Past Sounds: 8-5-16

This is Past Sounds. Every Friday Ghettoblaster Magazine is looking back and finding great music from various eras. Below are songs that sound great no matter what decade they’re played in. So strap in as we take a musical journey, back in time.

The Chills – Pink Frost (Kaleidoscope World, Flying Nun) 1986

The Chills stand out even amongst the stand out bands of the awesome wave of music from Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s. Flying Nun will live in infamy for producing some of the best jangle pop records and Kaleidoscope World is definitely no exception.  Pink Frost is unique both as a song from The Chills and as being released during this jangle pop era.  It begins with a very upbeat guitar riff but soon descends into minimalistic guitar and rhythm section in a much more somber tone.  The lyrics that follow are chilling, sung with a hazy delivery.  Pink Frost results in an uneasy, yet beautiful and fascinating journey for the listener.

The dB’s – Black and White (Stands for Decibels, Capitol Records) 1981
Stands for Decibels was the debut album for The dB’s and is truly a bizarre album.  It almost provides a bridge between 60’s psychedelic pop, 70’s power pop and 80’s new wave all at once.  Black and White stands as one of the best examples of their power pop leanings.  There are shades of punk, 60’s pop and psychedelic music throughout this powerhouse of a song.  An easy to follow and hum-along-to guitar riff propels the song forward as The dB’s sing about love and the loss of it.  There are interesting diversions with the guitar work, but what really shines here are the drums.  As the song goes on the drums get more and more frenetic, ultimately blasting apart by the end of the song.  This is a great one to test your speakers on and just blast away.

The Magnetic Fields – The Book of Love (69 Love Songs, Merge Records) 1999
Full disclosure: my wife and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary soon and this is our song, so I had to post about it.  Stephen Merritt is the beautiful, droll, monotone and expressive vocalist behind The Magnetic Fields and puts together some of the most interesting melodies sung in a truly original voice.  Merritt is also a fantastic lyricist and The Book of Love is a wonderful example of what makes The Magnetic Fields so special.  The lyrics focus on, surprise surprise, the titular book that is huge and full of figures and documents the origin of music and how to love another person.  This really is such a special song that could have not been made by anyone else but The Magnetic Fields.

A Tribe Called Quest – Check the Rhime (The Low End Theory, Zomba Recording LLC) 1991
A Tribe Called Quest is revered as one of the best jazz infused hip-hop groups. Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammed and Phife burst on the scene in 1991 with their classic album The Low End Theory. This was the first step in an output that would prove them to be an incredibly influential crew.  Their music was in direct contradiction to the gangsta rap of the 90s and largely found them rapping about how cool, calm and collected they are.  “Here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am / Tell your mother, tell your father send a telegram” is a line that shouldn’t necessarily work in a hip-hop song but A Tribe Called Quest made a career out of expressing sentiments such as these over and over again in better and better ways.  Check the Rhime also features one of the best horn samples ever; so treat your ears to some really special music.