Musings on music, old, new, popular and obscure. Post punk, metal, hip-hop, funk, and rock in general. A music fan with a desire to lose boundaries on what should and should not be listened to writes about experience in music from a listener's perspective, hopefully unhindered by prior expectation.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm Good, Gone, Down on the Hip -- Jawbox

I've always had an affection for music videos, which has led to the purchase of numerous otherwise-ignored-by-the-public DVDs, and some other oddities. Before I'd really settled into the mode of pursuing b-sides, my purchase of Deftones' B-Sides and Rarities, which naturally compiled its titled objects, was driven by the unmentioned inclusion: all of their music videos on a DVD accompanying those songs. Because I like the band quite a lot (Deftones was one of my few major label modern releases on vinyl for a long time, and still has only a few relatives of that variety, and I was known for my endless listening to White Pony in high school), I did decide to go ahead and listen to the "accompanying" CD (as I saw it, at least).

In the process, I was faced with a good number of remixes, live and acoustic versions, but also a solid number of covers. Deftones were part of what was considered the "nu metal" wave of heavier popular music, but rapidly found the label inappropriate or uncomfortable--and their choices of covers only re-emphasized this. Their performance of the Cure's "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep" from the MTV Icon show for the Cure appears on the disc, surrounded by covers of The Smiths, Cocteau Twins, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Sade. However, the cover I'm bringing all of this up to mention is the one chosen to lead the disc: "Savory."

Of course, that cover is technically just Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno and the band Far, but that's not relevant for where I'm going, which is toward the band from which the song was sourced--Jawbox. When I picked this disc up (near its release seven years ago), even the Cure was only vaguely familiar, Skynyrd through the obvious singles (though not the one covered there--"Simple Man"), and the rest were alien to my ears, though the names rang bells in a way that suggested I ought to know them in the sense of knowing things about music, but I had no clue why, and would easily confuse them with other familiar band names that I had no music to associate with. Jawbox easily fit here, except that I didn't even associate the band's name with a reputation.

"Savory" was probably the standout cover on the album, even if it came from the earlier phase in the Deftones' career, which has remained my least favourite. The song itself, though, is so very unusual that it is at first jarring but rapidly becomes alluring and curious. It starts with a distorted, circling, ringing riff, with a more staccato, muted, and heavier one driving underneath it until an unusual drum beat comes in and the first riff turns to a higher note and circles closer. Chino and Jonah Matranga (I assume) then begin to sing and carry the melody, with harmonized emphases over the near-atonal, repetitive riffing until it spreads apart to single-picked notes that mimic the previous riffs like an echo, but carrying more melody by moving between strings.

Indeed, the instrumentation is all preserved from the original track:

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