Bitchtapes: Sax Positive

Mac Pogue
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Bitchtapes: Sax Positive from BitchTapes on 8tracks.


I don't think I'm alone when I say I can't stand saxophones in rock music. To work through my fear of sax, and to help any fellow saxophobes out there, I've dug up ten exceptional uses of the sax in rock. Think of it as saxophone exposure therapy.

Love Is All - “Aging Had Never Been His Friend” This roving band of post-punk Swedes use the sax to crank out some cathartic energy throughout this peppy number.

LiLiPUT - “Hitch-hike” Not only did LiLiPUT jump on the sax train before anyone else, they predated the mYsPaCe capitalization technique by almost three decades.

Sleater-Kinney - “It's Enough” A saxophone's presence adds some guttural tones to the blink-and-it's-gone Dig Me Out track.

Fucked Up - “Baiting the Public II” I know Damian Abraham's meathead screaming can be a major turnoff to some, but the beauty of Fucked Up really lies in their compositions. Case in point: the second part of the “Baiting the Public” seven inch, which careens from a solo-filled straight up HxC number to a horn section takeover (yes, sax included) in the end.

X-Ray Spex - “Identity” X-Ray Spex wouldn't be X-Ray Spex without their infectious saxophone lines. Here's of a case of a band taking something unfashionable and showing everyone how it's done.

Tom Waits - “Anywhere I Lay My Head” I lead a pretty strict Tom Waits-free life, but the horn-laden conclusion to Rain Dogs always brings a little tear to my eye. I'm sure there's a saxophone somewhere in that horn section, right?

Pretty Girls Make Graves - “Pictures of a Night Scene” Here's a rare track with Graves guitarist J. Clark taking the lead vocal. Listen all the way through for a special appearance from tonight's guest of honor.

Yo La Tengo - “Mr. Tough” I don't even know if there's a saxophone in this track, but the horn section absolutely destroys in this loving number from the brutally named I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass. I couldn't help but include this one.

Xiu Xiu - “I Do What I Want When I Want” Found in the files of “unclassifiable, with sax solo,” “I Do What I Want” teases the listener with hints of a bombastic catharsis. In typical Xiu Xiu fashion, the tension builds and builds but only comes to a fizzing head before dropping the listener.

Electrelane - “Gone Darker” Verity Susman flaunts her ridiculous instrumental prowess on the centerpiece to Electrelane's third album, Axes. I love how the band acknowledges any apt comparisons of their lumbering, churning sound with a recording of a literal freight train.

Extra credit homework - Most ska songs give a pretty good argument for the combination of saxophone, drums and guitars. 

Previously: Bitchtapes: It's Money, Honey, Bitchtapes:10 Karaoke Songs to Avoid

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2 Comments Have Been Posted


I don't think you need to cheat with Tom Waits and Yo La Tengo, when Roxy Music and Lene Lovich have CORE BAND MEMBERS who play the sax. Also, "Love is the Law" by the Suburbs. That is all:

The Banshees Give Good Sax

I too share the hatred of the sax on most rock songs and as a rock musician I wouldn't dream of putting a sax of any kind in my own music. That being said, Siouxsie and the Banshees managed to use sax on their Kaleidoscope album that actually works well in a kinda f*cked up, post-punk way. It's almost as if they were poking fun at other bands who were using sax with their manipulation of it. Check out the out-of-tune-but-that's-the-point sax in "Hybrid." It's a perfect example of The Banshees' early middle-finger at 'nice' music. Just when you think it's a pretty little song, the guitar and horn in "Hybrid" come in all wonky. Brilliant. There are actually some subtle, tasteful sax textures in "Trophy" from the same album.

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