Feb 24, 2007

Random 5

Using iTunes’s Party Shuffle function, I picked 5 random tracks from my library for you to hear and me to discuss:

  1. Make-Up – “R U A Believer” from I Want Some (single comp., 1999 on K Records)

Forget Fugazi. Forget Minor Threat. Forget Bad Brains. Even forget Bikini Kill. Make-Up are the best DC band ever.

OK, I’m kidding, but they did give the scene some much needed class. Featuring Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, Weird War) on lead vocal, Make-Up brought an early R&B vibe to the scene. If Little Richard and Lou Reed had an insane love child, that would be weird.

This track is flat compared to some of their better efforts, but it has a classic punk structure, giving it a certain appeal. The minimal lyrics, squirted out in a plee from Svenonius, rip up what could otherwise be boringly monotonous. Michelle Mae’s (Weird War) gigantic bass drives the song, while guitar and drums decorate her line like tinsel on an Xmas tree.

  1. Smart Went Crazy – “A Halo & A Nosebleed” from Cubbyhole (EP, 1994 on CozyDisc [vanity label])

Another DC band. Smart Went Crazy may actually be the most under-rated DC/Dischord group. An indie-math outfit on the surface, SWC succeed due to Chad Clark’s vinyl-warm vocals, Jeff Boswell’s raindrop guitar, and Hillary Soldati’s restrained cello work.

This song is a classic example of the band’s talent. It also follows a popular theme of their lyrics: troubled relationships and malignant deeds hidden behind a sweet feminine persona (see also “Con Art” and “So Speaks the Queen Bee” from their class Con Art).

  1. Bellini – “Patience and Passion in Brown” from Snowing Sun (2002 on Monitor)

The term “supergroup” gets thrown around carelessly, but in the world of art rock, Bellini fits the definition. The band features husband and wife Agostino Tilotta (guitar) and Giovanna Cacciola (vocals), both of Uzeda and Alexis Fleisig of GvsB.

Their sound is basically Shellac with a female lead singer, but they’ve developed into something more worthy. Cacciola’s violence replaces Albini’s wit. Where Shellac’s rhythms mimic hip-hop, classic rock, or industrial, Bellini’s are more post-punk or no-wave.

Notice the stuttering verses that give way to the bouncing riffs of the chorus and the metallic bridge. As usual, Cacciola struggles to overcome the sonic crowd or her own bandmates. If they were less talented, cynical, and arty, they might be Kittie.

  1. Modifiers – “I Like Her (Band)” from a Magnet New Music Sampler

I’m not sure which is sadder: that this band is nothing more than an alt. country bar act channeling the Replacements or the verse-capping rhymes. Charming in a Zack-Braff way at most.

  1. Aphex Twin – “Phloam” from Classics (1994 on R&S)

I think we all know Aphex Twin. The amount of this electronic juggernaut I have on my harddrive is inversely proportional to what I have to say about them.

On this track, as with much of their work, one loop in the mix (listen at 0:11) threatens to drive me insane at the very moment it disappears, only to reappear a minute and a half later. No band begs more to be remixed.

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