There are nights when atmospheric conditions are just perfect, and music played down the block at the frat-guy bar sounds as clear as if it's being played in my condo, no matter whether the windows are closed, no matter whether there's a pillow over my head. Last night, it apparently coincided with "request night," which is always something of an argument against democracy. Harsh? Not when Van Halen's execrable "Right Here Right Now" is keeping you from sleeping, and when that crime against humanity mercifully ends, someone requests Phil Collins. Even a couple tolerable songs ("Paradise City" and something by Social Distortion) couldn't make up for the damage to my soul.
So, a little grumpy this morning.
To try to counteract the damage music did last night, here's what I've been listening to lately.
Firewater - all their albums. I haven't really dug out the old Firewater stuff in a long while, though over the course of their first three albums they were a constant listen. They still sound great today (and apparently there's a new album coming out next year - hurrah), songs about losers and hoodlums that'd make a good soundtrack to Luc Sante's "Low Life." I finally picked up the "Songs We Should Have Written" cover album. I hadn't bothered, figuring it was a gimmick, but it's pretty fantastic -- in the same league as that monumental Entombed covers album. For me, at least. Still think the first two albums are the best, but all great -- never understood why they didn't draw a more widespread audience.
16 Horsepower - first ep and "Sackcloth & Ashes." Maybe the best band to ever come out of Colorado, but these two don't hold up as well as I'd imagined. They sound fine, but... everything really sounds the same after a while. A few years ago, I described them as "if Joy Division were evangelical cowboys," a description that still seems the best way to describe 'em. I can't find "Low Estate," which I remember as being their best (and most varied) release. Perhaps that'd make me feel better about all this. It's not bad by any stretch, just works better as an occasional listen as opposed to frequent rotation in the car stereo.
Royal Trux - "Thank You" and "Accelerator." Geez, didn't realize 'til now, but all of these are a real throwback to my late-1990s listening. RT are (were) a band that can sound either fantastic or awful, depending on the mood -- apparently I've really been in the right mood lately. For a band that really sounds like they belong in a 1970s cartoon, they sound surprisingly good. "Thank You" was always my favorite -- "Accelerator" I kept around because I figured I'd eventually get into it, and apparently I finally have, a decade late. Both sound great, and hell, I think I'll drag out "Cats and Dogs" next. Perhaps the most apt album name, since when I imagine RT as that aforementioned 1970s cartoon, I sorta see Herrema as a raspy-voiced cat, Haggerty and the rest of the band as dopey basset hounds. Does that make sense? Perhaps not. As I said, Van Goddamn Halen kept me from sleeping last night.
Glenn Gould - "The Goldberg Variations." Relaxing after Royal Trux. Still listening to this after being inspired by "The Gold Bug Variations" last year.
The Sex Pistols - "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols." It seems ridiculous to even mention this -- isn't this one of those albums so quote seminal unquote that it shouldn't even require listening any more? I feel like a bit of a cliche driving around with it playing, but hell, there are few songs on this planet or any other that get me going as much as "Pretty Vacant" or "No Feelings."
Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane - self-titled. I love jazz, I don't know much about jazz. I always keep one album featuring Coltrane, Monk, and/or Miles Davis in the living room stereo, ready to go when I want me some jazz. Right now, it's this one.
Jesu - "Conqueror." Still listening to this, months down the road. Still soaring and impressive, makes me wish I had some $10,000 stereo system to really blow my mind. Eventually, I'll have to get around to buying their other albums.