sweeping epic of a track that deserves your attention. Per usual, I stand in awe of Ian Thornley’s immense talents as a songwriter, as he manages to make each track on the album stand out as a singular thing while infusing them all with a very definitive Big Wreck sound. This band’s ability to deliver something so rough around the edges and yet effortlessly smooth to the ears is nothing short of magic to me. I will never grow sick of this band.
61. Santa Cruz – “We Are The Ones To Fall”
You know what this countdown needs? More sleaze, baby! Enter Finnish glam metallers Santa Cruz to deliver just what the doctor ordered, a dose of raunchy guitar and gutter-worn lyrics wrapped in the kind of in your face delivery that would make Skid Row proud. If you’re gonna write a down-with-authority call to arms, this is how you do it. “We’ve had enough of this motherfuckin’ comedy; let’s turn the page and spread some anarchy; maybe we are the next soon to be tragedy; rather go down than fall to apathy; we are the ones to fall!” Go down fighting, boys, even if it means taking a drumstick to the eye.