19 April 2006

Overlooked Albums from the '90s - #28

Dare To Be Surprised by Folk Implosion

One of the unwritten rules I decided upon when I started the EAR FARM Overlooked Albums from the '90s feature was that artists could only be included once in the list. Given how much I love many of the bands that have been listed thus far in the feature, it makes perfect sense. After all, I could easily point to at least one more album by each of these guys that I think deserves more attention than it's gotten to this point. But where's the fun in that? Variety is the spice of lists, and the aim was for this feature to be full of spice. That's a semi-long way of saying get ready for the only repeat artist.

Who's the one person that is a creative force behind more than one album in this esteemed feature? Why it's Lou Barlow of Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, and (of course) Folk Implosion fame. Dinosaur Jr. won't be showing up in this list and Sebadoh already had their moment, so this time it's all about Folk Implosion.

Background info:

  • Folk Implosion was started as a side project to Sebadoh
  • the original members were John Davis and Lou Barlow
  • you're probably familiar with the band as a result of the 'hit' single "Natural One" (which peaked at number 29 on the pop charts in early 1996) from the soundtrack to the film Kids
AllMusic says:
"...Folk Implosion remains an indie rock band, recording on cheap equipment, and layering brittle guitars for the basic tracks, but the guys write impossibly catchy hooks, such as the amazing single "Pole Position." At its best, Dare to Be Surprised is spare, tuneful, and infectious, and at its worst, it's merely underwritten. Nevertheless, Barlow has rarely been as succinct and consistent as he is here, and Davis' songs are uniformly strong as well, making Dare to Be Surprised one of the finest items in their respective catalogs."
Pitchfork says:
"Their complex opuses range from undeniably poppy to downright non-musical, but are always fresh, unlike the stale and moldy cottage cheese being kicked out by mainstream alternative bands. The opening track, "Pole Position", is a perfect example. It opens in such a way that you're almost totally lost in a tangled-up guitar mess that makes no sense before it blasts you into oblivion with chords as catchy as a goddamn baseball glove, while other songs manage to conjure up images of indie rock versions of Peter Gabriel and INXS. Weird enough? No, it actually works."
Dare To Be Surprised was Folk Implosion's follow-up to the surprise success of "Natural One" and, rather than aiming to replicate the sound that had given them pop chart exposure, the band opted to return to what they do best. The album builds off of everything that made Take a look inside... one of the top EPs of the '90s and firmly entrenches Barlow as the king of low-fi rock. All of the extra noise, basement room ambience, blips, analog fuzz, and crunchy guitars you'd expect are perfectly in line as Barlow and Davis re-work your notion of what makes songs catchy. The beauty is, you can listen to this album over and over. Wait until the weather makes for good chilling outside then grab yourself a rocking chair, this album, and a beer...you'll see what I mean.

Listen:Previous Overlooked Albums from the 90's:
#1 - Saturnalia by The Wedding Present
#2 - The Inevitable by Squirrel Nut Zippers
#3 - This is Our Music by Galaxie 500
#4 - Dusk by The The
#5 - Fantasma by Cornelius
#6 - New Wave by The Auteurs
#7 - I, Jonathan by Jonathan Richman
#8 - Futureworld by Trans Am
#9 - Harmacy by Sebadoh
#10 - Cure For Pain by Morphine
#11 - God Fodder by Ned's Atomic Dustbin
#12 - Seven by James
#13 - Why Do Birds Sing? by Violent Femmes
#14 - Blank-Wave Arcade by The Faint
#15 - Dog Man Star by Suede
#16 - Beatsongs by The Blue Aeroplanes
#17 - Don't Try This At Home by Billy Bragg
#18 - 1992: The Love Album by Carter USM
#19 - Time Was Gigantic...When We Were Kids by The Durutti Column
#20 - Psalm 69 by Ministry
#21 - The Dirtchamber Sessions, Vol. 1 by The Prodigy
#22 - Going Blank Again by Ride
#23 - Love At Absolute Zero by My Favorite
#24 - Placebo by Placebo
#25 - K by Kula Shaker
#26 - Kill Uncle by Morrissey
#27 - Manhattan Melodies by Eric Reed

if you'd like...
Pitchfork's top albums of the '90s
1st version of their list

Another site does their own "Overlooked of the '90s":
Top 30 'Other' Albums of the '90s

8 comments:

Fetal Pig said...

I missed the post- but I have to say it's nice to see The Inevitable by Squirrel Nut Zippers get some recognition. It's a fantastic album. Your blog is awesome! Keep up the great work

krossfader said...

Damn straight. Folk Implosion were massively underrated. Too bad most people know 'em as 1-hit wonder.

Ivan said...

I always loved how (Blank Paper) picked up from where Burning Paper left off. Yes, I'm quite simple. Thanks for the songs!

bryan said...

this is one of my favorite records

kendra said...

yay... folk implosion! great choice. do you know if lou is still writing and producing music under this project?

Matt said...

Barlow recorded an album in 2002/2003 under the name The New Folk Implosion...new because the band no longer included John Davis and it showed - the album is crap.

since Lou doesn't generally go back to working with ex-mates ('cept for Dino Jr. just recently) my guess is that he won't go back to working with Davis and won't record again under the Folk Implosion name. but that's just a guess. fact is, he definitely is still writing and recording good music and making up new names for new projects.

Eugene said...

Oh man, this is an undeniably solid record. This, III and Emoh are probably my three favorite Barlow releases. Thanks for giving it some of the recognition it deserves.

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