Came Into The Darkness, From Out Of The Blue

So, the new Built to Spill album is out and this weekend they arrive into Boston for three shows at a pretty small venue – The Middle East over in Cambridge. If I was living in a different time (like, ten years ago), I’d have tickets to all three shows. But as it stands, I am not physically capable anymore of attending rock shows on three straight evenings. So I have tickets for Saturday’s show. It doesn’t even matter which night you go – you’re getting a killer show regardless. I am so very excited for this show! So I’m still digesting the new album. Upon my first few listens, it’s your standard Built to Spill – slightly noodling, borderline spacey, terrific indie rock. For some reason, it feels to me like Built to Spill are the ultimate “autumn” band. I can’t really explain that other than to post a song sample. There’s just something about their music that makes me want to crack the window about an inch at nighttime and sit by it, feel the slight autumn breeze and ingest a quality beer. Check out “Things Fall Apart,” my early favorite:

[audio:things.mp3]

Do You Ever Think About It?

I came late to the Built To Spill party. I am not sure at all on how I missed it when they released those albums in the ’90s because it sounds pretty much exactly like the kind of music I loved during that time. Thankfully I have a good friend who set me straight (thanks, Lieb!) and made me see the light.

I’m bad at describing bands in words. Believe me, I’ve tried it before. I even wrote for some music magazines for a while to get some extra cash back when my full time job at Rounder paid me $5.25 an hour. There are some highlights which I have stowed away as keepsakes, but by-and-large it’s a kid writing mid-level stuff about bands that have come-and-gone so fast it makes my head spin. My problem, and it affected my writing and arguably affected my record label, was that I’m just too much of a music FAN to let writing or business get in the way.

So, as succintly as possible, I can tell you that Built To Spill – in my own eyes – are some kind of cross between the rock side of Neil Young and the catchy side of Pavement. Lyrically, Doug Martsch isn’t one of those guys who writes songs that are more like the former and less clever and biting than the latter/Malkmus.

There are certain songs, though, that Martsch has written that just work for no reason. For example, one of my favorite Built To Spill tracks manages to name check Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, John Mellancamp, Jim Morrison – all in a song under five minutes. It might just be my favorite Built to Spill song and provides a pretty good definition of the band without me having to type all this crap trying to describe it. Fuck it. Just listen by clicking the play button below.

[audio:right.mp3]

You were wrong when you said
Everything’s gonna be alright
You were wrong when you said
Everything’s gonna be alright

You were right when you said
All that glitters isn’t gold
You were right when you said
All we are is dust in the wind
You were right when you said
We are all just bricks in the wall
And when you said manic depression’s a frustrating mess

You were wrong when you said
Everything’s gonna be alright
You were wrong when you said
Everything’s gonna be alright

You were right when you said
You can’t always get what you want
You were right when you said
It’s a hard rain’s gonna fall
You were right when you said
We’re still running against the wind
And life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone
You were right when you said
This is the end

Do you ever think about it?
Do you ever think about it?
Do you ever think about it?
Do you ever think about it?

Tapping Fingers…..

I remember back in the 1980’s when there was a huge hullabaloo across New England about the fact that Boston (the band) was finally going to release another album. The buildup to it was immense. It had taken them something like seven years to complete “Third Stage,” and in the months leading up to it, you would have thought the Pope was coming. Then the first single, “Amanda” hit radio and everyone flipped out, even though the song itself wasn’t exactly what we wanted to hear as freshman in high school. I mean, come on. Where was “Smokin’?” 

So the album came out. And of course, it was a disappointment, despite its huge sales numbers. I don’t even know that it was bad (ok, it was bad), it was just that so much was made of the wait that it became totally impossible to satisfy the buildup. 

I just heard the first Guns ‘N’ Roses single from their upcoming album, which took – get this – FOURTEEN years to make. Are you even kidding me? The last time they released an album, Bill Clinton had just taken office. Today, full albums mean nothing, sadly. We are, more and more, a music society built on single songs. Part of me thinks this is perfectly logical, as it’s very rare to come across an album that is packed front to back with quality. The other part of me, the sentimentalist, dearly misses discovering a full album – the joy of a great song here and the drag of a weak song there. Those days are pretty much over.

So anyway, Guns ‘N’ Roses don’t have a chance. Oh, people will go see them because they want a sniff of the old stuff, but the new album will be received exactly the same way “Third Stage” was. It’ll sell nicely, then after about five minutes it will hit your dustbin. Doesn’t even matter how good it is, the buildup has already destroyed it. Oh – and the single? Not. Good. At. All.

And who cares? I don’t. Not when Built To Spill and Band of Horses keep hitting home runs like they do.

Here’s an applicable song to today’s post by Built to Spill, called “The Wait”

[audio:wait.mp3]