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.
Yo La Tengo – “Sugarcube” (I Can Feel the Heart Beating as One, Matador Records)
Yo La Tengo are the chameleon kings of indie rock, often sounding like several different bands over one album. I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One is one such album, finding the band masterfully taking on several different styles over the course of an hour. Stand out track, “Sugarcube” finds them in full on fuzzed out rock mode, delivering an incredibly catchy jam. Loud screeching guitars mix with sugary sweet melodies and grimy keyboards. For the accompanying music video Yo La Tengo turned to comedy greats David Cross and Bob Odenkirk to deliver one of the funniest and best videos around. Record executives send Yo La Tengo to Rock School so they can make them more money. It’s absolutely hilarious.
Black Star – “Definition” (Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star, Rawkus Entertainment LLC)
Mos Def and Talib Kweli are hands down two of the best rappers alive and any song that features both of them is guaranteed to be a hit. Black Star is the supergroup they formed to produce just one album back in 2002 and it is a must listen for any fan of the genre. Their styles of rapping perfectly complement each other, with Mos varying between singing and rapping and Kweli’s crazy rhyme schemes and smooth rapid fire delivery. “Definition” finds this marriage of vocal delivery blazing on top of an old school boom bap beat, while they spit back and forth about the state of hip hop. It’s a master class hip hop track that gets better and better with each listen.
Ramones – “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” (Animal Boy, Warners Brothers)
“Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” isn’t one of the tracks that makes up the Ramones central cannon, but it is one of the most complex and enjoyable songs that they created. Written after seeing then President Ronald Reagan visit a German World War II cemetery, the overall feeling is just being sick of politicians and the political game that they play. Although written in 1985, the sentiment of this song is completely in line with U.S. politics today, especially given the never ending insanity of the current election cycle. Who hasn’t thought “My brain is hanging upside down, I need something to slow me down” after watching one of these debates? Apart from the message this song is also just one of those you want to crank up and sing along to the chorus and the “ahh la la la” parts. So turn up the volume and be ready to get out some frustration with a smile on your face.
Thee Oh Sees – “I Was Denied” (Warm Slime, In the Red)
Thee Oh Sees are a prolific band from San Fransisco fronted wonderfully by Jon Dwyer. Back in 2005 Thee Oh Sees rented a music venue space for 12 hours and recorded Warm Slime, hoping to capture the energy and intensity of their live shows. The resulting album definitely captures what they were hoping for and is a really fantastic listen. “I Was Denied” is a standout track both from Warm Slime and their discography as a whole. It is a great example of what makes Thee Oh Sees so good. It’s upbeat and catchy with unique harmonies soaked in reverb over gritty guitar and driving drums. Plus, who can resist thrashing along to a song and yelling “La la la la la”?