Albums and Bands I Love For Weird Reasons

This month, I asked my Patreon which of three topics to write about, because it’s a lot easier to pick stuff far in advance these days than it is to just write what’s on my mind. Not that I don’t just write what’s on my mind, far from it. But crises and world events are flying around so fucking quickly these days that by the time I put together a blog, I’ve either got a cold take on something that happened a couple of weeks ago or a medium take on something that happened literally the day before. Plus, with the Patreon’s 3 day preview timer, the Patrons have access to my takes while they’re fresh, but the regular people have access to what I said 3 days earlier. And while that could be a viable model to drive more people into my Patreon, the fact of the matter is that I don’t want that model. So, lately I’ve been running polls on my Patreon for topics to cover, which allows for me to find something my Patrons want to hear about while still keeping the theme of the blog – Things That Keep Me Up Nights – in the background should something come up that I feel needs to be addressed. And right now, there’s a bunch of shit going on that should be keeping me up but is either not doing so because of crisis fatigue or not general enough for everyone’s consumption. So, here we are with this month’s Patreon-voted topic of Albums I Love for Weird Reasons.

Now, in order to do this really well, I have to automatically reject anything that includes my favorite musicians because they’re generally the reason I love those albums. If Mike Patton just shows up on an album, I will love it mostly for that, which is not a weird reason to me. However, there’s the case of Incubus’ Fungus Amongus album. It’s their first studio album, and it’s from before they found their legs as a band and began making music you can drive to, poetry with grooves, and songs to fondly remember exes with. And while it’s decent, and still suffers from the “wtf are we doing” aspects of a band, what I love about it is the liner notes. On the re-issue of the album, Brandon, the vocalist, wrote a whole like a whole forward explaining all of this, but also stated that at that point in the band, they were really wanting to be like Primus, Mr. Bungle, and a few other bands in the area at the time. So, yes, a weird reason to love the Fungus Amongus album is that they idolized one of my favorite bands back in the day. It’s still a decent album, and totally not what you’d expect from the band if you’ve only really listened to their post-2000 albums, but it’s not like floating down from the heavens like manna to the starving.

Somewhere around five to six years ago, I was beta-reading for a friend of mine at the time. They were writing some fluffy stuff about “oh no, I accidentally a demon, what do?” which included a relationship between a student and a college professor. Not that kind of relationship, at least not at that point, it felt more like Buffy and Giles than Age-Appropriate Lolita, just so we’re clear. So our plucky young protagonist spends the night at Professor’s house, wakes up the next day and he’s got the house system playing and the inner monologue was like, “Ok, so he’s just like regular people. He drinks coffee, listens to Lana Del Ray, and isn’t bright and shiny in the morning.” This, of course made me decide to fully jump into the burgeoning singer-songwriter women’s scene that I’d been toying with at the time, checking out Lorde and Sia, but I hadn’t checked out Lana. I’d heard a little, I’d heard people talk about her, but I never committed. I loved that album the first time I listened to it, and mostly I love the album because some fluff/smut author I know convinced me to try it out without intending to by making it so fucking normal that it became the case for declaring the Professor to be a Regular Person.

In the late 00’s, I was spending a lot of time on the internet reading content from the content leaders at the time. Fark.com, SomethingAwful.com, PortalofEvil.com, sites like that, some of which don’t really exist anymore like Brunching Shuttlecocks. Cracked wasn’t even a thing yet, really, and if it was, it was just jumping into the listicle phase of viral content sharing that everyone else was doing at the time because it worked, and if it wasn’t a thing, it was probably just the website for the humor magazine that was slightly cheaper and not-as-well-known as Mad Magazine. Anyway, one of the things that drew me to SA, because I wasn’t a forums user there, was that they had humor and review articles written by regular clever people, not professionals with communications or journalism degrees trying to relate to the kids. Just good articles written by people just like me, but like, more adult than me, I guess. The 00’s were a weird time in music to begin with, because everyone who was into music thought they totally knew how popular music functioned in patterns and so we spent the first half of the decade betting on what would be the Next Big Thing before the hipsters and emo kids blindsided us with picking up music that wasn’t being blasted on the radio. We were in a wash, I guess. So when some band called Melt-Banana started trending, I found out about it through a Something Awful article about annoying trends in new music, which was probably framed as “I’m not getting old, the new music sucks is all!” in which the band was mentioned with most of the paragraph about them complaining that Yasuko Onuki’s singing sounded like a small dog barking. Now, I didn’t go out and pick up the album right then and there, I heard the snippets and I agreed that not only did the music now suck, and that I wasn’t getting old in my mid-20s, but that she sounded like a small dog yipping. Years later, however, I grabbed a Mr. Bungle discography online to slot into my playlist, and as anyone who’s been on torrent sites in the 10s can tell you, sometimes that gets packaged with things like split 7” disks with other bands or other performers on the same label who are friends with the guys you got the discography for but doesn’t include them. So in the middle of this file of Mr. Bungle tracks (yes, I’m aware this is the second instance of them in this article, I really really love Mike Patton’s music so it’s inevitable) was a split they did with Melt-Banana, which blew me away. It was surprisingly good. And she still sounded like a small yapping dog. But I decided right then and there that I loved this band completely to spite Mr. I-Hate-Hipsters or whoever wrote that SA article that included them.

You ever go out, pick up a band’s album, take it home, put it on, and then spend the next 30 minutes trying to justify spending money on it? This isn’t really relevant to today’s music market, I know, and I swear I’m not just making some kind of nostalgic point to one-up the kids. But we often picked up albums from bands without even hearing singles from them, especially if we weren’t in radio markets where those bands would get airtime. So you might go out and pick up the latest from a big-name band before reviews had dropped and singles had started circulating and find out that they decided to go in a new direction and you didn’t know about it because you weren’t reading all the relevant magazines or whatever where they talked about doing just that. You’d get blindsided by something that said it was this band but totally didn’t sound like it. And when a major top-of-the-world band does it, you’re just like “the fuck is this?” and you lend it to a friend to make sure you’re listening to the same thing and the whole fucking thing is off. And you just can’t justify any part of the process to get that album and listen to it and it just kinds goes off into a box to be unearthed later like as a joke time capsule you find when you move. Weirdly, though, I loved Metallica’s Saint Anger album because it was exactly that. It was like the kind of completely unintentional trolling that can only be done earnestly, and costing millions to make, sell, promote, and distribute. I don’t want to listen to it, because it’s not terribly good, but I love it all the same.

For people who have been reading or known me for long enough, it should be pretty well known that I have a very binary-thinking brain. It’s not like “this or that” but more like a three-stage switch that is “this → nothing → the opposite of this”. A bunch of this is irrelevant to the point, the point is that ever since I was young, my brain forced rules on me that were completely irrational. I had to like spooky and horrorifying things because the opposite of that was girly things (look, I have a lot of problems, ok?). I didn’t see the Elm Street movies until my 30s because my brain said “Either Jason or Freddy, and you have to hate the one you didn’t pick”. So combine this with my imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy, there’s some really weird fucking processes in my life so far. When I was getting into hip hop as a young teenager, I was really turned on to Public Enemy’s sound and message – bearing in mind that I didn’t get the whole message for quite a while because I was young and ignorant. But I had an issue of feeling like I didn’t deserve to be the audience for it. I didn’t pick up Fear of a Black Planet until my 20s because my brain told me I wasn’t “black enough” for the album, even though I’d never really heard anything from the album or seen anything but the cover art. Brain said “too white for this album” for over a decade because brain is fucking goofy. So now I love Fear of a Black Planet because it represents an early victory against my brain.

So that’s a few albums and bands that I love for weird reasons, excluding things that I like simply because my favorite people are in them. After racking my brain for several minutes at this point, I am having a hard time finding more in there to include in this article, so you’ll have to forgive me for dumping slightly more than three pages on the topic, but I do hope it’s interesting enough that you get some kind of take-away from it.

I’d like to thank my Patrons for making sure they’re putting their pennies where their eyes are again this month, and would like to urge you, if you enjoy my content, to swing by the page and see about donating to my Patreon.

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