#TT Superdrag "Aspertame"

Superdrag “Aspartame” [This is a true Throwback Thursday post since I published this Thursday, March 26, 2009 on my blog The Living Room]

It will probably come as no surprise to those of you who know me that Superdrag’s Industry Giants, released a little over a week ago, has been in heavy rotation here in the office, in the car and on walks home from work.

What is something of a surprise is that the band has already filmed a very nice video for the brilliantly caustic catharsis that is “Aspartame,” a fist-pumping, contrarian rant against the establishment, the military and wickedness in general. I won’t try and insert any more overly descriptive words here: I just plain LOVE it. Plus, it has two of the best executed dub breakdowns I’ve ever heard. Both John Lennon and Bob Marley would be jealous.

some of the clouds are not clouds
some of those jets pose death threats
it’s coming around
coming around
some of your rights don’t win outright
some of your lights are not lights
the consuming fires of hell
burn this place to the ground
burn it right to the ground

I just write songs
I don’t carry a gun
I want peace and safety for my innocent sons and wife
I just love God
I don’t trust in man
On with the truth against the wickedness at hand

If you wanna usurp the power
I’ll be ready in a half an hour
Give my life for that
are the devils ever nervous?
do they deserve the death they serve us?
I’m still not certain of that

sometimes brains are mundane
entertained and restrained
and sealed up tight
all the aspartame and the video games and the drugs in the food
keeping you subdued
so you’ll never recognize who put out the lights

I just play guitar
I can’t stop the war
I want peace and safety for the kids in kandahar
if you love peace
if you love mercy
you’re bound to cause a little controversy

Actually John Davis has long been one of my favorite songwriters for knowing his way around a tune and for being willing to indulge in the most blatant of pop cliches while at the same time harboring an affection for the minor key and weird. Usually his lyrics are not the primary reason I love the songs (see “Sold You an Alibi” and almost every track from Head Trip in Every Key) but Industry Giants contains Davis’ best and most insightful lyrics to date. Plus, the music, is muscular, thoughtful and full of existential angst. There’s real conviction in Davis’ voice. Superdrag’s music is the perfect soundtrack for a world slightly past the sell-by date.

A world in need of God. A world that needs songs like “Aspartame” on the radio.

#ThrowbackThursday: Ryan Adams' obscure gems

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I don’t often participate in #TT whether on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter because I guess I prefer to use Thursday to try and make sense of the immediate future.

Friday is more or less my primary day off so I try and power through and leave my desk 50 % less full of trash.

However, looking back now and then is good for the soul, and in the case of the incomparable Ryan Adams, it can help us prepare for the future. Whether or not he returns to his hyper-prolificacy remains to be seen. But the man has authored many, many great songs, a large number of which remain relatively obscure. Here are 5 of the best, according to Popheart.

“Desire” is a gorgeous, mostly two-chord ballad that could choose to reach for epic, arena-rock heights but instead remains firmly rooted on planet earth. Which is the piece of space dust on which we all live and love and hum along. Also including a 2007 live version with The Cardinals.

“This House Is Not For Sale” merges Johnny Marr-guitar-heroics with bittersweet sentiment. Really, switch this track with any of the lesser songs on the Rock N Roll album (essentially a wink/middle finger to Lost Highway record execs) and this song could have been a fantastic single.

“So Alive” was in fact, a single from the album Rock N Roll. While the whole record is underrated in my opinion, “So Alive” ranks as one of Adams’ best songs on any of his albums. Direct, unashamedly lovesick and uptempo, with a soaring vocal that almost gets silly but toes the line in favor of heartfelt.

“September” is one of the most hauntingly beautiful, warm and harrowing songs I’ve ever heard. Clocking in at a taut 2:28, Adams tells a story worth a full-length feature film in the time it takes Pitbull to open a can of Redbull.

Few writers can combine literate folk ballads and garage rockers like Ryan Adams. “Breakdown into the Resolve” is the type of song you feel like it took 10 minutes to write on the back of a discarded cocktail napkin. And you will never ever get it out of your head.