These are all songs that would probably make the apocalypse better, or at least more jammin’. Most of these are actually albums for the apocalypse, given that whatever alien life form or Gary Busey character takes enough time smiting us to allow for 8 final albums, but in case our annihilation is more swift I’ve picked one track off of each of them.
All About the Bullfrog in Three Verses – Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
Album: Cipher (2008)
Slim Cessna’s Auto Club brings “southern gothic” the musical realm. It’s what I’d imagine Faulkner would be listening to if he weren’t too busy being dead. Slim Cessna is half country, half brimstone – gothabilly, for those into cute couple names for music genres. This whole album, Cipher, is violently religious/athiesty/religious in the most twisted, beautiful, messed up way. It’s interspersed with chants to form a sort of narrative that I feel better off not understanding fully.Fuego! – Murder by Death
Album: Red of Tooth and Claw (2008)
First of all, the band and album name combination alone qualify this for the apocalypse. Murder by Death is a five-piece band from Indiana, one of those pieces being one of the most badass female cellists in recent music history named Sarah Balliet. I don’t really have a reference group for female cellists but I’m still pretty sure I’m right. Murder by Death is one of those bands where the lyrics would probably sound stupid or whiney if the singer’s voice wasn’t exactly right. Their music sort of believes it is a cowboy in the old west, and that’s the best I can describe it.
This track is perhaps not quite as apocalyptic as the last two, but I would want to listen to as the world was ending. This is Silver Jews’ fourth studio album, with Stephen Malkmus featured pretty heavily on vocals for all you Pavement fans (being a college radio station, we have at least a few). Additionally, the lyrics of this song are beautiful and janky and not totally coherent – “Holding up their trousers with extension cords / Smith and Jones Forever!” David Berman is at least an incredible song writer, and at worst a unicorn.
Grounds for Divorce – Elbow
Album: Seldom Seen Kid (2008)
This Elbow album always evokes something similar to the aforementioned Murder by Death album for me. It might be because I got songs from both of them on the same mix tape a while back, but if you’ll pardon my lack of formal musical education, it sounds like molasses that’s been lit on fire. And also like the end of the world. Obviously.
Loverman – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Album: Let Love In (1994)
At this part in our imagined apocalypse there is at least some amount of fire and brimstone, probably because we’ve gotten to Nick Cave. This track is off my favorite Nick Cave album, Let Love In, all of which just feels like a manifesto for some weird apocalypse orgy balloon animal party. If there were such a party with all these bands/artists, it would probably be organized by Nick Cave. I know that isn’t a great description of the song itself, but give it a listen.
Long Snake Moan – PJ Harvey
Album: To Bring You My Love (1995)
Because we still need to have some solo lady musicians representing at the end of the world. This also brings us a nice transition from Nick Cave’s track. Both Let Love In and To Bring You My Love were written around the same time as Nick Cave and PJ Harvey were dating in the early nineties, that brief period of music couple perfection where things were right and nothing was bad ever anywhere. If nothing else, the albums paired give some insight into their dark, twisty, “we’re both a little androgynous and have the same haircuts and we made that music video for Henry Lee where we basically just almost make out the whole time.”
What’s He Building – Tom Waits
Album: Mule Variations (1999)
I feel like at least 50 percent of Tom Waits’ songs could easily have been recorded during some kind of only-Tom apocalypse, including all of his love ballads. This song is sort of a song, sort of Tom speak-growling suspicions about a neighbor, and is my go-to track when I want someone to be frightened by music. Honorable mentions for TWaits mad-man ramblings goes to the album Alice, more specifically every song on it.
Lunacy – Swans
Album: The Seer (2013)
I guess it had to end up at Swans. I tried to avoid it, but as the earth is opening up and swallowing us, probably someone would put Swans on and everyone else would groan and be like “of course but what I really wanted to play was Kelly Clarkson” which is totally fair. It was between Swans and Godspeed You! Black Emporer for this last track, but this album has a creepy fox on the cover and that ultimately won me over. The Seer is an album I oft imagine Martha Stewart listening to while slowly going mad and decorating cupcakes with blood frosting. If you’re in for that experience, please hit me up.
Thanks for reading!