I think it’s fair to assume that every single one of us has that one band we like that one special song by, but either don’t much care for or actively loathe the rest of their catalogue. It’s a common phenomenon we are all bound to encounter a couple of times in our lives. Enter Skip The Rest, the three-part mini-feature in which some of us over at Everything Is Noise come together to share the songs we like from bands we don’t. In this first part, we have our editors Alon and Tyler, as well as staff writers Andrew and Jud, talking about their experiences with that one song by that one band. Please enjoy!
“Remove Yourself” by Candiria
Let me take you back in time: it was a random night during my high school years, probably late into 2007. I was at home, talking to people on Windows Messenger (god, I’m old), while MTV’s Headbangers Ball was on TV. It wasn’t too often, but the show was able to introduce to me some new and exciting musical acts.
Such was the case with Candiria‘s “Remove Yourself”. I was immediately struck by the memorable groove at the beginning of the song, later followed by Carley Coma’s unique vocals. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the way that he decided to lay them down, but their color was different; fresh enough to really catch my attention. They had this roughness to them, something that you usually find in rap rather than in metal. Even his presence and presentation in the music video makes you feel like he came from a whole different musical scene, implementing a different method and approach into the band’s music.
I later on got my hands on What Doesn’t Kill You… and listened to the whole thing. It just didn’t feel the same. I mean, it actually sounds different. This made me realize that “Remove Yourself” was a song of its own in an album that sounds nothing like it. Unfortunately, the rest of it lacked that catchiness that drew me in initially. While it introduced some nice grooves and a heavier approach, it offered nothing to bring me back for an additional listen.
“All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” by Less Than Jake
I enjoy my fair share of musical variety, but ska was one area which I rarely dug into. The upbeat, riff-oriented jaunts through relatable lyrics are fun as a short diversion, but don’t quite satiate the want for more depth in my listening experiences. Moreover, despite Less Than Jake being as old as I am with a very healthy following, I never felt as if they were particularly talented or enjoyable even within the genre itself. Which is why I find it surprising that to this day, I’m elated when I hear the opening riff for “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” come on.
The song has all the tried and true signs of the genre: head-bobbing riffage throughout its verse, further embellished with horns that you can’t help but grin at. The chorus becomes a bit more assertive with the vocals driving the music to a cathartic release. It’s short, never outstaying its welcome, and the reprieve comes in at the perfect moment. It helps that the lyrics are fun in their own right with gems such as ‘you’re one in a crowd and you’re paranoid of every sound‘.
None of this is inherently unique to this particular song, and yet most people I talk with have similar positive impression of the track. How much of that is due to its quality, and how much is the influence of nostalgia for a particularly popular children’s cartoon from our youth remains to be seen. One thing is for sure though, this is one ska track that I will keep coming back to even if I never touch the genre again.
“Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” by Megadeth
The entire rationale behind Megadeth seems like a professional wrestling ‘heel’ character trash-talking his bitter rival: ‘That Guy plays fast; well we play faster! That Guy has complex solos in their songs; well we have five solos in every song! That Guy sounds aggressive; well we sound MORE aggressive!’ etc., etc., ad nauseum.
Except ‘That Guy’ is Metallica, and to stretch this metaphor a bit, ‘That Guy’ has quit pro wrestling a long time ago and has gone on to legit acting superstardom and barely notices that the heel exists, while new generations of better pro wrestlers have come and surpassed this heel over a decade ago and continue to do so. That Megadeth could have been a good band makes this all the more unfortunate. Dave Mustaine (the band’s only permanent member – it’s basically his vanity project) could have humbled himself a bit and allowed his cohorts to share in the writing, rather than dominating every aspect of it and insisting that his ‘vision’ be imprinted upon it, even when it brings nearly all of their songs below the standards of his peers. He could have stepped into the background and allowed someone who knows how to sing take over frontman duties, instead of subjecting us to an irritating sneer that did not sound nearly as badass as he thought it did in the 80s, and sounds even more feeble now. He could have let someone with a reasonably high IQ and a pleasant personality talk to the media on the band’s behalf, instead of himself. I could go on and on.
Of course Megadeth have fans, fans who rightly place a halo over Dave Mustaine’s guitar prowess. Well, take away the solos and ask yourself if any of the riffs are memorable or even interesting. Is a Megadeth song even worth listening to if its guitar solo disappeared? Thought so.
This brings us to “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” off of Megadeth’s 1990 Rust In Peace album. The song leads off that album, starting it with a banger. Ignore Dave Mustaine’s horrible singing (not his voice – his actual singing is the problem here) and you will hear a simple but effective intro, an amazing, catchy riff, a compelling mid-tune breakdown, and yes, several guitar solos that do not seem disjointed from the rest of the song but actually carry its compositional meaning forward.
Without a doubt Megadeth’s stalwart fans will point out that the rest of Rust In Peace is epic (and to be fair, “Hangar 18” comes close) but the album’s other songs all seem to be haphazard, boring riffs randomly assembled just to give the guitar solos a place to live. “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” stands out as the one time this heel got it right.
“Neighbor Song” by Lake Street Dive
Here’s a pick that’s liable to rub some of my fellow EIN-ers the wrong way: I think Lake Street Dive is pretty mediocre. They have a few good songs, and are reliably pleasant enough to be listenable, but more often than not they end up sounding like royalty-free riffs on a more talented nostalgia act.
The first song I ever heard from them, though, convinced me that I’d just discovered my new favorite band: “Neighbor Song”, off their self-titled 2010 LP. It’s a quiet, introspective little tune, one of the rare instances in which vocalist Rachael Price drops the croony warble and sings in a way that comes across as unaffected. That straightforward performance makes the story, an achingly intimate portrait of a break-up’s aftermath, hit all the harder.
“Neighbor Song” is so good, in fact, that it rather undermines the rest of the Lake Street Dive’s work for me. I might be more forgiving towards the rest of their albums – they’re all bright, bouncy, and inoffensively cute – had I not discovered that they were capable of true greatness. Fortunately (I suppose), it retains the clay feet that are Lake Street Dive’s always-slightly-off vocal harmonies, which is a nice reminder that true greatness can be an emergent phenomenon.
Do you have any bands you don’t usually like but still bump one song by on the regular? Feel free to share it with us in the comments! Stay tuned for the second part of Skip The Rest, and thanks for reading.