2.17.2008

74 Minutes or Less: When Good Bands Go Bad

welcome to the sixth installment of 74 Minutes or Less.

74 Minutes or Less is the weekly supergig playlist. the concept is simple: i pick a theme, i choose at most 74 minutes of music that fits the theme, and i discuss it here. if you, or i, or anyone else thinks the playlist is so awesome that it deserves to be compiled and burned to CD for posterity, it won't be a problem--because it's no longer than 74 minutes.

this week is a special week. usually, i choose music i really like; i'm turning that on its head for now. this week's theme is When Good Bands Go Bad. it happens with almost every act...as much as you love any particular act, there's always going to be a song, or a handful of songs, that don't quite grab you the same way as the rest of the music. it doesn't mean you like the artist any less...it's just that the song is either not the artist's best work, or it's just not something you relate to in the same way as the rest of their music.

i love all of these acts in the list this week, and i have a tendency to be extremely harsh when i have high standards for people. so, take whatever i say this week with a grain of salt. my goal is to provide some honest criticism of the songs. if i'm too harsh on a song you like, remember it's just one fan's opinion...but, if you really feel like leaving an angry comment, go ahead. i take constructive [and not-so-constructive] criticism decently, and don't normally go postal. :-)

on that note...i present 74 Minutes or Less: When Good Bands Go Bad.

  • "Gravity" by Angie Aparo (4:01)
    • Angie's not a hard rocker...he's a singer-songwriter type. he's a very good one, but this song sounds like something you would hear on early- to mid-nineties easy listening radio. [trust me. that was the cool thing to listen to in middle school. i know early- to mid-nineties easy listening radio far better than i should.] also, the theme of car wreck as thing that makes a person appreciate life is so overdone.
  • "Corporation" by The Blank Theory (3:15)
    • there's nothing in particular that The Blank Theory did wrong with this song. i'm just offended because it's so boring. it sounds like any other song that could have been on the radio circa 2002 or 2003. it would be a solid tune from a band i was unfamiliar with...i wouldn't pull up their website, but i wouldn't change the station either. the only reason that i can't just ignore it is because it's The Blank Theory, and i know they can do so much better than this.
  • "Say It To You" by Caroline's Spine (3:23)
    • Caroline's Spine is one of my favourite bands of all time. they have several songs that are so moving that they make me cry. this is not one of them. instead of creating an emotional mood, something that they were so good at...the music is repetitive, and the lyrics make trite, strained rhymes.
  • "Kill The Music Industry" by Cold (2:55)
    • Cold is one of my very favourite bands ever. but, this song has two strikes against it. first of all, it's just not pleasurable to listen to. it's repetitive, and it has random cheerleader-types screaming into the microphone for no apparent reason. even worse than that, it's insincere. you could be the greatest band ever, and if you're singing a song about killing the music industry on a major label record, i can't take it seriously. it would be okay to release a song critiquing a label for doing something specific, or to release a song about how there's so much schlock on the radio or in the record store, but a blanket admonition to kill the music industry when it's a major player in the music industry that is paying you to record that song just doesn't sit well.
  • "Love God" by Wesley Willis (2:50)
    • this is one of the songs he did with the Fiasco...i don't like the Fiasco stuff nearly as much as the Wesley-and-a-keyboard stuff. still, there are some fantastic Fiasco songs..."He's Doing Time In Jail" comes to mind. however, Wesley Willis should never, never, ever sing songs with lyrics that explicitly discuss the subjects of penises and ejaculation. that's just foul. unlike anything else he ever sang, this song turns my stomach.
  • "Satisfied" by 8stops7 (3:05)
    • thanks to this song, i almost missed discovering 8stops7. i heard the song on the radio, and i thought it was terrible. i still don't like it. the singer just yells a lot with no real direction, and it never quite feels like any of the ideas in the song are explored to fruition. that's a pet peeve of mine, when a song leaves me feeling that way. at that point, since that song was all i had heard of theirs, i wrote them off. luckily, we all know what happened a few months later: "Question Everything" hit the airwaves. it was gorgeous, i had to know who sang it--and i was shocked to find out that it was the same band as had annoyed me so badly with "Satisfied." i gave the album a chance...and luckily, "Satisfied" was the exception and not the rule.
  • "Sunblock" by Emmet Swimming (4:07)
    • my junior year of high school, i listened to this show called "Shock Therapy" late at night every sunday. it was the only time that one of the local stations, G105, ditched their top 40 format for a couple of hours and played lesser-known rock music. every week for a couple months, without fail, they would play this song. it's an annoying, substanceless little ditty about going to the beach. it would stick in my head to no end. one week, though, the deejay said she was going to play Emmet Swimming, and i started yelling at the radio because i just knew it would be that stupid Sunblock song again. shockingly enough, it wasn't...it was a new song, "Motorway," which was sad and beautiful. after they started playing that and "Turnstile" instead, and i learned that Emmet Swimming was capable of writing interesting, moving songs.
  • "Never Hear" by Escape From Earth (3:10)
    • there's too much rhyming in the verses. i can't tell what he's trying to say, because there are so many random rhyming pairs of words that he sacrificed theme for rhyme. then there's the prechorus, which admonishes people to get up and move. then, there's the chorus, in which he gets pissed off at people for not listening to him. the song isn't bad musically...when i see them live, i start jumping around and moshing. it's that kind of song. but, the lyrics are some of the worst i've ever encountered. they just don't make any sense.
  • "Nightmare" by Eve 6 (3:08)
    • i can never pinpoint why i don't like this song. i'm listening to it now and trying to figure out exactly why. and...i'm still failing to come up with anything more substantive than that it doesn't grab me the way the rest of Eve 6's music does. i don't particularly want to listen to it, even now, and i don't remember the last time i listened to Horrorscope and didn't push skip when this song came up.
  • "Damaged Goods" by Fastball (3:02)
    • the refrain of this song drives me nuts. "i know...i should just...leave you alone...i should just leave you...alone..." it just sticks in my head. it obscures the rest of the song. granted, the rest of the song is easily obscured anyway...the entire arrangement just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. maybe that was the point, since he's singing about being hooked on someone he can't have. that's something that leaves a bad taste in anyone's mouth. but, there's a difference between feeling like the song was made to be difficult to listen to and just not enjoying it, and the song is so characteristically poppy that i can't honestly believe the discomfort is intentional.
  • "Conversations" by Finger Eleven (3:34)
    • so, this technically doesn't fit into the theme...because the entire album Them vs. You vs. Me was full of clunkers. but, this song sticks out on Finger Eleven, which is otherwise such a brilliant album. even on Them vs. You vs. Me, the problem is that the songs were boring...but, they did have melodies. there was some idea realised in each song. this song, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have a melodic idea at all. it's weird, Finger Eleven is always so good at making a point and conveying some kind of point through the music. there's always a cohesive whole. but, this song doesn't seem to have that. it comes in out of nowhere, it exits out of nowhere, and doesn't seem to convey any coherent idea in the meantime.
  • "See You" by Foo Fighters (2:29)
    • this song is the one lag in the momentum of The Colour and the Shape, an otherwise engaging album. it's not a terrible song...it just feels out of place. the rest of the album is so decidedly Late Nineties Modern Rock, and then this one feels like it came out of a 1960s sock hop. it's cute, but it should have been released on an album or compilation where it wouldn't have been such an anomaly.
  • "I'm Losing You" by the Marvelous 3 (3:19)
    • i don't know why they felt the need to put this song on the album twice. it wasn't any good the first time. the rest of the album has such a fun, arena rock feel...and then this song just feels like disco gone horribly wrong.
  • "Last Card Down" by 19 Wheels (3:23)
    • i love Krista Johnston's voice. i'm always a little suspicious when a band decides to feature a member's wife to sing on something, but her voice is fantastic...at once gritty and ethereal. i just wish her talents were featured in a better song. the song feels tacked on at the end of the album. it has no beat to it. it's such a tired-sounding song...the sonic equivalent of floating down the lazy river at the water park. if you're going to evoke that mood, fine, but do something interesting with it.
  • "Look Right Through Me" by Revis (6:15)
    • this is the classic Lazy Last Song. it feels like it was thrown together. i can't tell if they were trying to be experimental or just mellow, but either way it was an extremely unsatisfying ending to an otherwise enjoyable album.
  • "Swing Life Away" by Rise Against (3:20)
    • Rise Against can't pull off slow, soft ballads. they're good at loud, fast, punkish music. they're good at music that flirts with hard rock or heavy metal. but, they have no business making ballads. the singer's voice doesn't sound good singing in that style...he sounds like exactly what he is, a hard rock singer trying to show his softer side. it's okay if that softer side exists somewhere in his voice. but, it doesn't exist in his, and he needs to stick to rocking out.
  • "Broken" by Seether (4:20)
    • in the tradition of several songs on the list, this is a final track on the album that just wasn't up to snuff with the rest of it. often bands that can't do slow songs well will put a slow song as the last track. Seether doesn't have that excuse. they can clearly do slow songs well--"Sympathetic" is one of my favourite songs of theirs, and "Got It Made" is even better. "Broken" is just dull...lyrically, musically, it doesn't have anything special. for some reason, though, people ate it right up, and it was remade with Amy Lee and everything. i never understood it.
  • "High" by Stabbing Westward (3:21)
    • unlike many Stabbing Westward fans, i liked their last album a lot. it was a lot less raw and biting than the rest of their albums, but it showed a less angry side of the band. some of the songs were happy, some of the songs were unhappy...but in a way that was resigned rather than angry. most of the songs worked. i say "most," because "High" didn't. musically, the song isn't awful...there isn't much of a hook to grab me in, but there's nothing in it to grate on my ears. the lyrics, however, are terrible. "i've never been so high as i am with you/you're the perfect high"? really? that's about as trite as trite can be. from a band that wrote songs like "Waking Up Beside You" and "Red On White," i expect so much better than that.
  • "4 Degrees" by Tool (6:03)
    • i know what they're trying to do with this song. they're trying to make a building, driving, pounding, escalating soundscape to evoke the topic of the song: anal sex. it works for what they're trying to portray. the idea comes out effectively. but, the song drags on too long for my liking...i'd be okay with the song if it were three minutes long. it doesn't need to be six.
  • "L.S.D. [Lucifer's Stained Dress]" by Videodrone (3:11)
    • i mentioned this song briefly in an earlier post about Videodrone. whereas the rest of Videodrone's music has interesting melodies woven amidst the anger, this one doesn't. it always feels like someone is just screaming obscenities, and they felt some impetus to record it and pass it off as a song. i don't care how good the band is; they can't get away with that.
total time: 72:11.

that was 74 Minutes or Less #6: When Good Bands Go Bad. if you've got a thematic idea for a future playlist, comment or email me at superherogirl@gmail.com.

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