The Pitch’s Infinite Playlist: Round 9: Nick Spacek
Welcome to The Pitch’s Infinite Playlist, a forever-growing playlist of songs picked by people in KC. View/follow the full playlist on Spotify and you can always go back and check out the full run of articles. Throw the playlist on shuffle and enjoy away!
Playlist Guest #9: Nick Spacek
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Nick Spacek, the music editor for The Pitch. In addition to writing on local, regional, national, and international musical acts with an eye toward that which isn’t usually paid attention, I do the occasional pieces wherein I get to look at weird film and books. Along with The Pitch, my work can be found at Starburst Magazine, Grumpire, Cinepunx, Scene-Stealers, and every-so-occasionally at Daily Grindhouse. I host a podcast called From & Inspired By, talking soundtracks with the people who make them, and write promotional copy for weird fiction audio label Cadabra Records.
Where can we follow/support your work?
“Separations” by Diarrhea Planet
I have this on a playlist of my own entitled “You Can Do This,” which is a collection of songs I put on whenever I’m feeling super-low and suffering from imposter syndrome—so, basically, at least once a week. Diarrhea Planet’s Jordan Smith has said in interviews that this song was culled from a text thread between him and a friend of his, where they were constantly giving each other encouragement. Which is an incredibly positive and wholesome thing to do. It’s not even two and a half minutes long, but it always makes me feel better. Blasting this song while doing air guitar can turn a whole day around.
“Mystery” by Turnstile
Despite getting hundreds of new songs hitting my inbox every week, it takes a lot for something to dislodge those longtime favorites and become an obsession. Ever since Turnstile released Time & Space a couple of years back, they’ve been my “new favorite band,” wherein I probably play at least one track from them every single day.
When they started dropping new music earlier this year, I was absurdly obsessed, because there are only so many live YouTube vids you can watch before you’ve started to screw up your YouTube algorithm. “Mystery” is the first song on their new album, Glow On, and it reflects a similar sense of fear and hopeful positivity that’s in “Separations.” Is it a song about a relationship? Is it about the band’s newfound fame? Who knows? All I’m aware of is the fact that I relate to it hard.
“Hide & Go Seek” by Bunker Hill
When I was maybe 10, my parents rented John Waters’ Hairspray and left it sitting around the house before they returned it to the video store. I was bored, so I stuck in the VCR and had my mind blown.
I suppose everyone remembers their first John Waters movie, but there’s probably no better entry-level film to show a kid who’s just starting to get obsessed with music and finding new and weird stuff. Bunker Hill’s song,
“Hide & Go Seek” was one of the songs featured in the movie, along with stuff like the Five Du-Tones’ version of “Shake Your Tailfeather” and Gene Pitney’s “Town Without Pity,” which showed me this world of “old music” far outside the usual stuff played on oldies radio at the time.
When I was 9 or 10, the idea that rhythm and blues could be more than Motown or that rock ‘n’ roll might’ve once been dangerous was a weird proposition, but here was nearly an hour and a half of dirty music from when my parents were younger than me. When I started scouring music blogs in the mid-’00s, one of the things I went hard on was obscure Back from the Grave-style garage bangers, and coming back across this gem made me dance all around the house.
“The Hook” by Danger Bob
*takes a drag from a cigarette & sips some whiskey* Gather ’round, kids. Uncle Nick is gonna tell you a story about the way-back time of the mid-’90s when there was a radio station in Lawrence called the Lazer. In the days before Clear Channel began consolidating radio stations across the country, you could have local stations which would program music based on the response of the people in the community. Thanks to a solid stream of former college radio DJs from KU’s KJHK, 105.9 the Lazer crafted a sound that was equal parts “alt-rock radio” and regional weirdness. In between cuts from Bush and Nirvana, local acts would get thrown into the mix, meaning that for a good half-decade, there were bands like the Gadjits, Ultimate Fakebook, Kill Creek, and more who could claim to have an actual, honest-to-goodness hit. It even stretched to bands who regularly played Lawrence from nearby cities, meaning that 311 and the Urge—and even Everclear—gained area acclaim several years before becoming major label acts. I don’t think there’s any song that represents my connection to local music more than Danger Bob’s “The Hook,” a compendium of urban legends recited over fantastic pop riffs, while also boasting its own rocking lyrical hook. I definitely saw Danger Bob play each and every time I could, and while they haven’t played live in years, I would readily quit my job to make it to a show. There are a lot of “shoulda been huge” bands littering my musical memory, but I really wish the Bob had been one of them.
“The Kelly Affair” by Be Your Own Pet
A garage rock song that’s basically telling the plot of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls? I’m in. Back in 2008 and 2009, KJHK sent me to SXSW in Austin which, in retrospect, would’ve been an amazing time to network and meet people who could help me in my career, but because I was living in a state of arrested development thanks to having gone back to college after getting married and buying a house, I used both trips mostly as an opportunity to see all my favorite bands and drink to excess for free. It was pretty great. Not only did I get to see bands like King Khan & The Shrines every single night, catch an intimate performance from Bon Iver in front of 50 people, run into Wavy Gravy in front of the Texas state capitol building, and just generally indulge in musical hijinks, what stands out the most in my mind is seeing Be Your Own Pet playing an absolutely packed Emo’s, wherein the band had the crowd completely in their collective palm for one 40-minute set. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band take a bunch of disinterested folks and run roughshod over them so thoroughly. It was beyond brilliant.
“Lost Cause” by Rexxx
I’m sure there are other songs on Rexxx’s Pure Pleasure II, but I can’t remember any of them, because this is such a jam. Perfect power-pop riffs, catchy chorus, and that one kind of drum fill I can never remember the name of and just call “blickems” make this the song to which I think I’ve come back to the most this year. Every once in a while, I hear a song that I end up loving so fucking much, I just keep playing it over and over and over and finding a way to put it onto any playlist I can possibly shoehorn it into—like this one, I suppose. This morning, I put it on while I was doing laps in my basement, and just ended up having a one-man dance party down there. It’s maybe the closest I’ve come to pure joy over the course of this year, and I think I’m going to have to make this a regular thing, because these guys from Milwaukee figured out a song that makes me want to move my feet and flail my arms around with absolute abandon, and I kinda want to go do it again.
“The Bumble Bee Tuna Song” by Mephiskapheles
This is the dumbest song ever crafted, but somehow, a Satanic ska band creating a song which is, essentially, the ultimate earworm isn’t that far away from being the evilest thing ever. I had to put a ska song on here, and it just seemed appropriate to go with something that’s absurd, fun, danceable, and the sort of thing I love just as much at 41 as I did when I heard it at 18. Fuck, I’m old. Anyway, you could substitute any number of songs here—”Blood Red Sky” by Skavoovie & the Epitones, “William Shatner” by the Scofflaws, “If You’re Not Now, You Never Were” by the Siren Six!, or anything by Ruskabank—and end up with something that I listen to just as much now as when I only had 50 CDs and would rearrange all of them into mixtapes for walking to class.