Tricky, "Brand New You're Retro"
Maxinquaye is one of the three pillars of trip-hop, along with Blue Lines and Dummy. What's striking about all three records, besides them all being great, is kind of how dissimilar they all end up feeling. There's a murky darkness at the core of them all, but they take different paths to get there. Tricky is probably the most hip-hop of the three, although the swirling noise is still pretty distinctly foreign to the hip-hop of the time.
Meat Beat Manifesto, "Nereus Rov"
After some absolutely raging albums in the late 80s/early 90s, full of clattering industrial noise married to ferocious breakbeats, Meat Beat Manifesto eventually slowed down. But they never went away entirely, and they actually have put out a couple records recently. This is from 2018's Impossible Star, and the original formula is largely still in place. Listen to the way there's just some stank on each of the snare hits, there's still a noisy soul to this stuff that is always going to be there. That said, it's probably a little more abstract, a little less aggro than their earliest stuff. But of course, this is also thirty years later, we're all less aggro.
Karl Hendricks Trio, "Painted My Heart"
The first Karl Hendricks Trio found them already basically doing their thing, laying out big power pop tunes, straight from the heart. There's an earnestness at the center of the band, a sincerity that isn't found much among underground bands that often prize emotional distance.
The Staple Singers, "I'll Take You There"
Oh my god, those first two horn stabs, the vocals, everything about this song is just perfect. Folks, I don't know why anybody reads this stupid thing, I'm not entirely sure why I write it. But goddamn, sometimes it serves up a tune like this.
Less Than Jake, "Shotgun"
You can tell this band is in its infancy by the thin production here, and just the overall kind of amateur attack. But it's a deeply charming performance all the same, intimate and enthusiastic, and it's a good reminder that energy makes an enormous difference in performance.