So I skipped both Bishop Allen and Bloc Party this weekend. Not thrilled about the first, but after hearing about how short Bloc Party’s set was, how crowded the venue was, and how hard it was to get a beer, I’m kinda glad I bailed.
Anyway, since I don’t have new concert photos for you this weekend, I figured I should play catch-up on a couple Golden Smog reviews that I’ve been meaning to do. Nothing fancy, of course, because we all know I’m no Kelefa Sanneh, but just some general thoughts and impressions.
I should start by saying that I’m a pretty big alt-country fan, and that I’ve been a fan of Golden Smog and the bandmembers’ other projects (Wilco, The Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, Big Star) for a lot of years. So I’m predisposed to like pretty much anything this band releases. What I love about Golden Smog is that, no matter whether their songs are good, bad, or somewhere in between, what comes through their songs is the sound of a band having fun. For me at least, Golden Smog is about the joy of making music, and in particular the joy of making rock music. Just listen to “V”, “Red Headed Stepchild” (from Down By the Old Mainstream), “Until You Came Along” or “Reflections on Me” (Weird Tales), or, even better, their cover of Bad Company’s “Shooting Star” (On Golden Smog). To me, all of these songs are the sound of a bunch of friends having a great time doing what they do best – making music. Even the band’s slower, lower-key songs still sound to me like a band loving what they’re doing.
So I was a little worried when I first heard the lead single “5-22-02” from the band’s new album, Another Fine Day. While by no means a bad song, it just didn’t grab me in the way that a Golden Smog song usually does. Luckily, though, it’s my least favorite song on the album. By far. In fact, Another Fine Day is very quickly becoming my favorite Golden Smog album. And the song “Hurricane” may be one of my favorite Golden Smog songs ever, encapsulating everything that I love about the band. (And “Long Time Ago” may be my favorite Tweedy song since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.) Excellent stuff, highly recommended.
As for their show at Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday, well, it was good, if not great. Early on Dan Murphy remarked that the band was “criminally under-rehearsed”, and boy did it show at times. There were times it wasn’t even clear that the band were all playing the same song. Nonetheless, the band seemed to come together towards the end of the set, and showed how good a live band they have the potential to be. There’s rumors of a full tour, so maybe next time they’re through they’ll be as tight as the ought to be. And even if they’re not, it’ll still be a fun show anyway.
Check out a few of my favorite Golden Smog songs, one from each of their LPs:
“Hurricane” [from Another Fine Day]
“Please Tell My Brother” [from Weird Tales]
“V” [from Down By the Old Mainstream]