December! Fear not, there will be no Christmas themed Five Songs to contend with here, unless shuffle pulls something up randomly (and there's very little Christmas music in my collection). Maybe I'll do some obnoxious metal-themed special on the 25th though. Here's today's tunes.
Mantar, "Cult Witness"
One of the things I like doing is going through "Best of the Year" roundups from various music blogs that do good work and just trying a bunch of stuff I've never heard of. Mostly, I do pretty well through this process, and even if they're not all favorites, it gives me a chance to break out of my established loops and try and find some new bands. It can be easy, especially as I get older, to just rely on the same stuff I've always listened to, and this sort of explicit process helps shield against that.
So, Mantar was a result of one of those dives. And I like them! They're a German metal band that plays kind of sludgy stuff that sometimes delves into something like black metal. They're a couple albums in and doing some fun stuff.
Tortoise, sounding downright sprightly! This comes from Beacons of Ancestorship, where Tortoise made more of a break with their post-rock path from before and started making some noises that they hadn't been making before. It's a nice breath of fresh air from a band that could have just stayed in their groove. I mean, this song is almost punk!
Wire, "Field Day For The Sundays"
Nice juxtaposition, shuffle! We're going all the way back to 1977 here with the original art punks Wire, with a song off of Pink Flag. There's a certain kinship with the previous track here. Somehow, Wire managed to sound post-punk before punk had even really got rolling. There are some bands that manage to sound timeless and futuristic, no matter how old their stuff is, and Wire fits that bill. 40 years on, this taut album still sounds fresh.
Big Grams, "Run For Your Life"
Hey, it's been a little while since we've had a "Where Did That Come From" moment! And then, I realize why I picked this up: it's a Big Boi project! But I don't remember actually listening to it. Apparently, this is Big Boi with some band called Phantogram. Always happy to hear Big Boi, basically.
Nas, "Every Ghetto"
There aren't many careers that have fallen off as quickly as Nas did after his classic debut, Illmatic. And it was obvious to everybody, to the point that it formed the center of the famous beef between Nas and Jay-Z ("That's a one hot album every ten year average"). Stillmatic, then, was intended to be the album that got him back on track, brought him back to his previous heights. He would not be successful.
While Nas has continued to have impressive skills, and sometimes that will really come forward on a song, his post-Illmatic records have just lacked a spark, an energy that the debut had. That makes them all feel flat and unmemorable.