Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weekend Music Roundup

As I've mentioned the last few weeks, I've been taking daily trips into the CD room of my house and rediscovering albums from the past. The natural progression of these binges eventually leads me to go into the past and search out albums related to those I'd been listening to. I love tracing the lineage of music, the history of influences, and the parallels of contemporaries. So this week's list reflects a lot of that digging. There's also one new release on here that I've been loving. Hopefully there's something for each one of you to enjoy.

Whiskeytown - Stranger's Almanac: Before Ryan Adams broke off on his own, he was a member of this pioneering '90s alt-country band. Stranger's Almanac came out in 1997, two years after their debut, and remains their best known work. Easily comparable to Uncle Tupelo, the other great alt-country band of the era, the distinct difference is the clear southern influence on this North Carolina band versus the midwestern feel of Uncle Tupelo. After hearing "Jacksonville Skyline" (a song from a later album) on the radio, I was reminded about how good this band sounds and sought out this album. This is a fantastic record, full of country soul and sadness. Truly one that needed resurrected, and will probably make me dust off my old Ryan Adams records as well.

Blue Öyster Cult - Secret Treaties: Released in 1974, the band's third album is widely considered their masterpiece, and for good reason given that it is, indeed, a masterpiece. From the opening track, "Career of Evil" you know you're in for a wild ride. There are obvious Black Sabbath elements here, maybe a touch of Zeppelin, but it's also completely it's own brand of heavy psychedelic metal. I got this album as a gift a few weeks ago and have been listening to it pretty religiously since. Phenomenal record.

Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers: The original Modern Lovers had broken up in 1973, but their debut album wouldn't be released until August of 1976, one month after this album by their lead singer. His unique lo-fi rock and proto-punk would pave the way for bands like Violent Femmes and eventually even Guided By Voices, while still being steeped in Chuck Berry guitar rhythms. This is a playful little record that is often overshadowed by the band's album.

The Minders - It's a Bright Guilty World: Part of the west coast branch of the Elephant 6 collective, this band was one of my favorites when they came onto the scene in 1998 with their glorious debut Hooray for Tuesday. I've been listening to that album recently and did some searching to find that I'd missed their later albums, including this 2006 album, their last release to date. It doesn't depart much from the first few albums, featuring the same wonderfully crafted '60s inspired psychedelic pop. I can't believe it took me so long to get this album, it's pure joy. (Sidenote: Hutch Harris, the original drummer, went on to form The Thermals)

Thee Oh Sees - Dog Poison: This is one of two albums put out by the San Fran psychedelic garage rockers back in 2009. This is one of their more fuzzed out records, which is saying something for a band built on fuzz. At times, it's manic craziness reminds me of early Residents stuff with it's Beat Generation influence. Extremely short, but an enjoyable ride if you feel like getting lost in the wave of bleached psychedelia.
Secret Colours - Peach: Formed in Chicago, this band describes itself as the seed of 60's psychedelia and '90s Britpop. Released last month, this is their second album. It's definitely influenced by both, showing moments of early Pink Floyd and then shifting into Spiritualized type hymns. It's been one of the most enjoyable listens of the year for me, and one of the best bands I've discovered so far in 2013. Highly recommended. "Me" is my favorite song at the moment, but it's one of those albums that's always shifting within your mind.

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