Songs About Cars, Love, People, Drugs: Galaxie 500

August 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

For people like me–born in 1988–too young to have bought the originals, Galaxie 500 have re-released their albums, remastered on vinyl or digital download. Conspicuously, there is no compact disc edition. Not only does this seem to signal the rise in popularity of vinyl again, but it is also awesome.

I have the original edition of This is Our Music, (ironically, my least favourite Galaxie 500 record) so I’ve not bought the reissue, however, at a very fair price, I bought Today and On Fire. Online they go for $15, but I’m in Canada so I saved myself shipping and the exchange rate and picked them up for $17.99 a piece.

Today gets props for having an example one of my favourite album covers. It still sounds fresh to me, despite being as old as I am. Dean Wareham’s singing is like listening to the scared, melodic, innocent and sincere howls of a young man. This is something that subsequent recordings can never recapture. The songs chug along with Galaxie 500’s signature simplistic chords and urgency. To me, all their songs sound like they want to be faster and are being restrained, which seems to make them all the more intense. On “Tugboat”, Wareham pines for an uncomplicated life, wailing he doesn’t want to “vote for your president” or “stay at your party” or “talk to your friends” and he just wants to be a tugboat captain, in that classic romantic vision of the simple life.

On Fire features a far more dated cover that screams late 80s or early 90s. There’s a deep orange filter over a “candid” shot of the band from below, with neon text. Damon has an unfortunate missing chin; Naomi has massive swirl earrings and Dean is smiling, although he looks a little pained. This, however, is my favourite Galaxie 500 album. There’s not a huge amount of progression from the last, stylistically, it’s still simple open chords, slightly muddy guitar, fun basslines, truncated drumming and understated singing. The songs just seem better to me. In a perfect example of what Galaxie 500 is about “Strange” uses that slow, but intense build-up before making you want to emphatically nod your head to the march-like beat. “When Will You Come Home” gets a little crazier, with a slightly faster pace and ending up with the most demented and wonderful alto sax solo I’ve ever heard.

The only downside I can find is that I don’t think the albums are on 180 gram vinyl, but they still sound fantastic.

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