Music

Sad About the Times: Lost Tracks of the '70s That Sound Vaguely Familiar

Sad About the Times evokes 1970s nostalgia with 21 obscure tracks that never made it big, but sound like they could have.

Sad About The Times
Various Artists

Anthology Recordings

17 May 2019

Sad About the Timesthe latest compilation album from Anthology Recordings—is made up of 21 obscure songs from the 1970s. Trailing the 2017 release of Follow the Sun, a compilation of 20 Australian tracks from the 1970s, Sad About the Times is its North American counterpart, curated by Mikey Young (Total Control / Eddy Suppression Ring) and Keith Abrahamsson (founder of Anthology Recordings and head of A&R).

There's something distinctly familiar about the songs that comprise Sad About the Times. They may have you scratching your head, wondering where you know the songs from, even if you don't really know them. Perhaps it's because some of these songs were played on the radio at the time, but were eclipsed by the hits that dominated the airwaves. Or perhaps it's that the album encompasses many of the musical genres popular in the '70s, including soft rock, folk, pop, and psychedelic rock.

"Here Comes the Sun" by Oliver Klaus is reminiscent of something by the Byrds with its exhilarated harmonies and jangly guitars, while "N.Y. Survivor" by Randy and the Goats conjures frolicking hippies. Both songs fall on the psychedelic side of the spectrum. Meanwhile, on the folk-rock side, "Paula's Song" by Emmet Finley evokes Neil Young. Kevin Vicalvi's "Lover Now Alone" could be mistaken for Crosby, Stills and Nash with its fingerpicking and swelling harmonies. "If You Can Want" by Canadian band, Perth County Conspiracy is a buoyant tune that sounds like Paul McCartney had a baby with America and this was the result.

Several of these songs sound like something else that was big at the time, but because we've all already heard something that sounds similar, they resemble songs we already know. However, there is one track that stands out because it isn't immediately familiar. "Wolf" by Antonia Lamb is an interesting banjo-festooned melody that calls to mind Appalachian folk music, rather than something that would have been played on the FM airwaves in the '70s.

The album is comprised of tracks that echo the glum atmosphere advertised by the compilation's title. "Tomorrow Is Gone" by Jode is a mopey, psychedelic-meets-easy listening tune with downtrodden vocals. "Absolute Zero"—a somber folk song by Hoover (who wrote songs recorded by big names like Tina Turner and Waylon Jennings)—sounds like a classic rainy day Jim Croce. "Maybe Someday/Maybe Never" by Dennis Stoner is a measured, waltz-like track that would make great background music for any pity party. Similarly, "Another Lonely Day" by Jim Spencer (publisher of early 1970s underground magazines, including Freek) is a sparse ode to loneliness. And finally in the title track when Michael Stewart, lead singer of West, sings: "I can see we're heading for a fall. Nothing matters at all", the listener is reminded that the title is reflective of the gloomy times we are presently living in.

Despite the title and a few low-spirited tunes, the record is sprinkled with feel-good jams that bring to mind the relaxed, euphoric soundscape of the 1970s. In a press release, Mikey Young describes the joy of sharing music and keeping in touch with the enchantment that music can provide.

"Doing these comps with Keith seems like the logical progression of what I've always loved doing. They are the most tangible, most fulfilling experiences I've had discovering and sharing music. I've learned a ton and heard songs that make me feel as ecstatic as I did when I first heard songs that made me feel ecstatic. That's maybe the best thing about doing these, realizing that can still happen."

For many of us, this elated feeling originated in the 1970s when we heard our first favorite songs. Listening to Sad About the Times is a lot like experiencing those songs all over again, but with new, vaguely familiar tracks, instead.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.