Shuffle/Review #1

(Where I press “shuffle” on my iPod and review the first 3 songs that come up.)

1. Heresy by Nine Inch Nails (from The Downward Spiral)

Trent’s early days. Angry and noisy. Sonically it’s an industrial masterpiece. The beginning used to throw me off before I realized that the downbeat is on the uppy-doodly part of the synth riff.

Trent and Flood’s production is outttttttstanding. I hear something new in the background on each listen. It’s noisy, but it’s controlled noise. The descending riff in the chorus is more prominent in the live set, but what really reels me in on this track is the chunky riffy part that comes in on the second half of each phrase in the chorus. GOD I(duh-duh-duh-duh, duh duh)S DEAD…..AND NO O(duh-duh-duh-duh, duh duh)NE CARES.

Then, right after the first chorus that swinging guitar part kicks in and continues all the way through verse 2. That is funky as fuck.

Lyrically, it’s pretty obvious that TR is not a religious man.

Trent uses noise orchestral-ly, and no one does it better.

2. Roots Radicals by Rancid (from …And Out Come the Wolves)

I love Rancid’s guitar sound. Incredibly raw (everybody says their own guitar sound is raw, but man…Rancid’s is raw).

One of things I really like about Rancid is that structure-wise, these are pop songs. Catchy, short and to the point. Wonder why they’re one of the biggest punk acts ever? It’s the songs, stupid.

5 forehead tattoos out of 5.

3. Spoonman by Soundgarden (from Superunknown)

This came out when I was just a kid. I think it was one of the first albums I ever owned, actually.

Hearing it with different ears now. This is an example of how to make a rock record. 4 or 5 guys, simple rigs, great singer, solid drummer. If you can do that, you’re ahead of most.

Sonically, this was released just before people started going nuts with compression. It’s dynamic – the louds are loud and the quiets are quiet. Soundgarden have a new song out (it plays over the credits of The Avengers) and its levels are totally brickwalled. The loud sections are loud and the quiet sections are loud. In music, a very effective trick can be to follow a quiet verse WITH A SLAMMING CHORUS. Compressing the gizzard out of your music removes this option.

Spoonman is my favourite track from Superunknown. The off-kilter rhythm and stoppyness of it is what attracted me to SG in the first place. More like this one, Cornell and Co.!


About Kevin Williams

Frontman of The Complete/Occasional Actor/Newfoundlander.

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