Listing a Jimmie Spheeris song in a recent LJ entry provoked me to go looking on Amazon. Oy, was I shocked. Evidently Sony Records has been jerks and no longer permits Rain Records to reissue the Spheeris catalog, and thus prices for his albums on CD are pretty outrageously high.
Following random links from there took me to a group I hadn't thought about in some time: Bloodrock.
The only song of theirs I'm really familiar with is "DOA," a very effective song about a plane crash. The music is perfectly matched to the tortured lyrics, and while my ninth-grade self recognized that, I didn't understand why for a long time.
If you study music theory, you'll eventually come across an interval called the "tritone." It's the interval from C to F#, i.e. take a perfect fifth and lower the top note a half step, and you've got a tritone. The tritone splits the octave in half, and is very dissonant. In musi theory it was called diabolus in musica (the devil in music), and avoided for a long time.
"DOA" has the disturbing, never-resolved feel it does because it's built around tritones. It's based on the chord progression C F# D G#. Hmmm... C to F# is a tritone. D to G# is a...(pause for reader to chime in)...tritone! On top of this is a riff that sounds like the stereotypical European police car siren; atop the C and F# it alternates between E and Bb, and then with the D and G# it alternates between C and F#. The interval between E and Bb is a (all together now!) tritone, and the interval between C and F# is (still) a... tritone! (Since the tritone splits the octave in half exactly, if you invert a tritone you get a tritone again.)
Too bad I didn't know enough to understand why the song was so effective; I would've loved to tell off a relative who had the standard reaction to the next generation's music. OTOH, since I'm now sligtly older than said relative was then, I have to wonder what elegant recent musical constructions I'm ignorantly blowing off.