Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cheap Album Round-Up: RIP Atomic Edition

By Evan Rytlewski
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A great exchange overheard at Atomic Records on Saturday:

College kid (holding vinyl): I don’t have a record player; what should I do with this?
Atomic employee: Uh, don’t buy it because you won’t be able to play it.

On its second-to-last day, Atomic was as busy as I’ve ever seen it outside of live in-stores and midnight release parties. The staff posed for a couple of quick pictures, but mostly they just hustled, trying to keep the long line moving. It was a fruitful, surprisingly festive final visit for me, and for $19 I walked out with the following:

Cud – The Peel Sessions (LP EP)
$2 (before 40% discount)

The great John Peel was so taken with Cud’s demo that he invited the four-piece Leeds band to his studio in 1987, though they’d never released an album. These four songs attest to what he saw in them: With a post-punk rumble and a jangle-pop hustle, two traits Peel could never resist, the band also boldly drew from heavy funk music. The resulting sound is both unmistakably of its time, yet unlike anything else from it. Good record; terrible bad name, though.

Jonathan Richman – Revolution Summer (Soundtrack) (CD)
$7 (before 40% discount)

Jonathan Richman deviated from his usual script for the soundtrack to this little-seen, 2007 indie-drama, composing quick little instrumentals that swap his usual, nostalgic rock-and-roll for  rustic, pedal-steel and violin-soaked meditations more Dirty Three and Sonora Pine than Modern Lovers. It’s a minor but spirited effort.

Faraquet – The Anthology 1997-1998
$10 (before 40% discount)

These days Dischord is more interested in releasing good old music than good new music. This recent anthology eulogizes one of the label’s last great bands, compiling rarities and a bunch of scattered songs I felt guilty for downloading on Napster when I was in college. Faraquet’s twisted, smirky math-rock is now remembered as something of a musical dead-end, but for a time it felt like a possible wave of the future. This collection remembers an era when Dischord was still a major player.

Damon and Naomi – More Sad Hits (LP)
$10 (no discount)

After Galaxie 500’s split, Damon and Naomi were coaxed back to the studio by their longtime producer to record this beautifully hazy, unrepentantly romantic 1992 debut as a duo. Future Damon and Naomi albums would establish the “Damon and Naomi < Galaxie 500” law, but More Sad Hits is the exception. The album as a whole soars, and its best moments, like the glorious “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington,” match anything in the Galaxie 500 highlight reel.

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