Aquarium Drunkard: Sidecar/May 6, 2020
Welcome to Sidecar, Aquarium Drunkard's three-times-a-week dispatch of audio ephemera, recommendations, and links. Do you appreciate our 24/7 radio stream, weekly two-hour show on Sirius/XM, Transmissions podcast, The Lagniappe Sessions—where your favorite artists cover their favorite artists—and our deep dive interviews, historical features, mixtapes, and audio/visual excursions? If you do, the best way to support AD is to contribute funds via Patreon. Pledge, get cool stuff, and support independent media.
Damaged Bug: Sold America
The accident that permanently disabled a young Michael Yonkers is one filled with capitalistic symbolism too cruel to decipher: In 1971, after having flirted with and lost a Sire Records contract before his twenty-first birthday, Yonkers’ back was crushed by several thousand pounds of computer parts at a warehouse where he was working. Complications during a subsequent operation on his spine only made the situation worse, and, by 2014, he was in too rough shape to even be able to play guitar. Yonkers received overdue accolades once reissues, courtesy of Sub Pop and Drag City, started to come out in recent years, but perhaps his best tribute is on the way from John Dwyer, who put together a Yonkers covers LP via his Damaged Bug moniker. The Record Store Day–attached project is now delayed until July, but the belle of the ball is the already released single “Sold America,” a track from Michael Yonkers Band’s 1968 classic Microminiature Love that feels so thoroughly modern in Dwyer’s hands that it’s somewhat baffling it was originally written and recorded during the Vietnam War. At that point, America was increasingly becoming a product—of machines, of corporations, of war. Burgeoning hippie optimism could pretend to stave that reality off for a little while longer, but Yonkers had his finger on the pulse of the first wave of the general malaise we now swim in. The first wave of feeling like we live in a country that’s more a business than a government. The first wave of feeling bought and sold without a choice.
Tone Glow: Jim O'Rourke
Over at Tone Glow, Jim O'Rourke talks prog, Fahey, and 25 albums you should listen to. A loose, freewheeling interview. Highest recommendation.
Spleen and Ideal: The Return of Pure X
In the first half of the previous decade, the Austin-based psych outfit Pure X crafted three near-perfect rock records. Their taste for hazy guitars and shifting rhythms set them comfortably in the post-bedroom scene of the period, but what set the trio apart was a rapid and robust sonic development. This four-year run found the band moving from shoegaze to the caramelized Americana, a band in constant search of their sound’s outer limits; one who challenged its fans’ devotion, and earned it back again with interest. And then, as though over, the Texas horizon, Pure X disappeared. The arrival of their self-titled fourth album is such a welcome surprise. Less surprising, though just as welcome, is its sonic disposition, a mellowing of the contrast between the band’s previous phases that amounts to a reintroduction, as well as a reset. The restless, romantic energy that undergirds all their work, here, floats gracefully into focus. This is Pure X, pure and simple.
Wilco: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Sam Jones' 2002 documentary, which chronicles the difficult birth of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, is streaming for free at Oh You Pretty Things. "Tips" will be donated to My Block, My Hood, My City, which seeks to provide "underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood."
Years Of Cocktail-Flash: The Fall In 1980
Angus Batey on Grotesque, 40 years later: The reason Grotesque works, and why it stands as a favourite album (if less often as the favourite) for many Fall fans, surely lies both in its blend of observation and imagination, and the sound of a line-up assured enough of its ongoing status to push themselves forward while still being new enough at playing (both individually and collectively) to not have had the rough edges knocked off their sound.