So far in our Mixmas series, we’ve had themes by some dance-punks from middle America, alt-rockers from Texas and a rocker from Cali. So who’s more suitable to follow them than poppy Brooklynites, The Rinse? Even though they’re busying putting together a bunch of new songs (download one here), The Rinse still had time to whip up a great theme.
Mix 7: ‘Friction Songs,’ by The Rinse
Each song here contains a dissonance between words and music: Where one is light the other is unexpectedly dark. You might play one of these songs to get fired up for a good housecleaning, only to find yourself lying on the floor next to your cold, silent vacuum cleaner. Conflict, irony and schizophrenia get acted out in these songs, turning lyrics that look straightforward on the page into unsettling, unforgettable stories.
MP3: The Cars – Let The Good Times Roll – s/t
Listening to this song, you may wonder why they’re so worried about letting said good times roll. One look at the gatefold pictures—the hollow eyes, the gobs of makeup, Ric Ocasek’s 27”waistline—indicates that they’ve let the good times roll them right into the ground.
MP3: Nina Simone – Go To Hell – Silk & Soul
This one reverses the formula: A sprightly toe-tapper that deals with probably the greatest of all human fears. It’s like Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” with lyrics by Mel Gibson. But when she belts the last line—“He went to HELL!”—it’s Satan she’s talking about. So maybe the fact that He’s down there is cause for celebration.
MP3: Clor – Love + Pain – s/t
Finally a band has taken a cue from Revenge Of The Nerds. Watching the concert scene, could anyone deny that they were witnessing the greatest rock performance of all time? The nerds had that contest in the bag! Here, Clor taps into that triumphant moment and brings us the complex sound of nerd heartbreak.
MP3: The Wailers – Sun Is Shining – African Herbsman
Like Gershwin’s “Summertime,” this song couples languid lyrics with sinister chords. A spooky melodica line adds urgency to Marley’s repeated question, “Can you understand?” Lee Perry’s production, as always, is full of surprises. Only he would choose to end a song mid-verse with a cat running across the organ’s keys.
MP3: Muse – Feeling Good – Origin of Symmetry
Immortalized by Nina Simone long before the members of Muse were born (we’d already picked “Go To Hell” when we thought of this one), “Feeling Good” is the quintessential friction song. If the singer feels so good, why is the band thundering down the minor scale? It could have something to do with the line, “Freedom is mine and you know how I feel” (surrounded, in this version, by flaming drum fills). As if that freedom were a newfound and terribly hard-won thing.
[Honorable mentions to Randy Newman, Quasi, The Eels, Johnny Cash, The Cardigans and many more.]
12 Days of Mixmas: Day 1 – Dean from the SUF
12 Days of Mixmas: Day 2 – Tapes ‘n Tapes
12 Days of Mixmas: Day 3 – John Vanderslice
12 Days of Mixmas: Day 4 – Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!
12 Days of Mixmas: Day 5 – Dodge from MOKB
12 Days of Mixmas: Day 6 – Chris from GvB