Friday, July 08, 2005

There's an excerpt of Kim Cooper's upcoming 33 1/3 book about Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea on the 33 1/3 blog. If you're familiar with this album, you probably love it. If you're not familiar with it, well, what are you waiting for? It's the best album of the 90s -- better than My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, better than Pavement's Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, better than any of the great albums by Guided By Voices, Palace, Stereolab, Yo La Tengo or Flaming Lips from that decade -- and it's one of the best albums of all time. I'm excited about this book, which should be both enlightening and touching.

One album I don't compare to In the Aeroplane is Cardinal's 1994 s/t album, which was re-released in May on Empyrean Records with extra tracks, including the long-out-of-print Toy Bell EP. Cardinal was the collaboration between two unfairly obscure geniuses: the psych-folk-art-rock singer-songwriter Richard Davies and the chamberpop-indie-rock singer-songwriter-arranger Eric Matthews. Davies has an aesthetic that's somewhere between Syd Barrett, the early Bee Gees, and the Velvet Underground (but this isn't really right; he's a hard one to pin down), and Matthews has a darker take on Brian Wilson-Burt Bacharach-Left Banke-Lee Hazlewood-Scott Walker chamber pop. When solo, they're stunning; together, as on this album, they've created something unique and uniquely beautiful.


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