Earlier this week, Bill Doss of Olivia Tremor Control and The Sunshine Fix passed away. For those who don't know his music, of which there are far too many, I hope his untimely passing at 43 years of age will somehow make his genius more widely known. One of the best songwriters of the past 20 year, Bill Doss had a magical gift of combining beautiful pop harmony with experimental music. His albums all rank up there among my favorites and his death really saddened me. All week long, I've been listening to the few remarkable albums he left us and for those, I am thankful.
The Sunshine Fix - The Future History of the Sunshine Fix: The debut psychedelic pop EP was released in 2000, shortly after Olivia Tremor Control ceased to exist as an active band. It opens with "The Sounds Around You" which is simply brilliant, and possibly my favorite Track 1 song of all time. Though firmly entrenched in the same aesthetic as OTC, there is a marked departure that shows up right away on the first Sunshine Fix release. It's more controlled and direct, but equally as amazing.
The Sunshine Fix - Age of the Sun: The band's first full-length album released in 2002 was a true breakthrough. It keeps some of the OTC experimental aspects, but uses them mainly as interludes to the brilliant indie pop songs. I really feel like this is an album that is impossible for anyone not to enjoy. Every track radiates joy and beauty in melodic bliss.
The Sunshine Fix - Green Imagination: The band's second and final album was released in 2004 and is really a crowning achievement. "What Do You Know" is one of the band's best songs, combining all the elements Doss had innovated over the years. Nearly all the experimental interludes have been abandoned as separate entities and instead blend easily into the songs. Despite the soaring pop melodies, there is a subtle sadness the bleeds into the lyrics which really makes this album so amazing in my opinion.
Olivia Tremor Control - Dusk at Cubist Castle: This is an album I first heard in 1997. It was in heavy rotation in the St. Mark's apartment I shared with the dANIMAL that summer. It's the perfect summer album of sunshine indie pop, but also so much more than that. Twenty-seven songs that all run into each other and never lose a beat, it's an epic groove that I invite everyone to tune into if you've never taken the trip to the Cubist Castle. And if you have...maybe it's time to check back in for a visit.
Olivia Tremor Control - Black Foliage: Released in 1999, this is my personal favorite of the OTC albums. It's hard to say it's better than Dusk at Cubist Castle, it's just a little different. A bit darker, a bit more expansive. There's a lot of looping back on this album, repeated refrains and echoing sounds that give it a circular feel that has always appealed to me. This is the last release under the name Olivia Tremor Control. Will Cullen Hart would continue as Circulatory System (great albums, all of them) and Bill Doss would continue as The Sunshine Fix (equally great albums, all of them).
Olivia Tremor Control - Presents: Singles and Beyond: This compilation, released in 2000, gathered the earliest OTC limited release singles and EPs for their expanding fan base. The music is all from a short period of time, so there isn't any of the disjointed feeling that sometimes comes with collected volumes like this. It all feels like a very cohesive blend of the OTC combination of sunshine psychedelia and noise effects.
R.I.P. Bill Doss 1971-2012