Jim Krueger – Sweet Salvation (1978)

Until now, the most obscure album I’ve covered on this site has got to be Raise It! by The Happy Schnapps Combo. Unless, of course, you happen to be from the exact corner of rural Wisconsin that I grew up in. Now the Schnapps are a joke band, but they did happen to have a semi-famous, semi-pro singer and songwriter in Jim Krueger. After graduating from Lincoln High (Ships represent!!) he moved to LA and bounced around in various groups before becoming a member of Dave Mason’s touring band, penning the megahit “We Just Disagree” which inspired him to try his hand at a solo career. He managed only one album and I’ve always been curious about it.

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Autechre – Tri Repetae (1995)

Solid gold hits

A decade ago, I made the conscious decision to get into Autechre. Given what I was listening to it seemed inevitable that I’d be way into them some day, so I decided to force the issue, as they had so much stuff out there I knew it would take years to sift through it all (this was before Exai, by the way). And this album was going to be my gateway. After all, it was universally praised, deemed “somewhat accessible”, and from what I’d read was the last one before they’d jumped off the deep end, never to return. Hell, even George Starostin, a guy who still believes that music never evolved past The Beatles, thought it was pretty good.

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Don’t hang up yet

Since revisiting View-Monster last week I figured I’d have another listen to Spirit Phone, just to see if this really was the quantum leap I thought it was when I first heard it. Of course it’s become one of my all-time favorite albums so any excuse to revisit it will do. And while V-M was better than I remembered it, Spirit Phone is just on another level entirely. Generally when a prolific artist takes their sweet time with a release, things don’t work out so well – but for Neil Cicierega I think that’s exactly the approach that was needed. A bunch of these songs were around in some form in 2012; “Eighth Wonder” dates all the way back to 2009. He was plenty active, doing the Mouth Sounds album and the songs that eventually comprised the Nature Tapes EP, not to mention a half-dozen viral videos, but if you were following the stuff on his website you knew the next album was where it was gonna be at.

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Lemon Demon – View-Monster (2008)

A big part of vinyl collecting is just assembling your own personal canon. So when the vinyl pressing of View-Monster was announced I preordered it on day one, without even stopping to think if I still liked any of the songs on it. Neil Cicierega is just that important to me; I discovered Animutations on Newgrounds in 2002 and it felt like I finally found someone who spoke my language. Not only did I think the videos were brilliant and utterly hilarious (despite making no sense and containing no punchlines), I also legitimately loved a lot of the music he used. Then he started making his own music and I wound up digging that as well.

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Animal Collective – Painting With… (2016)

For years Animal Collective were just a band I liked to read about, as opposed to a band I actually wanted to listen to. They caught my eye with Merriweather Post Pavilion – I mean, how could you avoid them – and the effusive praise for it irritated me for some reason. I don’t know, maybe it was just the way people wrote about them, maybe it was because I was a young music snob who still hadn’t shook off the cynical teen phase, maybe it was hearing “My Girls”, immediately tagging them as “Diet Dan Deacon” and never wanting to hear them again. But it was kind of strange to see them seem to completely lose their standing in the span of a couple albums; by Centipede Hz they were washed up, by Painting With they were an embarrassment. And admittedly the pile-on was so severe that I actually felt a little bad for them, considering that when I read the reviews it actually didn’t seem like their sound had actually changed much. The same descriptors that caused them to blow everyone’s mind with MPP were suddenly the most irritating things on Planet Earth. And for some reason, this was the thing that convinced me to start checking out their albums. Something’s not right with me.

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Tim Heidecker’s Fear of Death (2020)

There’s something fascinating about Heidecker’s music career on a conceptual level; you will not find a comedian with a more garbled and convoluted public persona than he. Tim Heidecker plays about six different characters, all named “Tim Heidecker”, each of whom exist in their own universe, but are mostly kinda similar. Even his stand-up persona is…not really him. Yes it’s convoluted; on Twitter he slips in and out of several personalities with no explanation, but he trusts the fans to figure it out (if you’re unfamiliar and are just browsing through his Twitter feed…good luck). What always feels odd to me is when he’s just being himself – not even a comedian, but just a regular dude who’s emotionally invested in like, the Dodgers. That’s the Tim Heidecker you get here.

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P-Model – Perspective (1982)

Unfortunately, my copy got mangled in shipping. Kind of fitting though, isn’t it?

I’m going to skip over P-Model’s 3rd album, Potpurri, mostly because I don’t have it. It’s more gnarly and harder edged than its predecessors, kind of a sign that P-Model were going off the deep end, stardom be damned. But this is the album where things really reached the point of no return. At one point they were on some axis of Devo/XTC/Plastics, but by Perspective it was clear that this was not just another hyperactive New Wave band.

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The Deathray Davies – Time Well Wasted (2021)

The two DRD posts I made earlier were supposed to lead to this, but alas my copy didn’t arrive until last week. As you may know there’s something of a vinyl shortage going on right now, which has resulted in a lot of recent albums essentially having two release dates (I think the “official” date on this was February 12). Anyway, in case you’re not following the “narrative” of Critter Jams, the gist of it is this: The Deathray Davies are a band I was really into in high school, to the point where I confidentially proclaimed them one of my two favorite bands on the planet, next to Underworld. Quite an odd combo, isn’t it? A progressive electronic dance group from Wales and a garage rock band from Dallas. But you can’t control what connects with you and for whatever reason this music just hit me. And then, when I got to college, they just stopped making records. Not to say Dufilho & co. have been slacking; in fact if you see any rock band in Texas chances are there will be at least one Deathray Davy in their midst. But the DRDs themselves have been taking a long nap.

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Chillin’ with the Moonriders and the AT-VM95ML

After 15 years of reliable service from the Stanton STR8-80 I decided to finally buy a new turntable. See, one of the downsides of actually learning about vinyl is learning Why Your Setup Sucks, and in my case it’s because the Stanton was a straight-arm turntable, which means it can’t really track properly, and it’s not really possible to align a cartridge so it does. That’s because it was meant for DJing – the thing stops on a dime and is great for scratching, but if you want one for dedicated listening you can do better. Also it was missing a bunch of parts because my kids kept fucking around with it. So I decided to buy myself an AT-120, which I’ve seen recommended in several places as the go-to starter turntable, a best-bang-for-the-buck type you can use while you decide whether or not you really want to go insane.

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XTC – Oranges and Lemons (1989)

The last XTC album I wrote about was…uh…White Music? Six years ago? That can’t be right. XTC are one of the greatest pop bands to ever exist, how could I neglect them for so long? Well, you know how it goes. Sometimes you get so into a band and place them into such heavy rotation that you just have no need to ever listen to them again. Especially if they’ve stopped releasing records. But then you catch a song like “Mayor of Simpleton” at the Piggly Wiggly and suddenly you find yourself back in.

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