The Dorkwave Playlist

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What are the songs that Les Infants Michael Doyle, Jon Ozias, Mike Servito and Rob Theakston find essential? Here are what those four after-hours tastemakers say are the tunes that should be rocking your world. Each Dorkwaver added saucy commentary to his 10 selections.

Michael Doyle

“Just What I Needed” — The Cars: I can confidently say it is the best pop song ever. It is the Dorkwave anthem. We probably play it too much, but it always makes me smile and everyone dances.

“Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls” — Book of Love; “Girls and Boys” — Blur: (Doyle usually plays these two songs together) “Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls” is so ridiculous and such an infectious the-sun-is-shining kind of song. “Girls and Boys” captures a similar attitude. It’s about love and sexual ambiguity and partying, and again, just a fun, be-true-to-yourself feeling, and one of the most finely crafted pop songs of the ’90s.

“Disco 2000” — Pulp: An all-time classic and a great narrative with a killer riff to boot.

“No Tears” — Tuxedomoon: “Collapsing New People” — Fad Gadget: To me, these are the two most iconic and clever songs about nightlife culture. So witty and self-deprecating.

“Rhythm Box” aka “Odd Job Discrimination (Compurhythum Version)” — Adult.: It’s so punk rock and nasty and hooky, I love it.

“I’m Happy But You Don’t Like Me” — Asobi Seksu: A flower with teeth. Destined to be a noise-pop classic.

“Johnny Hit and Run Pauline” — X: An old, old L.A. punk classic, charged with sexual energy. It just picks you up and throws you around for two and a half minutes.

“Alcohol” — Saturday Looks Good to Me: “Every time the phone rings it sounds like a song.” C’mon ... brilliant.

“Tribulations” — LCD Soundsystem: It’s tough to pick one track from LCD. ... James Murphy is our hero on so many levels, and every song totally hits home.

“Vapour Trail” — Ride: It’s a song about letting go of things, but cherishing past experiences and appreciating the beauty of what you can’t quite get your hands around. ... A shoe-gazer classic.


Mike Servito

“Electricity” — Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark: When I was 14, I was obsessed with Depeche Mode and Yaz and anything in their likeness. It just instantly puts a grin on my face, and it gets a good crowd reaction.

“Just Like Heaven” — The Cure: Possibly one of the best-constructed songs ever made.

“10th Planet” — Solid Space: New wave songs about spaceships and outer space. You can’t go wrong here.

“Teenage Kicks” — The Undertones: Said to be John Peel’s favorite record of all time, I played it early on in my Dorkwave run, paying tribute to the late Mr. Peel one night. Dorkwave loves sleazy synths, but can appreciate a good rock ’n’ roll jam as well.

“Eisbar” — Grauzone: It’s amazing that this song is from 1981 and still sounds so fresh. I don’t speak German, but I love the bass line and songs about polar bears. … too good.

“Digital” — Joy Division: There’s nothing to say about it. It’s fucking brilliant and a Dorkwave anthem.

“Damaged Goods” — Gang of Four: A definite party-starter.

“586” — New Order: Equipped with heavy bass lines that never go stale. One of my absolute favorite New Order songs. It always sounds crisp and solid.

Controversy and 1999 (LPs) — Prince: Sleazy synths, guitar work of a god, the sound of the Linn drum, the sexual innuendo. … Prince.

“Kick Out the Chairs” — Munk (featuring James Murphy): Richard Panic played this one night after a Pas/Cal show a few weeks ago, and I flipped. It’s like one of those peak songs that gets everyone crazy in the midst of the already-existing chaos.


Jon Ozias

“Horrorhead” — Curve: One of my personal Dorkwave signature songs. Curve is so often overlooked and this song is so beautiful.

“Fire” — Lizzy Mercier Descloux: The whole no-wave, downtown, ’81, Mudd Club scene is such a huge influence on Dorkwave.

“Beat Connection” — LCD Soundsystem: “Everybody here needs a shove,” … indeed.

“My Radio” — Solvent: About as perfect a song as I’ve ever heard written.

“Warm Leatherette” — The Normal: When Dorkwave becomes a college course, this will be on the first test.

“Rocker” — Alter Ego: This was one of the defining tracks at the Untitled parties of last spring and summer. Its crossover appeal is totally what Dorkwave is all about.

“It Happened Then (Space Vocal)” — Plastique de Reve: Sick.

“Debaser” — The Pixies: A constant crowd-pleaser for that time.

“Typical Girls” — the Slits: “Who invented the typical girl? Who’s coming out with the new, improved model?” Questions well worth asking.

“Kick Out the Chairs” — Munk


Rob Theakston

“Bad Mouth” — Fugazi: I heard this album in high school. Their principles are ones I’ve tried to stick to ever since. Minus the one about [not] drinking.

“What’s Happening Brother?” — Marvin Gaye: It’s just as relevant as its big-brother song, “What’s Going On?” And there are few times in his body of work where Marvin seems so soulfully desperate and sincere.

“God Only Knows” — The Beach Boys

“A Wonderful Life” — Carl Craig: If it weren’t for Carl giving me my first job out of college, I’d have been an English teacher. If it weren’t for Carl making this tune, I probably would just now be discovering Detroit techno.

“That’s Entertainment” — The Jam: The English counterpart to “What’s Going On?” A social commentary on life in a downtrodden English town. Pure poetry and one of Paul Weller’s finest moments.

“As” — Stevie Wonder

“Dirty Boots” — Sonic Youth: I always wanted to re-enact the video to this with a cute girl. It’s my sole self-indulgent indie rock fantasy.

“Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” — Bob Seger

“Bernadette”— Four Tops: When I was in high school I took a whole summer and studied James Jamerson’s technique on bass. One of his finest performances. And the Tops are pretty good here too.

“Pink Napkins” — Frank Zappa: A lot of people think Zappa is known just for his weirder moments, but “Pink Napkins” is a very beautiful, contemplative instrumental with some of the sickest clean-tone guitar noodling ever committed to record.

Walter Wasacz is the co-author of the Subterraneans column, which charts Detroit dance culture for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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