Quick Hitters: The ABC’s of non-singles R-W

“Grand Funk Railroad paved the way for Jefferson airplane, which cleared the way for Jefferson starship. The stage was now set for the Alan Parsons project, which I believe was some sort of hovercraft”

 

~R~

Real Estate-Easy

The opening track of their album, Days. It’s a vintage Real Easte Song; freely flowing but with a nice little hook. They have a way with coming up with choruses that feature Martin Courtney’s vocals blending in well with the subtle yet effective instrumentals that Real Estate provides.

 

 

~S~

Smashing Pumpkins-Geek USA

A longer, more heavier hitting version of another Siamese Dream track, “Quiet”. They have somewhat similar guitar riffs; the ones that made that whole album remarkable. But I like the way this tracks mixes with the pacing and goes from a fast, percussion driven song to a slower, head-rocking masher all within a matter of seconds. While it may not have the luster as “Today” or “Cherub Rock”, Geek USA was just as important to that album as any other track that was more featured on it.

 

 

~T~

Third Eye Blind-Graduate

I think the main reason this song didn’t receive hardly any radio play was because it was on an album that had countless other singles on it. If it hadn’t been on their breakout self-titled album, it likely would be more recognized. It’s nothing much different than everything else they’ve done, but you have like the angsty yet smooth tune this song carries. Stephan Jenkins delivers his noticeable style and along with some good lyrics, this made for another quality release on an album already chalked full of them.

 

 

~U~

Urge Overkill-Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon

I’ll admit that I know no other songs by this group. And I’m willing to bet this song did receive some airplay back in ’92 when it was released. However, I’m putting it in this posting for two reasons. One, there are few bands that start with “U” and two, even though you might recognize this song from “Pulp Fiction”, it’s unlikely you recognize this group. So perhaps you’re being reintroduced to this classic or you’re hearing it for the first time which works just as well.

 

 

~V~

Veruca Salt-Fosythia

This song starts out really chill but progressively gets heavier and concludes with a sweet guitar solo and chorus. Then it ends just the way it began. It’s the guitar/bass combo that makes this song stick out as vocalist Nina Gordon doesn’t seem to put much feeling into her vocals on this track. But I think that’s what the band was going for with this one and you’re left with a under the radar, cool song that doesn’t sound like it’s trying too hard.

 

 

~W~

Wavves-Nodding Off (featuring Best Coast)

My favorite song by this group was a collaboration effort that ended up appearing on the album Life Sux. “Nodding Off” has an amped up intro and the song never really lets up from there. The chorus is extremely catchy and the guitar solo kicks in just at the right time toward the closing of the song @2:40. My only complaint is that it’s ends abruptly making it too short in my opinion.

 

 

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Quick Hitters: The ABC’s of non-singles L-Q

~L~

Luscious Jackson-Life of Leisure

 

Sure, everybody remembers “Naked Eye”. There was a lot more to this band than that song. In my opinion, they were a staple to great 90’s music. This was mainly due to their signature bass lines and their smooth, relaxing vocals. This was one of their songs I was lucky I stumbled upon. While many may consider a life of leisure to be desirable, the band is calling out those types in this song. I don’t think you want to be on their bad side…

 

 

~M~

Moby-Rushing

 

If you’re familiar with Moby’s best selling album, Play, then you’re well aware of the stockpile of great songs that are featured in the first part of the album. “Porcelain”, “Find My Baby”, and “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad” are the main ones that come to mind. You may have liked those so much that it caused you to skip through track #4 because there’s no lyrics and it doesn’t fit in that great with the rest of the hits. If you listen to on it’s own, I think you’ll find that it’s quite the work of art. A 3 minute journey into the ambient abyss is what “Rushing” can provide you with.

 

 

~N~

 New Politics-Dignity

 

While this Danish band has been emerging recently (I’d say more declining, based on the strength of their last few songs I’ve heard), one of their earlier releases that got a little airplay was “Dignity”. I’m partial to the chorus. The vocals during that part are what stick out to me. It has some lyrics that speak out against violence, oppression, or something else. Despite it’s somewhat whiny message, it’s a solid song.

 

 

~O~

Our Lady Peace-Happiness & The Fish

 

This is my favorite song off their similarly named album, Happiness…is not a fish that you can catch. It features some really high-pitched lyrics by Raine Maida. It’s his unique vocal delivery paired with some excellent guitar riffs that makes this song memorable. There’s also some peculiar lyrics that also add to the memorabledness.

 

 

~P~

The Postal Service-Brand New Colony

 

Yet another astoundingly great track of their first album, Give Up. This one never became quite as popular as the very commercially successful “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” and “Such Great Heights”. I’m not sure why; this song still boasts many listener friendly electronic instrumentals (the intro sounds like a level from Super Mario). Ben Gibbard gives us his usual vocals but it’s the backing vocals during the last sequence of the song that I feel are most appealing (@3:08).

 

 

~Q~

Queens of the Stone Age-The Sky is Fallin’

There are like 10 bands in the history of ever that decided to name their band something that started with “Q”. That said I am grateful for Queens of the Stone Age (Sorry Queen Latifah fans). “The Sky is Fallin’ is another quality song off of the album Songs for the Deaf. There’s more heavy, fuzzy guitar riffs on this album than you know what to do with. That is a great thing, though, and you get another large dose of that here in this song. But amidst all of the rock-outedness that would describe the general direction of this track, there’s a easy listening chorus and some obscure sounding moments in the song that make it more interesting than your typical masher.

 

 

Quick Hitters: The ABC’s of non-singles F-K

Best be packin’ your beats for these tracks

 

 

~F~

Foo Fighters-Halo

Again, probably my favorite song on the album and most of the general public hasn’t heard it. Although, I’ll add that part of the allure of a great song that most people don’t know about is…the fact that most people don’t know about it. It almost makes the track have a more personal feel when you discovered it on your own without the help of the radio/web. One could argue this is a knock-off of “Times Like These”, another great song off the album. But “Halo” boasts some great verses and some very good lyrics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-cih9ofVrs

 

~G~

Green Day-Letterbomb

Track number ten on their legendary album, American Idiot, “Letterbomb” is yet another great song that made the album the 2005 rock album of the year (along with getting ALBUM of the year nominations as well). It’s a fast paced, peppy song that still has a heavy side to it. As always, Billie Joe’s enthusiastic and energizing vocals are the mainstay of this song, it features many exhilarating guitar riffs. My favorite part starts @2:42, a killer bridge that leads into the final chorus.

 

~H~

Hoobastank-Disappear

Even though this song somewhat reeks of mainstreamedness, it’s has an obscure sound to it at the same time. The song did receive a little airplay but most people probably haven’t heard it in a long time. The lyrics are nothing are nothing special but the vocals are great. Doug Robb’s is at his best during the woah-woah-woah-oh-oh-oh’s and subsequent chorus roughly around the 2:03 mark.

 

~I~

I Break Horses-Load Your Eyes

 

This is going to surely be one of the more lesser known bands on this post. Unless you keep up with the indie/electronic scene, then there is zero chance you’ve heard of I Break Horses. Lucky you, as you are about to be exposed to a stream of awesomeness the likes of which have never been seen before! Okay…I may over-hyping them just a tad. I’ll let their music do the talking, the sequence that begins @the 3:00 mark is unparalleled. Enjoy the trip

 

 

~J~

Jimmy Eat World-Authority Song

 

An fun, upbeat song that features vintage Jimmy Eat World guitar riffs. I’ve always enjoyed the backing vocals of their songs as well. The female whose name I haven’t been able to pinpoint, has a voice that contrasts/complements lead vocalist Jim Adkins exceptionally well. This was on one of the bands first albums, self-titled. It also has some funny lyrics, and is worth a look.

 

 

~K~

The Knife-We Share Our Mothers Health

 

An indie-electronic staple, The Knife makes their appearance on this list. A Swedish group, they have a knack for taking quirky sounding instrumentals and mixing them together for an invigorating melody. While they have almost a tropical island beat to them because of the different percussion elements, “We Share Our Mothers Health” has more of an industrial feel to it. I think you’ll see what I mean after listening. The vocals aren’t all that inviting, but after a few listens, you’ll realize that that’s the beauty of it. That combined with all of the other vocal effects makes for an obscure ride into indie electronic greatness.

 

Quick Hitters: the ABS’s of non-singles

It’s becoming a sad fact of the music industry, people aren’t buying albums anymore. With the advances of technology resulting in being able to stream almost any song for free, there really isn’t a reason to purchase your favorite band’s album anymore. I am guilty of this myself, even though I still like to support that band however I can. With unlimited access to great music while in the comfort of your home, at work, or out and about; carrying albums around with you to listen has become a thing of the past.

That said, I’ve had many meaningful listening sessions courtesy of the albums I’ve purchased over the years. Like most, I would usually buy a CD based off of the strength of two or three songs. You hoped that the whole album was good start to finish but it didn’t always work out that way. However, there was more than one occasion where I discovered a song that I may not have otherwise found without buying the album. Sometimes they ended up being just as good or better than the “hit singles” that I originally bought the album for.

 

Therefore, we’re going to do something different in this post. I’m going to post songs from well-known bands that received little to no airplay but are remarkable nonetheless. I’m going to cover bands from A-Z. Some are going to be hard, no doubt (Q and X come to mind), but I’m willing to navigate the library in order to bring you some new, old songs that you’ll like.

 

~0-9~

311-Sever

 

This song came off of Sever, which was an underrated album in itself. Sever is a wonderfully complex, highly rocking song that delivers classic 311 beats with one of my favorite guitar solos from the band. It starts @3:30 after a climatic build-up. One of the best outros ever

 

 

~A~

Alice in Chains-Sunshine

 

My favorite song off of the album, “Sunshine” was another example of how great this band was (especially in their early years) and how vocally talented Layne Staley was as well. I thought about putting “Sea of Sorrow” in this spot but I did recall that song receiving some radio play whereas I never heard this one until I bought the album. It’s grunge at its best and features some changes of course as far as the direction the song is going in.

 

 

~B~

Breaking Benjamin-Forget It

 

A very non-Breaking Benjamin sounding song, “Forget It” is a pleasant sounding escape from their normally heavier, semi-screamo sound. This track features a few tone changes as well as some soothing vocals you’re probably not used to hearing from frontman Benjamin Burnley.

 

 

~C~

Catherine Wheel-The Nude

 

Coming off of their masterpiece of a debut album, Ferment (album review here), Catherine Wheel came out with some great songs on their follow-up album, Chrome. Namely this one, “The Nude”. Catherine Wheel sound is what I would describe as easy-listening shoegaze. There’s plenty of fuzzy guitars to satisfy your shoegaze fix; but there’s also plenty of well written and melodic vocals to please those who like a more pop style. This is definitely evident here:

 

 

~D~

Deadmau5-There Might Be Coffee

 

Deadmau5’s stock is on the rise no doubt. I’m certainly impressed with how many albums and singles he’s been able to dish out in not that long of a time period since he first hit the scene. This is one of his lesser known greats from the album, >Album Title Goes Here<. It features some great, fast paced beats. I don’t really like the high pitched keyboard that goes on for part of it, but it doesn’t ruin this song for me.

 

 

~E~

Everclear-Heartspank Dollarsign

 

A band that I’ve liked less and less over the years, Everclear once was pretty good. Sparkle and Fade had a number of winners on it. This was my favorite off of it (while “Heroin Girl” is a very close 2nd). It sends a powerful message while maintaining a gloomy, pessimistic vibe. The well thought-out lyrics and guitar riffs are brilliant in this one.

 

Gigs: Twin Peaks

 

No, I didn’t catch a show at the Hooters knock-off restaurant that has become the poster-child of classiness among restaurants. Twin Peaks is a punk group out of Chicago. Short and sweet would be the best way to describe their work…oh, and also awesome. Their first album, Sunken, comes in at a mere 20 minutes in length. Amongst that short album duration, is one of the most eye-opening indie songs I’ve heard in awhile. I have my brother to thank for introducing me to this particular track. It’s called Fast Eddie and in addition to some killer guitar work that changes speeds throughout, it has a pretty bitchin’ music video to go along with it…available here, audio file below

 

 

The show was at Vaudeville Mews, a smaller venue that has been able to bring in some fairly well known acts (bands that I’ve at least heard of anyway) . It’s a good joint, acoustics are just fine and there’s plenty of good brews to choose from while you enjoy the show. As you can tell, there’s a lot of different factors that go into me evaluating the quality of a music venue. From what I can tell they played a lot work from their latest release, Wild Onion. Most of their songs are fast-paced already and I noticed that they kick up a notch further during their live shows. This was not the case, however, for their performance of “I Found a New Way”. This was the song that really kicked things off an got the crowd into it. The lead vocalist puts an insane amount of effort into his vocals and it blends well with this seemingly chill song. It’s my personal favorite off of their latest album.

 

https://soundcloud.com/twinpeaksdudes/i-found-a-new-way

 

When I said that it wasn’t until then that crowd got into the show, it was through no lack of stage antics by the band itself. They definitely know how to rock and and at one point, the lead guitarist left the stage to play amongst the fans. It seemed to be going over quite well until he tripped over his cord and almost biffed it. Nonetheless, it was a fun sideshow that the crowd appreciated.

 

Overall, they seemed like a cool group of dudes. The only knock on them was that there practically NO in-between song dialogue. I know that some people can do without that but there needs to be something to keep the band from playing a set straight through with virtually no pauses. In fairness, I haven’t seen any band talk much at that venue and that’s not something that newer bands specialize in. Besides that, they put on a great show. I hope Des Moines left a good impression on them and that they make a return trip. If they’re in a city near you, check them out. The last song I’ve posted is off of Wild Onion. It’s called “Strawberry Smoothie” and it’s a good flagship song for them. But it also features a great guitar outro. Enjoy

 

 

 

What I’m Listening To…

1. Mr Little Jeans-Good Mistake

 

This is a band I almost never hear on the radio. I don’t know why; they have quite a few great songs (including this  Arcade Fire cover here). Gotta love the instrumentals in this one. As always, great vocals by Monica Birkenes. These two things combine together create a relaxing and cool vibe. It’s the kind of sound that few other groups can replicate.

 

 

 

2. San Fermin-Bar

 

Very simple name; yet an interestingly complex, magnificent song. This band is not your typical alternative group. They more utilize horn instruments, piano, and it sounds like there’s some violin thrown in there as well. The lyrics and vocal manner in which they’re sung are beyond amazing. It appears to be a tune with a very deep meaning. Don’t let the pic below fool you (that’s a mean lookin’ bastard of a bull BTW), this is a very pleasant and meaningful track

 

 

3. Aphex Twin-Minipops 67

 

It’s EXTREMELY difficult to top the beats provided by the enigmatic artist Aphex Twin. He’s foreign, it’s been 10 years since his last album…and he comes roaring back with this insanely catchy and hip track. Be ready to be hit with a full range of instrumentals that are blended together perfectly. Not necessarily a song you would dance or chill out to, it resides somewhere in between those two genres. That said, it’s completely fucking awesome and I’m thinking you’ll dig it after the first listen.

 

 

 

quick hitterz: sunshine indie pop

Tracks of this genre are very refreshing to me. While it’s easy to make something along the lines of this style and have it sound awful (like this), when it’s done right, you have a timeless, feel good tune that you can always go back to. Case in point; these three songs. It’s hard for me to listen to them and not feel good afterward, even when the lyrics are of a possibly depressing nature (as in the 2nd video). Whatever the case, here’s a few tracks that I hope will get you to dig deeper into the albums and groups from which they are featured.

 

1. Silversun Pickups-There’s No Secrets this Year

This is the opening track off of their masterpiece album “Swoon”. The opening guitar riff give you the hint that you’re in for something killer. It lightens up after the verses start and leads into a heavy but chill chorus. They make very good use of  instrumental elements throughout this album and this song is no exception. The best parts of this song come after the second chorus @2:24 and during the guitar solo @2:54 (there’s also a reprise right at the end). An under-loved song that was overlooked partly because there were so many other great songs on that album.

 

How did the photographer keep a straight face when asking “so how many prints would you like of the strangling family pic?”

 

 

2. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart-Heart in Your Heartbreak

This song incorporates keyboard/synths and guitar as good as any other that I’ve heard. Although this group has not come out with anything else I really like, this song is one of my favorites OF.ALL.TIME. While the main vocalist has a voice I’m not crazy about, it fits this song very well. It’s a song about, well…heartbreak, duh! The lyrics get a little cheesy at some parts, but in contrast there’s some really good ones (And your friends don’t understand that the world could end,
And it would feel no worse than this). It’s an awesomely bittersweet song that features a great guitar kick @1:54. The closing chorus and instrumental solo during the outro capitalize this magnificent effort by Pains of Being Pure at Heart. The band name needs some work, however.

 

 

3. Wolf Gang-Lions in Cages

Another goodie that was overshadowed by the band’s hit single “The King and His Men”, Lions in Cages is a track worth your time from the London based group Wolf Gang. It appears to be a song about not allowing yourself to be confined and just getting out there and embracing life. It appears there’s some type of love story tied in with it as well, I don’t know…it’s hard to follow. The point I’m trying to make is that this is a very nice change of pace song and this is a band that doesn’t follow the trends set by many other groups. The vocals are unique, and they provide an interesting piano/synth combo in this particular track. Thepart @1:35 with some excellent  backing vocals is the highlight for me.