Washington Think Tank with W.: What’s your favorite unconventional song in a band’s repertoire?
Greetings, friends. I’ve been getting a number of emails/messages/comments with Think Tank ideas, and I love it. Thank you all for be willing to shoulder this glorious burden with me. I promise I am taking note of these ideas and trying to get to them in due time. Today, however, I’m going to fly solo to ask you something that seems a bit time-sensitive. Today’s question is born on the back of one my favorite albums of 2015 so far. So please, once again, lend me your ears and brains.
Today’s Question: What’s your favorite unconventional song in a band’s repertoire?
I’m pulling a Frank Reynolds today because I don’t know how much time I have left on this blog [Edit: Don’t worry, folks. This was meant to be a joke because I’m likely going to be less active for the next month, but I’ll still be around]. I’m gonna get real weird with it. Today we’re talking about those oddball gems in a band’s discography. You know, those bizarre little songs that come out of left-field and leave you thinking “What the wtf was that?” (to quote Stockhausen). These are the sort of little eccentricities that after repeated listens often become your favorite songs on an album because they’re so unusual and distinct from a band’s otherwise uniform sound. Get the picture? No? Well then, I have to examples for you.
Exhibit A: Napalm Death – “Apex Predator – Easy Meat” from Apex Predator – Easy Meat
This album actually has a number of little twists and turns that would seem to go against the grain if the grindfathers hadn’t been forecasting these changes for some times. The melodies, vocal hooks, longer song structures have all been building for several albums now, so if you’ve been keeping up with Napalm Death for some time, the progressive bent of this record really shouldn’t surprise you. What might catch you off-guard, though, is that bizarre title/into track. My pal Edward called it a call to arms with a Godflesh robotic shake. To my ears, it sounds like a deranged war-chant, like something anarchist tribesman might chant as they tie a Capitalist virgin sacrifice to the altar before a rampaging revolutionist King Kong. Both descriptions are simple approximations of the truth, but whatever this song is, it is certainly effective at setting the menacing, vitriolic tone for the album. I sometimes find myself bellowing, “Apex predator! Apex predator! Easy meat! Easy meat!” as I skulk around my home. This song works and is the perfect opening salvo to a great album.
Exhibit B: A Perfect Circle – “Counting Bodies like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” from eMotive
APC is probably my least favorite of Maynard’s various side projects, and I would hesitate to even label this band metal. However, I still remember the first time I heard this track blaring from the speakers of a house party I was attending. I was utterly transfixed, and it seemed to my suddenly focused senses that the entire atmosphere of the apartment shifted, taking on a much more bestial and brooding tone. This industrial remix of the band’s previous alt-rock tune “Pet” is far superior to the original, incorporating everything from ravening animal growls to audio clips in the middle for an impressive and much more dire end product. This song may not be metal, but it’s definitely heavy, and if you didn’t see the name APC attached to it, you might not even realize the same band wrote it.
So, now that you’ve listened to my examples, it’s your turn. What’s your favorite oddity in a band’s discography? What weirdo song surpasses simple stylistic changes and instead offers a much more creative approach to songwriting. Sound off in the comments below.
P.S. Do you have an idea for Think Tank? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to collaborate.
Don’t know what the Washington Think Tank is? This is a weekly column where your former President poses a pressing question and allows the top minds at the Toilet ov Hell to investigate his query.