Thursday, March 25, 2004

More rule-bending today (the fourth day of my theme that I can barely remember anymore, but I kind of explained it on Monday).

First up, the Donner Party, mainly because I've mentioned them before without actually posting any of their songs. Yes, they're listed in Allmusic, but I'd assume that a large number of fans of the band Quasi would be interested in Sam Coomes' old band, and the only way they'd find out via Allmusic is by going to the Quasi page, clicking on Sam's name, then scrolling all the way to the bottom and noticing that he "appeared on" the Donner Party albums.

A CD reissue of everything the band ever did (which was actually a little too much...just the first two albums would have been perfect) came out in 2000 on Innerstate Records. More recently, the New Pornographers have been known to cover a Donner Party song in concert: the touching When I Was a Baby.

The band had a strange loopy charm that works somewhat better when not taking the songs out of context. Nonetheless, here's the one-two punch of Why Bother? and Sickness from their second album (I like the second record better than the first - most people seem to prefer the first, but it doesn't really matter since the CD includes both). From album number one, here's Godlike Porpoise Head of Blue-Eyed Mary. I'm not posting any of the folkier songs or instrumentals, but there are a bunch. The overall effect is something like a scrappier, more irreverent Camper Van Beethoven. I find that the Donner Party (charming name, btw) sound better after a drink or two.

I've had limited success in getting people to like 18th Dye...sometimes I wonder if they're not actually as good as I think they are. They released two albums and an EP of minimalist but rocking 2-3 chord songs that skewed towards a Wire-like formalism, while also managing to include controlled feedback and other noisy elements from time to time. They were on Matador in the US, but Matador never issued their posthumous singles collection Left, and it doesn't appear on Allmusic.

There are a couple of major flaws with Left. The most glaring problem is something that I hope no other band will ever do ever again: right in the middle of the CD, they included four other bands performing absolutely terrible cover versions of 18th Dye songs. It completely screws up the flow of the CD. Nonetheless, Left is completely essential (if you like the band) because of two tracks that it includes. One is arguably their best song Coffee Cup Revisited (I posted it last year) which was previously available only on a vinyl 7" single. The other is this very atypical Eurodisco-on-steroids version of It Feels Like I'm In Love.

Tomorrow I'm finishing up with not-on-Allmusic releases by Magic Dirt and the Dustdevils.

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