Day 4B: Hangar 18, Round One
The second of our six Day Four brackets gives us…
#1 The Orphan, the Poet, “Black and White Photography”
#16 Aube, “20001031”
There is always the possibility for upsets in these brackets—as I write this we’ve already seen one on Day Four (and I still have three of the Day 4A matchups to finish writing)–but there are really only two number one seeds, at first glance, on Day Four that have a chance of being upset, and this isn’t one of them. The Aube track is a bit of amusement; the TOTP track is very dear to me. Aube heads for the sidelines.
#8 Kitchen Cynics, “Me Forgetting You Forgetting Me”
#9 The Replacements, “Here Comes a Regular”
There are probably any number of good arguments for knocking out Kitchen Cynics in favor of the ‘mats in this battle. I was thinking about a whole lot of reasons Kitchen Cynics might not fare well while I was listening to “Me Forgetting You Forgetting Me” on the way home from work in the car yesterday. But I realized that we’ve got some symbiosis going in this competition right now. I’ve already mentioned the one I have in my head (that as far as I know does not exist IRL) between KC and Saltfishforty. I was also thinking yesterday that this song is kind of the anti-”Red Haired Girl”, in that Horse’s song is a surface love song that hides a bitter, angry, vengeful core, while this one sounds like a breakup song but is all about forgiveness and moving forward. (It has not escaped my notice, as well, that all three are Scottish artists.) I’m pretty sure as long as none of them gets eliminated, all three will be sticking around… and thus it is that “Here Comes a Regular” heads for the sidelines, while Kitchen Cynics live to fight another day.
I am ridiculously amused by the fact that Youtube preceded this (for me anyway) with an ad about how to pick the perfect Bordeaux.
#5 Murderous Vision, “A Whisper Becomes a Shiver”
#12 Miwako Okuda, “Kanashimi ni Oborete”
“A Whisper Becomes a Shiver” is another I was listening to in the car on the way home yesterday, by sheerest coincidence, and I was thinking that the only chance it has of running into real trouble is if it finds itself up against, ironically, one of the tracks left in this competition that comes from an album that I originally bought from MV frontman Stephen Petrus, who also runs the Live Bait Recording Foundation label and distro—and at least three-quarters of the dark ambient/death industrial left in the competition I originally picked up from the Live Bait table at some show or other. As far as traditional music is concerned, there are maybe two or three tracks left that could give “A Whisper Becomes a Shiver”–the closest thing to a beated death-industrial track left in the competition—a run for its money. “Kanashimi ni Oborete”, while a fine little track and one that has well deserved to come this far, is not one of them. The chinks in its armor are slight, the most notable being a place in the chorus where Okuda’s voice cracks and becomes whiny. I usually just gloss over it, but it’s the little things that matter when you get this far, and that’s enough to send Murderous Vision on to the next round.
#13 Silly Wizard, “A. B. Corsie (The Lad from Orkney)”
#4 Satanic Threat, “Guilty of Hating Christ”
One of the reasons I decided to separate things out by time initially is that I figured the under-a-minute tracks would have an unfair advantage over longer pieces. Since the redraw, that has proven not to be the case at all; a couple of under-a-minute tracks have already fallen by the wayside and we’re only into the second bracket. Time has proven less a factor than a song’s ability to stand on its own merits. And while I know I should have been dinging Satanic Threat all along for their music being kinda-sorta-covers of Minor Threat, I just can’t do it. The “In To Hell” seven-inch is just SO much fun. I’ve said a lot already about how influential Silly Wizard were and all that, but in this case, the fun factor is a pretty clear winner, and Satanic Threat move on to Day Five, sending Silly Wizard to the sidelines.
#3 The Angels of Light, “Song for My Father”
#14 The Dream Academy, “The Love Parade”
When I first saw this matchup, it suddenly occurred to me to wonder if it’s odd that there are so few bands in this competition—especially now that we’re down to the final ninety-six—whose names begin with “The”. Yeah, I think about weird stuff. But two of them go head to head here, and I wish I could say this decision isn’t as easy as it is. But that used-car-salesman shtick I commended Nick Laird-Clowes for in his delivery in “The Love Parade” shrivels up like a scrotum in the Arctic ocean when confronted with the simple vulnerability and honest emotion to be found in “Song for My Father”. No matter which way this battle went down, we would be down to nine (including two where I don’t use it, Tear Garden and Oysterband; I’ve seen it both ways on official album covers in both of those cases) bands left whose names begin with “The”; The Angels of Light charge on to the next round, for theirs is not to reason why, while The Dream Academy head for the showers.
#11 Radiosonde, “Pilot (Belly-Up Mix)”
#6 Submachine, “Last Night”
I’ve actually found myself quite surprised by the amount of joke-rock left in the competition at this point; I figured it would all be gone by the second round at best, but Jonathan Coulton, Doomwatch, The Evolution Control Committee, John Trubee, 8BallRack, and of course Submachine are a pretty large percentage of the Final Ninety-Six, when it comes right down to it. I was raised, like many kidgeeks my age, on Dr. Demento, and so I grew up thinking that joke-rock was silly (and I still take great pleasure in songs like Weird Al’s hysterical “My Girlfriend Is Inflatable”, to the tune of Robert Palmer’s awful “Simply Irresistible”), but there are a helluva lot of bands out there who give lie to that—and you had a crash course in many of them throughout this competition. “Last Night” may be the flat-out funniest of the joke-rock songs remaining, if you’ve ever been in that situation. (Did I mention back in Round One this is basically an intelligent version of Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy”? I think I did, but the narrator in this one woke up still wasted…) It may be even funnier if, like me, you used to get into that situation regularly, but have since stopped drinking. Well, stopped drinking that much, anyway. And here is where my strategizing with Radiosonde all the way back in April (as I’m writing this, the halfway point of July passed a ways back) makes me want to kick myself, because “Zombi” would have probably given “Last Night” a run for its money. I like “Pilot” a whole heckuva lot…but not quite as much as I like “Last Night”, and thus Radiosonde heads for the sidelines, while Submachine just keeps steamrolling everything in its path.
#7 Inerds, “Shut It”
#10 Oysterband, “Our Lady of the Bottles”
We’ve mentioned it a time or two before, but here we have the first battle where I think the race is actually so tight that it ends up coming down to time. We’ve got another battle that pits two bands in very disparate genres against one another, with the traditional-esque Celtic folk-rock of Oysterband going up against the very non-traditional grindcore of Inerds. Both bands are paragons of their respective types of music. Both are incredible amounts of fun to listen to, and I suspect Oysterband would put on just as fun a show as Inerds does (I’ve never had the chance to see Oysterband live, unfortunately). Both have racked up a ridiculous number of listens at Goat Central. If you take away the genre differences, well, basically they’re the same band, and my song choice for both was dead on. I absolutely cannot find a single way to separate these two…save the “Our Lady of the Bottles” is over three times longer than “Shut It”. In a competition where duration gets more important with every passing round, that is enough reason for us to mourn the passing of Oysterband and send Inerds on their way to Day Five.
#15 Cellar of Rats, “Where the Dead Might Lie”
#2 Faith No More, “Kindergarten”
…and I still stand by those seeds, but man, every time “Where the Dead Might Lie” shows up on the mp3 player, I am just blown away by the fact that a guy who as far as I can tell normally does electronica grokked the dark ambient thing this well—well enough to stand with the giants of the genre who are still represented here, as well as a number who have fallen before this point. The entire Scratches soundtrack is a monster, and “Where the Dead Might Lie” has a real, palpable creepiness to it that I just can’t get enough of. But then there’s “Kindergarten”, which has been one of my favorite songs by any band for twenty-one years and counting. It’s a staple, one of the songs I just can’t imagine going anywhere in this competition…and yet I’ve been seriously thinking for the last few days that Cellar of Rats are going to be able to pull the upset here. And it’s been a few more days since I wrote that last sentence. Cellar of Rats have not gone away. Much of the time I find myself pegging a chink in a band’s armor as a method of elimination. Here I’m going the opposite way. Faith No More are a proven commodity. You expect great things from them. Cellar of Rats surprised the hell out of me, and for that, I am willing to hand them a massive upset. Faith No More head for the showers, and Cellar of Rats move on to Day Five.
The second day of redraw is finished, and when next we see these lovelies, the following (surprisingly formful) matchups will be entering the arena armed with nailed-up baseball bats and trashcan shields…
#1 The Orphan, the Poet, “Black and White Photography” vs. #8 Kitchen Cynics, “Me Forgetting You Forgetting Me”
#5 Murderous Vision, “A Whisper Becomes a Shiver” vs. #4 Satanic Threat, “Guilty of Hating Christ”
#3 The Angels of Light, “Song for My Father” vs. #6 Submachine, “Last Night”
#7 Inerds, “Shut It” vs. #15 Cellar of Rats, “Where the Dead Might Lie”