Song of the day: The Small Change – "From The East Coast"

I’m afraid that I have to start this post with a shameful admission. I was contacted by a brand spanking new (to me) American band called The Small Change who asked if I could mention them on this here blog. “Sure,” I said. “No problem.” But that was almost a month ago. A month. That’s unacceptable!

(Ah, well. Better late than later, I suppose.)

Here’s, er, a post about an American band called The Small Change…

Before I get to the music, I want to say this: The Small Change are, without a doubt, the most generous band I’ve ever come across. They’ve released three albums so far, and all three are available completely free of charge on their website. And they’re not hidden away somewhere on some secret page, either – they’re all on the website’s home page.

Although there’s three albums’ worth of material to choose from, I’ll just play you some songs from the band’s latest album, Every Line In My Head (2010).

Here’s the album opener which gives you a good introduction to their sound:

The Small Change – “From The East Coast” (2010)

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This is the kind of music that can rev you up on a Saturday night. I can picture someone listening to it at home just before they grab their car keys and race out the front door, smiling as they go to whatever party or gig they’re going to.

CD Baby describes The Small Change as a “Mod powerpop beat sensation not unlike Sloan or You Am I, early Costello.” I’d go along with that.

Here’s the “early Costello” they talk about:

The Small Change – “Droppin’ Petals On The Way Down” (2010)

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(I think it’s the Farfisa organ that does it.)

And here’s that “Mod powerpop beat sensation” sound:

The Small Change – “Can’t Dance Witcha Honey” (2010)

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However, as well as those influences mentioned by CD Baby, Small Change singer Greg Collinsworth’s voice and delivery reminds me a little of Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys (especially in “From The East Coast”) and maybe Caleb Followill of Kings Of Leon – but I don’t know if that’d be taken as a compliment. The band also reminds me of The Replacements. I don’t quite know why, because I’d be the first to admit that melodically and structurally The Small Change’s songs aren’t an awful lot like The Replacements’ songs. I think that what I can hear is the same kind of loose and ragged vibe that The Replacements exuded.

But enough of the comparisons. I reckon some bands would loathe being compared to other bands (“We want people to think of us, not 175 other bands!”), so I’ll stop that unhelpfulness.

I think it’s around this point in the post where I have another admission to make (at least this one isn’t shameful). Although I was happy to listen to The Small Change’s songs, I wasn’t keen on the swearing.

This brings me to something that irritates me enormously: swearing in songs (I’ve mentioned my annoyance on previous occasions). Track 7 on Every Line In My Head is “It’s A ******* Good Thing”. (I’ve asterisked the offending word to shield sensitive eyes.) Now, as far as I’m concerned, that can quite easily be renamed “It’s A Mighty Good Thing,” or “It’s A Terribly Good Thing,” or even “It’s A Splendiferously Good Thing.” (If you’re singing it, though, you may have a bit of trouble with the syllables in that last one.)

All this nonsense about swearing and replacing words reminds me of something that occurred when the Raspberries’ “Starting Over” was released in 1974. “Starting Over” came complete with a clearly audible and extremely rude word in the opening line. But when the sheet music for the song was published, that clearly audible and extremely rude word was surreptitiously replaced so the opening line now read “I used to feel so very optimistic.” What you heard, however, was blatantly different:

Raspberries – “Starting Over” (1974) (rude excerpt)

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Even to this day, the official lyrics are still the polite ones (here’s just one online example).

It’s a great song, though.

As much as I want (and I want to), I won’t play you all of “Starting Over” because this post is about The Small Change, not the Raspberries.

It also reminds me of one of my favourite moments on The Simpsons, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers appeared on Krusty the Clown’s comeback special in the Krusty Gets Kancelled episode:

Krusty the Clown: Now, boys, the network has a problem with some of your lyrics. Do you mind changing them for the show?
Anthony Kiedis: Forget you, clown.
Chad Smith: Yeah, our lyrics are like our children, man. No way.
Krusty the Clown: Well, okay, but here where it says, “What I got you gotta get and put it in ya,” how about just, “What I’d like is I’d like to hug and kiss ya.”
Flea: Wow. That’s much better!

In the interests of fairness, here’s The Small Change with their sea shanty (i.e., it contains sailor talk). It’s OK, you can play it – I’ll just go make a cup of tea and come back in a few minutes:

The Small Change – “It’s An Expletive-Deletedly Good Thing” (2010)

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Why swear in the first place? Is it meant to be perceived as tough? Rebellious? Naughty? Exuberant? I can’t quite see the point, because swearing in songs is now so commonplace that it’s lost its shock value. And it limits a potentially wider audience because people with sensitive ears (i.e., me) won’t want to hear the song because it contains swearing.

By the way, the first time I listened to that song my computer crashed. I have a feeling that my computer doesn’t like swearing either.

Right, back to the songs…

(Note to self: isn’t that what this post is about, Peter?)

Here’s a track that combines all of the influences mentioned above:

The Small Change – “Downtown In A Restaurant” (2010)

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And finally (“At last!” I hear you exclaim)…

Although you’ve now heard some songs, you may be the kind of person who says: “Hey Peter, the band sounds fine and all, but what do they look like? I won’t buy anything from a band until I see their faces and know that they’re warm and loving human beings.” Well, if you’re that kind of person then you can watch The Small Change on ye olde YouTube:

The Small Change on MySpace
The Small Change on Facebook

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