07 March 2009

mixtape | indie bass player appreciation day

if you didn't know, today is indie bass player recognition day, a day that, as a sometime indie bass player myself, i cherish like a junkie cherishes his works.

there aren't many famous bass players, especially not famous indie bass players. while guitarists are gods, then bass players are either scorned (hello bill wyman, mark king), or overlooked altogether (erm most everyone else).

of course there are exceptions, but they're generally recognised for their technical ability rather than contribution to songwriting (hello jaco pastorius, billy sheehan). and indie isn't a genre that generally acknowledges musicianship.

so in a futile attempt to redress the balance, here are some indie songs that i appreciate as an indie bass player:

::: stump - chaos
very hard not to include this - the playing is simply astonishing; kev hopper even achieves the previously unthinkable feat of making fretless bass seem cool to people who aren't jazz wonks.

::: ganger - lid of the stars
some day i'll do a post about bands with two bass players, but for now here's a prime example of a band that is totally driven by the rhythm section and a demonstration of the melodic capcity of the bass guitar.

::: pinback - non-photo blue
there's something about pinback that makes them so hard to describe, let alone define, and i think that has a lot to do with zach smith's distinctive bass playing - it's both spiky and rounded, melodically inventive and thoroughly grounded.

::: trans am - the campaign
trans am are such a schizophrenic band that it's hard to pick a song that's truly representative, so i chose one that represents the ac/dc, bass-heavy rock side to them. this is band as super-charged unit, with bass very much at the rythmic and melodic core.

::: bark psychosis - big shot
huge, warm, dub-influenced bass that defies you to turn it down. this is bass as fat room filler, laid back but propelling the song forward, a bass line i can't listen to without imagining myself playing it.

::: dawson - chuckleberry
this is bass playing as a manic, furious post-punk attack, absorbing the likes of gang of four, minutemen and big*flame and then spitting them back out again.

::: death by milkfloat - your independence (depends on me)
similar to dawson, but with more of a funk sensibility. when the guitars are this thin and scratchy the bass can do nothing but come to the front of the stage. bassist jonny went on to join collapsed lung.

::: the smiths - barbarism begins at home
excellent example of an overlooked bass player, but i would say many of andy rourke's bass lines are every bit as inventive as johnny marr's guitar playing. i expect johnny marr would tell you that he actually wrote them all anyway.

::: the cure - disintegration
i think simon gallup is more frequently lauded for his heart throb status than his moodlily melodic bass lines, but this and many other songs wouldn't be the same without them.

::: mercury rev - black forest (lorelei)
not sure if this really counts as such since i'm assuming anthony molina is a session musician, but i find it hard not to concentrate on the bass throughout "the secret migration".

::: moonshake - city poison
just listen to that bass and tell me it doesn't get you throbbing right here.

::: curve - horror head
exemplifying an unsual combination of session-worthy musicianship and shoegazing - dean garcia did after all play bass for eurythmics for a while - the bass playing has a curiously velvety quality to it that roundly underpins the icy chill of toni's vocals.

::: tears for fears - head over heels
not an indie band by a long shot, but curt smith's bass playing is really great here.


i could go on but i won't. in short, give your local indie bass player a cuddle today.


Novemberer said...

Hey, don't 'spose you have any more Death By Milkfloat do you? I had a bunch of their EPs "back in the day" but appear to have mislaid 'em in the meantime - really great band, & totally forgotten it'd appear? Hope you can help...

P.S. Nice blog btw!

joe said...

hi yeah i do - absolute non-end, sense and nonsense & uninformation eps, plus a couple of milkfloat releases too. send me yr email and i'll send you a link (though I actually got them form some blog or other). joe

Novemberer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Novemberer said...

Thanks for the mini Milkfloat-fest, really good to hear that stuff again (I just need to track down the Peel sessions now - still got 'em on cassette somewhere...). Everything plays fine btw so Mediafire is obviously A-OK! Thanks again...

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog! Thanks for the posts. Joe, could you be so kind and send me Death by Milkfloat links? Also, the world needs to hear Badgewearer! It's all out of print.
Regards, d.

pinkpressthreat said...

"Headache For Michelle" by the Au Pairs..lovely bassline on that number.Cheers