dTunes Editor’s Week, Day 1: Conrad Zimmerman

[dTunes is a community organized blog showcasing the musical tastes of Destructoid’s users. For two weeks, the editorial team is commandeering the series because, hey, we like music too. To further expand your horizons, make sure to check out the dTunes blog.]

I absolutely adore pop music and I’m not ashamed of it. When I started to write my contribution to dTunes Editor’s Week, my first inclination was to fill it with David Bowie, Elvis Costello and Lady GaGa. The more I thought about it, I realized what a colossal waste of time that would be. Everybody knows who those artists are, for good or ill.

So, instead, I dug a little deeper and thought about the bands that have had an impact on my listening but may have been overlooked by the general populace. There’s a variety in there, and some of the bands are rather well-known but for some reason I rarely hear of other people enjoying them. Perhaps this will help to change that.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society – “Addicted to Bad Ideas”

Right now, the band which has been getting the most attention from me is The World/Inferno Friendship Society. The song above is the title track from their most recent album, Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s Twentieth Century, a concept piece centered around the life of character actor Peter Lorre, best known for his roles in Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon.

The band itself is something of a shifting, morphing mass which contains as many as a dozen or more members at any given time. The range of instrumentation they use is staggering and I find the variety to be fascinating. 

This is a live band, through and through, however. If you ever find that the Society is in your town, make every effort to be in attendance. Their onstage energy evokes a carnival-like atmosphere, as frontman Jack Terricloth croons like Sinatra but with punk rock sensibility. An incredible group of people.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (f. Kylie Minogue) – “Where the Wild Roses Grow”

Nick Cave is a fascinating artist. A novelist, screenwriter, composer and singer, his talents are broad and powerful. I love his voice, with its deep bass and sinister edge, and they way it contrasts against the beauty of this particular song. 

Much of Cave’s music has a deeply spiritual/religious tone rooted in Christianity, though don’t mistake it for preaching. Hymns, these are not, and even songs of praise are tinted by a dark malice and evoke a sense of unease coupled with fascination. Cave’s world is a dark, cold and beautiful one that demands examination.

Tub Ring – “Faster”

This is a band that I happened upon entirely by accident while attending a show for which they were the opening act. The frenetic energy of their music hooked me immediately and their skill far surpassed the headlining band which I had come to see.

Tub Ring’s music is an eclectic mix, which nimbly hops from grinding guitars to keyboard-centered diddies which could almost pass for commercial jingles. Lyrically, many songs are laced with scientific theories and mathematical concepts that I’m not smart enough to entirely grasp but the poetry with which they are arranged is clever and fun.

Poe – “Hello”

I could talk about Poe forever. This entire dTunes post could have easily been dedicated solely to her work. She is one of the single finest female rock musicians I’ve ever heard. The song above is the title track of her 1996 debut and, along with the single “Angry Johnny,” helped to propel her into the spotlight amidst the storm of female rockers who were so prevalent at the time.

Four years later, when her second album arrived, the fad had passed and her record company refused to promote the album they were obligated to produce, encouraging record stations to focus more on their male artists. It’s a tragedy, as “Haunted” is an incredible concept album about family, love and regret which featured audio recordings from her recently deceased father, creating a conversation with the artist. It’s very powerful stuff yet succeeds even as a pop album due to several stand-out tracks with catchy hooks and clever lyrics.

Sadly, almost a decade has passed with no new music. A bitter legal battle between her and her label has kept her from producing her own work all of this time, but she has provided backing vocals for other musicians in the interim. She has also appeared in a videogame, the ill-fated Bruce Willis vehicle, Apocalypse, and is one of only two reasons anyone should ever play that game.

Go buy her albums. There are few pop performers who operate on her level and with her range as an artist.

Scissor Sisters – “Kiss You Off”

Okay, I lied. Sure, I can fudge a bit with Poe because she’s a little more obscure and there’s a considerable body of her work which simply wouldn’t work on radio. But, ultimately, my love of pop music has won out and I have to post a Scissor Sisters song. Referred to by Elton John as his favorite modern act, the New York-based band celebrates excess and wanton lust throughout their music.

But that’s not what makes Scissor Sisters such an incredible band. There’s an amazing dichotomy at work between the upbeat, danceable songs and their cynical, sneering lyrics. They are at times funny and outrageous, but their softer ballads have a deeply emotional resonance to them that shake me to the core. And anybody who can turn Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” into a disco track and actually make me like it clearly has something going for them.

It would be easy to go on for another twenty bands. I won’t, because it guarantees that nobody will read the entire thing and I think this is an acceptable amount to offer a little peek into the variety of music which I enjoy. I’d like to give a shout-out to RonBurgundy2010, who coordinates the dTunes community blog and helped us organize these special Editor’s weeks. Come back tomorrow as Topher Cantler contributes his own dTunes post, which will no doubt be awesome.

And go buy Poe’s albums.

Conrad Zimmerman