9. in the aeroplane over the sea

“If there’s one track that I’m probably going to regret putting in the top ten of this thing, it’s this one, care of the outfit known as Neutral Milk Hotel, which seems to be concerned with dying and death and whatever happens (or doesn’t) afterwards, which of course throws light back on before, life itself, the whole mad aeroplane journey across the wide open ocean of eternity. But it’s too recent, I fear, too close. The song hasn’t had time to flip through its half-life, get overplayed or whatever, die a death and then re-emerge as … well, who knows? Because that’s what music does, for me anyway. The stuff I truly love. And right now, right here, June sometime, calendar year 2001, I’m f***ing in love with In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, the album and the song, and the band, about whom I know pretty much nothing beyond what the album cover tells me … and it’s a great f***ing album cover, the kind of thing you have to have on vinyl if only to maximize the size of the imagery.

Which honestly is why I bought it. I liked what I was hearing in the record store but it was the cover that sealed the deal. The whole thing throws me back to a time when the whole package mattered absolutely, you wouldn’t think of not listening to it all in one go, headphones on, the cover in your lap. And then there’s the voice, the way it wraps itself around the delirious gush of words, young man by name of Jeff Mangum finding an entirely new way to deliver the poetry of his soul. And the band‘s right there with him the whole way, your basic bass-drums-guitar core, but also organ trumpet flugelhorn trombone saxophone zanzithophone banjo – whatever it takes to punch a hole through to a whole new sonic universe. Or not. Because I could be wrong. It could be too soon to lay so much praise on any record. It is too soon. But what can I do? I’m in love. I’m a fool.” (Philip Random)

99. range life

“Because it’s true. If you want to accomplish anything of value in this thing called life, you really do have to pay your dues before you pay the rent, even if you’re deep into your thirties before you realize what this actually means. That We Have Higher Obligations To The Cosmos Than Mere Survival – any cockroach can pull off survival. And if you don’t grasp this, don’t go calling yourself an artist. At least, I think that’s what’s going on here. Because the Pavement crowd were definitely artists, seeing the middle 1990s for the colossal screw-up they were – the demise of so-called grunge, the co-option of pretty much everything that had felt so fresh and necessary barely three years previous, the crooked rain falling in prolonged deluge, smelling of sewage and other assorted poisons … and yet, beauty to be found in strangest, least likely of places. And truth … even if you’re a Smashing Pumpkins or Stone Temple Pilot fan. Damn, I love this song. Forget everything else I just wrote. It just feels like smoking strong marijuana and drinking good beer. In the rain. Who needs more?” (Philip Random)

124. just like heaven

I’ve never been one to buy many singles – something to do with coming of record buying age in the early 1970s, I guess, when albums were the thing. But every now and then, you’ve got to adjust your strategies. Like hearing Dinosaur Jr‘s planet killing version of the Cure’s Just Like Heaven on the radio one sublime summer day and immediately needing to own the record. But all I could find was a 7-inch. Which if I’d been truly cool would’ve triggered a whole new phase for me, 7-inches being all the rage as the 80s turned over into the 90s, particularly if you were into raw sort of proto-grunge indie-rock. But I’ve never really been into just one sound or attitude. It’s always been everything, if possible. Which to my mind (and heart) is what J Mascis and crew accomplish here, the kind of rapturous, all encompassing escape velocity that redefines reality forever … until it suddenly just has to stop.” (Philip Random)

291. Searching for Mr. Right

“I’m pretty sure the first time I heard the term Young Marble Giant was that night friend-of-a-friend Carl Johnson, wasted on alcohol and who knows what else, stepped onto a busy Seymour Street, threw his arms wide, and declared ‘I Am A Young Marble Giant’. Horns honked, tires squealed, people called him asshole, but nothing hit him. Jump ahead maybe twenty years and Carl had become an investment banker, gotten stupidly rich. Meanwhile, I’d gotten around to picking up Colossal Youth, the only album by the group known as Young Marble Giants. Call it monolithic in its subtlety, restraint, and ultimate timelessness. But worth dying for?” (Philip Random)

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544. censored

Viv Akauldren were from Detroit, I think. I seem to remember hanging out with the guitar player one day, wandering the sidewalks of downtown Vancouver, mid-80s sometime. He was overwhelmed by how peaceful it all was – how safe. They were gigging in town that night. The booking agent was a friend. So I guess I was being hospitable. Anyway, it all speaks to how lost so much of that era is. So many great indie outfits coming and going, cranking out powerful stuff, leaving little or no trace. Of course, I did manage to hang onto a copy of one of Viv Akauldren’s albums – Old Bags + Party Rags – which was nicely paranoid, political, psychedelic, and entirely relevant, then and now.” (Philip Random)

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1029. good technology

The red part of the Red Guitars‘ moniker concerns more than just the colour of their stringed weapons. These guys were serious about their left-side politics which likely explains their overall lack of market penetration back in the 80s. You certainly can’t fault a song like Good Technology for lacking hooks, melody, overall sarcastic pop smarts.