2)The Church, The Blurred Crusade: The Church have loads of songs I love, but they're scattered across lots of albums that I mostly find only okay. Their only standout is Heyday, from 1985; this, meanwhile, is the weakest of their 1981-85 run. The driving "When You Were Mine" and the two chord languid "To Be In Your Eyes" were the two songs I remember, and they're still the best by far. The only thing I'm going to revisit from this album after this set of relistens is likely the spacey, dreamy "Field Of Mars"; elsewhere, the Church replaced the jangle pop they did on their debut album (which predates the Smiths AND R. E. M.!) with a lot of big spacey echoey guitar chords hiding really simple, pleasantly generic melodies.
3)Camper Van Beethoven, Key Lime Pie: This is easily the oldest concentrated "relisten" I've done out of all of them since last fall; I heard this album probably in fall of 2002 or so because a dormmate of mine had the CD and I was a sucker for anything from the alternative 1980s, and besides, the album cover looked like R. E. M., my favorite band. I have yet to ever a single other CVB album or song that isn't from this one but I don't think it's because this album put me off. As far as I can tell, the band were jokey goofy hipster kids who went serious on just this one album, and then broke up? David Lowery is not much of a singer, but I can't say the music has aged poorly, at least; it just wasn't a mind-blower of an album to begin with. "Borderline" is the one song I always loved from it and have listened to since 2002; elsewhere, I...guess I like bits of "Jack Ruby," "All Her Favorite Fruit," the sub-R. E. M. "Sweethearts" (I can remember how it goes, at any rate), the nagging riff in "I Was Born In A Laundromat," and that hit "Pitcures Of Matchstick Men" that everyone quotes. "The Humid Press Of Days" has sort of a distinctive riff. I just wish I *loved* this stuff more. As of right now, I still don't have any plans to do the rest of Camper Van Beethoven, unless someone would like to scream at me to do so.
4)Sonic Youth, Dirty: Ugh. I really like much of the studio Sonic Youth discography, at least two albums (Confusion Is Sex and Daydream Nation) will always be very, very, very close to my heart. So I probably gave this "mainstream hit" album of theirs a bit of a free pass, I think a George 10/15 maybe? When I heard it? Which was in, like, 2006? The only two great songs here are "Theresa's Sound-World" and "Sugar Kane," which I was genuinely glad to hear again, and that's...because they're languid moody guitar epics like the ones that made Daydream Nation a masterpiece and the good half of Goo good. Elsewhere, this band's attempts at signing with David Geffen, hiring Butch Vig, and "pandering to the grunge audience" result in an hour-long mess filled with embarrassments and failed experiments; I get why they wouldn't have wnated to do even more guitar epics like the two good ones here, but did their primary influence on the rest half to be "My Friend Goo," surely their worst ever song? (Tell me they don't have worse!) The sassy punky grungy shock-rock slop like "Swimsuit Issue," "100%," "Drunken Butterfly," "Orange Rolls, Angels Spit" and "Youth Against Fascism" are ALL cringe-inducing Courtney Love type crap to my ears these days, and a couple decent songs like "Wish Fulfillment," "JC" and "Purr" only partially make up for it. I've heard that a small part of the audience cried sellout in the Alternative Nation year of 1992, but most critics praised the band pretty heavily that year and the only nasty review I can find today is Prindle's. I'm with him, for the most part.
5)Todd Rundgren, Todd: How is it that a classic rock star could release a second double album in the prime of his career and almost nobody seems to talk about it today at all? Because it's a half-thought-out mess, that's why. Sure, he's every bit as eclectic here as he was on Something/Anything, and he tries...a couple epic atmospheric synthesizer experiments, but only one of them ("The Spark Of Life") works, the other ("In And Out The Chakras We Go," and he's serious about that title) is dreadful. Bad jokes? The Gilbert And Sullivan "Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song" is for you!! Dumb pop tossoffs? "Izzat Love," yick, how long did that take to write? Failed psuedo-prog that you can't remember a note of? "Everybody's Going To Heaven/King Kong Reggae" is quite unlistenable! Hard rock crap? "Is It My Name?" looks like "Kashmir" in comparison to "Heavy Metal Kids." "No. 1 Lowest Common Denominator" starts cool and then dies somewhere along the way. Piano ballads that he's already done like twenty times in a career that's only been going for six years? "I Think You Know" is okay and I'll vouch for "Don't You Ever Learn," but how on Earth is "A Dream Goes On Forever" the most acclaimed song here? He has, like, three songs on S/A? alone that have that same melody!! I guess I like the piano line in "Drunken Blue Rooster" a bit, but that's because it's better than Mercury Rev's similar but dreadful "I Collect Coins." Maybe it's just because I can remember it. And I remembered NOTHING from this the first time and it's only been five or six years. Well it's a damn mess. Stick to his 1971-73 albums, all of which blow this out of the water.
6)The Church, Seance: I thought this 1983 album (sort of a lucky year for me concerning anything "alternative") was near-classic when I first heard it and it's where I started with this band maybe four or five years ago? I badly wanted the CD, and in between finally picking it up this Christmas I slaked my thirst on the album's four wonderful tunes: the dark moody intro number "Fly," the wonderful janglers "Dropping Names" (pysch) and "One Day" (non-psych, very R. E. M.-ish) and the lovely ballad "It's No Reason." Those four songs are still easily the highlights, blowing the other six songs to hell on closer inspection. I guess "Disappear" and the kiddie "Now I Wonder Why" are okay, but the acid trip "Travel By Thought" and the dull triumphant instrumental "It Doesn't Change" which closes the album, are CRAP. I'd have to drop my George score for this from maybe a 12 to maybe a high 10, to confirm what I said earlier, Heyday is this band's only really strong LP. And remmeber--once they had their big hit in 1988, every album they did was 60 minutes long, or longer!! Look out!!