I love Spotify, but it doesn’t satisfy all my musical cravings, nor can it yours. Maybe someday all of this greatness will be on there, but until then, I’ll have to travel down other avenues if I want to scratch the itch to hear these (and other) songs.
1. The Macpodz — “You Got Me”
You might be saying, “Jess, these doinks spell their name with a Z instead of an S. That alone is enough to make me never listen to their music ever.” And I would not begrudge you that snap judgment. But I would be remiss in not telling you that you are missing out on a stone-cold groove by doing so.
I saw these guys perform this at Rothbury in 2009, and the singer was wearing jeans and a denim vest with no shirt and tearing up that jazz flute, and right now you think I’m describing the stupidest-looking person of all time, but I was there and he had like … this magnetism. It was crazy. He was taking two-foot-long strides across the stage and just ripping it up. I really have no idea how he was not drowning in ‘tang after that set.
It should go without saying also that I absolutely adore the title of the album this song is on.
2. The Slip — “Eube”
(Starts at 42:25, runs to 50:48.)
If you’ve ever listened to the Slip and wondered why they seem so inscrutable and highfalutin, it’s because they were a try-hard fusion outfit before they were a rock band. I’d guess the average person probably best knows them for “Even Rats”, from the original Guitar Hero. That song gave them a solid entree to more straightforward rock, and they never looked back, for the nominally better. Honestly, I think this song is good by accident—that is to say, it works in spite of their usual M.O. It’s very chill and it’s got a sweet soul. I used to have an MP3 of it, but it was on an old hard drive that died. Alas.
Also, it took me YEARS to get the wordplay in the album title. (Hint: Say it out loud.)
3. Brave Combo — “Denton, Texas”
I live just outside of Denton, Texas, and have for over 90% of my life. I have a weakness for songs that mention Texas by name in their title. (It’s what got me into the String Cheese Incident, lo, all those years ago.) That goes double for songs that mention the exact city I conduct most of my life in. This one is mostly instrumental, but has a spoken-word intro I can quote from memory:
“I wanna buy that little motel on 380. The Holiday Lodge. Across the street from Mazatlan. I wanna add a pool and make it pretty.”
These are real places in Denton. The Holiday Lodge really is a motel, and it really is on Highway 380, though it would take a lot more than a pool to make it pretty. There really is a place across the street from it called Mazatlan. It’s a Tex-Mex restaurant. They serve free queso during lunch hours. If you’re ever in Denton and you go to Mazatlan, get the tacos a la parilla, and make sure you ask for the sauce that comes with them, because they rarely remember to include it unprompted.
Brave Combo have done a pretty good job of burying this album. It’s a lot different than their usual output, which I guess is why they sweep it under the rug. Pretty much everything they’ve done except this album is on Spotify. I purchased this song on Amazon in 2008, but it’s gone from there now. I hate to tell you to go to iTunes if you want to hear it, but short of buying an overpriced hard copy off Amazon, that’s pretty much your best recourse.
4. Spunkadelic — “9.95”
Like anything from the 90s, the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action movie is a huge nostalgia magnet for those that came of age in its time, and the Partners in Kryme song “Turtle Power” is a major contributor to that reputation. It’s insanely catchy, even if it does unforgivably misidentify Raphael as the Turtles’ leader. But my heart lies with the song that plays immediately after “Turtle Power” in the end credits: a golden-fried chunk of oh-so-90s-ness called “Nine Point Nine Five”. I like this song, I like the lyrics, and I like the fact that the guy who says “I give it a nine-point-nine-five” in the breakdown right before the chorus sounds like a lower-octave Waldo from Family Matters, exponentially increasing the 90s factor.
Someone in the comments for this video recalls listening to a version of this song with kazoos, which my body has been ready for long before I was aware that such a thing existed.
5. Max Raabe — “We Will Rock You”
In a recent interview, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat defended the switch from a sonic screwdriver to sonic sunglasses by saying that “sometimes you … have to embrace the heresy”. That’s how I feel about this. To enjoy it, you have to embrace the heresy. About half the people I know will go absolutely bonkers for this, and about half the people I know will make a face at it like it’s a dirty diaper. I just love that it has a tuba solo.
(For the record, the sunglasses made me want to heave into a bucket the first time they appeared, but God help me, I’m getting used to them already.)