"Who is this generation's Fugazi?" he asked.
I am not here to answer that question. I am here to give you the seventh installment of the Cream's Best Local Rock Songs Ever series, not to be confused with the Most Awesome Nashville Rock Song (TM). There is no real time frame or frame-frame, just five arguably rock songs I happen to think are among the best to come out of Nashville ever.
Ole Mossy Face, "Calls and Walls"
Listen: Nashville Zine
Y'all know Chinese Democracy actually came out in 2004, right? Anyway, I think Ole Mossy Face was the third band I ever saw after moving to Nashville, and holy shit this is still one of my favorite songs of all time, regardless of city, state or municipality. So many beer-hoisting shout-faced moments! So much slurred bravado! So much woozy groove courtesy of rare-breed drummer-singer Casey Sanders and, on the best recording, bassist Jared Reynolds. (Full disclosure: Casey is my co-worker now, but I hardly ever see him. Also, I thought this band ruled before anyone at the Scene ever answered one of my emails.) "We own this town, we own this whole town!" This is where that's from, if you didn't already know. And while you probably never wrote a song this good, you probably have been drunk, broke and increasingly convinced that this whole fucking thing is, indeed, a joke. Yeah, you know the feeling. This song is that feeling.
Tristen, "Matchstick Murder"
Among the many things I love about this song is how many times I've heard or seen someone quote from it out of context. Something about that one line in particular, "What doesn't kill you makes you thin," both gets at something essential to getting by and yet is open-ended enough to — well, to be randomly quoted out of context and still feel like something. (Yes, that's Cream Captain D. Patrick Rodgers not feeling so well in the video, along with Poly's Larissa Maestro, The Non-Commissioned Officers' Eric Lehning and Tristen's Buddy Hughen.) What "Matchstick Murder" has that many other locally sprung songs of similar melodic pleasantness do not is that extra gear — the "major lift," if you will — and if you've ever seen her perform it live with a full band you know just how big and satisfying that coda is.
Ronny and the Daytonas, "G.T.O."
Blow it out! I remember loving this song as a kid, when I used to listen to the oldies station riding around the Chicago suburbs in my mom's old Chevy. I was generally amenable to songs about cars, and this sort of Beach Boy-ish Farfisa-dotted engine-revving number was no exception. Growing up, I had no idea Ronny and the Daytonas were from Nashville, or that I would ever live there (here), but those wah-wah-wahs and engine specs sounded pretty cool. "Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389" — ah yes, the days when American teenagers could drive ridiculously overpowered death machines (with three carburetors!) around town. Bonus points if you know what a "rail job" is. I almost picked R and the Ds' beach-romance ballad "Sandy," because the lovesick spoken interlude is amazing, but this here's a piece of the surf-rock pantheon, made in Music City. Not too shabby.
Paramore, "Misery Business"
Yes, I've heard: They're not really a Nashville band. Whatever, The Features are from Sparta. The band that broke the Nashville Curse did it emo-pop-punk style and with a flurry of side bangs. I know this pains many locals, but just imagine you don't care about all that, and you'll hear there's a great big hook wrapped around a catchy guitar riff — also known as the makings of a great rock song. Maybe you remember when The Privates covered it. "We learned this for our set of local rock covers at the Nashville Cream anniversary party last August," Dave Paulson said before recording a version for the late, great Lake Fever Sessions. "I think maybe 10 people in the crowd recognized it, and half of them thought it was an Apollo Up! song." Did he say "local"? God, it just feels so good.
Apollo Up!, "Walking the Plank"
Speaking of Apollo Up! — and the dream of Apollomore, why not? — they were one of the best Nashville rock bands for a while there, before frontman Jay Phillips' stint with ... Trail of Dead and the moving-to-Germany and the what-have-you. (Has it really be seven years since Chariots of Fire came out?) "Walking the Plank" is the perfect album-opener — a hot slap of punky rock that moves briskly from trebly guitar stabs to wicked snare-drum blasts to, well, some different trebly guitar stabs. This is band that will stab you treblily a lot of different ways, guitar-wise, pretty much all of them aggressive and scratchy. It's also a band that will get your blood moving.