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51 Two-Minute Songs..

+/- 15 seconds..
1The Specials

Do the Dog

Perhaps the best song to come out of the 2-tone movement of 70's UK that actually leant heavier on the punk side of things than ska revivalism. Short, loud and unabashedly snotty, Do the Dog has long since been one of my favourites, and has been played at every party I've ever thrown.
2Total Control
Typical System

Systematic Fuck

I'm still waiting for these guys to release a third album. Henge Beat was a very decent post-punk debut, and three years later, they dropped Typical System, fanned out their sound, started playing around with atmosphere in more interesting ways, and were generally poised to make a fucking stellar third record. Any day now.
3The Fall
Bingo-Master's Break-Out!

Psycho Mafia

Nowadays, this vicious little number is included on re-issues of Live at the Witch Trials. It was originally released a full year before The Fall would cut their debut full-length. Unrelentingly caustic, it has that nervy rigid swing, dancing cadaver aspect to it, that married all the outward anger of UK punk with the inward anger of post-punk. So you know, it's only fucking perfect is what it is.
4Richard Hell and The Voidoids
Destiny Street


One of the last songs the venerable Hell recorded, this romantic, solo-heavy song was included on the re-worked edition of Destiny Street, his second album. Hell had apparently felt that the studio quality for his sophomore effort was lacking, and so went back in and re-did everything years later, most of it to disastrous results, predictable from a musician who had scarcely performed or played in the gap between the two sessions. However, including a few holdover tracks from that era, including Smitten pulled up the better end of that failed experiment.


I worked a construction site a while ago with a Polish punker who worshiped Suicide even though everything else he listened to was squalling, lobotomized thrash hardcore. He was a very good teacher and taught me a lot of small, incredibly useful carpentry tricks that I still use. Unfortunately, he was fired for drinking on the job constantly, and once almost dropping a 800-pound ceiling beam on our foreman's head.
6The Gories
House Rockin'

I Think I've Had It

Along with The Stooges, Alice Cooper and a few other old dogs, the Gories were and are one of the forefathers of Detroit rock. A minimalist, soulful garage band that has been ripped off mercilessly by everyone from the White Stripes to Jay Reatard to Ty Segall. Mick Collins is still on the scene with his Dirtbombs, who don't really wield as much ragged charm, but do put on cracking live shows.
7Black Flag
Nervous Breakdown

Nervous Breakdown

The song that briefly defined both Black Flag and the West Coast hardcore scene. As perfect as a hardcore punk song should and does get really. Dizzyingly short and stuffed with sheer anxiety, Nervous Breakdown is Black Flag's finest statement of purpose. Unfortunately, both the band and the scene went to pig-shit in a matter of a few years.
Wild Gift

We're Desperate

Even Ray Manzarek's acidic keyboards couldn't ruin the utter euphoria that is this band's first four albums, though in all fairness, he was the one who pushed them to the surface and helped them gain a lot of traction with recording companies. Traction that they would use to continue recording limp albums long after the spark died off. Still, for that compressed burst between '80 and '84, X were probably the best rock band around.
9The Cigarettes
Will Damage Your Health!

I Forgot Your Number, Now I'm Telling You My Name

The Cigarettes were a tiny speck in the myriad of punk bands that came about in the UK in '77. They followed all the tropes that horde of bands did - dropped some 7-inches, an album that was a collection of the 7-inches, played some incendiary shows, figured on some key compilations from the era (including the legendary Spy From Moscow), and then vanished forever. The song is killer though.
10The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground

After Hours

That time Lou Reed took a break from transmuting and disfiguring the Beatles (improving them), and decided to transmute and disfigure French Pop. Maureen Tucker takes the lead on this one, replacing Nico, which explains why After Hours doesn't sound like it was sung by a frigid, talentless hanger-on who squeezed everything from time, place and looks that she could.
Leave Home

Oh Oh, I Love Her So

The Ramones' debut is their best album because there isn't another album like it in the world, and no one has ever managed to sound this primitive and appealing at once, including the Ramones themselves, though they tried, god bless them. But from a more objective musical quality-point, Leave Home IS their best album. And Oh Oh, I Love Her So is not only a doo-wop punk marvel, its lyrics are also a relay of its time and place, which in my eyes means that it belongs in the goddamn Smithsonian.
12The Breeders
Last Splash

No Aloha

Good albums by the Pixies go like this - Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, half of Bossanova mashed with half of Trompe, The Last Splash. Kim Deal's best album, The Last Splash is so fucking soulful and lovelorn, it needles at your heart while bashing you over the head like the soft-boiled egg you are. Everything Black never let her do to full effect as part of the Pixies came about on this album with a vengeance. Song for song, it also trompes Trompe without breaking a sweat, and sits pretty comfortably alongside Bossa.
13The Vibrators
Pure Mania


The hardest working perpetual nice guys of first-wave UK punk, The Vibrators managed to sound so evil and pissed-off on Pure Mania, no one could have predicted they would then become punkesque crooners, and then a raspy cover band that still lives and operates today. Pure Mania still remains one of the best UK punk albums out there.
14Beat Happening

Red Head Walking

The least known of the Holy Trinity of The National's granddaddies, alongside Tindersticks and Silver Jews, Beat Happening were an anomaly in the early 90's when grunge came crashing through. Romantic in the most modernist terms possible, Calvin Johnson's deep voice, droning passively about love, is what I imagine Daria's father sounded like as he sang her lullabies. In other words, beautiful. Matt Berninger took more from Johnson's vocal affectations that he would like to admit.
Is This Real?

Telepathic Love

Greg Sage is one of punk's smartest architects, which is why his music has both aged so well and evolved so gracefully, as he watched the second-wave scene crumble around him. Despite some dodgy entries on a few albums, the Wipers never cut a flat-out bad album, which is far more than more or less any punk band can say for themselves. And his guitar-playing, tonality and style remain unparalleled and inimitable. Required listening for fans of this old thing called music.
M.I.A.: The Complete Anthology

Lexicon Devil

What is there to say about Germs. One of the key acts of LA's early punk scene, they stood for everything the best American punk offered - volatility, anger, inconspicuously impressive musical chops, lyrical matter that ranged from abstract sexual nonsense to charged politico stands and fucking style. The Decline of Western Civilization is a doc everyone should watch at least thrice in their life. Also, I have a Lexicon Devil tattoo.
17The Nerves
The Nerves

Hanging On the Telephone

Sadly, what The Nerves are most known for today is that Blondie covered this song and made a hit out of it. The band lasted all of four years, but they mix of power pop and early punk sensibilities made their music both visceral and full of bright-eyed adolescent charm. And they opened for the Ramones when the Ramones fucking mattered.
18Delta 5
Singles And Sessions 1979-1981


Delta 5 were probably the best by-product of no-wave. They structured their songs with those angular guitar lines, all the while splicing in the romantic atmosphere that was starting to become the bread and butter of the surging indie movement. It made for some damn good music. They were a much, much, much, much better band than Young Marble Giants.
19The Modern Lovers
The Modern Lovers

Government Center

The husky-voiced Bostonian and his Modern Lovers made one of my favourite first-wave punk albums, though a lot of people don't consider it as such. But at its heart, what true punk always was, before it turned harder, faster and angrier, was always rock n' roll played with attitude and abandon. And Modern Lovers had all that in droves. I haven't liked much of what Richman has done since the band dissolved, and he has put A LOT of material out there. This song and this album remain a singular moment in rock music. Nothing else quite like it around.
20Girls At Our Best!

Getting Nowhere Fast

This Leeds girl group came about at the end of the 80's, and their music walked a perfect line between scorching punk, early Riot Grrrrrl dogmas and fantastically crafted post-punk. Pleasure was the only album they made together, though they would float around in rotating formations under different names all through the 80's and 90's. But this album remains in the bastion of near-forgotten post-punk masterpieces.
21Essential Logic
Wake Up

Aerosol Burns

Which dovetails nicely into Essential Logic, whose Beat Rhythm News is exactly that forgotten masterpiece. Shrill, saddened, asymmetrical and very very good, Essential Logic plied a bit of soul, RnB and even funk into their punk arrangements. Fanfare in the Garden, the complete anthology of their work is a must-have for anyone who loves Blue Orchids, Rosa Yemen, James Chance and the like.
22The Make-Up
I Want Some

The Make-Up is Lies

The Make-Up is one of Ian Svenonius' lesser-known bands. Not as outwardly aggressive or politically-inclined as Nation of Ulysses, nor as namby-pamby as Chain and the Gang or Scene Creamers, The Make-Up made weird songs about sex, thin, wobbling riffs and hysterical vocals. I Want Some is a fantastic compilation of most of their songs and is definitely worth the price of stealing on-line.
Under Color of Official Right

Tarpeian Rock

I can't wait for their new one. I think they found a perfect middle for their sound on Agent Intellect, and I look forward to listen to them stretch that sound to everywhere it can possibly fling itself to on Relatives in Descent. Official Right is their thickest, most stubborn album, shoegaze as made by steel workers and anger management cases, rich in sound, shaking with ire, it's fucking grand.
Static Age


We used to play with a Toronto band called Fuckrag, and their singer, this broad-shouldered, 200-pound, tattooed former wrestler, would do the Carlton dance from Fresh Prince to Angelfuck before every set. He would then get drunk and coked up and wreck the place. He was an unstoppable force and we got banned from every club we ever played with them. He's now sober and a tattoo artist and 40, and his knees hurt too much to get into fights. But I remember his meaty hand holding down two people at once, punching their mugs in tandem while screaming 'The Butthole Surfers are a fucking novelty act!' I love him dearly, he's tattooed me nine times.
25PJ Harvey
Is This Desire?

The Sky Lit Up

Her best album in my opinion, and a crackling song. Industrial music has never been better or more subtly deployed over the course of an album. It never usurps Desire, and only serves to amp up its stormier moments. The droning metallic undertones of this song's chorus is a perfect example. And Polly Jean is a fox like there never has been and never will be.
26The Mummies
Fuck CDs! It’s The Mummies


The Mummies were one of the first and perhaps the purest revivalists of garage, recording on shoestring budgets and keeping their sound as raw as humanly possible. They also performed wrapped in gauze. They were simple, fun, wild and wrote some damn great tunes along the way. Exactly what good garage should be.
27The Replacements
Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash

Hey, Good Lookin'

The trajectory of the Replacements consists of three steps - two masterful ones and one horrid closing act. They started off as a scrappy punk band, geared towards small chaotic bar shows. Over the course of Let It Be and Tim, they grew in scope and romanticism, all the while retaining just enough of that rugged, distorted guitar to keep just about everyone interested. Then, as the 80's reached their second half, with new wave and soft rock balladeering becoming increasingly profitable, they started devolving into benign, impotent, overtly anthemic songsmanship that more or less embraced every horrid 80's radio trend. But from Sorry Ma to Tim is one of the strongest four-album sequences a band can ever dream of cutting. And this rowdy cover of Hank Williams is all sorts of perfect.
28The Cure
Three Imaginary Boys

The Subway Song

Behind Disintegration, and Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me; Three Imaginary Boys rounds off my trio of favourite Cure records. It's markedly simpler and less lush than what would follow in their evolution, leaner on orchestral drama and synths, and heavier on skeletal post-punk. Subway Song is full of lively bass-work, lingering guitars and an unearthly scream to close it off.
29Robert Pollard
Not In My Airforce

Flat Beauty

Hands down, the best Guided by Voices song not credited to the band as a whole. This came around between Alien Lanes and Under the Bushes, a period when Pollard was on such a hot streak, everything he put out sounded like the last great song you would hear. And Flat Beauty is the best of the bunch, a minute and 50 seconds of passion, regret and euphoria, all wrapped up in that patented GBV aesthetic.
30The Jesus Lizard

Bloody Mary

God, is there a better post-hardcore song out there? Bloody Mary is a hermetic monster, and a fine example of what made Jesus Lizard THE best band of the 90's. Perpetually unsettled, packing nimble reverberating bass, squelching guitars and a wild scream of Mary! this song was the first hurrah from David Yow and company. The niche genre term that would become attached to Jesus Lizard, Killdozer and other bands of that ilk was Pigfuck, and while it's only a little obtuse, Bloody Mary in particular signals that aesthetic, if not the term's on-the-nose nature. It's evil and schizoid, and strangely erotic at the same time.
Popular Favorites


Popular Favorites was in some ways, an ideal love letter to Americana. Oblivians' hometown of Memphis had long become a Mecca of country and rock n roll recording, and so their misshapen contorted reworkings of old standard tunes was a moment of fantastic symbiosis. Christina, originally a ragtime blues number by Brownu McGhee gets turned into a firebreathing garage song, that lurches and pounds for a minute and a half, pumped full of solos and a chugging pace. McGhee's previously languid calls for the song's namesake become screaming pleas in the hands of Oblivians. The song springs to life, and then decomposes into a ringing in your ears before you know what the fucking hell happened.
32The Tiger Lillies
Low Life Lullabies

Billy's Blues

The story of a junkie who has to prostitute himself because rehab doesn't always work. In other words, a fairly tame topic for the giddily vulgar cabaret act Tiger Lillies. I'm still eagerly waiting when Doof will emerge from his honeymoon and gets back on his Lillies reviewing stretch. For my own part, I saw them open for Tom Waits in Barcelona during the Bad As Me tour, which apparently had been an impromptu moment. They swung through a short, filthy set, and when Waits walked on stage after them, all he said was 'Well, that was that......'
Double Nickels on the Dime

#1 Hit Song

I mostly couldn't care for lyrics. As long as they plait into a poetic, pithy whole, the aesthetic moment of a good song is complete for me. But I do love this short and disorderly take on fairy tales - Twinkle, twinkle, blah-blah-blah. Mike Watt is a small god, who is in dire need of a good band to prop up with his virtuoso abilities. According the Minutemen backstory, after the vocalist D.Boon died in a car crash, Watt fell into a deep depression and was planning a quiet retirement from the music industry. Kim Gordon convinced him to carry on, and he did, touring with the Stooges, participating in countless recording sessions and even forming Dos and Firehose (both more mediocre than they seemed), and all in all, this sparse and uneven studio output is only a little indicative that his true passion mostly died when Minutemen did.
34The Amps

Mom's Drunk

This one is just beautiful and sad, The Amps were essentially a re-tooled line-up of the Breeders that Kim Deal put together after the band broke up partially. They existed in that formation for roughly a year, spending it on tour with Sonic Youth, Guided by Voices and (sigh) fucking Foo Fighters. Pacer isn't a very good album as a cohesive whole, but its existence as a holdover in Deal's career is somewhat important. Her place in the indie spotlight lasted longer than Frank Black's because she put out far more quality music after they went their own ways than he did. But her eventual (and short-lived) return to the Pixies now seems like a return to innocence that probably isn't going to happen again.
35Redd Kross

Pink Piece of Peace

Redd Kross are overlooked far too often for my liking. A glam band in all the best aspects of what that name can mean, they were flamboyant and charismatic and loud and catchy and really fucking good at playing their instruments. Neurotica was the second best glam rock album released in '87, behind Appetite for Destruction, and yet you hardly hear of its existence. What likely killed Redd Kross' potential for radio life was how on-the-fence their music was. It always pulled with equal strength towards the glitter excess of 80's glam and the songwriting sensibilities of indie music. And they toured as much with Motley Crue as they did with the Flaming Lips. In the end, they got lost in the fold on both counts. For shame!
36The Jesus and Mary Chain

Taste of Cindy

A compressed synechdoche of Jesus and Mary Chain at the height of their powers, before they tumbled into jangly pop. Dissonant, loud, incredibly claustrophobic and clanging shoegaze that few actual shoegaze bands had the balls to pull off with such beauty and ease.
37Mark Lanegan
Whiskey For the Holy Ghost

Judas Touch

Whiskey for the Holy Ghost was such a strong display of Lanegan's moribund songwriting, that the few instances of relative uplift on that record (El Sol, Sunrise) come down like merciful salvation from the Gothic mire and Biblical muck he puts the listener through. Judas Touch, short and beatific, sandwiched between the desperate Pendulum and gloomy closer Beggar's Blues, functions in that way wonderfully. Short and sweet, if not exactly a ray of sunshine, it offers Lanegan a brief chance to delve into his softer register and let the listener exhale.
Time's Up

I Love You, You Big Dummy

A ruffian cover of Captain Beefheart's already-unruly love scream. The Buzzcocks were everything good of UK punk. Artsy kids shuddering with unrest and uncertainty and hormones, pouring all of that into their music. From Time's Up to Different Kind of Tension, they managed to write nary a bad song. The forefathers, the I ching, the Buzzcocks.
39Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Portrait of a Man


Aside from Howlin' Wolf and Junior Kimbrough, Screamin' Jay Hawkins remains a singular presence in blues to me, and an indelibly foreseeing edifying presence for a lot of genres to come. I've written before about a friend of mine who wrote his thesis on the forebearers of punk, listing Hawkins as a primary influence, and I do have agree, if not in the music itself, but in the style, the nihil, the understanding that nothing matters so drink and watch it burn, laughing.
40Satan's Rats
What a Bunch of Rodents

You Make Me Sick

Another lost '77 punk outfit from the Spy From Moscow era, Satan's Rats loved the The Who as much as they loved the Sex Pistols, and so their music could and did get rangy and filled with sonic scope. They often did prolonged guitar breakdowns in the middle of otherwise short, charged numbers, and for the most part pulled it off in grand fashion.
41Scratch Acid
The Greatest Gift

Greatest Gift

David Yow apparently isn't too fond of his time with Scratch Acid from a musical perspective, though I fail to see why or how. The band's output, scarce as it was, is something so vicious and primal, it's hard not to get behind that energy. And the title track of this anthology is their finest, unrelenting and brutal, bouncing and charging forward, swirling in sound that couldn't be contained even the by low fidelity that the DIY production brought to the mix. Scratch Acid, along with The Fall are solely responsible for me never taking onto metal as a kid. They showed me that tough and rough music, like people, almost never has to be so blatantly brutalized to be the most evil thing in a room. After that, metal just seemed like a bunch of beef-headed pick-up truck owners playing musical theatre. Greatest Gift trumps it all. A savage song like no other.
Slanted and Enchanted


Dense and rattling, Perfume-V never manages to lose Pavement's college charm, even as it ratchets up the noise the Nth degree. Slanted was their most overly loud moment, and this song is the loudest of the bunch, barring maybe Kentucky Cocktail. Like with most things in life, the first bold enough to crash through the door is the best, and indie music is no exception. Pavement are unmatched in their field, and it will likely stay that way.
43Dead Boys
Young Loud and Snotty

Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth

After reading Please Kill Me and a few other documents of the CBGB's era, the consensus seemed clear that Stiv Bators was less an artist and more an imitator intent on marketing himself. Fortunately, his chosen person to imitate was Iggy Pop, and even more fortunately, Cheetah Chrome was a guitarist with a rare mix of precision and stylized sloppiness, and so the Dead Boys' debut is fucking fantastic. And this song is the crudest of that crude record, that Bators once got a whipped cream blowjob to as he sang it on stage, if rumours are to be believed.
44Nick Drake
Pink Moon

Pink Moon

A perfect song from a near-perfect album by a man with a perfect voice. I found Drake through a past bar job, where the head bartender used to play it at all times of the night, even during the busiest weekends. I loved the song, but sort of slept on the rest of his catalogue, until a girl played me Northern Sky once. That girl played acoustic guitar constantly, I think as a stress reliever, and her fret fingers had these strangely-shaped calluses on them with blackened middle indents, so it looked like she had small rotten lemons on the fingertips. Yep.....
Surfer Rosa

Tony's Theme

Played and drunkenly sung at every birthday party we've thrown for my friend Tony for the past 11 years in lieu of the Birthday Song. And I'm actually going to be in town for the next one, so everything is fine with the world.
McLusky Do Dallas


This whole album was just pure viscera, like open nerve shaking. It was exactly what the post-hardcore scene needed at the time, floundering as the first and best were getting older slower and more docile, coming apart or just leaving. Mclusky Do Dallas is cheeky and angry and so thick, you can feel your brain quake when you listen to it with headphones. It was a pure burst of raw music, one that they never replicated, though they came close.
47Arctic Monkeys
Crying Lightning

I Haven't Got My Strange

The B-sides from the Humbug era were the Monkeys' best. Like the album they were attached to, it saw them broaden their sound, become more downtuned and pensive, while still retaining that trademark wit. The Crying Lightning single came with a smoldering cover of Nick Cave's Red Right Hand, and this little treasure, boasting a lovely evil swing and one of my favourite of their lyrics - I've got a hole in the pocket of my favourite coat and my love dropped into lining.
48Eagles Of Death Metal
Death By Sexy

Eagles Goth

Listening in retrospect, Death By Sexy is what Villains should have sounded like had Homme decided to go the dance route without staking a strange claim to washed-out pop in the process. This album is purified rock n' roll, fun easy and dumb, with dancey rhythms and a hell of a lot of fuzzy guitar packed into it. Beauty.
49Guided by Voices

Unleashed! The Large-Hearted Boy

Guided by Voices' power pop punk anthem. Dense, springy bass, guitars doing perpetual battle with lo-fi, and Pollard at his raspiest and most primitive. I love this tune dearly, and there isn't anything quite like it in their exhaustively vast discography.
50The Coathangers
Suck My Shirt

I Wait

The song matches its title perfectly, in mood and execution. The slow end of mid-tempo, a lazy chug and some sharp guitar-work on top. A repeated line of I Wait, that sounds more like a warning than anything else. These gals are one of the most exciting outfits out right now, charging in the front-lines of female punk, have released a stellar fifth album last year, along with some damn good stray singles this year; and it's exciting to see where they go next.
51Thee Headcoats
Heavens to Murgatroyd Even! It's Thee Headcoats

Rusty Hook

In ways, Billy Childish is one of the last standing true nihilists, and Thee Headcoats' music mirrors that perfectly. Under-produced and seemingly thoughtless, it makes for the perfect albums to put on in pubs and at parties. Something to bop to, without having to take part in yet another trite discussion of how everything has gone to hell from an unkindly large group of twenty-year olds who have done precisely zero living in any variation of what constitutes the 'real' world. And a vegan sandwich with a side of kale chips on top, cocksucker.
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