Friday, November 25, 2011

Song #28 of 9999 - Socks, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll by Buffalo Daughter

Song #28 of 9999

Title: Socks, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll
Artist: Buffalo Daughter
Year: 1998
Album: New Rock

Clock here for video!

A word of warning about the video: first, there is a long intro spoken in Japanese and the song doesn't actually start until 1:10; and second, there is some violent footage (the JFK Zapruder film) in the video. I don't think this is the official video, but it's pretty interesting. If you'd like to hear the song but avoid the graphic video clip, click here instead.

Sometime in 1998, I drove to Philadelphia to see the band Boys Against Girls. In retrospect, it's a little hard for me to understand why—was I really that into Boys Against Girls? Regardless, I'm glad I did because the opening band was a trio of Japanese girls (guitar, bass and turntables) accompanied by a very large male Japanese drummer. At that time, maybe I had heard a little bit about Cibo Matto or Shonen Knife, but they weren't really on my radar as I was listening to a lot of Archers of Loaf and Jawbox and Bob Mould.

Buffalo Daughter became one of my favorite bands almost literally overnight. I was kind of shocked by the driving trance-like music they played that night. Maybe this is sexist (and I certainly don't mean it to be), but my surprise almost certainly was due to the fact that these were three tiny Japanese girls playing loud dissonant rock. It was not punk or pop—I don't think that would have surprised me—but something really new and original to my ears. Seeing live turntables was new for me. They contributed noise (I mean the word in the most positive sense) in a way that really complemented the bass and guitar. The band's playing seemed really free and loose, yet the compositions were well-structured and arranged.

I don't know if it was the very next day that I bought New Rock but it was surely very soon after the concert. (Maybe I bought it that night at the concert?) The recording allowed for even more dissonance in a quieter setting which I found (and still find) quite intriguing. I love the riffs in this song and, just as much, the space between them. And the synth that pops in at the start of the chorus has the most perfect sound. The spoken word vox will probably turn some people off but I like the sleepy quality and how occasional melody and harmony are layered on top. It's such a creative arrangement and pretty cool for 1998.

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