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6 a.m. Wakeup Call


Mornings are hard enough to face when you're not trudging off to a world of cubicles and fluorescent lights. Just waking up presents a challenge: The buzz of the alarm clock is easy to ignore, and FM radio is easy to turn off. The occupant of the cubicle next to yours may well kick off every day with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," but that's not going to work for you.

Instead, give this 6 a.m. wakeup call a try. It's a perfect playlist for those days when you need more than two cups of coffee just to summon the strength to walk out the door in the morning.

For more entries in NPR Music's Listen While You Work series, click here.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Iggy & the Stooges

As the alarm goes off, Iggy Pop's wild-eyed proclamation -- "I'm a streetwalkin' cheetah with a heart full of napalm" -- spurs some kind of movement, at least enough to remind you that you're still human. "Search and Destroy" is a call to arms, even if your arms have fallen asleep from hugging the pillow all night. You swipe feebly at the snooze button, only to knock over the bedside lamp. At this point, Pop wants someone to save his soul and penetrate his mind, but you're only conscious enough to notice that the alarm clock reads 6:49. Uh oh.

Sic Alps

Cursing last night's two-for-one happy hour, you stub your toe on the dresser and head for the bathroom. A two-chord romper, Sic Alps' "Speeds" recalls Velvet Underground's rambling epic "Sister Ray," but in decidedly more compact form, as the duo guts out blasted garage-pop like a junkyard regurgitating beautiful trash. The odd songs on A Long Way Around to a Shortcut come from various EPs and cassette releases; they're remastered here, though that doesn't make much difference to a band that revels in grit and guts.

High Rise

You need to wake up, but your unemployed roommate still hasn't left the bathroom and the coffee machine is dripping black sludge. It's going to be a while before you can clean up and caffeinate. Enter High Rise, one of the many Japanese lords of the psychedelic freakout. Any spot in High Rise's early-'90s discography will get you moving, but "Ikon" is the ultimate speed bomb. Of its seven minutes, five consist of Munehiro Narita thrashing a wah-wah pedal through a new dimension. "Ikon" won't send you flying out the door, but it'll speed up your blood flow.

Screaming Females

While you were playing air guitar to High Rise, that incessant honking in the distance was your carpool, moments before giving up and heading off without you. As Screaming Females' "Boyfriend" cranks up next, the wailing guitar acrobatics of Marissa Paternoster keep you from chasing after your ride. A vital DIY spirit with skills and songwriting chops beyond her years, Paternoster matches her forceful vocals with thrilling feedback, further fueled by Screaming Females' solid rhythm section. It's enough to give you the courage to brave rush-hour traffic alone, with no HOV lane to save you.

Ninety Pound Wuss

Your boss has already left two messages on your cell phone. With your exit in sight but no cars moving, you've got a few minutes of frustration brewing. If you're not careful, Ninety Pound Wuss' "Outbreak" could help spark office rage of the kind that ends up on YouTube. Short Hand Operation was one of the most slept-on punk records of the late '90s, a brilliant and chaotic slab of fury that paved the way for the likes of The Blood Brothers. Nothing from the Seattle band until that point revealed the artistic anguish and melodic howl of appropriately named frontman Jeff Suffering, but this is as cathartic as it gets. "Outbreak" may wear you out by the time you finally get to work, but at least you're not still sleepy.

Lars Gotrich
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