King Ropes – “Big Man On The TV”
Long before he had been asked to write the soundtrack for important stage productions, there was something theatrical about Tom Waits’ music. Many of his songs, even the ones written back when he presented himself as a drunken hipster, seem to be the tales of highly diverse characters that had just wandered out of their own stories onto Waits’ stage.
Spurred by a newfound love for avant-garde music, theatre and the art world’s true eccentrics, starting with the 1980s, Waits began crafting Hieronymus Bosch-like soundscapes. The sound was dense, often dissonant. The lyrics rarely dealt with closing hours at the downtown bars but with endless winter in some kind of torrential hell. This kind of music and aesthetic have created disciples, although few have the tenacity to dig into this subject matter, quite like the man who inspired them.
With that in mind, King Ropes’ Big man on the TV arrives as a musical revelation. It’s music that sounds as if it’s played by dead cowboys. Like Tom Waits, the vocal performance is eccentric but highly sophisticated. The lyrics may also elicit a snicker, but they are clearly the work of songwriter(s) that know the rules well enough to be able to toss them out the window. Much like a Tim Burton movie, it’s a jolly ride through hell and back.
Totally Slow – The Needle
Writing a memorable guitar riff is just like writing a good poem or scoring a goal chipping the goalkeeper. A lot of people can advise you on it, tell you how it’s done, or provide long stories about other instances when they accomplished this, but few can provide any proof of their abilities.
Rock music’s palette is a narrow one. It shares more modern art forms like graffiti designs and telling dirty jokes in front of an audience in Las Vegas, than it does with classical music or painting. Frankly, this is why it’s great. You’ll need a roadmap and a few teachers to get to understand the “true masters“. It takes a pair of ears and a leg to tap the rhythm of a great riff in order to understand it.
Totally Slow captures the immediacy of writing a great rock riff on their post-punkish The Needle. They show, not tell. They’re easy to appreciate, especially if you’re at all familiar with the history of guitar music. The garage-rock of the chorus sways naturally like waves on a beach. Totally Slow are the post-punk band that could soundtrack a teenage comedy, a rare commodity in the day and age where most bands can describe their sounds, but few produce one worth presenting.