You guys, I’m so lazy this Lazy Friday that I can’t even be bothered to listen past the first track of any given album. Obviously, my only option is to compose a Lazy Friday Mix of awesome opening tracks.
Starting with the opening track to what is still my favorite album ever. Of course, I’m talking about “London Calling” by the Clash. Listen to that bass line! Hear Joe Strummer’s howls! Try to figure out what “zombies of death are!” Look, the point is that “London Calling” opens London Calling – the best album ever – with the kind of gallows humor (“I have no fear/ ’cause London is drowning and I/ I live by the river!”) and genre-melding awesomeness that earned the Clash, for a time, the distinction of being “the only band that matters.”
From my favorite album ever, lets look at an opening track from my favorite band working right now. I’m speaking, as I very often do on Bollocks!, about the Hold fucking Steady. Specifically, I’m speaking about “Constructive Summer,” the song that opens Stay Positive. The thing I love about the Hold Steady is this: when they set out to write a summer anthem, a sing-along song, they don’t rest until they’ve come up with something like “Constructive Summer” (in which Craig Finn sings, “Our psalms are sing-along songs”), which is my absolute favorite Hold Steady song. Why? Because it opens with a massive, simple-yet-elegant guitar riff and in just under three minutes, it tells you everything you need to know about the Hold Steady as a band. It pays the best tribute to Joe Strummer I have ever heard in song form – “Raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer/ I think he might’ve been our only decent teacher” (someone will probably suggest that Cowboy Mouth song about Joe Strummer, but they should suggest it elsewhere. Dumping a girl because she’s never heard of Joe Strummer is fucking stupid. Sorry, but it is). And because it ends with something that I think is 100% true: “We are our only saviors.”
Recently inducted Bollocks! contributor Zac, or “Plan Z,” as he is sometimes known, had this suggestion for my list of great opening tracks, and I’m hard put to disagree with him: “Zac here. I never could, and still don’t, understand the application of the label “stoner rock” for Queens of the Stone Age. They named their previous band after a D&D monster, for fuck’s sake. I don’t know who you were playing D&D with in high school, but my dungeon master was most assuredly not carving pipes out of oversized d20s. I understand the stoner label didn’t sit too well with Josh Homme & co., either, which is why 2000’s Rated R opens with the hilariously rad “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” a song that woke up one morning, said “fuck this noise,” went downtown straightaway to empty its accounts at the Subtlety and Understatement Savings & Loan, and blew it all in a ridiculous rock n’ roll orgy of irony and awesomeness. C-c-c-c-c-co-caaaaaaaaaaine!”
Just now, just this very second, I was chatting with new contributor Justin (who has the distinction of being the first person to use the phrase “cum dumpster” in a Bollocks! post) and recommending him some music to get him through his Friday. I mentioned that he could be listening to Doolittle by the Pixies and then I remembered how totally fucking awesome “Debaser” is as an opening track. It’s a pop song gone totally off its nut (being “debased,” as it were), inspired – at least in part – by the Salvador Dali/Luis Buñuel flick Un Chien Andalou. There’s nothing more to say about this song. Just click the link and listen to it!
While I wait and wait and wait for Santi White (now Santigold) to release a follow-up to Santogold, I am reminded of how wonderfully she kicked off her debut album. It was with a song called “L.E.S. Artistes,” which showcases White’s considerable talent for writing a catchy-as-fuck chorus. Although I don’t really know what’s going on in the video.
Speaking of catchy as fuck, I think that phrase very accurately describes It’s Blitz, the last Yeah Yeah Yeahs record (which came out all the way back in 2009. I think it’s time for a new record, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. What do you think?). That album opens with a dancey number called “Zero.” About halfway through the song, I realize that I don’t know or care what it’s about. The persistent beat and Karen O’s out-fucking-standing vocals take me to a place where all I wanna do is jump around like an idiot (which I guess is to say they take me to a Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert).
Let’s head back to the 1990s for a few minutes, shall we? Back before he went totally batshit, Billy Corgan was in a band called Smashing Pumpkins, whose best album by far is called Siamese Dream. That album opens with “Cherub Rock,” a song that is most adequately described as “massive” (I’d link to the video on YouTube, but EMI, being the horrible cunts that they are, has decided to block the video in the U.S.). That guitar riff is burned into the bones of everyone who was struggling through adolescence in the 1990s and it has stood the test of time. Never read anything Billy Corgan says on the internet, but by all means listen to Siamese Dream.
Continuing in the Nineties, we turn our attention to a little-known band from Seattle called…well, I forget what they were called. Whatever. Never mind. Anyway, this band whose name I forget had an album called Nevermind that opened with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a song that happily borrows its dynamics from the Pixies. Twenty years after its release, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” still rocks. It’s a shame nothing big ever happened with this band because they were pretty good.
I can never find enough excuses to link to the video for “Moves” by the New Pornographers. It opens last year’s Together, a powerful, popful (but not power-popful) wonder of a record. The video is entertaining, but the refrain of “These things get louder,” is one of my favorites from last year. And there’s an electric fucking cello! Electric. Fucking. Cello. Enough said.
In closing, though, I wanna tell you about what might be the best opening track ever. That’s “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones. It opens their first album and if you listen to it once on this glorious Friday, you will listen to it one thousand times. Hey! Ho! Let’s go!
Okay. I need lunch. May all your Fridays be lazy and all your Saturdays be largely hangover-free.