Wednesday, March 4, 2009

5 Albums You Probably Don't Own, But Should... (Vol. 2)

1. Desaparecidos - "Read Music/Speak Spanish" (2002)

The Desaparecidos were the short-lived side project of 'Bright Eyes' lead singer Conor Oberst. Fans who were expecting much of the same acoustic/folk material they were used to getting from Oberst received a rude awakening in February of 2002. The album is filled with angst, edgy guitars and vocals so raw you could contract salamanela from them. The album picks up where the Modest Mouse 1997 release "The Lonesome Crowded West" left off: lamenting on the fact that America has become one big strip mall filled with pre-fabricated homes. The band broke up in late 2002 and "Read Music/Speak Spanish" stands as their lone release.

Favorite Tracks:

"Man and Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods)"
"Survival of the Fittest/It's a Jungle Out There"

2. Grandaddy - "The Sophtware Slump" (2000)

These psychedelic pop revivalists hailed from Modesto, California and they produced one of the very best albums of the last ten years. "Sophtware Slump" is seen by some as a concept album about the problems concerning modern technology in our society. The album has the feel of something Brian Wilson or Neil Young would have created had they been dropped off on Mars for several years. Grandaddy eventually broke up in 2006 and "Sophtware Slump" remains the crowning achievement over the span of their 14 year career.

Favorite Tracks:

"He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot"
"Hewlett's Daughter"

3. The Velvet Underground - "Loaded" (1970)

By September of 1970, the Velvet Underground were nearly a household name in the world of music. Lead singer Lou Reed split from the band in August of 1970 as a result of feeling pushed by the record company to produce singles. The album's title is actually a jab that refers to Atlantic's request that the band produce an album "loaded with hits". Despite the efforts of the record company, "Loaded" is considered by many to be modern masterpiece of rock 'n roll. Rolling Stone magazine actually voted it to be #109 in the top 500 albums of all time, while Pitchforkmedia gave the re-issue a perfect 10.0 in 1997.

Favorite Tracks:

"Oh! Sweet Nuthin"
"Sweet Jane"

4. Harry Chapin - "Short Stories" (1973)

"Short Stories" was the third studio album released by folk singer/storyteller Harry Chapin. This album is often missed by fans because it lies directly between the success of the 1972 hit song "Taxi" and the mega-succesful hit "Cat's in the Cradle" in 1974, despite the fact that it produced three hit singles in "W.O.L.D.", "Mr. Tanner" and "Mail Order Annie". On "Short Stories" we find Chapin writing purely from the heart and being comfortable in his craft as a songwriter.

Favorite Tracks:

"Mr. Tanner"
"Old College Avenue"

5. Songs: Ohia - "Magnolia Electric Co." (2003)

This release would be lead singer/creator Jason Molina's final under the 'Songs:Ohia' moniker and would signal the changing of the guard to his new band, aptly named The Magnolia Electric Co. The sound is 3/4 1970's Neil Young & Crazy Horse and 1/4 Pacific Northwest Indie Rock from 1999, which creates a beautiful combination of sound and emotion for the listener. 6 years after its release, I am still trying to figure out what the hell is going on with the album cover, but the contents of the music inside leave no mystery to how amazing Molina's efforts were.

Favorite Tracks:

"Farewell Transmission"
"Hold on Magnolia"
"Almost Was Good Enough"

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