Five Songs What Are Awesome

Tomahawk – Crow Dance

Anonymous (Ipecac 2007)

I have a story about Tomahawk. It’s exciting so brace yourself. Here goes: I always thought this could be a cool band that blended a Native American tribal influence with crunchy metal. Then I heard them and I realised, the influence indicated by their name didn’t exist. UNTIL…

Enter Anonymous, an album influenced by and consisting of re-interpreted American melodies. In Native American society (and indeed most so-called “primitive” civilisations as yet untainted by the evil plague of monotheism), stories were handed down from generation to generation; stories which taught important lessons to their children, stories to entertain, stories about nature and life and combining the two.

The album isn’t perfect of course, but by and large it’s a very interesting experiment that largely succeeds in combining the two influences without sounding gimmicky and distasteful. This song is one of the ones that seems closer to their inspiration than to the band’s known style. Patton seems to sing about “Father Crow”. Awesome.

Frank Zappa & The Mothers – Village of the Sun

Roxy & Elsewhere (DiscReet 1974)

Frank Zappa is one of the most important musical influences in my life, and so it often irritates me that he’s usually remembered as a comedy song writer, which is clearly ridiculous. Humour is a massive part of his music to be sure, but to Zappa, it was all the same thing, and as the music was largely for his own amusement it’s impossible to make a meaningful differentiation between all the different elements of his work.

All that being said, Roxy & Elsewhere is an awesome live album with absolutely incredible performances of songs, almost all of which are entirely new. Zappa had new material on every tour, and since he recorded every show, he was able to record definitive versions of tracks on the road that would never be recorded in studio.

Village of the Sun is a largely straight song performed in a largely straight manner, to the point that if you remove the introductory monologue, it would probably not be out of place on an easy-listening soul compilation. Well, that’s pushing it a bit. But it’s a great song that doesn’t require any patience for the scotlogical tape effects and sexually explicit lyrics that run through many Zappa songs.

Public Enemy – Welcome to the Terrordome

Fear of a Black Planet (Def Jam 1990)

Next time someone tells you that all rap music is sexist militant macho gangster poseur bullshit, slap them in the face and say “Public Enemy motherfucker.”

Politically and socially conscious Public Enemy deliver the beats, the rhymes, the scratches, and of course, the message. A message of good will to all men and funky fresh fun for all the family. What? Shut up.

KTL – Theme

KTL 2 (Editions Mego 2007)

This is an experimental noise band featuring Stephen O’Malley, and it’s all to easy for Sunn O))) fans to jump on everything SoMa does. KTL is a difficult sell on its own terms due to its nature as entirely textural music (being formed to soundtrack a theatrical production). This track however, stands entirely on its own megalithic feet.

It consists of a single ever repeating “melody” that swells under a wash of noise slowly before fading back out again, abrasively carving its scorching sorrowful Theme into our ears. Oh, and perhaps I should mention that it takes 27 glorious minutes to do so.

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum – Babydoctor

Of Natural History (Mimicry 2004)

This is a band so unbelievably awesome that if they actually existed they’d instantly make the world more awesome. Oh wait, they do exist… How could that be?

This is a song that seems to be about an immigrant and former pediatrician who suffered a stroke thus rendering him unable to practice.Nils Frykdahl, the band’s vocalist and guitarist apparently gave this man a lift in his car, and the man keeps saying “thank you” over and over and over. Musically very dynamic, rising from whisper quiet to screaming white hot metal, but then a lot of Sleepytime’s songs are like that. Still, this is why the band is so damned incredible.

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