Thursday, September 18, 2008

Golden Smog

Though the term "supergroup" tends to conjure up images of the very worst excesses in rock (think Asia, etc.), Americana/alt.rock pick-up band Golden Smog is the rare exception. This on-again off-again band of midwesterners -- Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Dave Murphy of Soul Asylum, a couple Jayhawks, assorted others -- has issued three albums and a few EP's over the past decade and a half. And somehow all the albums manage to be pretty damn good. (The EP's, not so much.) Anyway, for those who've missed out, Rykodisc is issuing Stay Golden, Smog: The Best of Golden Smog next week. It's a bit misnamed, as it only compiles tracks from the first two albums and the debut EP (recorded on Ryko). As the third album, 2006's Another Fine Day*, is my personal favorite, this falls short of being a true compilation, but they definitely did a fine job handpicking tracks from the earlier albums.

Still, if you don't have those first albums, by all means treat yourself to this. A fine blend of the Jayhawks' middle-of-the-road alt. country, Murphy's punchy power pop, and Tweedy's rustic Americana (this predates Wilco's more experimental, varied later work), most these tunes do a great job of avoiding the perception that the artists are just recording some throwaway tracks held back from their other bands. Indeed, "Jennifer Save Me," "Until You Came Along," "Looking Forward to Seeing You," "Radio King," and "To Call My Own" are some of my favorite tunes of the 90's.

Of course, I prefer my own homemade comp, which collects all their best tunes in one place. Meanwhile, here's the band playing at an Obama rally in February, which is cool in so many ways...

*Note: As of today, you can pick up Another Fine Day on, used, for $0.84. That's obscene. Also means you have no excuse not to own this. Hell, buy one for a friend.


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