May 14, 2009
This Note’s For You
1988 | Reprise Records
Having written the man off as a low-rent Bob Dylan (mostly per his on-again, off-again association with Crosby, Nash and everything that’s wrong with the 60s, er… Stephen Stills), and unimpressed by the “Godfather of Grunge” tag, I’ve become something of a late-in-the-game Neil Young completist over the last six months. I’ve been wrong before, people, and I will be wrong again.
I was snuck into Neil Young fandom through Johnny Cash’s cover of “Pocahontas,” leading me to dig up Rust Never Sleeps, and slowly make my way through the rest of his back catalog. All the classics aside, and considering the fact that I don’t care to check out anything by ANY classic rock artist after 1990, I’ve found myself hitting the bottom of the barrel as far as what’s considered “essential.”
Now, the fun part. I’ve made it my mission to develop opinions about the “weird” Neil Young records. Specifically, the 1980s albums that have been deemed by sane individuals to be “unlistenable.” Hence, This Note’s For You.
More on Neil Young | This Note’s For You
December 6, 2008
1988 | Sire
Considering the amount of records in my collection (somewhere upwards of two thousand), it’s amazing to me how embarrassingly unfamiliar I’ve been with Morrissey, ex-Smiths singer and perennial provocateur, until about a week ago. I’ve been largely blank on 1980’s “alternative rock” (barring the subjects of Michael Azerrad’s chronicle of the 80s DIY scene, Our Band Could Be Your Life), finding the “state-of-the-art,” digital production quality of most 80’s rock music unlistenable. Replacements, Hoodoo Gurus, Killing Joke, etc., all have great songs, but the tinny production quality – all treble, drums sound synthetic (and usually are), lead guitars mixed as though they’re in the next room – drives me up the wall.
More on Record Review: Viva Hate
July 31, 2008
1988 | Rough Trade
I surprised myself by picking up by Dean Wareham’s Black Postcards (Tell Me Do You Miss Me was a bit of a snooze) but it’s a love for Luna and a greater love for Galaxie 500 that inspired me to check it out. Admittedly, Black Postcards is a bit more rewarding than Tell Me, though it reads more like a grocery list than a memoir.
Galaxie 500’s Today quickly became (and still is) one of my favorite albums. Today was quite unique to the other music that was being released in 1988, more Velvet Underground or Modern Lovers inspired than the hair metal that was the disease of the airwaves. Rap was also making its way on to the mainstream airwaves. Thinking back to music of the late eighties (not that I paid much attention at the time or even knew who Galaxie 500 was; I was 10) I tend to think overproduction, i.e., Bobby Brown, so it’s kind of interesting to learn that Today cost only $750 to make. Another interesting point is that Bongwater’s Kramer either out of brilliance or laziness (Wareham remains unsure) allowed the band very few takes on each song, sometimes allowing Wareham one take on vocals and the guitar overdubbing. So it’s pretty incredible that this album is nearly flawless; of course it could just be all the reverb. But one of Today’s greatest strengths is its simplicity, the other strength being the fantastic backing of Damon Krukowski’s drumming and Naomi Yang’s dreamy basslines.
I worked six months at Guitar Center after dropping out of college in 1999. Fed up with listening to the alternative rock station, I asked if I could I put on Today. The album made it about a minute and half into “Flowers” when my co-worker asked me to turn it off, complaining, “Dude, this shit is boring. It’s making me tired,” I complied, resuming our regularly scheduled brand of shitty music (Buckcherry). I walked out of the job not long afterwards.
by Justin Weingartner