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Here's Five: Transistors

Here's Five: Transistors

Friday 25th September, 2015 1:01PM

On the heels of letting loose their new EP, Cuppa Jarra Brossa, Christchurch trio Transistors are about to hit the road for a handful of shows with Auckland's The Situations (who also have a new release to celebrate, which you can stream over here). In anticipation of the joint tour Transistors guitarist and singer James Harding compiled a Here's Five list for us, with the self-selected theme of five depressing songs, as he explains...

When you're asked to compile a list of music it is, by nature, a self indulgent exercise, so I decided to really run with that and do a list of five songs that depress me for strange and unexpected reasons...

1. Elwood - Sundown

Olly and I talk about bad music a lot, probably too much if anything. We were talking about this song the other day, which is the only reason I’m even including it, because most people reading this are probably wondering who Elwood even is. To the uninitiated, he basically looks like a faded photocopy of Everlast and his only hit (and I use that word loosely because it wasn’t really a hit), was this white guy rap rendition of a pretty pedestrian MOR hit by grumpy old Golden Lightfoot.

I can’t even really pinpoint what it is that depresses me so much about this song but in our comprehensive discourse, Olly and I agreed that because it was barely even a hit, and a cover of a really nothing song to begin with, and it's full of that weak white guy rap that was so popular at the time, it all mixes together to form the perfect cocktail to leave you feeling cold. Also the album this piece of junk was on is called The Parlance of Our Time, which I assume is a Big Lebowski reference, and that annoys me because he's hanging his crappy music off a great film. I find myself wondering what Elwood's doing now.

2. Everclear - Wonderful
I know this song is intended to pull at the heartstrings, with the whole divorce through the eyes of a child theme, but that's not what gets me down in the dumps. There's an innate and unshakeable connection I have with this piece of shit song and my first ever job. I was a grease monkey in a little country service station workshop, I started there aged 14 earning $4.80 an hour and my boss was a really unpleasant man, that's all I'll say about him. It was a really septic, nasty atmosphere and I dreaded walking through the front doors after school and on Saturday mornings.

Somewhat strangely for a 'blokey' workshop, we would listen almost exclusively to Top 40 pop radio, namely The Edge or ZM. This song came out right as I began the job and I would literally hear it every time I had a shift. To this very day there's a Pavlov's Dog thing happening if I'm unfortunate enough to catch a snippet of it, I start shuddering and break out in a cold sweat.

I hate the way he delivers the mawkish, cringey lyrics. Particularly lines like "promises mean everything, when you're little, when the world's so big" and "they say bad words that make me want to cry". I get it, he's trying to sing from the perspective of a child but come on, have you seen the guy? He looks like he's about a hundred.

3. Nine Days - Absolutely (Story of a Girl)
During the recording of our EP, it was not uncommon for us and Joe to take a break for several hours and go down a YouTube rabbit hole, one such journey led me back to this song. They just didn't have a hope of having another hit with a name like Nine Days. I bet four of the five guys in this band sell toner over the phone now. "This is the story of a *micropause* girl!"

4. Korn - Falling Away From Me
As a nerdy teenager, I would spend most evenings in my room listening to Channel Z's Hot Rocks at Nine with Hot Mel on my Sanyo portable CD player and wondering whether Hot Mel was as hot as she sounded. My biggest worry then was probably whether I had enough V05 gel left to spike up my bowl cut for school tomorrow. This was the early 2000s and I was a total metalhead, I had a Pantera t-shirt, and Sepultura plastered all over my school folder. Somewhat inexplicably though, while I was opening my ears and mind to the joys of The Kinks, I was still rocking out to the likes of Korn and the Bizkit.

It wasn't long before I fully jettisoned the juvenile chug of nu-metal in favour of the giddy thrill of punk. Now when I hear a band like Korn, it's kind of funny on one level, but it also just sounds so joyless to me. Of course there's a place in the world for dour music, but this song in particular just sounds ugly. It has that irritating floppy clicking sound that punctuates their music (which it turns out is the noise you get if you slap an impossibly down-tuned five string bass). I was definitely at the right age for this music, but then I turned 15 - and hearing it as an adult just makes me feel a bit sad. I think I get where my old man was coming from.

5. Kid Rock - All Summer Long

I heard this song in the toilet of an Arby's in Fort Wayne, Indiana - the perfect setting for this song in a way. It's astonishing to me that Kid Rock has sustained a lengthy career. He started out in the early 90s aping Vanilla Ice... I mean, who better to mimic than the Pat Boone of hip hop? From there he latched on to nu-metal with 'Bawitdaba', and then he really shat the bed and slid into the lucrative country/pop-crossover market with this unlistenable turd of a song, and it worked for him. It just depresses me that he exists, and that he can write a cheese-dick 'good times' nostalgia song that takes its catchiness from the hooks of Skynyrd and Warren Zevon songs and people go bananas over it.

The Transistors and The Situations are kicking off their Double Release tour tonight at the Darkroom in Christchurch, head over here for full dates and details.


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