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Cultural aficionado Griffin Swartzell's sound advice


  • Griffin Swartzell
Griffin Swartzell is a food critic at the Indy. He’s a Colorado Springs native and a graduate of Coronado High School, and he holds a BS in Technical Communication from New Mexico School of Mining and Technology. He’s a longtime lover of all things heavy, and he can plunk out a Ramones cover or three on his bass guitar.

Essential Saturday night listening: Depends if I’m craving hip-hop or metal. For the former, I’ve been appreciating Snoop Dogg and Method Man lately, but I usually favor Run the Jewels’ punchy RTJ3. For the latter, Michigan’s Cloud Rat scratches a major itch, fusing sludgy doom with blistering grindcore. Their set at Flux Capacitor in 2016 was one of my favorites that year, and their cover of Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done” from 2015’s Moksha is a lovely thing indeed.

Essential Sunday morning listening: It’s a coin toss between moody writing music or something heavy. For the former, I like weird jazz. Lately, I’ve favored German trio The Juju Orchestra’s album Bossa Nova Is Not a Crime — a slab of fun Latin jazz — or anything that Benn Jordan releases under his solo jazz/electronic/post-rock project The Flashbulb. For writing, I enjoy Réunion, but Soundtrack to a Vacant Life was my entry point into his stuff and remains dear to me.

First record I bought with my own money: I bought System of a Down’s self-titled album on sale for something like six bucks at the Borders at Chapel Hills Mall with pocket change. I was grounded at the time, but I could not hear my mother’s protests over Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian singing about social ills and the Armenian genocide.

“Wish I’d written that” song: “Poison Heart” by The Ramones is one of my all-time favorite songs by one of my favorite bands. It comes from the end of their long and storied career, when they’d moved away from three-chord blitzkrieg bops to more complex compositions. The Ramones were perfect.

“Wish I could unhear that” song: Skipping past the songs that aged poorly and hooky songs by people who turned out to be awful, I’ll go with The’s cover of “Woo Hoo,” originally by the Rock-A-Teens. It’s a weapons-grade earworm played to hell and back in ads in the mid-2000s, and I despise it to this day.

My latest online discovery: A while ago, former Noisey editor Kim Kelly and Mountain Goats mainman John Darnielle tweeted about a demo by a band called Devil Master that they compared to “Judas Priest meets Mortuary Drape.” Recently, the band combined both of their nasty, snarling metal-punk demos into Manifestations, which, in no uncertain terms, rips. Their song “Sex With Succubus” is the perfect soundtrack to a speeding ticket.

Artist more people should know about: Doom metallers Khemmis is one of the best bands in Colorado right now. Their 2016 release, Hunted, is up there with RTJ3 and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly in terms of how often I listen to it. The guitar work’s rich and layered, and singer/guitarist Phil Pendergast sounds more and more like Ronnie James Dio every album.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect Kim Kelly is the former editor of Noisey. We regret the error.

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