8 Tracks To Subvert – Liars


Of all the bands to emerge from the New York underground explosion of the early noughties, Liars have travelled furthest. With no two albums sounding the same, the trio have long since departed from their angular art rock roots, experimenting with twisted, percussive demolitions of sound, flirtations with electronic powered pop songs, and even occasional excursions into straight up brutal rock. So it seemed apt to ask them to put us together a playlist of tracks that subvert – their entire career has been a subversion of itself.  

You can catch the band playing Bristol's Simple Things festival on Friday 24th October – just don't go expecting the hits… 
Check out the Simple Things website for the rest of the two day line up that includes Caribou, DFA 1979, Actress, Mogwai, Harvey, Haxan Cloak, Black Lips, Kode 9, Zomby, and a bazillion other superb sound botherers.

Bjork - Army Of Me

Bjork has always been one of my favourite lyricists. “If you complain once more, you’ll meet an army of me”… Not your typical “cat in the hat” cadence for a chorus, yet it connects with a very common and energizing emotion that is hardly eccentric.

  • Bjork - Army Of Me

    Bjork has always been one of my favourite lyricists. “If you complain once more, you’ll meet an army of me”… Not your typical “cat in the hat” cadence for a chorus, yet it connects with a very common and energizing emotion that is hardly eccentric.

  • Subhumans - Subvert City

    It’s an obvious choice, but it was the song played in my head once I read the word “subvert”. I was lucky enough to hear the Subhumans first when I was very young. My big brother was the source of all of the music I listened to, and therefore took it upon himself to be my musical filter as well. He didn’t want me listening to any “poseur punk” bands, so Subhumans obviously made the cut. Back then it wasn’t easy to get your hands on the actual music from all of the bands you’d read about, or logos you’d see in Thrasher magazine. It almost felt like contraband owning a cassette of music like this, where knowing the lyrics to these songs made you feel already like you were breaking the rules and anyone else familiar with the same songs had at least the struggle of obtaining a copy of the album in common with you.

  • Bikini Kill - Star Bellied Boy

    My favourite Bikini Kill track. It’s nice that Bikini Kill in the middle of a bit of a resurgence now, I always thought they were such a great band that deserved another listen. While the singer and the lyrics understandably get most of the attention, I think they wrote amazing songs that deliver such power emotionally without feeling forced at all. To me this track epitomizes this raw power, it’s in a way the visceral flip side to the more intellectual, though equally powerful Subhumans track I chose before.

  • Suicide - Ghost Rider (1977)

    Suicide are one of my top 5 artists of all time, music or any other medium. I can’t say this is my favorite Suicide track, it does seem to be most appropriate for this list. The first time I heard this song it felt like the audio equivalent to a comic book about a street gang in a wet, dank metropolis living by their own laws. It was an immediate, and lasting image like a comic book that came to mind. A story readily available to everyone, but a connection you make one on one with the image as you read it. The dialogue is very economical in reaching the highest crescendo in action and consequence. All of the details left to the images which spare little ink on shading, just action and excitement in primary colours leaving you eagerly waiting for the next instalment to arrive.

  • Germs - What We Do Is Secret

    The Germs are the ideal punk band in my opinion, and also one of my favorite bands ever. I certainly don’t feel like punk music has an automatic place in a list involving subversion, I just happened to discover most of these bands at a time in my life when I was figuring out what I was into. When I was younger you could, and often would get your ass kicked if what you were into wasn’t what everyone else was into so you’d better love it! The Germs changed what music was all about for me. Before I heard The Germs I thought that music was meant to be played by musicians, or “professionals”. They changed what “a band” meant, and as cliche as it might sound, they made me feel like I could do what they did. I think everyone has a band or artist that does that for them, and the Germs are the ones that did it for me

  • Ol' Dirty Bastard-Shimmy Shimmy Ya

    The first Ol Dirty Bastard record is so original to me. I think the way Dirty raps, and RZA’s production on this record is so adventurous you can feel the excitement of discovering a new sound when you hear the music. You feel like there can be new things found in music. Not only that, but it can be fun as hell to find those things. Hearing this song, or this album gets me excited to make music, and to try things that don’t normally fit. It reminds me to have fun making music and to find new and bold combinations in life that work for me. It seemed to open up hip hop to a more playful, wild, and adventurous style of rapping and production. I feel like Ol’ Dirty Bastard broadened the scope of hip hop making it a bit easier to digest future artists like Andre 3000 and Missy Elliott.

  • Rolling Stones - Paint It Black

    I first heard this song when my Dad played it for me when I was 8. I didn’t grow up in a musical family. My parents never played music in the house, and they didn’t play instruments by the time I was born so it was a rare occasion that my Dad would be putting on a record for me to hear. Every time I hear this song I think about my Dad and what it was like for him growing up in the Mid West. He saw the Rolling Stones play at a State Fair when he was younger and bought their album straight away. I’ve always wondered what he was thinking when he put this record on, or what type of occasion would he put it on? What type of events in my Dad’s life was this song the soundtrack to? Aside from all of these personal connections, I think it’s an amazing song. I can see how it was shocking at the time to have such a dark, nihilistic track in the middle of flower power. It’s also hard to see the Rolling Stones now and be reminded they took such chances.

  • The Knife - Full Of Fire - Official Video

    Another one of my favourite lyricists/singers out there. It’s amazing how many different vocal melodies and patterns Karin can make to a track that remains so constant. Her delivery is full of so much feeling and detail. I can hear sarcasm,a playfulness and so many other shades to her voice that make a roughly ten minute long song so easy to replay. I also think the sounds they were using were so exciting and well placed. The more you listen to this track the more you hear new sounds and changes. I think this song challenges the norm in what is an acceptable “single”. Can you make a song that is challenging and captivating for the full 10 minutes that the listener will want to hear over and over again as if it were a standard verse/chorus/verse structure and 3:33 long?