Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top Five Tuesday: Epic Songs

When Built to Spill closed last night's KC show with a 20ish-minute rendition of "Velvet Waltz," I started thinking about epic songs. While usually I wouldn't consider this one an epic (as kickass as it is), there's another BTS number that sneaks onto the list.

So what did I use as my criteria? I can't say exactly. Just that the songs were expansive, musically/lyrically significant, or seemed somehow, you know, vital.

I couldn't cut it down to just five, so forgive me for what is essentially a Top Eight List.

Drumroll please...

5. The Flaming Lips - "A Machine in India" (10:24)
Only Wayne can get away with heralding "all the bleedin' vaginas." Somewhere around that seven-minute mark the song builds toward its climax and I start feeling myself disintegrate. Let me just say, anyone who thinks Zaireeka deserves a 0.0 rating should give this song a good long listen and rethink the matter. If that doesn't work, take some drugs.

Sigur Rós - "Viõrar Vel Til Loftárasa" (10:18)
I remember when I first heard about this band, everyone was in a tizzy over "Olsen Olsen." Don't get me wrong; that song is great (even if it does conjur images of those little Full House brats). " Viõrar" was the first Sigur Rós song that seduced me. It's easy to see why. Take the build-up in those opening minutes. Jonsi's vocals don't appear until the 4:51 mark, allowing the listener to become fully enveloped in the melody before -- wham! -- those crystalline pipes take hold. Yes, it's that good. And that dizzying crescendo at the end of the track... talk about ending a song.

Built to Spill - "Broken Chairs" (8:40)
Oh, how long I waited to hear this song live. Though I didn't hear the song last night, BTS closed both its 2007 Lawrence shows with this song. And what a closer it is. For one, there's something so deliciously dark about it. Also, it kicks ass. In some ways "Broken Chairs" could be considered an anomaly in the band's catalog, but in the very best way possible.

4. Grandaddy - "He's Simple. He's Dumb. He's the Pilot." (8:53)
Lately I've been rambling about how some albums seem better than the band. In this case, this song just might be better than the band. The Sophtware Slump is a fine album, to be sure, it's just this song seems to tower over its fellow tracks. And putting it as the first song on the album? Ballsy.

3. Joanna Newsom - "Emily" (12:09)
You had to know something from Ys would make it on here. The entire album reeks of "epic" (epic-ness?). Pair gorgeous instrumentation with some of the most mind-blowing lyrics you'll ever hear, and you've got a masterpiece on your hands. Another ballsy opening track, and my favorite on an altogether ballsy album.

2. Modest Mouse - "The Stars are Projectors" (8:47)
Talk about your anomaly in a band's catalog. Where in the F did this song come from? I'm convinced that it's doing about 3/4 the work of making this one of the best Modest Mouse albums. Somewhere around that six-minute mark the flurry of strings begins. They don't stop until the song explodes, like a star going nova.

And the number one epic song is....

Wilco - "Kid Smoke"

Just kidding!

1. Pink Floyd - "Echoes" (23:27)
Now, I'm no Floyd maniac or anything, but there's no denying the absolute awesomeness of this track. The circularity of the melody/vocals, the stellar guitar solos, those creepy birds toward the end... This song is about as epic as you can get, clocking in at over twenty minutes. And what a phenomenal twenty minutes those are. You'll feel as if you've floated into another universe, until that melody returns, pulling you back down to Earth.

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" deserves a nod as well, but she's no match for "Echoes."


panopticon said...

Sonic Youth - The Diamond Sea

And am I the only person who listens to that Grandaddy song and hears some political overtones, superimposed with an image of a simpleton Commander-In-Chief sitting at a desk with absolutely no idea what the fuck he's doing or what's going on?

Happy fifth anniversary. 3,990 US troop fatalities and an approximate cost of $500 billion.

"Adrift again, 2000 man
You lost your maps,
You lost the plans..."

Joshwa said...


No Porcelina?

or Through the Eyes of Ruby?

or For Martha?

omgwtfbbq, etc