By Alex Brenner
Ladies and gentleman my walk in closet is a mess. Shirts, guitar cases, blankets and random cat toys stuffed into one space just so it will be out of plain site. The other day I almost died in there when a box of CDs came plummeting down at my head. I caught the box and low and behold I found some great stuff I had not listened to in years.
Since I found 2009 to suck not only economically, politically and musically, I’d like to share some nuggets you may or may not have heard before. Most of these CDs can be found in the used section of Decatur CD or your favorite local record store for dirt cheap but still are definitely worth checking out. So let’s get in the old time machine and see what we can pull off the shelf.
HUM, You’d Prefer An Astronaut – Wow, 1995. This record was a real big one for me. Some of you may remember the single “Stars.” I recently heard it in a car commercial even. This record pound for pound is nothing short of amazing pummeling alt-rock at its finest. Detuned guitars and drums pound out hit after hit: “The Pod”, “I Like Your Hair Long.”
While the band really never gained mainstream notoriety, I definitely hear their influence in some of today’s rock oriented acts. If you are in the need of a big slab of rock this record is for you.
[If you're curious, HUM still provide several free downloads on their website like this one. - Rube]
Burning Airlines, Identikit and Mission: Control! – Burning Airlines was J. Robbins’ next band after Jawbox for you music geeks out there. This band is everything that makes rock music exciting; in-your-face guitars, pounding bass and incredible drumming. This is a great example of D.C. post rock at its finest. There are several catchy tunes on here; some take a few listens to get into but definitely worth it. If you are looking for something a little off the beaten path either one of these records will do; it’s more on the punk rock side so these are not really good to relax to. However, if you are commuting to work from Decatur to Buckhead these are perfect for shouting out your window.
Built to Spill, Keep It Like A Secret – This has got to be on of the best indie rock records of all time. It just has to be. I just started spinning this record last week and I cannot stop. From the first track “The Plan” to the bombastic “You Were Right” every song is catchy and just plain awesome. For those of you not familiar with BTS, basically every indie band has ripped them off for the last ten years. Built to Spill sounds like Neil Young & Crazy Horse mixed with Dinosaur Jr.’s fuzzy guitars – quirky yet poppy melodies with blasts of guitar greatness. They really had a unique sound of their own at this time, which was around 1999/2000. From the 90′s until 2003 they just recorded one great record after another. It’s worth checking out their entire catalogue but this is my favorite.
[Thanks to NYC Taper for this live recording of BTS at Webster Hall in the fall of 2009. Go there to get the entire set.]
Whiskeytown, Strangers Almanac – Did you know at one time Ryan Adams actually just wrote good songs? Alt-country was really starting to get exciting around 1997. Bands like the Old 97′s, The V-Roys and countless others had popped on the music scene mixing old school country with punk rock attitude. Although Whiskeytown, or at least frontman Ryan Adams, became known for his drunk rants on stage and child-like behavior there is no denying that guy could write a tune. While only in his early 20′s, Adams sang like a man far beyond his years. This album really defines a lot of the genre to me.
The songs are still quite “classic” in a way. Songs like “16 Days” and “Dancing with The Woman at the Bar” just seem so timeless. Out of any alt-country record I always recommend this to people as one of my top five. (Yeah Uncle Tupelo blah, blah, blah) If the Replacements would have been a country band, then that’s what Whiskeytown was and it was great while it lasted.