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Desert Island Disc Day 3B: Kentucky Nip

Day 3B: Kentucky Nip, Round Three

 Day 3B Start

How we got here:
Day 2B, East/Midwest Subdivisions
Day 2B, West/South Subdivisions

I started writing these things up and realized I was saying a lot of “this is the biggest competition this track has come up against” before realizing that hey, the chaff is gone, pretty much everyone who has made it this far now has to come up against a really shitty battle… they’re all heartbreakers, every last one of ’em, in Round Three. And we start off with the East subdivision…

#1 Leslie Keffer, “Taste Tongue to Warm Tummy”
vs.
#5 Lockstep, “The Procession”

[at least one song is an instrumental, so no lyric-to-lyric matchup possible.]

Leslie Keffer has had hands-down the most difficult path through this competition, squaring off against Game Theory in Round One and the combination of Boris and Merzbow in Round Two…and now she’s up against Lockstep, who may be her toughest competition yet. As of the time I’m writing this sentence, I’ve been letting this one stew for two weeks, and for all I know by the time I finish this paragraph, it may have been two more. The question is that “The Procession” is, for all intents and purposes, a piece of Integrity worship; there are pieces you can just plain interchange with “Hollow” (which went down on Day 1I), so I end up asking myself: is that enough to let Leslie Keffer go through unmolested here? Because, yes, it’s Integrity worship, but for the love of Dwid, it’s great Integrity worship, and there’s no denying that Lockstep truly understand that stupid Randy Jackson “make it your own” thing. It’s a fantastic piece of music no matter how you slice it. But man, as far as this competition, “proven track record” applies no no song more than “Taste Tongue to Warm Tummy”. Why? Because it’s that damn good. It’s a song you can put on infinite repeat and let sit there in the background for an entire eight-hour workday and never get tired of it despite that fact that that means you will be listening to it damn close to forty times an hour. This isn’t just the toughest battle of the bracket—it may be the toughest battle of the entire competition so far. The number of listens each of these tracks has racked up in the car over the last few months is now probably in the triple digits…and when it comes right down to it, I just can’t get rid of Leslie Keffer. Lockstep are on their way home.

#11 Half Man Half Biscuit, “Fuckin’ ‘ell, It’s Fred Titmus!”
vs.
#2 The Judy’s “Her Wave”

photo credit: Wasted Talent Records

All the best new wave was recorded in wood-paneled basements.

“Oh, Jane was pushing baby ’round the park
When all at once she saw her husband Mark
Well he was with a man down by the stream,
So Jane and baby both began to scream,
‘Fuckin’ ‘ell, it’s Fred Titmus!’”

vs…

“We’ll move along, and together we will go
Under starry nights, oh together we will lay, oh and
We’ll stay like that until the high tide rushes in
All I want is to wide on her wave.”

HMHB have had a fine run, but there’s no question here that The Judy’s are taking one of the eighties’ finest love songs into the hopper.

the Midwest subdivision kicks off with….

#9 Indian Jewelry, “Warm Boxcutter”
vs.
#12 Redd Kross, “Bubblegum Factory”

“Your evil has glamour and sex appeal.
I’m lonely. On camera, these things are staged,
The plays are staged,
Their paper empires need us to detain…
Warm boxcutter, make it better.”

vs….

“She had found it—it was everything
Just something simple, something simple to sing
To bring her through to the sunshine day
‘Sugar, Sugar’ made her feel okay
All is bright, all is calm
Just a little sweetpea gonna guide us along
A hook with a smile will last us a while
Everybody’s happy, there’s no denial”

Man, talk about your polar opposites. And they’re both so-so-so great. It ends up being easy to find a way to match the two songs, but really, which way do you go? Most battles like this one in the first two rounds, it was choose the mood and away you go, but both IJ and RK turn in such amazing pieces here that they overcome the mood factor, which makes it tougher, and I hate to see either of these two bands head for the sidelines. I flip-flopped back and forth on this one over and over again today—IJ’s lyrics are more solid, to my ear, and a lot more clever, but not as clear or well-enunciated, plus you’ve got the whole wall-of-sound fuzz mix going on there (ironic considering how much RK are Phil Spector disciples), while “Bubblegum Factory” is bloody close to iconic at this point as a touchstone for the entire fifties-and-sixties bubblegum pop movement. If it’s not a perfect piece of pop music, it’s as close as they come. Which opens up a new basis of comparison—something that attempts to be as close to the source material it’s working with as possible, or something that takes that source material and uses it to push off in other directions to explore? The latter is usually going to be able to make a stronger case in my book, and thus I’m going to have to give this one, on the very slightest of edges, to those crazy kids in Indian Jewelry, and I say those words I honestly never thought I would say in this entire competition: Redd Kross are eliminated.

#3 Doomwatch, “The Short, Happy Life Of…”
vs.
#2 Pinebox Serenade, “Sons of Soil”

[at least one song is an instrumental, so no lyric-to-lyric matchup possible.]

Pinebox Serenade have been one of the competition’s biggest surprises for me. I hadn’t really listened to this album a great deal before grabbing this song to take into the trenches, and to say it has outperformed would be an understatement; it’s taken down both Fetid Zombie and Antony and the Johnsons, and now comes up against Doomwatch, who hold one of the final pieces of joke-rock still alive here. Like almost all that still remain (Submachine’s “Last Night” is the only exception that comes to mind), “The Short, Happy Life Of…” is funny on the surface, but it’s got a bitter, angry core at its heart. Where Doomwatch stands out is that you actually see the bitter, angry core; it’s the humor that ends up taking the listener by surprise, and that makes it all the funnier. “Sons of Soil”, on the other hand is… well, if you could make acoustic bluegrass funeral doom, it would probably sound a lot like “Sons of Soil”. And when I look at those two songs in that context (I had no idea which way this was going when I started typing), Doomwatch comes off more multifaceted. I have to say I’m kind of surprised, though I think I would have been surprised whichever way this decision went…but Doomwatch bring Pinebox Serenade’s dream run to an end and head to the hopper with the emaciated body of Karen Anne Quinlan.

In the West, we open up with…

#16 DNA, “Egomaniac’s Kiss”
vs.
#4 American Me, “Die Faster”

“Trying to eat that self real slow
Less than awful, more than naked
In the distance, no doubt
In an instance mouth
Invent twice
Vent twice before commotion
Ssssshhhhh….”

vs….

“Lies, lies. Everything was lies… not one truth. Everything was a disguise from start to end. You were killing me from the inside out.”

American Me are another band I didn’t expect to make it nearly as far as they did; I ended up with a huge appreciation for this track. This is good, good stuff, and I will be following American Me a hell of a lot closer than I did before. But DNA have turned into one of the competition’s eight-hundred-pound gorillas; there isn’t an act they haven’t simply swept out of their way, and it’s not like they’ve been up against chopped liver, taking out Old Wounds and The Cramps. “Egomaniac’s Kiss” is pretty damn close to the perfect song, and it heads to the hopper.

#14 Jack Smiley, “Arabesque”
vs.
#10 Wards, “Ghetto”

[at least one song is an instrumental, so no lyric-to-lyric matchup possible.]

I love Wards. I love Wards like a fat kid loves cake, and I am a fat kid who loves cake, so believe me, I know what that feels like. I also love Jack Smiley, and I came up with two perfect tracks here; I can’t imagine this outcome would be different had I chosen “Weapon Factory”, say, or “Eighteen Inches from Heaven”, instead of the tracks I grabbed here. Both of these tracks have actually made it through without a great deal of resistance, but it’s still two fightin’ titans one way or the other…and any way I look at it, I don’t see Wards getting by Jack Smiley here. And thus it is that “Arabesque”’s driving rhythm section and smooth-as-silk sax power by the primitive punk of Wards and head for the hopper.

Finally, the last South subdivision for Day 1A hands us:

#9 Alice in Chains, “Them Bones”
vs.
#5 Submachine, “Last Night”

photo credit: last.fm

It’s the Dwarves patch that always gets the heartstrings just a little…

“Dust rise right on over my time
Empty fossil of the new scene
I feel so alone
Gonna end up a big ol’ pile of them bones”

vs….

“What the fuck? Can’t find my tongue
And who the hell put this phone in my hand?
I know it’s late, I just want to say hi.
…HI.”

You know, I never really listened to the lyrics of “Them Bones” all that close, and when you put these two up against each other, there’s really no contest; Submachine do it faster, better, cheaper, and into the hopper they go.

#6 Jesus Lizard, “Boilermaker”
vs.
#7 The Lyres, “She Pays the Rent”

“And it’s dry inside until a dusty wind
And each trying sigh is a trusted friend
In his pride I saw his just defense
I eyed the bedroom door, then I busted in”

vs….

“Now she don’t love me the way that she used to
And when she kiss me, I know that we’re through
But I still love her with no regrets
Because you see, she pays the rent
That stupid little girl, she pays my rent.”

The Lyres are another band that never really hit home for me until this competition, and the extensive, repeated, close listening I was subjecting these songs to; I really gained a new appreciation for the way they construct their music. But let’s face it, David Yow, for all his onstage antics that make him look like a dumb hick from the middle of nowhere, is one of rock and roll’s most intelligent, witty, and incisive lyricists, and there was pretty close to nothing non-instrumental in a lyrics-on-lyrics matchup that could have taken Jesus Lizard down. Thus it is that Jesus Lizard are the next band into the hopper.

And so Division B will be contributing the following songs to the hopper at the end of the day…

DNA, “Egomaniac’s Kiss”
Doomwatch, “The Short, Happy Life Of…”
Indian Jewelry, “Warm Boxcutter”
Jesus Lizard, “Boilermaker”
The Judy’s, “Her Wave”
Leslie Keffer, “Taste Tongue to Warm Tummy”
Jack Smiley, “Arabesque”
Submachine, “Last Night”

Previous: Day 3A
Next: Day 3C

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Desert Island Disc Day 3C: DC Red Tape | Popcorn for Breakfast

  2. Pingback: Desert Island Disc Day 3A: The Wilderness | Popcorn for Breakfast

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