Wednesday, June 9, 2010

That's a deal breaker: Hidden Tracks and Endless Fuzz

From Urban Dictionary:

Usually used in a romantic context, here I am talking deal breakers of the musical variety.  Hidden tracks make me roll my eyes and push the fast forward button.  I'm sure that artists think they are giving their most loyal fans a special surprise by hiding songs after 20 minutes of silence (or worse yet, noise).  However, like after-the-credits movie scenes or tardy dates, hidden tracks are usually not worth waiting for.  Worse yet are when a band ends an album with several minutes of fuzz only to leave you hanging.  It's the album equivalent of standing you up. 

Not everyone is as crabby as me about hidden tracks.  The International Mixed Tape Project has an article about the art behind hidden tracks. So while I might grumble and moan when artists hide tracks or have extended silence, there are people out there who think that's really cool. Those people are just wrong... 

Here are some albums with hidden tracks and/or long bouts of silence, most are pretty good in spite of this: 

Culprit: The Beatles
Album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Details of infraction:  Considered to be the first hidden track, after "A Day in the Life" there is a loop of backwards playing music.  So you can thank the Beatles for this annoying phenomenon.
Find it in the Catalog!

Culprit: Beck
Album: Various
Details of infraction: On Midnight Vultures, there is several minutes of silence after the last song "Debra" followed by some electronic noise.  Beck is a repeat offender; he also has hidden tracks on Mellow Gold, Stereopathetic Soulmanure, Odelay, and Mutations

Culprit: The Black Keys
Album: The Big Come Up
Details of infraction: Almost twenty minutes of silence follows the last track and no hidden track. Thankfully they have yet to repeat this offense on any other of their albums.
Find it in the Catalog!

Culprit: Blur
Album: Various
Details of the infraction: Blur really likes to experiment with hidden songs.  They have two hidden tracks on Modern Life is Rubbish following several blank tracks and one on their self-titled album.  Think Tank has a song hidden in the pre-gap (before the album begins) and 13 has tracks inserted between songs. 

Culprit: Neko Case
Album: Middle Cyclone
Details of infraction: Song "Marais La Nuit" is actually 30 minutes of animal/ insect noises with no song at the end of it.  At least it's a separate track which makes it easier to delete from my iTunes.
Find it in the Catalog!

Culprit: Pixies
Album: Surfer Rosa
Details of infraction: Track 11 is a recording of singer/ guitarist Frank Blank (aka. Black Francis) swearing at bassist Kim Deal.  Three tracks follow this song, so luckily it's brief and funny. 
Find it in the Catalog!

Culprit: Radiohead
Album: Kid A
Details of infraction: After the last song "Motion Picture Soundtrack" there is a hidden track followed by more silence.  A combination of two of my least favorite things. 
Find it in the Catalog!

Culprit: Wilco
Album: A Ghost is Born
 Details of infraction:  The last 12 minutes of "Less Than You Think" is feedback.  This song isn't even at the end of the album, so you have to endure the fuzz (or press skip) to get through the album.  Experimental and annoying!
Find it in the Catalog!

This is just the tip of the hidden track iceberg.  For more albums, check out Wikipedia's exhausting list!