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by Dan Weiss

May 3, 2014

Alt Rock Spoken Word

by Dan Weiss  |  May 3, 2014

Since the urge to write poetry and the urge to make rock 'n' roll often dovetail at the same age and environment, it shouldn't be a surprise that lots of alternative rock songs, particularly stuff that used to be called "college rock," contain both. Old college radio standbys the Pixies return this week after a 23-year studio hiatus, with the ambitious new track "Indie Cindy," a jaunty talking epic. Their old contemporaries King Missile ("Detachable Penis") scored some minor word-of-mouth hits, too, with poet John S. Hall on every song. Weezer's classic "Undone - The Sweater Song" has verses cribbed from recorded party conversation, and Laurie Anderson's well-trodden performance-art style led to "Only an Expert," a dance cut that "nails" everything from James Frey to bailouts, and the last great thing her late husband Lou Reed played on. Reed's seminal Velvet Underground beat all these artists to the punch with John Cale's recitation of "The Gift" story from White Light/White Heat. But even bands like The Cribs ("Be Safe") and Fall Out Boy ("Rat a Tat") hired out legends like Lee Ranaldo and Courtney Love, respectively, to add a spoken cinematic fervor to their songs.

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