Research Theme – Battle of the Bands – pt2

For those of you avidly following the blog you’ll remember the Paleoecology group are leading Earth Surface Dynamics (geomorphology) 3-2 after yesterday’s battle of the bands part 1. With 5 more rounds to go today though it’s all to play for.

Round 6 – Research themes

Paleo – Pleistocene – Mammoth

ESD – Justin Timberlake – Cry me a river

An interesting start in the first round today, ESD going in strong with a bit of Justin. There is obviously a fluvial reference in the title but the lyrics don’t convey a sense of sediment dynamics at work, so it seems skin deep at best. Although the rain effects at the start hint at the link between extreme rain-fall events and flooding. Paleo have again dived into the ether of MySpace and plucked out a band named after a geological epoch, and in a nod to recent US Paleoecology PhD viva defender Jacquelyn Gill have picked a song about Mammoths. Jacquelyn as you will know was looking at Ice Age herbivores in her PhD. The song is somewhat of an undiscovered gem with only 38 plays on MySpace (5 of which are me). There are strains of Irish-American frontier folk music but even giving the benefit of the doubt that the discordant arrangement and the tremulous voice are deliberate it’s a weak effort. There is also a in-congruent mention of the Holocene. Contrasted with the slick production of Timbaland on Cry me a River it looks wanting.

Verdict – Win for ESD! (3-3)

Round 7 – PhD researcher Head-to-head

Paleo –Thierry Fonville – Crannog – Step it out Mary

ESD – Alex Clayton – Slip Stick – Don’t Stop Believin ( Dubstep Remix )

Thierry provides a strong research showing with a song by the band Crannog (a man-made prehistoric island). This song is their version of a classic Irish folk song and as you might expect the band look like a bunch of pirates who have been covered in prit-stick and rolled through a fancy dress shop in the dark. That said the lead singer’s voice is strong and there is decent arrangement for an acoustic live show. Alex takes some plaudits for finding a song to represent glacial slip-stick motion, but is it any good? Well Journey’s classic pop song is near to perfect; who hasn’t sung “he took a midnight train going ANYWHERE” in a provincial nightclub at 1am surrounded by strangers and thought it was the most profound moment in their lives? You might expect me to find fault with the dubstep remix, but I actually think it’s a bit half-hearted, possibly bite the bullet and get a bit more ‘BOOM wub-wub-wub’ in there.

Verdict – Win for Paleo! (4-3)

Round 8 – The great debates

Paleo – Stahlschlag – Automatismus (Anthropocene)


The big questions – do we need a new geological epoch to describe the period of Earth’s history affected by man, and do we need a new classification system for logjams linking form to function? Stahlschlag make the case in their album “Anthropocene” which has been criminally overlooked only garnering 3 plays since July 2009 (2 of which are me). Their brand of industrial krautrock promises much but for me fails to deliver; it put me in mind of a drunken collaboration between Pet Shop Boys, Aphex Twin and Kraftwerk. Log-jam are a Russian cartoon collective formed of a bear, a rabbit and a wolf who attempt to play free-jazz on found objects in the woods. A sentence I never thought to write. In this episode the bear attempts to play a double-bass on a fishing line. There are element of wry resignation in the piece typical of Russian literature, but it does fail to make a compelling case for a new classification system for log-jams.

Verdict – Win for ESD! (4-4)

Round 9 – Funk and Soul 2

Paleo – Issac Hayes – Theme from Shaft

ESD – Al Green – take me to the river

The big guns are rolled out again for funk and soul. ESD laying down a serious marker, again bring fluvial geomorphology to the fore with the Reverend Al Green and his near flawless Take me to the River, although in fairness there could be more hydrology in the verses. Paleo returning to sediment cores, which has done them well in previous rounds. But is Issac Hayes’ seminal film theme-song a little too tenuous?

Verdict – Win for ESD! (5-4)

Round 10 – Research Themes

Paleo – The Late Cretaceous – totally awesome dinolords

ESD – Bob Dylan – Blowing in the wind

It’s crunch-time, sudden death, the 5th penalty in the shootout, but both research groups making picks to confound the bookmakers. Jo Nield with Aeolian Geomorphology has not got a look in so far but steps up and plants it high into the roof of the net with a Bob Dylan classic. We can only imagine the sort of Barchan Dunes Bob had in mind when he penned the song. The crowd look on in disbelief as Paleo again return to MySpace for a geological epoch based band which has not looked comfortable all night. ‘Totally awesome dinolords’ is one of those songs which you don’t know if it’s a novelty record or just genuinely poor (“there was a time when Pangaea was lame, but that was before the totally awesome dinolords came”). Its high, it’s wide, The Late Cretaceous have their head in their hands.

Verdict – Win for ESD!! (6-4)

So according to this scientifically rigorous procedure we now know ESD are the coolest research group. It could all have been so different right up until the final round and ESD won’t be too complacent having lost both PhD head-to-head rounds with Theirry Fonville and Tom Bishop doing superbly under pressure.

Make sure to comment below with any alternative song choices for geomorphology or paleoecology


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