Review : Galaxie 500 - Today / On Fire / This Is Our Music
PitchforkWhen new bands play guitar music heavy on reverb and slow in tempo-- a combination that drapes tunes in a sublimely druggy dream-pop haze-- I can be slow to embrace them. It's not that there isn't plenty of good music in this vein being made. It's that one band, 20 years ago, did this sound so well and with so much personality, they set a difficult standard for newcomers to meet.
Galaxie 500 didn't last long. They formed in Boston in 1986, released three albums between 1988 and 1990, got great notices in the press (especially the UK), and then dissolved. Following their breakup, after which lead singer and guitarist Dean Wareham went on to Luna and the rhythm section of Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang formed Magic Hour and Damon and Naomi, Galaxie 500 albums went out of print. Krukowski bought the master tapes in an auction, the albums were gathered with bonus material in a box set by Rykodisc in 1996 and then reissued separately. They fell out of print again.
Damon and Naomi's label, 20/20/20, are now bringing them out again in expanded 2xCD form, along with newly mastered vinyl editions. The CD packages are more functional than revelatory. The three original LPs have been smartly paired with extra discs that gather all extant material: 1988 debut Today with the covers/demos/B-sides set Uncollected; 1989's On Fire with Peel Sessions; and 1990's This Is Our Music with the live album Copenhagen. The original liner notes by Byron Coley originally included in the latter are included with all three packages. There's no new information or previously unheard stuff in these sets, but there is a lot of remarkable music....full text
ContactmusicThe name Galaxie 500 is considered to be synonymous with the 'slowcore' movement spearheaded by the likes of Low and Codeine these days, but take a steady trip back in time to 1988 and they represented something altogether different entirely. Then seen as something of an anomaly, too melancholic and quiet to fit in with the emerging slacker scenes where the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Pixies and Mudhoney were making considerable headway, and far too dark for the sprightly pop REM or Throwing Muses were conveying at that time. By fate rather than any conscious choice, they seemed more at home within the emerging shoegaze community, distinguishable brethren only by demeanour and a penchant for repetitive guitar loops rather than engineering dizzying levels of white noise from their instruments. But of course, that doesn't even tell half the story.
Initially formed a year earlier by Harvard graduates Dean Wareham, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, their semi-acoustic take on blues-tinged psychedelia set them apart from all of their peers and contemporaries of the day. Even their live shows - if you were fortunate enough to catch one, as their visits across the Atlantic were rare - were seismic affairs of orgasmic beauty. The only time I got to see them supporting the then upwardly mobile Sundays was one of those moments where for the half hour duration of their set, one could literally have heard a pin drop. Looking back now it seems odd that such a curiosity among music obsessives then have achieved cult status today, but listening back to their three studio albums it's easy to see why as they've more than stood the test of time.
Their debut long player, 'Today' released in 1988, was perhaps most recognisable for two things; firstly because its mid-point was punctuated by a perfunctory yet ambitious cover of Jonathan Richman's 'Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste', its sprawling finale taking it near the seven-minute mark, and secondly the decision to employ Kramer, more renowned for his musical exploits as a member of experimental/noise combos such as B.A.L.L, Bongwater and the Butthole Surfers take refuge behind the mixing desk, something that would continue throughout their entire recording career. Although now little more than a stepping stone to what followed afterwards, the likes of early single 'Tugboat' and overt statement on the effects of heavy narcotics usage 'Temperature's Rising' give a subservient hint at where they'd be heading next, even if not quite just how influential the threesome would turn out to be. (8/10)...full text
GuardianGalaxie 500 were once lumped in with many of the shoegazing outfits currently hopping on the revival bandwagon. But their reissued albums show they were heartbreakingly apart, writes Alexis Petridis...full text
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