10 Songs That Make Me Cry

By Esmail Hamidi

So there’s this thing going around on Facebook where people post about 10 albums that make them cry. In the post, they tag a bunch of their music nerd friends, who do the same thing. Participants bare their soul on social media, everyone discovers a lil’ more music, it’s a good time.

I was recently nominated to do this by WKDU DJ Maren Larsen. In her post, she listed songs instead of albums. By doing this, she brought up a good point, and maybe I’m projecting here, but who wants to sit through an entire album, let alone sit through an entire album crying? Is any album consistently cry-worthy?

Like any good book or fine meal, an album is traditionally sequenced with introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion in mind. Musical intensity that may or may not provoke crying can occur during any of these parts of an album, but not all. A song that is cry-worthy may be on an album that is very much not. It is for this reason that I’ve opted to choose 10 songs, not albums, that make me cry.

These songs are in the order they occurred to me. I definitely wouldn’t play all of them on KDU, but they are all significant. Hold on to your hankies, fair readers.

1. Fuck Buttons – Sweet Love For Planet Earth (2008)

It’s hard to nail down why, but this is the first song that I thought of. I guess it might be attached to some old memories. Over this ten minute track, Fuck Buttons uses swampy electronics to build a hulking groove.

2. The Rolling Stones – Shine A Light (1972)

The penultimate track from the Stones’ drugged out, ambling, classic album: Exile on Main St.

Mick Jagger delivers a great vocal performance. True fact: Shine a Light was written about ex-Stones guitarist and 27 Club member Brian Jones’ worsening drug addictions in the late 60s. Cut with the Rolling Stones Mobile truck, a legendary thing among studio nerds and musicians alike.

3. Weekends – Camp Nowhere (2008)

The final track off Weekends’ first, self titled album. The coda features an oscillating snippet of the drummer yelling “Hey!” in a way that some may find annoying, but I interpret as exploding with emotion. It’s the musical equivalent of a thought loop, emerging from the background while life continues in the form of the duo bashing away on their gear.


4. The White Stripes – The Air Near My Fingers (2003)

“Life is so boring/it’s really got me snoring/wearing out the flooring in a cheap hotel”.

Jack White said that the album, 2003’s Elephant, was a commentary on “the death of the sweetheart” in American culture. In a New York Times interview, White elaborated, saying that “The sweetheart, the gentleman — it’s the same thing. These ideas seem to be in decline, and I hate it. You look at your average teenager with the body piercings and the tattoos. You have white kids going around talking in ghetto accents because they think that makes them hard. It’s so cool to be hard. We’re against that.”

I take this to mean that with this album, the Stripes rally against the lack of emotion in early-oughts American culture. Emotion can be good or bad, but is always powerful. This song is sniffle-enducingly powerful.

5. Jimi Hendrix – Bold As Love (1967)

The final track on Jimi’s sophomore effort Axis: Bold As Love.

The final “underwater” section guitar solo, featuring the first example of flanging on a studio recording, is incredible.

“My red is so confident that he flashes trophies of war, and ribbons of euphoria/Orange is young, full of daring, But very unsteady for the first go round”

6. Mumblr – Sober (2014)

The first time I saw Mumblr was under the Greys Ferry bridge, with my friend Nick. We talked to some Temple freshmen girls, drank out of red Solo cups, climbed on the abandoned rail bridge, and got really hurt in the dusty, dirty moshpit. With broken glass underfoot, surrounded by skateboard-swinging punks, huffing generator fumes, my mind went to a really beautiful place.

This song is on their upcoming album Full of Snakes, which comes out September 16th.

7. The Plugz – Reel Ten (1984)

This is off the soundtrack to Repo Man (not Repo Men), the 1984 film about Otto, a young Cali punk played by Emilio Estevez. There’s space travel, secret agents, and great music, often all in the same scene. The lesson to be learned here: when punks grab synthesizers, good things happen.

This track is surfy, spacey, eerie, and jubilant. Many chills to be had.

8. PILE – The Jones (2012) 

“tried to keep up by running in place/tried to keep my cool but all that blood went in my face/now i’m cold”. 

I could go on about PILE forever. They’re my favorite band you can bum a cigarette off of. Their KDU live session was awesome. Rick’s lyrics are about as abstract as you can get. That means they have a wide appeal, but are still cutting-edge intellectual.

My thoughts are racing as my body is transformed into a sweaty mosh alien, feeling the air of the Golden Tea House thicken with the essence of fifty other people having the same exact experience.

9. The Front Bottoms – Skeleton (2013)

“Who was I kidding? I can’t get past you/ You are the cops, you are my student loans”

It’s desperate and ragged, but chugs on and on, like a drunk kid making his way home. Drug abuse, feelin’ loose.

10. Double Dagger – Rearranging Digital Deck Chairs (2007) 

Double Dagger is special to me because they were more or less my introduction to basement music, waay back in 2009. Yeah. While this song was never one of their live favorites, it still holds significance because it was pretty much the first Double Dagger song with introspective, philosophical lyrics that are more thoughtful than pissed off. This song is the moment where Double Dagger ceases to be a joke band about graphic design (see also: this song), and becomes the most dangerous band in the land.

“It’s always a problem/when the weight of the world/it’s always a problem/is outweighed by the girl”

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Some observations about this list: 7 out of 10 bands on this list are post-2000. 2 are from Baltimore. 1 hails from Philadelphia. 5 are bands that I’ve seen live. 4 are bands that cease to exist. Take from this what you may.

Concert Review: Needle Points @ Golden Tea House (May 22, 2014)

By Esmail Hamidi

If you’re a punk kid from Philadelphia, chances are you know of the Golden Tea House. Several nights a week, people from far and wide flock to this oasis of good times and cheap, all-ages, relateable music. The kitchen is where it all goes down. Bands set up opposite the stove, the refrigerator, the microwave, and the audience. Bring earplugs, because the PA is terrible. If you by chance forget them, the door guy probably has some spares, but be chill about it.

The illustrious House has been holding shows since at least 2012, which is grandfatherly in punk years. That whole time, it’s been cursed by terrible, oblivious writings about it (the article about DIY venues on Myspace is a glaring example). That said, here’s my shot.

Last Thursday, I went out to see Pujol, Needle Points,  Ruby Buff, and The No-No’s. It was a curious bill, for sure. The No-No’s were first on for their first show ever- trading virtuosity for attitude and energy. The pint-sized girl lead singer yelled about all kinds of things. The drummer was loose and liberal with tempo and the dual guitars sounded like unhealthy chainsaws, but watching them was the most punk thing I did all week. They played a song called “I Wanna Hit My Head On The Radio,” which kinda rules. Seeing them made me want to start a band like them.

Ruby Buff took the form of a power trio taking cues from powerpop, post-punk, and other twinkly guitar music. They were really tight, and they had a singing drummer who got the job done.  Their guitarist looks a lot like the guitarist from another great band, The Joint Chiefs of Math. They might be the same person, but my cursory internet research appears to indicate otherwise.

Needle Points appeared in the kitchen dressed in full psychedelic garb, to the delight of the modest Thursday night crowd. There was glitter, leopard print, eyeliner, and tribal paint. They truly pulled out all the stops. As an ensemble, they are an experience – two standing drummers playing a hodgepodge of random drums and cymbals, fuzz bass, slapback guitar, and a howling, possessed lead singer evoking equal parts Iggy Pop,  Peter Zaremba, Syd Barrett, and Sky Saxon. All of this stews together into something that will make you dance your ass off.

They aren’t just some imitation revival act – I find that they bring an addictive energy and originality to live psychedelic garage music. I don’t know how these beautiful people found each other, but they did, and the results, in the form of Needle Points, are exquisite. I hate to attach something so immaterial as the beauty of Needle Points to material goods, but you should get their self-released record on your turntable soon because it rips. If you’re too cheap for that, get a very solid approximation of their live set and “studio” work from their live set on WKDU (see below).

Now, full disclosure, I had to leave before Pujol played, but they are worth mentioning. To me, their recordings sound like Wavves’ second record and Diarrhea Planet – straight ahead rock’n’roll out of Nashville with hipster tendencies and a rough, self-deprecating voice. Their new record, titled Kludge, is worth checking out.

Sorry for no pictures. I was too busy rockin’ out.

Be sure to check out our live in-studio set with Needle Points!