BUT HAVE YOU HEARD is our occasional music recommendation column in which we dare to dive into the murky depths of Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube (and more) to bring you our most choice audio selections, new and old. Sometimes obscure, sometimes mainstream, but always interesting, find out what The Grumps are listening to this week!
KICKING GIANT, “SHE’S REAL”
At a certain point, the world is so hot that all life must slow to a crawl including the music you listen to. Maybe the sweltering heat actually slows time itself making sound pitched down 10% as you crawl towards the non-relief of nightfall. “She’s Real” is about unrequited love during this already punishing time of the year. 85 degrees Fahrenheit at half past 2am as you lay sleepless, alone, knowing your heart is held captive in an apartment across town. F*#% your life, right? — BRIAN MILLER
THE BIG PINK, “STAY GOLD”
I rewatched The Outsiders recently for an upcoming project that is very tenuously related if that; doing research on a shirt used in the film, but I couldn’t help but get sucked in and watch the whole dang thing all over again. And you know that scene toward the end, Johnny’s letter that says, in part: “…I’ve been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it. He meant you are gold when you’re a kid, like green. When you’re a kid everything is new, dawn. It’s just. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That’s gold. Keep it that way, it’s a good way to be. I want you to tell Dally to look at one. I don’t think he’s ever really seen a sunset. There’s still a lot of good in the world. Tell Dally. I don’t think he knows.” Well, the “stay gold” theme just kept running around my mind for a while until I remembered 2012’s “Stay Gold” from The Big Pink. It’s a jubilant post-shoegaze song of edification, and while the only reference between The Outsiders and the song is the chorus “Stay Gold,” they seem to carry the same idea: be good and kind, be the light in the darkness, try and keep hold of your innocence. And what more charge into summer do we need than that, the reminder to Stay Gold. — ANDREW GIMETZCO!
SHE’S EXCITED!, “ADD CLARITY”
“If I refuse to sleep, who’s gonna dream my dreams? If I refuse to sleep, who’s gonna live my dreams?”
She’s Excited! is the Brooklyn (by way of Munich) electronic artist that you never knew you needed. A dark yet dancey blend of industrial, pop, techno, and beyond – She’s Excited! is Anne Wichmann, a talented singer, songwriter, and producer who records and masters everything herself. Fans of everything from Aphex Twin to Billie Eilish to Bjork to late-era Bowie are sure to vibe her unique and emotive style.
Of course, one may quickly ask, “but I thought this was a Summer list, isn’t a Summer song supposed to be lighter, bubblier?” To which, I may normally concur. However, my tastes have gotten a bit darker going into this particular Summer. A year of pandemics and lockdowns has me pumping louder, more aggressive music, especially of the electronic variety. The catharsis that goes along with pumping She’s Excited! and artists like her while cruising on a nice sunny day with the windows down is unparalleled, especially as the world seems to be opening up and letting its proverbial hair down.
What makes this song a Summer anthem for me this year is that it encapsulates my feelings sonically, with an upbeat and danceable beat that is placed behind loud, aggressive vocals and instrumentation. Listening to this as I roll into the Summer feels like I’m screaming, “Look out world!” as I unleash my post-pandemic self. — JUSTIN HARLAN
JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS, “YOU’RE A STAR”
Thanks to all the 20th anniversary celebratory hoopla surrounding the Josie & The Pussycats movie, I’ve been digging deep into the soundtrack once again. In addition to checking out a Charly Bliss cover set from Halloween in 2017 on YouTube – which is absurdly energetic and fun – and watching Letters to Cleo’s Kay Hanley perform a couple of songs live at a fan event, I burned off a copy of the soundtrack and threw it in my van. As the weather warms up and the sun attempts to shine in between days and days of rain, it’s been an absolute delight blasting these pop-rock gems to and from work every day. Walking into the liquor store with “You’re A Star” ringing in my ears, feeling all pumped up and ready to go – there’s really no finer feeling. — NICK SPACEK
Ouzo Bazooka, Songs from 1001 Nights
Is everybody ready for some hot summer weather? No? Well then, put a little bit of this into your body and warm up from the inside to acclimate. It’s Songs from 1001 Nights, a mostly instrumental offering from Israeli indie rockers Ouzo Bazooka, and this music is hot. It sounds like heat. It will make you sweat. The songs are a deft mixture of retro Americana with traditional Middle Eastern music. Surf rock leads and crunchy Telecaster rhythms will tickle your ears with California zephyrs. Reggae-inspired dub bass will transport you to a Caribbean beachside bar. Hammond organs and swirling synths will make you feel the stuffy, sweaty stink of a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco club circa 1965 or so. All this behind the sounds of ouds, cymbals, and droning reed-like synths that meet the ear like the aural equivalent of a desert heat haze. The exotic melodies will put a spicy taste in your mouth and sweat beads on your forehead. Listening to Songs from 1001 Nights sounds like driving a souped-up hot-rod down a sweltering oceanside highway that stretches all the way from here to Mecca. Top down, please. — TYLER PETERSON
DAUGHTER JUDY, “MOSHING ON THE BEACH”
The legacy of Gen X will definitely be their camp send-ups of Boomer culture. In the mainstream, we had masters like John Waters and Tim Burton. The underground had legends too and David DeCoteau is among that alley loitering royalty. Beach Babes From Beyond mostly is an excuse for jaw-droppingly stupid Skinemax style faux-sex scenes, but it also captures the whole Church of Bob thing very well in moments like the “Moshin’ on the Beach” montage. Take that, beach blanket bingo culture, we’re moshing all over you! — BRIAN MILLER
YOKO ONO/PLASTIC ONO BAND, “WHY”
When the primal nature of surf culture meets the avant-garde: in an alternate universe, this psycho-kabuki freakout is the beachfront bonfire hit akin to our more radio-friendly “Surfin’ Bird.” You can call it a “stretch,” but there’s really no use in arguing with me on this one. — elbee
More Grumpy music recommendations here, on the last edition of BUT HAVE YOU HEARD?!