The Big Surprise That Made it Worth It All:
I Hope You’re Feeling Better Now (2003) - Irving
This five-song EP by the now defunct Los Angeles indie art-rock group Irving is a diamond in the rough as far as I’m concerned. It’s complex and nuanced, without the pretentiousness associated with the genre. It sounds like Belle and Sebastian, with a real drive to experiment with the structure of the song. There are real clear bridges which divide the songs into something akin to movements of a orchestral piece. On the ‘pièce de résistance’ of the EP, a seven-minute track titled “The Curious Thing About Leather”, the sweet, smooth chorus is broken up by tense and uncomfortable periods of ferocious guitar layering. A storm is created, but quickly dissipates to give way to upbeat trumpet and the clanging of cymbals.
Other Noteworthy Choices
DGC Rarities, Vol. 1 (1994) - Various
Featuring oh-so-rare tracks from Beck, Nirvana, Weezer, Sonic Youth, Counting Crows, and others, this compilation had the variety my friend Allie and I wanted for a 45-minute car ride. The lo-fi recording on many of the tracks was fine by me, because the fidelity of the vocals and instrumentals was there.
Extraordinary Machine (2005) - Fiona Apple
We knew what we were getting with this, I admit it. Fiona Apple was a staple of the generation before mine, and since I had older sisters I knew of her music. But I hadn’t listened to this record all the way through– just a track off it here and there– so there was still some surprise. The use of wind and brass instruments in this album is breathtaking. So are Grammy-winning vocals by Apple: with her matter-of-fact confidence, languid phrasing, and throat-y accenting.
Big Mouth (2000, single) - Beelow ft. C-Murder
This song is terrible, but it saves itself by being unintentionally (I think) hilarious. The refrain “you gotta big mouth” (pronounced “mouf”) is repeated without any apparent sense of embarrassment or regret. The phrase is quite catchy too, if you SLAP it in your vehicle with some added bass you may find yourself shouting along. Just make sure your windows are rolled up, or you may get flipped the bird. So rude.
Eh: played it once didn’t feel like it again
You Know Who You Are (2006) – Gasoline Heart
Outside In (2004) – Dillon Fence
Into the West (2006) - Pilot Speed
“The Grenades” I Can Live Without
The People vs. (2005, edited version) - Trick Trick
Respect (Live, 1994) - Shootyz Groove
Jane Does Loves Me (2008) - Experimental Dental School
This is one of those albums that reminds me of how shallow my knowledge of musical theory is, and just ridiculous some artists are taking the notion of experimental music. I’m thinking back to when I was a young kid and first looked at modern art. I’m going to hold onto this album and come back to it randomly in 15 years, and hopefully get the logic. It’s produced by Jay Pellicelli, who also mixed Local Hero’s upcoming album, at San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone Studios.