by Adam Gold
… And here are my next five picks for this here blog’s Local Rock Song Hall of Fame:
If you wrote song as good as this, you’d open your record with it too. Just as Daniel Pujol did on his 2012 Saddle Creek debut full-length, United States of Being. An entry worthy of the Pantheon of Youthfully Assertive Punk Rock Manifestos and Mission Statements, "DIY2K" is one of those assertive opening tracks that grabs you with a stranglehold, forces you to listen and tells you straightaway whether you’re gonna love or hate this ride. And you’d have to have fuckin’ screw loose not to fall in immediate love with this infectious, hook-y rant rejecting “the counterculture of feeling good.” Listen:
Kings of Leon, “King of the Rodeo”
Some bands are just at their best when they’re learning to play together and letting the seams show. The Followills’ first two records have this peculiar-sounding stiffness and tension that was really natural and unique sounding. A lot was made of the band’s back-story when they hitched their wagon on the post-Strokes boom, with critics talking a lot about their minister father’s station wagon and throwing out references to CCR, the Stones and any/every Southern rock institution to proceed them. But the buried lede was that their unrefined musical quirks and nuances are what really gave them an entity above the fray. Call it bottled lightning if you’d like.
I don’t know if “King of the Rodeo” — from the KOL’s 2005 sophomore effort A-Ha Shake Heartbreak — is the band’s best song (that might actually be A-Ha Shake's "The Bucket"), but it’s definitely their most overlooked single, and one that harnesses all the hallmarks and idiosyncrasies of their tightly-wound, herky-jerky early sound. It also boasts the lyric “Take off your overcoat / You’re staying for the weekend.” Whippersnapper confidence at its best!
Caitlin Rose, “For the Rabbits”
Caitlin Rose’s “For the Rabbits” — off 2010’s Own Side Now — isn’t just a spot on country-blues waltz fit for a saw-dust-floor slow-dance, it’s a perfect song. With a descending melody so good and an uplifting chorus so strong, Lemmy Kilmister could sing the song and it would still sound utterly gorgeous. Most heartbroken ballads are confessions of longing and regret, and this one’s as good as it gets.
Natural Child, “White People”
Choosing a favorite/best Natural Child track is tough. But this is the one I’d pick as good-first-foot-forward to introduce new listeners to the band, not to mention maybe the best self-effacing song about whiteness since The Clash’s “White Riot.” With its loose, lazy-day shuffle and arm-around-your-barstool-neighbor sing-along-ability this foot-stomping boffo take on white guilt — off the band’s 2011 LP 1971 — is the antidote to Genesis’ “I Can’t Dance,” even if the sentiment is more or less the same.
Cortney Tidwell, “17 Horses”
You know what’s fucking hard? Writing a great song based around ONE FUCKING CHORD! Bob Dylan did it (“The Ballad of Hollis Brown”); The Beatles did it (“Within You Without You”); Guided by Voices did it (“Postal Blowfish”). And Cortney Tidwell did it on “17 Horses.” Easily the most primal, heady and terrifying psychedelic dirge in the history of Nashville rock — and for a stretch, Tidwell’s standard set-closer — “17 Horses” (the penultimate track on 2009’s essential local-rock long-player Boys) sounds like the end of the world. A hauntingly hypnotic four-minute-long blistering crescendo of staccato guitar strains and drilling drums, listening to the song feels like being stabbed repeatedly with ice picks of awesome dissonance, in a good way.