I may be stealing my own thunder by posting this entry, but in an effort to put some really whacked out stuff on my Last.fm profile, I’ve undertaken the arduous task of ripping my music library, which consists of some 800+ titles.
Probably small beans next to some hardcore music fans out there, but it’s gotten me digging up stuff I haven’t heard in years. And I inevitably find myself thinking, "Wow. I gotta write about that!"
And perhaps I will.
Until then, I’ll just list some of them here …
- Mandy Barnett, I’ve Got a Right to Cry. Barnett was cast as Patsy Cline for a theater show based on Cline’s music. Barnett’s voice is such a deadringer for Cline, she actually went into the studio with Cline’s producer Owen Bradley, who died before recording of I’ve Got a Right to Cry could be finished. The album has such a vintage sound, it’s as a nice antidote for the hair metal passing as country music these days.
- Judy Dunaway, Judy Dunaway and the Evan Gallagher Little Band. I worked with Dunaway at Composers Recordings Inc. when I went to school in New York City for a year. She was working on this album before I moved back to Hawaiʻi. Dunaway combines a sharp sense of humor with sexual frankness on music that twists and turns. This album would be her last as a songwriter. Now, she explores the musical possibilities of balloons.
- Café Tacvba, Reves/Yosoy. This album was released a year before I had the hard drive capability to listen to MP3s, so I would play it on my stereo in the next room, never getting a full sense of it. After ripping it and listening to it closely, I’m struck by how Reves predates — and exceeds — Radiohead’s Kid A. Warner Bros. forced the band back into the studio to temper the avant-garde nature of the album, and Café Tacvba tacked on Yosoy, which is only slightly less weirder.
- Nina Hynes, Creation. I encountered Hynes at SXSW 1999. She went on before Leslie Dowdall, formerly of In Tua Nua, and I was mesmerized by Hynes’ performance. I bought her debut EP Creation right after her set, and I stop by her web site every now and then to see if and when she’ll release another album. (Staros came out in 2002). The obvious comparrison is Björk, but I hear a lot of other influences in the music as well — a hint of Cocteau Twins, maybe a bit of the Sundays.
- China Digs, Looking for George … I met Jason Groteleuschen during the Dow Jones Online Internship training seminar back in 1997, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. China Digs was a Nebraskan take on No Depression, and Jason wrote some nice tunes for this album. The hidden track is especially timely and predates Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’s Star Wars sketch by a good five years.
- The Dead Milkmen, Beelzebubba. Punk rock’s answer to Weird Al Yankovic. I dug this album back in high school because till then, I hadn’t heard anything like it. Radio had a waning influence on my tastes back then, and this album essentially nailed the coffin on it. It still puts a smile on my face when I listen to "Bad Party", "Stuart" and the classic "Punk Rock Girl".
- 10,000 Maniacs, The Wishing Chair. In My Tribe was the commercial break-through, but even that album doesn’t compare to the storytelling of 10,000 Maniacs’ debut The Wishing Chair. Natalie Merchant had yet to become full of herself, and John Lombardo contributed some of the band’s sharpest songs.
- 10,000 Maniacs, Love Among the Ruins. The first post-Natalie Merchant album featuring Mary Ramsey and Lombardo, returned after many years away. Merchant had pretty much overshadowed the rest of the band, and while this album effectively proves Merchant needed them more than they needed her, it wasn’t enough to dissuade the listening public.
- Clannad, traditional albums on Shanachie. Clannad may be internationally reknowned for "Harry’s Game" and being related to Enya, but their earliest career was spent putting a contemporary spin on traditional Irish music. These albums have an intimate charm that would get obfuscated behind a studio sheen on later works. The version of "Coinleach Glas an Fhomar" on Clannad 2 has far more depth than the version re-recorded on Magical Ring.