Music

Various Artists: The Amos House Collection, Vol. 1

Jeremy Hart

Various Artists

The Amos House Collection, Vol. 1

Label: Wishing Tree
US Release Date: 2001-03-20
Amazon
iTunes

I don't own many compilations that I'd call "essential". They're usually not that kind of animal; I mean, how often do you really fall in love with not one, not three, but a whole CD of different bands? When I grab a tape for the long slog to work, I don't reach for my dub of that Hey Buddy comp (good though it is), I reach for a "real" album, something I can listen to that I know I'll enjoy all the way to the office. The only comps I own that I really, truly love are all happy accidents, CDs I bought blind just for the hell of it and then couldn't stop listening to, like the truly wonderful Rites of Rhythm & Blues collection. Otherwise, the way I generally think of compilations is basically as commercial-less chunks of radio airtime: in a given half-hour, you probably won't like every single song, but there's a good chance you'll like a few of 'em, at any rate, and hopefully the rest won't suck and make you turn it off.

The Amos House Collection is that kind of CD, at least for the moment -- listening to the comp is like turning on a good college radio station for 45 or so minutes. It's nice, because some of the bands on here (like Death Cab for Cutie and Purple Ivy Shadows, for two) are groups I'd always meant to listen to but somehow never really got around to, and then some (like Bridget and Delphine) are bands I'd never even heard of but who surprised me by being pretty damn good. I may not listen to this CD more than a handful of times after this, but hell, I may try to find the full-lengths by some of these folks. One other point I should probably hit here, though: my initial guess was that Amos House is a recording studio and that these tunes were all recorded there, but no, it's actually a non-profit based in Providence, Rhode Island, that helps families in need, and this CD is the first in a series that benefits the organization. So, if you still need a reason to get the album after reading this, there you go: bonus civic duty points.

Anyway, on to the music... There's a general British indie-pop kind of vibe going on here, kicked off in the very first track by the excellent but very Trembling Blue Stars-esque Departure Lounge ("Straight Line to the Kerb"; I swear to God, I thought it was TBS before I looked at the track listing) and followed most of the way through. The two biggest exceptions, Austin indie-rockers Spoon, who throw in the rocking, Cars-like "I could see the dude" (originally off Soft Effects), and closers Delphine, whose "I Swear That I Swear" lulled me into believing they were yet another quiet pop band but then came blasting in with full-on (and well-done) emo guitars and screaming, serve to break things up a bit, placed as they are by tracks like The Lilac Time's "Back in the Car Park" and Wheat's quietly depressive "Hope and Adams".

High points? Well, that's hard to say; there's not much on here I didn't enjoy. The only tracks that didn't make much of an impression at all were The Clearing ("Water Spout") and Aden ("The S&F-ish Song"), and they weren't bad, just...well, I can't remember any of either song. The Bridget track, "I, Aquarius", was pretty impressive, along the lines of The Secret Stars or a lower-fi Elliott Smith, and Death Cab for Cutie's "Lowell, MA (Tiny Telephone version)", which was a lot less poppy but much cooler than I'd expected after all the hype, impressed me greatly, as well. I hadn't heard Idaho in such a long time that I can't even remember what of theirs I've heard before, but their song on here, "Stayin' Out In Front", was nicely Dinosaur Jr.-ish, and The Ladybug Transistor sounded like an extremely entertaining clone of Jonathan Richman playing some alternate-universe version of the "Sesame Street" theme ("The Swimmer (Live in Sweden)"). All in all, a very listenable selection of songs, a nice introduction to some bands that I need to get more familiar with, and heck, maybe one of these mornings I will throw it on while I drive to work.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
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.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

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 .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


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.