Unless an album is completely and utterly awful, I'm usually determined to give everything at least three listens. That's my golden rule. If by the third listen, it doesn't appeal to me or I don't see some potential of it ever growing on me, that's typically the death knell. Though, I have been known to pull out an album years later and discover a greatness there. The Music Tapes is a perfect example. I bought that when it came out in 1999 and deemed it unlistenable...flash ahead a few years, put it on, loved it. It's those rare albums that make me such a big fan of giving records another chance after an initial disregard on my part. So in the spirit of this holiday Sunday, here are a few albums that I have resurrected from the vault of dead albums this week. I invite everybody to practice this same ritual...you might be surprised at what you'll discover in your heaps and hard drives.
The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night: So this one didn't spend too long in it's dark cave of doom. It just came out last month, but after one listen, I found it completely uninteresting and retired it to an external hard drive to rot. A few days ago, I saw them perform "And This Is What We Call Progress" on Late Nite and was shocked how much I enjoyed that Child of Floyd sound they were grooving. Hmmm, it was time to resurrect the files and give it another shot. I must have just not been in the mood because I was way too harsh on this album. A spiraling album of heavy shoegaze. Solid stuff.
The Sheer - Here and Now and Long Before: This is a little different because I liked this album a lot from the first listen last year. It was actually a contender for my Best of 2009 List. But at the same time, months had gone by without hearing it and seeing it in the stacks, I grew to become indifferent about it for whatever reason. I put it on for one last listen before it got filed away on the shelves and had to pause, remembering how amazing the first two songs are on this album. A Dutch band with that Dutch sound...which is kind of a cross between BritPop and American Indie rock.
Black Diamond Heavies - A Touch of Someone Else's Class: Another album that I never actually disliked, but didn't really grab my attention at all last fall when I listened to it. Another last listen scenario where I had to stop and realize that I hadn't really heard it the first times around. I heard a heavy garage blues but missed the sort of infuse of Tom Waits doom in the album. Needless to say, it remains in rotation, safe from the shelves for another few weeks at least.
Nicky Wire - I Killed the Zeitgeist: Though this solo album by The Manic Street Preachers bass player came out in 2006, I didn't get it until this past year even though I'm a Manic fanatic. But let's be honest, a bass player's solo album...never sounds appealing. This album wasn't appealing to me the first two listens. It just seemed to be lacking as most band member solo albums tend to. But it was around the third listen last fall, and then the fourth and fifth and beyond that I started to realize that it is really good in it's own way. "Break My Heart Slowly" is top quality. "Goodbye Suicide" and "(Nicky Wire's) Last" are also quite brilliant.
Savage Rockin' Girls: This compilation of little known '50s proto-rock is a different story. I know most of the songs from other comps and have always loved them. All sung by women, a good deal are sung by teenagers and bands that only ever cut one 45 back in the early days of rock when little studios would bring in some local act to see what happened. I was obsessed with a many of these songs about a year ago; "Daddy Let Me Go" by Anita Veal & The Bob Hooks Band, "Don't You Dare Let Me Down" by Wendy Colby & The Bonnevilles, are stand-outs. I listened to this different comp this week and my obsession returned. The new find on this one is really Carolyn Penley & The Shantones who have two covers on here: the outstanding cover of Brenda Lee's "That's All You Gotta Do" and a cover "The Twist". I've found very little info on the band, but it appears these are the A and B side of their only ever recording. Amazing forgotten tunes.
earth - Sun Amps and Smashed Guitars: I've always been a fan of earth. They are the first drone band I ever loved back in the early to mid-90's. I hadn't listened to this live album in years. It's most well known for including a song sung by Kurt Cobain called "Divine and Bright" (the only non-Nirvana song with Kurt vocals). Certainly not as good as some of earth's catalog but certainly one that should be revisited by those who have maybe passed it over.
Boris - Pink: Probably this Japanese metal band's best known album, it was always a bit of a letdown for me after the superior Akuma no Uta, which I had still been enjoying very much at the time I got this one. So, as is often the case when I acquire too many albums by one band in too short of a time (a crime I've committed on too many occasions to count) one falls by the wayside. Well, with no Boris is the rotation for well over a year, I put this one on and it was with new ears that I totally appreciated the fury of it.
Hole - MTV Unplugged: I remember when this aired back in 1995 and being really excited for it. I still think Live Through This is a classic album and was super into Hole at the time. I watched this with my roommates in college and we were so disappointed. It seemed like such a mess. I came across the bootleg of it and decided to give it a listen this week to see if it really was as awful as I remember and to hear the cover of "You Know You're Right" know that I know the song. Well, it must have just been the visual component that ruined the show for me, because the recording is fantastic. "Old Age" (always my favorite Hole song) and "Drownsoda" are unbelievably good. In many ways, it has restored my faith in Live Through This era Hole...nothing later however.
Ratt - Ratt: This is the 1983 EP that launched the band, and in many ways, the L.A. sleaze rock scene that followed. This is actually something I just got, but have wanted for ages. I'm unashamed of my love of early '80s L.A. glam rock and will defend Ratt's first solo album. Warren DeMartini is a highly underrated guitar player and he wails on these six songs. For sure, "Back for More" is the must-have track on here. I include this album on the resurrection list because it infuriates me how much this era and genre are dismissed as all being as bad as Poison. It's not.
Soledad Brothers - Soledad Brothers: This 2000 album is one I go back and forth on and have since I got it back in 2001 (purchased on my first trip to the best record store in the world Amoeba Records in San Fran). This Detroit band's solo album, produced by Jack White (that's him pictured as Uncle Sam on the cover) is *no surprise* a raw garage rocker. Some listens I find it fiery and explosive and love every second. Other times, it grows boring. Recently, I find it fiery and explosive.