Sunday, February 15, 2009

Numbers 45-47

47. The Catherine Wheel, Chrome. The early '90's were an interesting time in my development as a musicophile. I'd just graduated from college, where I'd had my first real introduction to alternative music via my college DJ gig, and moved to Seattle for the first time right after graduation. It took me a while to get "tuned in" to KEXP (no pun intended), so at that time I was influenced more by KNDD.

Looking back, I don't have a whole lot to show for those years. I didn't really appreciate Nirvana until after Kurt Cobain died! And so forth. But there were still a few bands and albums that stood out, and Chrome is near the top. Very consistent, somewhat spacy and yet rockin', moody and atmospheric at times. I don't think there's really a bad song on here. "The Nude" and "Strange Fruit" stand out, as well as the radio-friendly "Crank" (heavily played on KNDD). This one gets the nod over a couple others from that time and place, including Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins and (barely) Gentlemen by the Afghan Whigs.

46. The Sea and Cake, The Biz. I'm going to have to give a lot of props to my friend Brian for my picks on this list; I'd say he introduced me to at least 10 of the bands I've got on here. I think we also saw The Sea and Cake at the Showbox one time. Anyhow, I haven't listened to all of their albums, and maybe there's a better one out there; but The Biz is still a landmark achievement. The perfect amalgam of soft jazz and modern rock, with songs that sound similar and yet have their own distinct identity. This was released in 1995 but has a timeless sort of quality to it, kind of like Colossal Youth by Young Marble Giants (hint hint, a little bit of foreshadowing there ...)

45. King Crimson, Red. King Crimson is one of my favorite bands of all time. I really, really love some of their work, especially because not a whole lot of other people listen to them. That makes me feel kinda special. I also feel guilty about listing this album here and not higher, like maybe around 17, or 23. Maybe the next time I do one of these lists, I'll have the guts to put it up there.

Certainly, this is not an album for everyone. But if you like King Crimson at all, you must listen to it. Much different than In the Court of the Crimson King, their phenomenal debut album, which may a tribute to the brilliance of Robert Fripp. (And FYI, there's a song called "Fripp" on Chrome. Cool, huh?) Red culminates in "Starless," a 12-minute jazz odyssey which starts off so slowly you might be tempted to walk away, then inexorably builds to an incredible, raging sax solo - the greatest sax solo of all time. All over a racing bass groove and Bill Bruford's amazing percussion. Hot damn. Hot damn, indeed ...

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