by Jeff
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Describe the image

Masshysteri - Dom kan inte höra musiken [buy]

Downtown Boys - Callate [buy]

The Deadly Snakes -Shake by the riverside

Is there a fifth instrument of rock music? Guitar, bass, and drums are the indivisible common denominator--the prime number, after which everything is a luxury. The human voice and keyboards are the usual suspects for a fourth. But the fifth? That's where it gets tricky. Arguments have been made: Sneaky Pete made a case for the pedal steel; PJ Harvey has advocated for the autoharp; Blue Öyster Cult might suggest the cow bell.

In punk rock an emphasis on aesthetic simplicity often means that instrumentation is even more pared down. But recently the punks have been waking up to a missing element. An added layer of skronk - the saxophone!

Consider its dulcet high-pitched yelp. Can any single instrument more efficiently express the alienation of modern life that is punk's key theme? The soulful wailing of this ridiculous woodwind outdoes even the most earnest hardcore yowler. Our forebears knew. Proto- and first wave punkers The Stooges and the X-Ray Spex each had fulltime sax people for at least one record. (Holy cow Lora Logic was fifteen when she recorded "Oh Bondage Up Yours!") The Deadly Snakes carried the torch in the early 00s. And today's punks are tapping the part-time honkers at the fringes of the scene, high school band dropouts, patiently waiting for their time to shine. Swedish melodic punks Masshysteri and St. Louis's scummiest Lumpy and the Dumpers have brought in journeymen saxers to liven up some of their best numbers. Providence's Downtown Boys have gone all the way, incorporating two fulltime sax players!!

Listen, if you will, to these punk sax songs and feel all the feelings--the wild freedom of air rushing through a horn. Punk rock + saxophone = true love. May the two be henceforth indivisible.

Posted by Jeff at February 3, 2015 11:38 AM

After some iTunes searching, it looks like "Shake by the riverside" is titled "Diamonds & Furs" off of Love Undone. Now for some listening on repeat. Thank you!!

Posted by Matt at February 4, 2015 10:17 AM

Glad you like the song Matt! The Deadly Snakes were a rare gem. They put out four amazing LPs (try 'Ode to Joy' next) and always had a wild live show. I think it might be time for me to immerse myself in their catalogue all over again.

Posted by Jeff Author Profile Page at February 4, 2015 10:47 AM

...and don't forget about sackville, NB's KAPPA CHOW!!!

Posted by ilse at February 7, 2015 4:07 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

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