Mid-week mixtape: Songs with people making animal sounds

It’s time to get esoteric. On this week’s (belated) mixtape, every track features at least one band member making animal sounds. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a lot of cats and a lot of wolves, but a few surprises do crop in here and there, and the songs themselves are (mostly) worthwhile on their own merits. For the record, “Werewolves of London” doesn’t count, because werewolves aren’t real animals, and Joe Strummer’s wolf calls in “London Calling” were disqualified because what are they even supposed to be? Also, as much as I wanted to throw in a video of DMX barking, it was just too unsettling… That dude is crazy.

Side A:

1. Giant Drag – Kevin Is Gay: I’m psyched that this ’90s-minded two-piece is finally putting out a follow-up to its major label debut. Odds are it won’t have as many songs that end in meowing, but a band that can come up with song titles like “Kevin is Gay” and “YFLMD” (a.k.a. “You Fuck Like My Dad”) is probably worth following.
2. Wax Mannequin – Message from the Queen: “Power Blaster,” from Canada’s pre-eminent one-man prog-folk band’s second album, And Gun, is the real centrepiece of his “meowing over hard rock” period, but unfortunately YouTube only has a fairly recent cover with relatively little purring. So instead, the version of “Message from the Queen” off The Price will have to suffice.
3. The Flaming Lips – I Can Be a Frog: One of the odder tracks from the Lips’ brilliant Embryonic, “I Can Be a Frog” mostly consists of singer Wayne Coyne listing things that someone could be, and Karen O making appropriate sounds. Why is that so endearing?
4. The Presidents of the United States of America – Kitty: Admittedly one of the lesser songs from the band’s self-titled debut, which is actually a pretty stellar and consistently creative slab of power pop.
5. The Hot Rats – The Love Cats: A covers-only side-project for half of British rockers Supergrass, The Hot Rats tend to fuzz up the songs they love, and this Cure cover is no exception. Purists may call it blasphemy. I call it fun.
6. The B-52s – Rock Lobster: Sure, there’s a killer surf riff and plenty of brilliant nonsense in this song, but the clincher to its cult status is surely the prolonged section of fish sounds that serves as “Rock Lobster’s” climax. Plus, I’m pretty sure this live version was the first version I ever heard, on MuchMusic’s The Wedge back when I was an impressionable teen who only knew the B-52s as “that kind of annoying ‘Love Shack’ band.” Oh, youthful ignorance.

Side B:

1. The Consonant C – Wolves: Mind the incredibly long intro — this is a live version taken from the Calgary chamber pop outfit’s 2007 CD release. If memory serves, this was one of the first songs that Laura Leif had posted on her Myspace (as The Unbundling) before it became a Consonant C song; the group does an excellent job of fleshing it out.
2. The Bees – Chicken Payback: Smashing good garage rock, with a mid-song breakdown that invites all the animals along for the ride. Pay them all back.
3. The Moog Cookbook – Hotel California: Another cover, and another second choice — I would’ve preferred the band’s meow-heavy take on “Cat Scratch Fever.” But “Hotel California” is undoubtedly the Moog Cookbook’s magnum opus, a massive piss-take that recasts The Eagles’ California-as-Hell saga in a series of increasingly ridiculous styles, including circus organ with inexplicable baaing. Guaranteed to piss off classic rock die-hards, and leave the rest of us rolling on the floor.
4. Iggy Pop – King of the Dogs: I’m letting this one slide in, even though there’s only an incredibly short howl at the end. Why? Because Iggy’s Preliminaires was such an odd direction for the usually far more aggressive singer. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” might be more famous, more influential and flat out better, but I kind of like picturing Pop taking on a secondary career crooning jazz standards.
5. Rae Spoon – We Become Our Own Wolves: And so the side ends where it started, with a Calgary ex-pat recruiting an enthusiastic crowd to contribute its own wolf calls. Plus ca change…

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