Monday, November 24, 2008

71. Steel Pole Bathtub - The Miracle of Sound in Motion

I've been talking up this band for years, but very few people seem to take to them the way I have. Their style is kind of punk, their sound is noisy and layered and sometimes disjointed. It could be unnerving to someone who likes their music all flowing and nuanced.

Last night, I realized that the band is featured in the new ad for the video game Left 4 Dead (which we are totally buying this week). The song on the ad is Train to Miami, my absolute favorite tune on this album.

Like most of the album, that particular song is surreal, noisy, weird, disturbing, haunting and addicting. The repeated chorus of “these are my friends now” over a staccato bass, the cacophony of sounds in the background, the whispers about church burning and satan, the short scream; it’s what the circus might sound like if you smoked a bowl of crack before entering the big tent. You’d think that putting all these sounds together might make a mess, but Steel Pole Bathtub makes it work.

The whole album is at once disturbing and riveting. Bozeman, Carbon, Waxl, I could try to define each song for you but it would take far more words than anyone wants to read. The only song on the album that doesn't require an acquired taste is the remake of the Pogues' Down all the Days, which is a bright and airy spot in an otherwise deep and complex album.

Miracle of Sound in Motion is one of those "desert island discs" I never want to live without.

I hope being on this Left 4 Dead ad gives Steel Pole Bathtub some recognition.

Favorite song: Train to Miami (really, download this, listen to the whole song)
SPB at Trouser Press


steelopus said...

You'll want to update your link to the file. It's currently misformed as ""

I dig this track. It's making me feel a little paranoid.

Mike said...

Just saw them a month ago in Portland for teh NW Music Fest. They were still awesome! Mike Morasky is a composer for Valve software and did the music for Left 4 Dead, TF2 and I think some Portal and Half Life 2 music. Long live SPBT

michele said...

Thanks, Mike, very cool piece of information - and that explains how the song got on the ad.

Kevin said...

Hey, just wanted to let you know that, yeah, that commercial DID give them a bit more recognition -- I just had to figure out who did that, and have since gotten two of their albums. Its fantastic stuff!