“Simon’s tour of the Boston music scene will make readers wish “Hold Me Down” included a link to iTunes.” – Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Blame Oline. She was the first reviewer to suggest that HOLD ME DOWN should have a playlist, and I’ve certainly talked with various interviewers since about the songs that the band at the center of the book would be listening to. It’s a daunting task, but the fact that CrimeSpree Magazine has a regular “five things” feature made it easy. No, this doesn’t even constitute a whole set. Just five songs that Gal might be listening to… songs she would wish she had written. (What follows ran in CrimeSpree two weeks ago.)
My new HOLD ME DOWN doesn’t come with a playlist (not yet). But enough folks have asked me what I was listening to while writing this rock-and-roll suspense that I realized I needed to think about the songs that inspired its tough protagonist, Gal Raver, a clubland survivor with a history beyond the hits. So, yeah, these songs are in regular rotation on my playlist. More to the point, they’d be on Gal’s, too.
L7: “Fast and Frightening”
This one always gets me going – Donita Sparks’ trilled “r,” the ferocity of Suzi Gardner’s punk-metal guitar. What’s not to like? A slash-and-burn track by the founders of Rock for Choice, “F&F” evokes the band’s live energy more than the better-known grunge grind of “Pretend We’re Dead.” “She’s got so much clit, she don’t need no balls.”
Sleater-Kinney: “Turn It On”
True story: I was driving to work when this song came on WMBR, my local college station, forcing me to pull over and listen. A slow grind of passion that builds to something more desperate than orgasmic, this cut showcases the raw chemistry between Corin Tucker’s wailing vocals and Carrie Brownstein’s urgent guitar. A lot has been made of how this album, “Dig Me Out,” chronicles the breakdown of Tucker and Brownstein’s romance, but this cut captures that moment when it just … has … to … happen.
A.K.A.C.O.D.: “Sun Burns Out”
Released as one of Monique (“Bourbon Princess”) Ortiz’s many low-rock projects, this cut features her heady contralto and liquid bass in its own quickie noir drama. When she lived in Boston, Ortiz was often referred to in relation to Mark Sandman/Morphine’s bass-centric sound, but she has long held her own.
The Darts: “Revolution”
Power punk pop for now people! Amped-up garage rock, complete with Farfisa organ and a shout-along chorus led by the relentlessly chipper Nicole (“Love Me Nots”) Laurenne, this gleeful anthem transcends the guilty-pleasure dome.
Deap Vally: “Smile More”
A manifesto with hooks, delivered with a sardonic sneer, “Smile More” captures the complicated reality of being female today with punk directness. “Yes, I am a feminist, but that is not why I started doing this,” intones the LA duo’s guitarist/singer Lindsey Troy. Gal’s a survivor from another generation, but, hell yeah, she sings along.
A former journalist, Clea Simon is the Boston Globe-bestselling author of three nonfiction books and 29 mysteries. including the new psychological suspense HOLD ME DOWN. While most of these (like A Cat on the Case) are cat “cozies” or amateur sleuth, she also writes darker crime fiction, like the rock and roll mystery World Enough, named a “must read” by the Massachusetts Book Awards. Her new psychological suspense Hold Me Down (Polis Books) returns to the music world, with themes of PTSD and recovery, as well as love in all its forms. She can be reached at www.cleasimon.com, on Twitter @Clea_Simon and on Instagram @cleasimon_author
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