Mosquitoes: A Tiny, Highly Annoying Musical History
The Texans are in first place (for now), the Texas Rangers may become the Lone Star State's first-ever World Series champions tomorrow (ouch), and early voting for the November 8 mayoral/City Council election started Monday. The Houston Press Music Awards showcase is less than three weeks away - we'll reveal the schedule tomorrow - and this morning our friends at Free Press Houston requested everyone save next June 2 and 3 for Summer Fest 2012.
So naturally, all anyone in Houston wants to talk about is... mosquitoes.
Our city, built on a swamp with one of the most humid climates in North America, was somehow caught off-guard by this past weekend's invasion of the pint-sized bloodsuckers, just because the recent drought had dried up their breeding grounds until it rained about 10 days ago. There has been so much shock, awe and alarm in the air that "mosquitoes" even became a locally trending topic on Twitter for a while. And we wonder why people in Austin laugh at us.
Alone among all other Bayou City journalists, Rocks Off can see this for what it is: An intricately engineered conspiracy by the city of Clute to drum up a little advance PR for the 2012 Great Texas Mosquito Festival next July 26-28. You see, our advanced nicotine addiction means that while the rest of Houston swats themselves silly and drenches their bodies in equally questionable (and foul-smelling) chemicals, we have not been bitten one single, solitary time.
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Rocks Off's first instinct was to laugh ourselves hoarse at our neighbors' sudden "misfortune." But honestly, we do that all the time, so instead we started combing Spotify to find some songs paying homage to our parasitic pals. We hope this help ease the sting of this horrible, horrible plague, at least until the cold front comes along Thursday and banishes the little fuckers off the front pages and back to the larva pit of obscurity where they belong.
10. Blind Lemon Jefferson, "Mosquito Moan": Written in 1929, the Dallas country-blues pioneer's account of being held hostage in his kitchen somehow failed to popularize "gallinipper" as an alternate term for the airborne insects.
Find It: Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (P-Vine Records, 1991)
9. La Tropa Loca, "No Me Moleste Mosquito": Despite their pleas to the contrary, the long-running Mexican group does not sound bothered at all on this half-sauntering cumbia, half-"Tequila" party. Believe or not, this is a cover of "The Mosquito," a song from the Doors' second (and, thankfully, last) post-Morrison album, Full Circle - only minus the four-minute psychedelic organ jam at the end.
Find It: El Disco de Oro de La Tropa Loca (MultiMusic Mexico, 2010)
8. Little Feat, "Fighting the Mosquito Wars": Waco-born keyboardist and Little Feat co-founder Bill Payne has sprayed some lethal licks in his time, but this knotty-pine protracted struggle - six minutes and 44 seconds long - sounds like a somnambulent stalemate between Los Lobos and Widespread Panic.
Find It: Kickin' It at the Barn (Red Tomato, 2003)
7. Iggy Pop, "Loco Mosquito": The music on this song is kind of a mess - a three-way collision between blues, ska and carnival calliope - but the lyrics provide a priceless peek inside Ig's mind during one of his most depraved periods: "I'm sick of hanging 'round with old transvestites/ They stare at my rubbers/ It makes me uptight." Heaven help the insect that sucks this guy's blood.
Find It: Soldier (Buddha Records, 1980)
6. Seun Kuti, "Mosquito Song": Rocks Off isn't sure what instrument Fela Kuti's youngest son is using to replicate the sound of a mosquito - our guess is either a heavily muted trumpet or really tightly wound kazoo - but fans of the Kashmere Stage Band and TSU Toronados will gorge themselves on the horn charts of this seven-plus-minute James Brown-like jam.
Find It: Seun Kuti & Fela's Egypt 80 (Disorient, 2008)
5. Clan of Xymox, "Muscoviet Mosquito": A mosquito would have to be hardy indeed to survive in the harsh winter climate of Soviet Russia, but the propulsive dance tracks and melodramatic synths of this Netherlands darkwave group (best known for 1989 Classic Numbers hits "Obsession" and "Imagination") could chill the blood of any living thing - even if it's not their own blood.
Find It: Various Artists, Lonely Is an Eyesore (4AD, 1987)
4. Queens of the Stone Age, "Mosquito": Rocks Off was hoping to stumble across at least one classical tribute to the Culicidae clan; believe it or not, this mostly acoustic, dirge-like track from Josh Homme's desert warlords comes the closest. It also supplies the title of QOTSA's next album, 2005's Lullabys to Paralyze.
Find It: Songs For the Deaf (Interscope, 2002)
3. Pearl Jam, "Red Mosquito": Stone Gossard and Mike McCready get up to their elbows in some grungy blues as Eddie Vedder spins a mosquito bite into a metaphor for America's treatment of the continent's original human inhabitants. Or something like that.
Find It: No Code (Epic, 1996)
2. Alabama Thunderpussy, "Mosquito": If any mosquito bit as hard as the Richmond, Va., power-metal pirates' song in their honor, then we'd really have something to worry about.
Find It: River City Revival (Man's Ruin, 1999)
1. Ike & Tina Turner, "Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter": Written by Tina and said to be about Ike, this memorable turn of phrase is not intended as a compliment; it's soon followed by the equally graphic "You got a mouth like a herd of boll weevils/ Same old thing, same old game." Musically, though, it's 100 percent true.
Find It: Workin' Together (One Way Records, 1971)
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