Digitization Finds #08–Revisiting an Older Album & Checking Out A New One
The Polyphonic Spree — “Live from Austin TX” (2004)
The 2000s were a decade of innovative music, built by assembling scraps from the previous six decades into unique soundscapes. Many of these musicians and albums were tossed under the “indie rock” category. LCD Soundsystem, Sufjan Stevens, and The Polyphonic Spree stand out from many of the other acts of this era. All three acts are definitely preferable live, but this live album captures as much as one could reasonably expect from a recording of one of the greatest Austin City Limits shows.
Twenty-four members playing perfectly together, held together by Tim DeLaughter’s unique vocal delivery. Very note in the cacophony of instruments seems perfectly played, with each member adding to the whole without overpowering any part of the performance.
There’s a lot of repetitive writing here, but that’s not necessarily a negative. The complex instrumentals and backing choral arrangement helps emphasize the important message of many of the lyrics. For example, “Two Thousand Places” consists mostly of:
Soul inside you’ll find.
It’s right between the eyes,
you’ll never know the shame.
It’s how it fits you.
You gotta be good, you gotta be strong.
You gotta be two thousand places at once.
Just when you think the song is over as a result of the music stopping and the audience applauding, it starts back up and includes the following:
And I know there’s a lot outside the window.
It seems a lot for you and me.
It takes the sun to make the sidewalk.
it takes the moon to burn my feet.
It means to take some time, I know it’s right
It’s one of those songs where everyone moved by it can relate to it but will likely to struggle to articulate precisely how they do. The juxtaposition of feeling hopeless to do anything while simultaneously trying to be everything to everyone is common amongst members of my generation.
Ideally, you were there to see this performance live. Due to the lack of time travel, those who weren’t can experience one of the greatest live shows of modern times at home. Definitely one of my favorite albums of the collection!
Kahil El’Zabar featuring David Murray: Spirit Groove
I’m not much of a jazz aficionado, nor do I have much experience listening to afrobeat and afrobeat-inspired music. That’s a real shame because it’s meant missing out on this combo for so many years: Kahil El’Zabar and David Murray. El’Zabar’s afrobeat rhythms and vocal delivery coupled with a superb clarinet performance by David Murray creates a memorable listening experience. Even if you’re not into either genre, it’s a highly recommended listen.
Ranking the First 20:
- Tori Amos — “Little Earthquakes” (1992)
- Tom Waits — “Real Gone”(2004)
- The Polyphonic Spree — “Live from Austin TX” (2004)
- Boards of Canada — “Music Has the Right to Children” (1998)
- Bjork — “Post” (1995)
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds — “Murder Ballads” (1996)
- Sufjan Stevens — “Illinois” (2005)
- MF Doom — “MM..Food” (2004)
- Aesop Rock — “Labor Days” (2001)
- Kahil El’Zabar & David Murray — “Spirit Groove” (2020)
- Warren Zevon — “Excitable Boy” (1978)
- GZA — “Liquid Swords” (1995)
- Leonard Cohen — “You Want it Darker” (2016)
- Stereolab — “Emperor Tomato Ketchup” (1996)
- Sunny Day Real Estate-”How It Feels to Be Something On” (1998)
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds — “Ghosteen” (2019)
- LCD Soundsystem — “Sound of Silver” (2007)
- Architecture in Helsinki — “Fingers Crossed” (2004)
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor — “G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!” (2021)
- Yann Tiersen — “Kerber” (2021)
- Skalpel — “Skalpel” (2004)
- Mogwai’s “As The Love Continues” (2021)