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Sara Foss's Thinking It Through
by Sara Foss

Thinking It Through

A Daily Gazette life blog
Her column and blog rolled into one

Music for a Bad Mood

Sometimes when I’m in a bad mood, I like to listen to pop music — Madonna and Prince, mainly.

But there are times when I’d rather listen to CDs and songs that give voice to my anger.

The other morning, I found myself reaching for an old reliable, the 1994 album “Big Choice,” by the California punk band Face to Face. This is a great album, an unrelenting blast of anger and aggression that’s also chock-full of catchy hooks and sharp songwriting. The bitter and hostile song titles — “You Lied,” “Struggle,” “Disconnected” — give you some idea of what this band is about. In my opinion, the best Face to Face song is “A-OK,” on which lead singer Trever Keith (who also happens to be the founder of a record label called Antagonist Records), yells, “I don’t know what you want from me/But it’s probably already gone/I don’t care what you think of me/Your opinion means nothing at all/Don’t say I’m okay/I’m not okay.”

I played “Big Choice” once, very loudly, and then I was able to settle down and listen to some calmer music. Feeling more reflective, I decided to make a list of my favorite songs to play when I’m angry. This exercise led me to conclude that the best music to listen to when I’m in a bad mood is the music I listened to in college. I am never going to outgrow this music, apparently ... at least, not when I’m in a bad mood. Anyway, here’s my list:

10. “Indictment” and “Do You Still Hate Me?” by Jawbreaker Another California punk band that never quite got its due. The song “Indictment” has always been one of my favorites. Love these lyrics: “I just wrote the dumbest song./It’s gonna be a sing along./All our friends will clap and sing./Our enemies will laugh and be pointing./It won’t bother me, what the thoughtless are thinking./I am more concerned with what we’re drinking.”

9. “Color Me Impressed” by The Replacements. Did Paul Westerberg sneer and smash things every time he sang this song? If you’re having a bad time at a social gathering, this should be your anthem. “Everybody at your party/They don’t look depressed/Everybody dressin’ funny/Color me impressed.”

8. “Head Like a Hole” by Nine Inch Nails. How can you make a list like this and not include Nine Inch Nails? The amazing thing about Trent Reznor is that he writes such angry songs, but they almost always make you feel like dancing.

7. “What Jail is Like” by the Afghan Whigs. Misanthropic lead singer Greg Dulli, in an unusually bad mood. “I’ll warn you, if cornered/I’ll scratch my way out of the pain.”

6. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2. No explanation needed.

5. “Kiss Off” by the Violent Femmes. My favorite angry song when I was in high school, off one of my favorite albums, the self-titled debut from Wisconsin natives The Violent Femmes. “You can all just kiss off into the air/Behind my back I can see them stare/They’ll hurt me bad, but I don’t mind/They’ll hurt me bad, they do it all the time.”

4. “Rock Star” by Hole. I think lead singer Courtney Love really hated high school.

3. “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)” by Cracker. This song is angry, and funny! “What the world needs now/Is another folk singer/Like I need a hole in my head./I don’t know what the world may need,/but a V8 engine is a good start for me./Think I’ll drive to find a place,/to be surly. ”

2. “Kill Your Television,” “Happy” and “Grey Cell Green” by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. All of these songs are off the 1991 album God Fodder, which seems more and more like a minor classic every time I listen to it.

1. “A-OK” by Face to Face


Gazette music writer Brian McElhiney’s new band, The Black Season, will make its debut tonight at 9 p.m. at Valentine’s in Albany. On its Myspace page, which you can find here, the band lists its influences as Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Frank Black and Big Black ... bands that probably deserve a spot on somebody’s angriest music list.

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March 25, 2010
3:35 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

I'm not necessarily a "bad mood" listener, but I like to listen to "pick me up music" often -- especially at work. Don't laugh but I really like Gwen Stafani and Aqua for this.

March 26, 2010
11:17 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

There's definitely a time and a place for Gwen Stefani.

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