For the last few weeks, there has been a HAZE over our town, mostly because half of Washington State has been on fire. I know a fellow who lives in Olympia (about an hour north of my town), who said it was snowing ash there a few days ago. The smoke was ridiculously thick for a few days—we couldn’t see more than a few blocks before the smoke started blotting out buildings and bridges and hillsides, a sickly burnt smell filled the air, and people with asthma (like my older daughter) have been having a hard time breathing. It hasn’t been as bad for the last day or two, though, which is good.
And last night, it finally started raining (which many people would probably think is a bad thing), but some water falling from the sky will hopefully help quench the fires and clean a bit of the soot out of the air.
Between the smoke and being broke and just starting a new job (which isn’t a bad thing but can be pretty stressful trying to learn the ropes in an unfamiliar setting), life has been a wee bit unpleasant lately. Luckily (thanks to years of being neurotic), I have developed some effective coping mechanisms to help take the edge off and allow me to get some sleep every once in a while. (Believe it or not, drugs and/or booze are not part of this routine—unless you count ibuprofen and coffee…) Amongst my numerous coping mechanisms (writing and art being two of the biggest) is listening to MUSIC. Music makes me feel good, and it helps me connect with something besides whatever’s going on in the “real world” (which is apparently burning down.) I also love to dance, and music (you may be surprised to discover) can be very useful for providing a rhythm and a groove to move to…
To facilitate some psychological well-being, I recently put together a fun, up-beat, slightly weird playlist. I was dubbed “Kid Carcrash” back in “The Day” when I was DJing at the local bars. I was given this nickname (I think “carcrash” was supposed to be an insult, but I thought it was great) because I refused to give a shit about genre and loved slamming from a hardcore Belgian techno track into a slow, creepy goth tune, and then following that up with a goofy novelty song and then a disco track… Variety is the spice of life, right? Anyway, I decided a day or two ago to put together a collection of fun songs that could help ME to feel better—happier and more energetic and more inspired to get some creative work done.
Let’s take a look at what’s in this playlist. It’s 26 songs (13 x 2) and just a hair under two hours long. It’s also comprised of a lot of older songs—because unlike over-the-counter medications, MUSIC DOESN’T EXPIRE! (Unfortunately, however, great songs can often be forgotten…and I see it as a personal mission to keep as many of these “long, lost tracks” from slipping forever into obscurity!) Not every song on this list is ancient, though, even if I am partial to 80’s and 90’s tunes, especially Post-Punk, New Wave, and Techno tracks.
In the Goth / Industrial / IDM / Future Pop categories, I’ve got cuts by Bauhaus, Apollyon Sun, ohGr, Apoptygma Berzerk, Coil, and And One. The Bauhaus track is one I’m particularly excited about because it’s from an old, out of print CD, Swing the Heartache – The BBC Sessions, that I used to have on cassette back in the early 90’s, but lost, and which I only recently found again, on CD, on eBay. The album is comprised of live recordings made by Bauhaus in the very early 80s for BBC radio, and these are the DEFINITIVE versions of these songs (to me…because this is my favorite Bauhaus album!) Besides old, creepy goth cuts, like Bauhaus and Coil, I also included a brand new (2018) song by ohGr, a side project band voiced by the lead singer of Skinny Puppy, a seminal Canadian Industrial act that scared the crap out of me when I first heard them. This new cut, “Due They Know,” is less horror driven than the old Puppy stuff was, but still an excellent song with a wicked groove. (Groove=Good.)
From the worlds of Techno / House / EDM / and Electro, I’ve included Grimes, Double Trouble & Rebel MC, Nino, Dr. Calculus, 808 State, DJ Sandy, Sunscreem, Kaotic Chemistry, Mark Ronson, and Underworld, whose epic track, “Born Slippy (NUXX),” (which you would have heard if you saw Trainspotting) finishes out my playlist. Some of the more obscure cuts from the Techno world, like Nino’s “The Gun” and the track by Kaotic Chemistry, fall into this strange, cut and paste, audio collage, Breakbeat style, where quick samples and numerous genres are quilted together to create these odd little soundscapes that you can dance to—or just listen to and try to catch all the weird, disparate elements. I love that kind of thing. The Dr. Calculus and Double Trouble tracks are from the early Brit House / Acid House / Progressive Dance scene, and they have a very funky vibe, but with lots of Jamaican Dub / Ragga influences that help to propel the songs along.
And from the Punk / Post-Punk / Alternative / College Radio universes, I included Public Image Ltd. (featuring John Lydon, who USED to be known as Johnny Rotten when he was the lead singer of the Sex Pistols), Altered Images, Lime Spiders, Adam & The Ants, Young Marble Giants, The Fall, Fastbacks, The Colourfield (featuring Terry Hall from the Specials and Fun Boy Three), and the Pixies (I LOVE the Pixies.)
And there’s one “novelty” cut in the list, as well, Flight of the Conchords’ hilarious track, “Bowie.” I suppose I could have tucked it in with the Alternative tracks, considering that genre doesn’t really have a specific SOUND that it refers to. Technically, the “genre” of “Alternative” doesn’t mean a damn thing and was just used as a catch-all by MTV’s producers to refer to any music that wasn’t “Top 40” or blatantly Rap or R&B or Country or whatever, back in the late-80s and into the 90s. (Look into the history of the brilliantly fun MTV program 120 Minutes for more on this topic.)
One of the funny things about genres, in my opinion, is that they don’t really mean much (outside of the retail environment.) For instance, when I used to DJ “Goth / Industrial” nights in Portland, it would have been completely acceptable for me to play Bauhaus and Apoptygma Berzerk on the same night (even though they sound NOTHING alike), but I would have gotten some grumpy looks if I tried to play Young Marble Giants or Altered Images, even though those bands have songs that sound WAY more like Bauhaus than Apoptygma Berzerk does. For that matter, I could have played a lot of Apop cuts when DJing a Techno night without any trouble (could have and DID), or you could easily claim that And One’s “Dancing in the Factory” is a New Wave track, (as its opening riff and subsequent melody are a simple reinterpretation of Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough,”) except for the fact that “Dancing in the Factory” came out in 2011 instead of 1981. (Bands like And One and Seabound and Wolfsheim and VNV Nation, which I really like, are considered examples of a sub-genre of EBM (Electronic Body Music) known as “Future Pop.” And the whole “Future Pop” movement sounds suspiciously like PAST NEW WAVE to me. (You have to go back to go forward?) I’m not going to complain about the sound, though, because I’m just glad that SOME bands are making New Wave sounding music again. I also loved the brief movement in the early 2000s known as “Electro-Clash,” for precisely the same reason—it sounded like New Wave to me.)
Am I wrong, or do some people spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME discussing what CATEGORIES certain bands or tunes belong in, coming up with endless genres and sub-genres and fracturing everything until it’s all meaningless? Why not just ENJOY THE MUSIC??? Let it spin, I say. Who gives a shit what GENRE it is? Kid Carcrash rides again!!! (Are there any folks out there who’ve read this far? Who knows???)
Anyway, enough chatter—here’s the playlist!
(If you can’t see the little player, you can find the playlist HERE! You shouldn’t need to download anything to listen, just click the “play” button.)
“Out of the Smoke” Playlist by Richard F. Yates
(Approx 1 hour and 56 minutes.)
1. Bauhaus – “Swing the Heartache (BBC Session)”
2. Grimes feat. Janelle Monae – “Venus Fly”
3. Apollyon Sun – “Messiah (Second Coming)”
4. Public Image Ltd. – “Rise”
5. Double Trouble & Rebel MC – “Street Tuff (Scar Mix)”
6. Nino – “The Gun”
7. Altered Images – “Insects”
8. ohGr – “Due They Know”
9. Lime Spiders – “My Favourite Room”
10. Dr. Calculus – “Full of Love”
11. Flight of the Conchords – “Bowie”
12. Apoptygma Berzerk – “Kathy’s Song (Ferry Corsten Rmx) (12” Version)”
13. 808 State – “Leo Leo”
14. Adam & The Ants – “Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)”
15. DJ Sandy – “LL Cool DJs (Fixx Remix)”
16. Young Marble Giants – “Credit in the Straight World”
17. The Fall – “Telephone Thing”
18. Sunscreem – “Perfect Motion”
19. Kaotic Chemistry – “Illegal Subs (Krome & Time Remix)”
20. Coil – “The Anal Staircase”
21. Fastbacks – “Gone to the Moon”
22. Mark Ronson & The Business Intl feat. MNDR, Pharrell, Wiley & Wretch 32 – “Record Collection 2012 (CSS Remix)”
23. The Colourfield – “Colourfield”
24. Pixies – “Hey”
25. And One – “Dancing in the Factory”
26. Underworld – “Born Slippy (NUXX)”
So there you go… A bunch of music, (and some silly thoughts on “genre” and the value of “OLD” music.) Maybe you found a cut or two that you hadn’t heard before. Maybe even a track that you really enjoyed in there somewhere—if you made it past the opener by Bauhaus, which is a bit of a weird and creepy track, I admit. (Naturally, being “weird” and “creepy” are positive attributes in my world.) Thanks for listening! More tunes to come, soon (because this was fun—for me…)
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!