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

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.

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.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

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 .

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


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.