Live blog – “Under The Table And Dreaming”

This, from the recent Pitchfork review of “Crash,” hit hard:

Crash helped give a generation of upstarts permission to do whatever they wanted with their own music. That sort of broad philosophical inspiration was altogether different than what Nirvana, Pavement, or most every other rock act cooler than the Dave Matthews Band supplied at the same time.

I sent the review to Cory, who said:

I still listen to that and “Under the Table…” from time to time! Especially if I want some thoughtful serenity. “Under the Table” makes me feel straight-up better and think-ier and more hopeful which is why I like it better. “Crash” makes me feel kind of the same but also weirder? They were definitely the easiest band to clown on in the ’90s. SUPER successful hippies in a band who wrote radio-friendly songs that were seemingly un-scandalous but often pretty horny! But those records are great and unlike anything else I can think of.

Do you still listen to those guys from time to time? I’m going to put “Crash” on now and hike my skirt up!

I had not listened to either album since importing them to iTunes in 2008, so I started to, and I live-blogged my reactions, now posted below.

The Best Of What’s Around – Oh my god there is so much going on in this mix! Like a moderate number of parts, but they’re all busy AF, and the hard-panned acoustic guitars doing fairly different things is wild.

What Would You Say – This still sounds pretty good. Funky & poppy, like Toad The Wet Sprocket but also Prince could sound cool covering it?

Satellite – Intro should only be 3 riffs. This is nice, though. Appreciate the deeper, growlier, more compressed bass. Radio edit would be sufficient.

Rhyme & Reason – Kinda forgot this one. Probably because I don’t think Scott and I ever played it.

Typical Situation – Ah yeah, feeling that thing of when I used to really conjure the vibes when we played this. Real quiet/loud dynamic going on. Covering this in the style of Nirvana might get some YouTube plays.

Dancing Nancies – Initial pre-filter thought 0.2 seconds in: “Oh no.” The stop/start dynamics are pretty effective. Verse riff is cool with that high part, and weird outro is good. More of a jam than a song though.

Ants Marching – Well, here we are. This is the immovable force of the discography. I like how the different melodies lead into the turns / chorus. Much cleaner, poppier mix. Bass sounds awesome in the choruses, growling again. Cool hoe-down. This is still good.

Lover Lay Down – John Denver should cover this. Muppets optional but recommended. Great palate-cleanser, I appreciate this much more than I did back in the day. Mic placement is much closer & more intimate, almost bedroom pop. Brushes on the floor tom sound killer. Outro jam is sick.

Jimi Thing – “Oh no.” I’m realizing Dave is good at dressing up jams as songs by making sure the verse and chorus aren’t in the same key. WTF is the chorus but it’s kind of good, partially redeems the “song.” This song always kind of sounded like it was recorded in a warehouse, which is ironic given the next song on the album. Sax solo outro is good, including the band’s parts, except for the fact that it fades out.

Warehouse – I’m into this. Woodblock / agogo bell use is kind of aggressive tho :( Satisfying harmonic relationships among the different sections. I like hearing his voice break in the jam. Actual ending, and it’s very nice!

Pay For What You Get – I don’t remember this at all, must have skipped it a bunch or bailed after “Warehouse.” Relative minimalism is appreciated.

34 – Also don’t remember, I guess “Warehouse” was the end for me. Though, I’m remembering that there’s a bunch of one-second tracks and a hidden track on the CD or something? (Googles.) Oh, this was track 34. Pleasant comedown. WAIT, we’re going hard again?? That was too much, I liked just the chill part.

Cory’s response:

I like “Pay for What You Get” pretty well! “Jimi Thing” was always a skipper for me; anything quite quirkily funky or funkily quirky made me hit “next.”

“What Would You Say” is pretty good and the pre-chorus is the best part (“…cannot speak for all the rest”).

Best songs IMO are “Satellite” and “The Best of What’s Around.” I
wasn’t able to re-appreciate the latter until 30ish when I was more able to suspend my deep aversion to anything resembling corniness. When I was 14 it didn’t bug me, then it bugged me really badly, then I could let it slide. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between meaningful sincerity and cloying platitudes, and I guess it depends on how cliche the sentiment is. The second lyrics start to veer into “Live Laugh Love” territory, I’m taillights.