Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
This Is Our Music
Pitchfork presents an oral history of Galaxie 500
Sergio HuidorAs much as I’d have liked to have indulged in the recent re-release of the entire Galaxie 500 oeuvre – they were reissued worldwide in March by Domino and by Damon & Naomi’s own 20-20-20 label in North America – I couldn’t really justify buying those albums a third time, particularly since these new editions weren’t sonically different from the Rykodisc reissues that came out in the mid-90s and those, I’d already bought twice. Almost three times, actually.
My education started with the Portable Galaxie 500 compilation, which was then replaced with all three of their albums in their expanded editions, which were in turn again replaced by the Galaxie 500 box set, which added the Uncollected compilation to those albums in a fancy package. I actually remember the record store owner refusing to buy those individual CDs from me until I assured him that it was okay, I still had the music. Factor in additional purchases of the Copenhagen live album and the Peel Sessions collection, and I think I’ve done my fair share for keeping the G500 flame alive (fiscally speaking) – but that doesn’t mean I can’t encourage anyone who hasn’t bought On Fire at least a few times to do so… so do so. The double CD-editions, pairing the three studio records with Copenhagen, Uncollected and Peel Sessions are a tremendous value and the studio albums were also all put out on heavy vinyl for the analog-inclined.
The point of all this rambling is to lead into this terrific Pitchfork feature that compiles the story of Galaxie 500 as told by those who lived it, from the humble beginnings in a Harvard dorm through the sudden departure of singer/guitarist Dean Wareham and subsequent end of the band. It’s ground that’s been covered a fair bit already – in the press that accompanied the Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste DVD in 2004 and then with the publication of Wareham’s memoirs Black Postcards in 2008 – but it remains a fascinating story, particularly as time passes and acrimony between the parties fades. Not that the three of them have been in the same room together in almost 20 years, but they seem capable of speaking honestly, respectfully and even fondly of what they created.
And while it seems that most everything Galaxie 500 ever recorded has been released (and re-released), there’s at least a few more bits and bobs lying about – a few years ago, MP3s of what was labeled as one of their earliest demo tapes were circulating and while three of those tracks did show up on Uncollected… the others didn’t. Here’s one of them, along with a Joy Division cover that appeared as a b-side to “Blue Thunder” and most of their videos. And here in the present, Dean & Britta are preparing to release their soundtrack to 13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests sometime this Summer and Damon & Naomi’s latest release was last year’s Sup Pop Years which, as the title implies, collects the best of their work for the SubPop label.
Athens, Georgia’s Venice Is Sinking also pays tribute to G500 on their new album Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions with a cover of “Tugboat”. The live-off-the-floor album is out June 15.
The National are in the spotlight at PitchforkTV this week, with video performances of the band playing tracks from High Violet – out next Tuesday – in a castle overlooking the Hudson River. So far they’ve got “Terrible Love”, “Anyone’s Ghost” and “Little Faith”. And on May 15, The National will be webcasting a live performance of High Violet from the Brooklyn Academy of Music via YouTube. It’ll be directed by legendary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and they’ll be soliciting donations for the Red Hot Organization; details at Pitchfork. The National have two dates at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9; Spinner talks to the band about selling out the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Having trouble keeping track of all the preview goods that have been coming out for the new Band Of Horses record Infinite Arms? Yeah, me too. But this is a new video. And the record is out May 18. And they play the Toronto Islands on June 19. These things, I know for sure.
Video: Band Of Horses – “NW Apt”