Tag: Doug Martsch
In honor of my giddy exuberance for seeing one of my all time favorite bands to ever exist in the universe play at the tiny Doug Fir Lounge tonight in Portland, I thought I’d do an “official” ranking of their albums. Folks are always asking me where to start with Built to Spill, and I usually get flustered in the moment as my love for the entire catalog rushes through my head. And truly, there isn’t really a “bad” Built to Spill record out there, let alone really a bad song. So while I could escalate this list to include anything that Doug Martsch has ever done, and every EP they’ve ever released, I’m gonna keep it strictly to the main albums – which conveniently equal 10 as of now. Once you’ve brought all these into your life, then you can get the solo album, and the Halo Benders albums, and the Treepeople records, and for the love of God the vinyl EP of “They Got Away,” but for now let’s start here. Here are the greatest Built to Spill albums. From worst to best…
This mid-2000′s record was the only time where things just didn’t seem to really click. It could have been the exclusion of Phil Ek as producer, or just the drain of the Bush-era, but it’s definitely my least listened-to record of theirs. Although, closing track “The Wait” is one of my all-time favorites.
Sure, technically this one probably shouldn’t be on the list since it’s actually more of a collaborative record with fellow Boise band Caustic Resin. However, both bands have shared members at various points and we can’t neglect to have this album which opens with the classic “When Not Being Stupid is Not Enough.”
The first record has its moments where Martsch is obviously way in love with Dinosaur Jr., but that is in no way a bad thing. It doesn’t really have a specific stand-alone tracks, but it’s still a classic Portland late-afternoon, happy-hour bar album. Maybe the best background record the band created.
Basically a compilation record of singles and outtakes from the first few years of the band, this album contains my go-to version of their classic track, “Car.” It’s a lot rawer than the other studio version, but has a lot more spunk to it. Also has the great “So & So, So & So From Wherever Wherever.”
The really cool kids will try to tell you that this second full-length album is their finest work – before the band got all “polished up.” It definitely is the first time we realize that Martsch is gonna put his entire bleeding heart and soul into his music, and that he has the potential for being the soundtrack to your life.
A solid record from front to back, and a worthy successor to the brilliant Keep it Like a Secret in 1999. Opening track “Strange” is probably my go-to song in life to get my head back to normal after moments of deep sadness, frustration, or anger. Maybe the most forgotten and hidden gems of any album.
A perfect glimpse of the true power. A few tracks from both Perfect From Now On and Keep it Like a Secret, a brilliant version of the original Halo Benders’ track and my favortie song of all time, “Virginia Reel Around the Fountain,” awesome take on Love as Laughter’s “Singing Sores Make Perfect Swords,” and a 20 minute “Cortez the Killer.” Essential stuff.
Nearly 20 years deep, and the guy makes one of his greatest albums ever. The brilliant “Hindsight,” the incredibly brutal “Things Fall Apart,” and the overwhelming faith that bands can still be amazing and prolific as they get older. A great starting point for new listeners.
There’s always debate between this and my number one for which is more amazing, but there’s no doubt this albums is a key part of my DNA. It always felt to me like a record of J. Mascis fronting the Grateful Dead. There’s a reason they did a 2008 tour playing this record in its entirety – “Made Up Dreams” is as close as you can come to a perfect song.
Surely the easiest way to convert any newbies to the band. Despite some folks thinking this was the over-polished, quasi-sell-out moment for the band, this is actually when the true power of Built to Spill came into fruition. Every song is a stand-alone classic – “Sidewalk,” “Timetrap,” the genius “You Were Right” – this is the record that made me fall in love with this band for the rest of my life.
Here’s “Strange” -
I’ll slap my own ass pink for my drooling adoration of Doug Martsch and Built to Spill. Also being a huge fan of the late great Mr. Show, I’m drawn to most things that Bob Odenkirk attaches his name to. So when I saw that the band recently released a new music video, by Odenkirk, for one of my favorite tunes off of There is No Enemy - well, my giddy levels fluxed to max. Turns out though, the video kinda blows. That’s probably why it’s only averaging 20 views a day, and why nobody hipped me to its’ initial release.
Not to drag on about shit that lets me down, so the best part of the video for “Hindsight” is the idea that in the future we’ll have the technology to just download holographic versions of old bands – you know, like the holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Wouldn’t it be friggin dope if you could just type in Grateful Dead 5/8/77 and then be able to walk through a magic door into a fully interactive holographic representation of that night in Cornell 30 years ago? Sure, it’s bound to open up a whole new universe of addiction but that’s the case whenever new cool shit comes into fashion.
This did make me think of the scene in Vanilla Sky when they’re having that baller party in Manhattan with a holographic Charlie Parker playing in the living room – turns out it’s not real. Fuck modern cinema! You got me again. So I guess we’re not yet at the point where R2D2 can project a Princess Leia -you know, it turns out there’s all these problems with making light particles stop and stay organized in thin air – I guess the breakthroughs you have on psychedelics at 3 in the morning haven’t yet come into full fruition. So until that point, I guess all we can do is bathe in the 2-dimensional wonder that Built to Spill honors us with. I’d post the video but they’ve taken down the embedding code, probably because they’re just as non-proud of it as I am bored of it. Check it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYf3tAtktD8 And here’s what we’re aiming for:
Here’s the link to my adoring review of Radiohead and their latest release: The King of Limbs. http://www.stateofmindmusic.com/entry/1196/Radiohead—The-King-of-Limbs/ And just in case you think I rant in too far of a positive direction some times, here’s my dumper review on The Decemberists and their latest: The King is Dead. http://www.stateofmindmusic.com/entry/1191/The-Decemberists—The-King-is-Dead/ What an odd state of affairs in the world of album sales, when that overly gentle throwaway goes to number 1 on the Billboard charts. I think the main unfortunate result is that it gives an ill-constructed ego boost to said bands involved, and suddenly you give a bunch of boring, drab party-poopers who already think they’re changing the world in some weird subliminal way – you give them the confidence that they’re actually succeeding and heading in the right direction. And thus instead of making the band struggle and work through to actually make a newer, better album – they now forge along the same boring path that goes nowhere because they think that’s what will bring them success in the outdated concept of how that used to be measured in the music world. I don’t know, just not my thing. Have you heard their studio-released cover of “Jimmy Row” by the good ole’ Grateful Dead? If not, then please make sure you never do. It’s so boring, and so obnoxious of them to think that they somehow represent some indie-culture of nerdom and thus them covering a Grateful Dead song is completely different than somebody else doing it – like they believe it represents some crazy wall breaking down and them revealing themselves as cross-shoot americana-ista hippies or something. Like that really would mean anything. And beside Doug Marsche has already been busting out “Ripple” at Built to Spill sets for the past year – way to tag on the coattails of a far superior NorthWest band. Just saying.
As a fairly long and devoted fan of The Flaming Lips, my main, huge gripe with the Oklahoma space-launchers is that their shows had become ridiculously formulaic. Focusing on presenting an epic full-sense attack of a rock concert, the band has evolved away from ever performing some of their greatest songs – specifically any of those on their brilliant 1999 album, The Soft Bulletin.
The predecessor to their enormously popular album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, I have been accused in the past of only preferring Soft Bulletin over Yoshimi due to the public’s embrace of Yoshimi and my tendency to loathe popularity. While in some instances such an assumption would be totally just, in this case I just honestly love the Soft Bulletin. It’s probably in my Top 10 list of 90′s albums.
Either way, last month at the band’s Oklahoma City New Year’s Eve show, the band celebrated by playing Soft Bulletin in its’ entirety. Hallefuckinlullah! And after just announcing the rest of their Spring tourdates, the band has announced they’ll play the whole album 4 more times – Sasquatch Fest, Chicago, Atlanta, and London. The whole ‘play an entire album’ trend seems to only be continuing with other acts like Queens of the Stone Age just announcing that they’ll be playing their first album during the upcoming tour. Many complained when Built to Spill kept performing Perfect From Now On last year, but Doug Martsch and his boys play alot of those songs already. The Lips should be able to keep people entertained since they usually barely play any of these tracks, and hopefully some of them will work their way into the band’s regular rotation. Here’s a rare performance of my fave, “The Gash” from a few years back: