Saturday, May 29, 2010

Music Library: Love & Rockets, Love Tractor, Low, Lowe Stokes, Lowery 66

Love and Rockets - Love and Rockets (1989).  Sounds almost exactly like my junior years of high school, except that I was mostly listening to punk records then.

Love Tractor - This Ain't No Outer Space Ship (1987).  According to my sources, this album is, in fact, not an outer space ship, but a collection of music by a great Athens band.  Love Tractor was well-known for their instrumentals, but most of these are not instrumental songs.  They are, however, pretty great examples of the Southern strain of folk-rock-influenced indie rock of the day that some historians used to call "college rock."  It was known as such because many of the popular "college rock" musicians had roommates who died while they were recording these songs, which led to Robert Christgau giving these records an automatic A.

Low - Long Division (1995), In The Fishtank 7 (with Dirty Three, 1999), "Carnival Queen," Things We Lost In The Fire (2001), and The Great Destroyer (2005).  Low's music is - used to be, at least - aptly named.  The songs were minimalist, the beats slow, the singing somewhere between impassioned and cold, as if the listener is freezing to death with an image of warmth in his or her mind.  Long Division and most of Things We Lost In The Fire feature that sound.  This Fishtank release is one of the best, with Low and the Dirty Three pushing each other into weirder and weirder psychedelic heights.  "Carnival Queen" is a Jandek cover, but it sounds very Low-ish.  The first track of Things We Lost In The Fire, "Sunflower," is an extraordinary pop song.  The Great Destroyer adds faster tempo and louder guitars, but the overall effect is less than the quiet minimalism of High Low.

Lowe Stokes - Vol. 1 (1927 - 1930).  Stokes was a fiddler in Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers back in the 30s.  As with many mountain fiddle tunes, some of these are hard to distinguish from each other.  "Prohibition Is A Failure" is a pretty great little slice of history, though.

Lowery 66 - Holiday With Genie (2002). A short-lived Austin band led by my pal John Troutman, also of the Mendoza Line, Lowery 66 specialized in delightful folky chamber-pop song-suites, not unlike Wilco of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  Their sense of restraint adds considerable amount of tension into these songs, and Troutman's lyrics and singing have a certain Tweedy-like quality.  As shown by the cover painting, an artsy look at the lower deck of I-35 in central Austin, this is an Austin project through and through.  Troutman's been off in the world teaching history for a number of years now, though, so Lowery 66 never followed up on this album.  But for people like me who love Wilco and, say, Camper Van Beethoven or Richard Davies, this album is a pure pleasure.


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