July 12, 2008

My Favorite Moments In Rock

Led Zeppelin- "Black Dog" (3:06 -3:23)
I've often thought, if I ever had to pick a song to enter a room to it would be Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." Out of Jimmy Page's vast catalog of furious fretwork, I've always particularly loved the guitar sound on this track. It's so dark, rich, and syrupy. However, my only lament has been that whenever anyone praises this song, they only mention its stop-start structure or guitar solo. Maybe I'm listening too closely, but I love the 17 glorious seconds that happen right before the solo: double-tracked guitars!

The Unicorns- "Tuff Ghost" (2:07 – 2:33)
This song probably contains the most inventive bass solo I've heard in indie rock since The Breeder's "Cannonball." Just when you think the song's the slow-burning organ groove and scattered melodies are coming to an end, the bass solo comes abruptly from left field to grab you, galloping to a syncopated dance-rock rhythm. (And if you can believe it) Its buzzsaw fuzz takes a page right out of Cream's psychedelic syrupy guitar sound on "Sunshine of Your Love." It's quite simply delicious.

Radiohead- "Reckoner" (4:02 – 4:41)
This song comes from the sixth track of Radiohead's landmark pay-your-own-price album, In Rainbows. When I initially heard this song, it was certainly not what I considered a standout song for the band –at least until I heard the last 40 seconds of it, and I found myself listening to it over and over again. (According to my iTunes, I've listened to the song 31 times.) Radiohead's ability to create simple and subtle musical structures that are hauntingly beautiful is stupefying. After four minutes, the band manages to take you on a journey of cymbal-crash waves, cavernous atmospherics, and milky reverb-drenched vocals; finally sending you off with a sweet guitar melody and swelling strings.

Weezer- Tired of Sex" (2:02 – 2:10)
Let me start by saying, I love Pinkerton, and subsequently, I love Rivers Cuomo. Although, he has never quite been able to reach the caliber of songwriting since that album's 1996 release date, it remains among my favorite albums. When I listen to "Tired of Sex" I hear the frustration, angst, and neuroticism that made me fall in love with Pinkerton (and Rivers) to begin with, and I don't think the band was ever able to capture that essence better than in this song. Rivers yelps, ponders, and screams(!) as he muses on his meaningless sexual encounters --which is ironic because Rivers is widely known for being reclusive and took a two year vow of abstinence before getting married in '06. By the time you get to the song's solo, it's bursting with so much energy, it literally sounds like an explosion. Whenever I hear it, I get excited about music again. From the thunderous drum intro, to the synth outro, it sticks to your cranium like gum on hot asphalt.

Bloc Party- "She's Hearing Voices" (3:10 – 3:23)
I can't imagine anyone listening to this song (preferably on headphones), and not getting riled up. In the same vein of Joy Division's icy atmospherics, Bloc Party has gone on to master the art of jangly, reverb-saturated guitar riffs and post-punk cool. From the skull-crushing drum intro, to the song's staccato, tremolo-picked chords, and the panicked call-and-response chorus, Bloc Party sets up a sense of urgency. It all leads up to an impeccable guitar solo that's almost orgasmic in it's nature.

No comments: