To kick this updating thing into high gear (or… any gear), I’ve decided to shamelessly rip off something I saw on another few blogs (invisible oranges and aversionline, to name a few). Presenting: 7 Songs I’m Into at the Moment or Something.
1) Krallice– “Wretched Wisdom”
Krallice is the side project of Behold… the Arctopus guitarist Colin Marston, though you can’t decipher his ridiculous fusion tech-death roots from the streamlined melodic black metal of this band. Though the album suffers from thin production, the sheer volume of pitch-perfect melodicism makes up for it most of the time. “Wretched Wisdom” seemingly blows their self titled debut’s wad almost right out of the gate, with the song serving as the album’s opener and almost impossibly high watermark. But the waves of layered guitar, both liltingly sad and sneeringly propulsive at once, and howling vocals (done in a very un-black metal style) of “Wretched Wisdom” demand both your attention and chills with each listen. If these kids can manage to focus more in the future, they could contribute something really significant to the already rich American black metal scene.
2) Girl Talk- “Once Again”
Though Girl Talk just put out another ridiculously great album of mash-up brilliance, I’m still fixated on the opener of last year’s “Night Ripper”. Though I could go into the dozens of nuanced reasons, it’s really because of two factors: Ludacris verse from a song I hate reimagined over my favorite Boston riff (the one from “Foreplay/Long Time”). Girl Talk does a lot of this sort of thing with Luda; hell, they do it twice on their latest. And my thing with Ludacris is a relatively similar problem that I have with Jesu: Jesu EP’s and splits= excellent. Jesu full lengths= trying but sometimes rewarding. Ludacris songs= hey, that’s alright. Ludacris verses on shitty songs= goddamn, that was awesome! See how that works? Of course you don’t. But my long, belabored point is to place those great verses over something worthwhile really builds a permanent timeshare in my heart… keep it up, Girl Talk guy.
3) Sinead O’Connor- “Fire on Babylon”
My issue with Sinead is that she doesn’t have any sort of set sound or style; she just moves along with whatever trends catch her fancy at the time she writes her music. Her early work was jagged, folky post-punk, the 90s fluxuated between synth-driven balladry and “Ray of Light”-style intelligent pop (with the occasional drum loop or skittery pseudo-drum and bass beat), today she’s… doing really odd, not-always-successful things (her last album was a reggae jaunt called “Theology”… ugh), but the draw has never been her compositional prowess, but instead that fucking VOICE. I can’t think of any other voice in popular music since (early) Grace Slick that’s been equally tuneful and a force of nature at the same time. This particular song harnesses the no-bullshit fury O’Connor is known for, while still managing to hit high notes that I didn’t know existed without sacrificing an iota of expression. She’s always been an interesting dichotomy: on the one hand, she’s wounded and vulnerable, nursing a heart broken by her countrymen, Catholicism, the fickle public, and the men and women that have been involved with her; on the other, she’s a strong, confident, very angry woman. The two cross often, and to brilliant effect. On “Fire on Babylon”, she sounds overwhelmed, wounded, venomous, and dangerous all at once. Meaning, of course, she’s a woman I like.
4) Nachtmystium- “Seasick”
Nachtmystium’s closing suite on this year’s excellent Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1 was a letdown at first: it was the song that every pre-review of the album raved about as the epic album closer, often comparing it to “Echoes”, the closer on Pink Floyd’s (regular) Meddle. Truth is, though, when you average all 3 songs together, it only adds up to 7 minutes. And initial listens do sort of convey a sort of lack of focus, providing what seems to be an unfitting ending for an otherwise strong album. But further listens (and even listens to each part individually… thanks iPod shuffle!) unveil the song’s brilliance: it’s that “lack of focus,” which is actually more of a liberating looseness, that provides the song’s true quality. Parts 2 and 3 are where the song lifts off, propelled by Santana-channeling guitar work and a goddamn knockout sax solo by Yakuza’s Bruce Lamont. When both the solos intertwine at the end of part 2 to form one beautifully hideous note that dissipates into a psychedelic mist, it knocks the wind out of you. It’s not black metal anymore, of course; it’s just good.
5) Crosby, Stills, and Nash- “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”
…and while we’re on the subject of suites, this is a song I’ve been obsessed with for the better part of the summer. It’s one I’ve always had a fleeting knowledge of, both through my mother and the fact that I know more about rock history than other more relevant history. But I’ve never really listened to it, which has been a shame. The song is gravy on top of butter on top of icing on the cake. It’s essentially four neat little sixties folk rock numbers melded together as one big plea for forgiveness, with a throng of man-harmonies as a lead vocal line, something you don’t hear nearly often enough– or at all– in popular music today. It’s deep and heartfelt enough not to be breezy but competently fluid as to avoid being an overwrought chunk of the Summer of Love. Hearing the live version from Woodstock is equally telling: David Crosby’s insistence in the middle of the performance into the mic that there needs to be less “low end in the guitar, please,” perhaps the most prickish thing done in the ’60s this side of bombing Cambodia, and the last part with it’s “do do do do do, do do, do do do do” acting as catnip for filthy hippies, as a crowd full of them that had never heard the song before began clapping along without being told to do so by the performers. Like any great song, I hate the end of it, because I know it will soon be over. And for a 7 1/2 minute song to be too short, especially by ’60s standards, is a true goddamn achievement.
6) Morrissey- “That’s How People Grow Up”

There is no reason why Morrissey should be making music this consistently good and relevatory this late into his career… hell, this is 20 years into his solo career, which really should have meant that it was stuff not decent enough for the Smiths. But Morrissey has found a unique voice for his solo material and has mostly yielded good results, from not-too-bad to rivaling his Smiths-ian output. “That’s How People Grow Up” is a track tacked on to his latest Greatest Hits collection, which in itself is a cash grab. Or maybe it’s to secure a solid place for this song, as he isn’t putting out a new album just yet and the medium of the single is, well, dead. The song itself is still in the vein of his recent solo work: robust and full of confidence, finding Morrissey comfortable in the role of crooning elder statesman. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of scraped knee rawness in the song, with Morrissey, even after strides toward being a semi-adjusted adult with a regular sex drive on his last album, lamenting years lost to wanting to be in love, ending with the delightfully condescending line, “So yes, there are things worse in life than never being someone’s sweetie.” The song, much like the aforementioned Sinead O’Connor’s “No Man’s Woman”, manages to find liberation in rejecting the idea of having a lover outright. Those over the age of 22, who with each passing day enter a world more and more based on pairing up with someone for the sake of not dying alone, the song is a call to arms.
7) Jesu- “The Stars that Hang Above You”
Jesu’s contribution to their half of their split with Envy is the definition of so-so: the first song, a 13 minute exercise in shoegazing, is tiring and pointless. The second, “The Stars that Hang Above You”, is up there with the best that Jesu’s done. It works off of a bassline very reminiscent of “Glosoli” from Sigur Ros’ Takk, and slowly builds on it, eventually piling on a herd of distorted guitars as the beat intensifies. Justin Broadrick’s voice stays at a deadpan mumble, even as the music ebbs around him, climaxing with high velocity double bass and chunky guitar chords plodding along, all maintaining the beauty with which the song began. Then it stops and fades out, leaving you feeling pulverized and not sure why, as Jesu songs are just supposed to make you sad…
Back to our regularly scheduled programming.


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One Response to “Sevens”

  1. The Ten/Fourteen Best Songs of 2008 « …and Mediocrity Held Sway! Says:

    […] down tuned chugging guitars that made his slobbering fan boys show up in the first place. I’ve already written about this song before, but it’s worth noting again that, despite my misgivings with the Jesu of 2008, this song stands […]

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