Donde No Hay Sufermiento: The Top Twelve Songs from 1:40 to 1:43

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13. Apr. 2010, 7:19

The Aspirations of Very Short Songs

The struggle to be something more than fluff or fun trash, or to be an exemplar of the highest places to which fluff and fun trash can aspire; to make a skeletal framework stand in for flesh and imply substance inside a spook; to transcend the limitations of length when you hardly have time to say anything; to set a memorable mood quickly and then make it seem bigger than it actually is.

Or to be Guided by Voices. This list is dominated by a relatively small number of bands, which I think is less due to limitations in my collection than it is to the small number of bands consistently working at this length. And more so, that some of those small number of bands are really, really good at short-form songwriting.

I Swear, I Picked That Journal Title Before Today

But very weird, to grab a quote from a song with a "me voy" refrain, considering that last.fm has just announced a change that will drive quite a few users elsewhere. Is this site just about data collection now? I wonder if the loss of the play-on-demand feature makes this column less user-friendly. I wonder if there is now little reason to keep it here, anyway.

I just opened a Hype Machine account, and it seems to scrobble appropriately. However, it seems there are fewer fully-streamable tracks available. Readers, let me know: does the migration of full-track streaming to other sites mean that reading this column is now too much work? Or does it not matter as much as it seems like to me? Does it make a difference if you can get Spotify? (I can't.)

Project Index

The Top Twelve Songs from 1:40 to 1:43

1) To Remake the Young Flyer--Guided By Voices
What a delicious wet/sticky guitar sound! Most of these extremely short songs are really best at their truncated length, but if Sprout had wanted to be even a little bit self-indulgent, he could have stretched this one out. The Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd (to which “Flyer” owes a debt of influence) would have ridden this tune for at least three minutes, and we all would have thought it was great.

2) Eruption--Van Halen
Yeah, it’s just wanking. But it is 100% awesome (and quite short) wanking, so there’s not a single boring second to sit through before the cool part. The whole thing is the cool part.

3) Never Talking to You Again--Hüsker Dü
The shock of the folk rock! It would still be great anywhere in Hüsker Dü's oeuvre, but putting this song third on the side one of Zen Arcade is brilliant sequencing: a radical curveball to purist expectations.

4) The Leader--The Clash
Diddley beat with a simple and satisfying candypop refrain, in some ways an exemplar of what can be done within this time limitation.

5) Isla de Encanta--Pixies
Back when this song came out, I was taking first semester Spanish, and I asked my teacher what "fermiento" was. Because I heard it as "Donde no hay su fermiento," or, "Where there is none [of] your something." Also waiting for the German dominatrix version, "Ilsa de Encanta."

6) Cowboys From Hollywood--Camper Van Beethoven
Are they kind of taking the piss out of Dwight Yoakam here? They might have run into each other in California in the early 80s, and David Lowery might have asked Dwight’s band, “Hey, aren’t ya’ll cowboys from Hollywood?” Dwight's band would have gotten offended and claimed to be from Bakersfield, and then there would have almost been a fight.

7) Zurich Is Stained--Pavement
As Lisa pointed out, Pavement on my list has come to seem obligatory. But gosh, they have so many great songs; this one is an exquisitely warped fragment of refried country, although it loses a little something from not being in the album sequence.

8) Dreams Reoccurring--Hüsker Dü
Self-indulgent prog at a length tolerable for human beings. Its companion piece, the 14-minute “Reoccurring Dreams” is punk at a length tolerable for King Crimson fans.

9) I Found The Star--Fastbacks
Hyperactive pink punk pop, played too fast and too loud, and I mean that as a compliment.

10) What's My Name--The Clash
“(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone” reimagined, or ripped off, or stomped on, depending on one’s frame of reference. Also see Stop Draggin' Me Down by The Mono Men and Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones by The Hives. "What's My Name" is the best of the three.

11) Hot Freaks--Guided By Voices
Pollard emotes over a loose groove; structurally it’s barely there at all, but it feels like something larger, and it’s gone before you notice it isn’t.

12) Brown Paper Sack--The Gentrys
Reigning Sound’s growlier cover blows away this original, which is rather limp in comparison, but it is still fun trash.

I'll be honest: there are three or four other GBV songs that could have, and maybe should have, made this list, since they are all better than "Brown Paper Sack." But in the interest of variety, I restricted each band to two songs.

Well, then. I am still stunned by today's announcement about the removal of full tracks. It really makes this a different place. You know, I have always thought the price of a last.fm subscription was absurdly cheap; I would be willing to pay more to get the full tracks back, and I wonder why no one ever surveyed the subscribers to find out about that.
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Kommentare

  • moik

    Wow - there are a ton of songs in this time zone-some with a lot of plays! Hot Freaks Guided By Voices Buzzards And Dreadful Crows Guided By Voices Eruption Van Halen Take 5, D. Minutemen She's Too Much For My Mirror Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band Cadillac Combustible Edison Fake Contest Minutemen Isla De Encanta Pixies 900 foot jesus Tragic Mulatto Zurich Is Stained Pavement Never Talking To You Again Husker Du Frownland Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band Blimps Go 90 Guided By Voices Cans And Brahms Yes (ha ha!)

    13. Apr. 2010, 14:03
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    The change makes very little difference to me. I would only use on-demand streaming perhaps to check out a track from one of these journal conversations. Otherwise, and interesting track or artist, I will tag – then listen to the tag station. Or listen to the artist’s Similar Artist station. Because I don’t want to know, usually, exactly what is coming next. For many, of course, the reverse holds – hence the popularity of Spotify. Difficult for Last though, to try and provide a worldwide service. The GEMA rate (Germany) for on-demand streaming in 11 Eurocents per track played. That burns out a subscription very quickly. The UK rate is about 1/50th of that, so more manageable. Lots of countries probably have still to set rates, so they may have trouble stored up in the form of retrospective payments. And I don’t know what the US rate is – but that is why the Spotify US launch keeps getting postponed.

    13. Apr. 2010, 14:35
  • moik

    I didn't know about the changes - but I really feel that last.fm isn't anything at all like what it used to be. This used to be my main internet activity- so far this YEAR I only have a total of two shouts!

    13. Apr. 2010, 14:56
  • moik

    BTW - that song *Hot Freaks* cracks me up! >>i walked into the house of miraculous recovery and stood before king everything and he asked me to join him in the red wing took me to pie land said, "i'm a thigh man" i will be eternally hateful<< lot's a crazy dreamlike allusions to oral sex.

    13. Apr. 2010, 15:01
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    When you let us know that a particular artist was dominating the length, I immediately assumed it would be The Ramones. After drawing up my shortlist, I was certain it would be The Clash. Would have been a lot more guesses before I got to GBV... (I had more Mountain Goats than anything else, but don’t expect them to dominate your lists). 1) The Clash - 1977. I can still remember the day I bought this single. (It’s the B-side of White Riot). Going home on the bus with my friends making fun of me for having been ripped off. Both sides of the single, together, didn’t last 4 minutes. However, I’m still happy with the value provided. 2) The Jesus & Mary Chain - Taste Of Cindy. The perfect marriage of pop and feedback. 3) The Clash - What’s My Name. Although Rob’s already put this one on the table, I’m keeping it here. Because the first three in my list stand a fair way above the rest, which would not have got above honourable mentions at many lengths. 4) Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - calloused fingers won’t make you strong, edith wong. The vignette is Owen CFTPA Pallett’s strongest line. 5) Armand Schaubroeck – Buried Alive. Deeply incorrect. 6) Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Mystery Dance. 7) The Adverts - Back From The Dead. I seem to be even more punkrockcentric than usual this time. Hardly a surprise though, brevity being the soul of punk. 8) The Saints - Demolition Girl. 9) Tunng - Fair Doreen. The recent gig was disappointing – I hadn’t realised beforehand that they had changed the lineup and set sail for the mainstream. Previous gigs were excellent, and the first couple of albums are imo the best of folktronica. 10) The Mountain Goats - Going to Maine. 11) The Ramones - Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment. 12) The Mountain Goats - Blueberry Frost 13) The Fall - In the Park. 14) Guided By Voices - Sister I Need Wine. Hmm – the 6th GBV track mentioned. Perhaps they really are masters of the early 1:40s 15) Marine Girls - Marine Girls.

    13. Apr. 2010, 15:37
  • rockrobster23

    The Clash is a pretty good guess, as "1977" almost made this list, too. (As did "Taste of Cindy") However, GBV has something like 9 songs in this range, and the overall quality is quite high. As for the streaming, I would always listen to the songs mentioned here--the ones that were streamable, anyway. The biggest loss is that little bands like mine are now no longer fully streamable. I don't care about royalties or anything, it was just nice to be able to direct people here when they were curious. Also, I used to really enjoy (once every two or three weeks) just careening through the libraries of a bunch of bands I didn't know much about, playing full tracks and surfing around based on similar artists. These are not "core experience" last.fm things, but they were pretty nice to have, and big parts of the reason I subscribe.

    13. Apr. 2010, 19:42
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    Yes, it's a setback for the little guys (although, to be pedantic, they are fully streamable - just not on demand). The possibility of offering as free downloads remains though. It all applies to the various ATV and Drop Kick Me Jesus tracks I've made available too. I would make them free downloads, but am not in touch with many of the other musicians and don't think it would be right to presume on their behalf.

    13. Apr. 2010, 20:46
  • rockrobster23

    I'm sure it's just because I'm immersed in it right now, but seeing those "Hot Freaks" lyrics moik posted reminds me of Pynchon.

    13. Apr. 2010, 23:19
  • Auto_Da_Fe

    The White Visitation?

    14. Apr. 2010, 16:57
  • rockrobster23

    Yes, D-Wing.

    14. Apr. 2010, 17:44
  • LisaV

    Zurich Is Stained, Never Talking To You Again and Demolition Girl would have made my list, as well as all 3 Clash tracks already mentioned, so I'm falling on some reserves here...but still a decent list... 1. Big River - Johnny Cash 2. Not That Kind Of Girlfriend - The Smoking Popes 3. The Happy Prole - Quasi 4. Never Be True - CoCoComa 5. One Foot in Front of the Other - Box Elders 6. Doomsday Romantic - Hex Dispensers 7. The Skeleton - Quasi 8. Teardrops Fall Like Rain - Buddy Holly 9. Down The Street - The Smoking Popes 10. Bank Holiday - Blur 11. Play with Fire - Dead Moon 12. Wabash Blues - Paul Revere & The Raiders

    15. Apr. 2010, 0:54
  • rockrobster23

    Wow, that must be a quick version of "Big River"--is it especially fast, or does he drop a verse or something? The one I have is 2:31. In any case, great song. Tell me more about this Buddy Holly song I don't know about. And the Hex Dispensers.

    17. Apr. 2010, 7:01
  • LisaV

    Yeah it is a quick version from live at San Quentin...and whoops that is The Crickrets but the artist says Buddy Holly in my iTunes library because it was from some unrecognizable compilation I ripped. The Hex Dispensers = garage punk from Austin...they don't reinvent the wheel, but they do have a great name...

    18. Apr. 2010, 21:58
  • rockrobster23

    Ack, you are raising that girl right!

    21. Apr. 2010, 18:11
  • rockrobster23

    Persecuted for not liking the empty popular music of her day? Check. Ack, you are molding a future punk rocker, I tell you. Next is 3:08, with an appreciation of those aggregators of contemporaneous detritus, K-Tel and Ronco.

    26. Apr. 2010, 7:50
  • rockrobster23

    My apologies: I have pancaked against a wall of "do not want to" with this project. Not sure if this will be a brief break, a hiatus, or an abrupt ending. It feels like work all of a sudden; maybe that will pass.

    4. Mai. 2010, 1:51
  • dancingabout

    I actually had 20 songs in this time frame. Beatles & Costello (of course) but also discovered a Sonny Landreth tune in there - 'Great Gulf Wind' and one of my new favorite artist (that I think you'd like Rob)...All Dressed in White

    4. Jun. 2010, 14:15
  • dancingabout

    Opps. forgot to mention her name...Dawn Landes

    4. Jun. 2010, 14:16
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