Five Songs, 8/13/2023
Five Songs

Five Songs, 8/13/2023

Soundgarden, "Swallow My Pride"

A collision of early grunge elements here! This is from the second Soundgarden EP, Fopp, from 1988. It's a time when Soundgarden was still figuring out who they were, and their sound was still mostly a melding of hard rock and garage rock and wasn't yet what would be recognizable as grunge. But it goes further than that! This song is actually a cover of Green River, the proto-grunge band from the mid-80s that would spawn both Mudhoney (Mark Arm and Steve Turner) and Pearl Jam (Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament). The elements that would make up grunge were starting to come in to focus even in 1985, when Green River recorded this song, with Steve Turner's filthy riffs in particular being a building block of the genre. The music made by these bands wasn't quite yet divorced enough from hard rock, didn't have quite enough of the grime or the muscular confidence that would allow them to break into something new. But it was coalescing.

Oh, and big shout out to Chris Cornell's outstanding Mark Arm impression here.

The Flaming Lips, "Try to Explain (individual shuffle-ready version)"

Prog rock eventually because completely unmoored from the conventional bounds of rock songwriting, with compositions gleefully stretching well past the handful of minutes permitted to any song that aspired to be played on the radio. As the Lips moved on in their careers, they moved into a similar realm, where albums after At War With The Mystics also cheerfully abandoned a lot of the conventional structures they were still playing with on previous records. Embryonic and The Terror both are more about evoking emotions and creating soundscapes than they are about creating songs, per se. That's made abundantly clear with The Terror in parciular, where the entire 55 minute album is tracked as a single piece for the "real" version, and they also grudgingly made available individual tracks. Is the album good? Yeah, I think it is, but I think you have to be in the right mood for it. Kind of like big, long prog rock epics.

Squirtgun, "Mary Ann"

And if you aren't in that mood, why not some mid-90s straightforward pop punk?

Melvins, "Black Heath"

A Walk With Love & Death is the first Melvins double album, with the first album (Death) being the more conventional of the two. Conventional by Melvins standards, anyway. This is the opening track of that album, and it's not as crunchy as their most brutal stuff, but it's still very Melvins. The second album, Love, is a film soundtrack and thus pretty far from their usual stuff, although there isn't really a "usual" with them.

Swans, "Better Than You"

Geez, some real giants today. It's actually not an easy call to me as to who has had the more impressive career between the Melvins, the Flaming Lips, and the Swans. I'm guessing the Swans? But I listen to the other two bands more? And Soundgarden are no slouches either, at least in terms of influence.

Squirtgun was also present.

Joshua Buergel
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