Posts Tagged ‘50 Foot Wave’

Today was Day 1 of the Labor Day three-day weekend. I’m explaining that for the benefit of my readers residing outside the USA, particularly the person who dropped by yesterday from Hungary. (Sorry, you don’t get your money back.) So although I did a lot today, most of it was in the categories of walking, observing nature, watering various leafy objects in the garden, and napping. That explains why tonight’s entry is shorter than recent entries.

No disqualifications this evening. Let’s go 47!

Black 47
I don’t know where Level 42 got their name from, but I do know that Black 47 comes from the worst year of the Irish potato famine. These boyos are Irishmen living in New York. They play Celtic folk (interest dropping), rock, rap, and reggae (interest back up). I listened to Fire of Freedom (1993). I liked “Rockin’ the Bronx,” which really does mix up all these genres – imagine The Beastie Boys transplanted to Dublin – but overall this music is firmly in Thistle & Shamrock territory and I didn’t make it through all 14 tracks.

50 Cent
The first thing to know about 50 Cent is that, given his early years, it’s a miracle he’s still alive and getting ready to turn 40. Like Alex Alexakis of Everclear, Curtis James Jackson III actually lived the gangsta life he writes about. The second thing to know is that for years, 50 Cent was an unstoppable money machine, vacuuming in the cash for his own albums and for the ones he produced for his buddies (collectively known as the G-Unit). The third thing to know, although this one means nothing, is that I will never take gangsta rap seriously.

I listened to his breakout record, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003). This one produced two songs that invaded the mainstream and became huge hits, “Wanksta” and “In da Club.” I realize now I’ve heard “In da Club” or variations of it for years, especially during the run-up to battle or chase scenes in less-cerebral science-fiction movies. I also admit that it gets under your skin. Get Rich also gave us “P.I.M.P.,” a topic that never grows old, although this one has a calypso chassis that almost makes it palatable.

The only thing I really like about 50 Cent is his name, which I think was a fantastic choice. I enjoyed calling my Boise friend John “35 Cent,” but he got tired of it.

50 Foot Wave
This is rock that looks back at punk and looks forward to kicking you in the head. Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses) runs this project. I’ve only heard the 50 Foot Wave EP (2004), but it’s obvious that 50 Foot Wave could run rings around The Ramones, stand toe-to-toe with Foo Fighters (though they’re nowhere near as melodic), and scare the pants off Coldplay. Recommended if you need to knock everything out of your brain.

The B-52s
I can’t write objectively about my favorites. Check the tag cloud or go here.

Experimental music from the 1970s and ’80s with punk tendencies and much dry humor. The production is not very clear, though it is clear that MX-80 is playing music strictly for MX-80. If you like it too, so what.

“Someday You’ll Be King” from Out of the Tunnel (1980) has a punchy, uncontrolled quality to it and gives you a taste of some late-’70s punk. “It’s Not My Fault” sounds like Talking Heads and Devo went through the transporter at the same time and came out the same band. I haven’t heard any of their other albums, but I’ll bet Out of the Tunnel was the closest MX-80 came to commercial appeal. (Out of the Tunnel and their next album, Crowd Control, are available on the same CD.)

Thirteen bands to go. Tomorrow we’ll start with M83 and see if we can reach 101 Strings.


When I took up the challenge of reviewing every band with a number in its name, I thought it would be something mindless I could do while doing some other, more serious, thing. Well, it was often mindless (to cite one example, One Direction), but overall this project has proven to be more interesting than it had any right to be.

Why are there so few band names with numbers?
You loyal readers came up with 110 suggestions. I thought that was a lot – but how many bands have had major-label releases in the past 60 years? Surely there have been thousands, and that’s just in the English-speaking countries. Why are so few numbered?

Don’t expect an answer to that one, but I can tell you that approximately half the names on our list are variations on two, three, four, and five. That makes sense, since most bands have two, three, four, or five members. 101 Strings actually has more than 101 musicians plucking strings. I don’t know why they’re so modest when they’ve done so much to destroy our way of life.

Threat level: Not exactly off the scale
The rest of this lot falls into no discernible pattern, though you could make a small category of names that seem to threaten: World War III, World War Four, Five for Fighting, Nine Inch Nails (Trent Reznor), 10cc, 50 Foot Wave, The B-52s, MX80, 101 Strings (I always thought that one was a threat), 1000 Homo DJs (we’re here, we’re queer, we refuse to play “YMCA”), and 10,000 Maniacs. Frankly, none of these bands seem particularly threatening, unless you fear Reznor’s brand of relentless self-pity.

Get right out of town!
I decided to disqualify any act that wasn’t listed at, or, failing that, in Wikipedia. Also, the act had to have at least one album from a major label – something you could find for sale at eBay or This led to surprisingly few disqualifications of your suggestions.

  • Less Than Zero: It’s an Elvis Costello song, it’s a Bret Easton Ellis novel, it’s an early Robert Downey Jr. movie, it’s the name of several albums, but it’s not a band.
  • 2 Tribes: This is a song by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and some electro outfits. It’s not a band.
  • Devo 2.0: Mark Mothersbaugh cooperated with Disney to make disneyfied versions of his original songs. O the humanity!
  • The Five Jones Boys: George Jones played with four other boys, but they didn’t use a number. Also, they’re country. That reminds me: No country.

Much as I love jazz, I disqualified the entire genre. If I hadn’t, I would’ve been overrun by trios, quartets, and quintets.

Welcome to By the Numbers Week. Tomorrow night: One is the the loneliest number!