Friday Night Jukebox – Chapel Hill, Remastered!

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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6 Responses

  1. Glyph says:

    You musta posted this late Jonathan, you knew I’d have to comment on this.

    I always say that the pre-9/11 rock album that most presciently sounds like a post-9/11 album has got to be All the Nations’ Airports. And it came out in ’96!

    Full of paranoia, assassinations on Christmas, terrorists in airports, bombing runs, and chumming for unidentified sea monsters as metaphors for hidden dangers of which society is unaware.

    It’s amazing how well it has held up.

    This is the album of theirs I always try to start people with – they never made a bad one, but it’s far and away their most musically-varied; they never before or after covered the range they do on this one (the shimmering “Acromegaly”, the silent-film-soundtrack-sounding “Bombs Away”), and it’s mostly far less jaggedly noisy than the rest (though “Attack of the Killer Bees” might still try some ppl’s patience).

    “Scenic Pastures” is the track that best showed that they fell somewhere on a continuum between gnarly Sonic Youth and pastoral (heh) REM (not just the music, but I always like when lyricists do that repetition-infinite regression thing of “X…and also, X again” – Stipe used to do it a lot, and here it’s “Why don’t you want me to know/Why”.

    “Form and File” is one of my favorites of theirs too – it’s strange you posted that one, it doesn’t seem like one of their better-known numbers. It’s a cyclical (pun intended) nagging mobius loop of a song.

    It’s somehow appropriate the YouTube video goes to static for a few seconds near the beginning 🙂

    GO LOAF!Report

    • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

      And I should have realized I’d screw up the apostrophe in the title. Oh well.

      How’s the second disc? Worthwhile?Report

      • Jonathan McLeod in reply to Glyph says:

        I haven’t listened to the second disc yet. I’ve been wanting to pick this up (again) for so long, that I’ve just been listening to the main album. I’ll let you know when I do.

        That’s interesting about the the pre-9/11 post-9/11 split. I was reading in the liner notes that much of the album (and the artwork) was linked to the feeling of air travel when you’re not yet lifting off, you’re not rushing for a plane, you’re not worried about turbulence or landing or anything – just a perfect little calm moment before rush/stress/anxiety returns. This kind of jibes with that, I think.

        And beyond just the paranoia and despair, there’s a sad acceptance of it all. There’s no real anger or aggression or heartbreaking lament. It’s just resignation.

        Form and File is probably my favourite song on the disc… no, it’s definitely my favourite song on the disc. I love the spoken word track that runs underneath, as well as the dual lyric lines – which they do a lot (Wrong, Backwash, etc.). It’s a device I absolutely love.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

          Bachmann had some of the most interesting vocal phrasing in rock…the precise staccato rhythms of his singing, like somehow the words themselves are throwing counterpunches against the rest of the noise. “Harnessed in Slums” just kills in that respect.

          Speaking of dueling lyric melody/lines, I have posted this over at MD before, but this kills me:

          (If the start marker doesn’t work in that link, the song I am referring to starts at the 3-minute mark).

          Either one of those songs could be the saddest you ever heard, but to have the two of them weaving in and out of each other…man.Report

  2. stuzzy says:

    Love this album. One of my all time favorites.Report