So I hate to have fallen behind on these for the second time already in 2013, but I have a good excuse:  I’ve been computer-less for over two weeks now (and will continue to be without-laptop for another two at least).  Fuck Dell.

I spent my last couple of weeks at school listening to music almost exclusively on my iPod, and as a consequence (or maybe it was just a coincidence), I started listening to whole albums slightly more than usual and zeroing in particular albums to listen to over and over again.  My musical tastes during this time focused on a number late-’60s psychedelic pop albums, none more so than the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.  Man, Brian Wilson may have had a nervous breakdown over the mental stress of trying to create Smile, but frankly I think 1966’s Pet Sounds is significantly better than his 2004 fully realized vision of Smile.  Songs like “That’s Not Me” do a wonderful job of evoking awe and emotion from the listener, both musically and lyrically.  Not that Pet Sounds needs me to heap accolades on it; obviously the idea that it’s a masterpiece is not exactly a new or unusual thought.

But here’s a kind of unusual thought, or at least one that’s a little less common:  Big Dipper put out some awesome music in the late ’80s.  Who, you wonder, are Big Dipper?  Well, they were an indie band from Boston who released an EP and a pair of LPs in the late ’80s before making the jump to the majors.  Epic signed them to an absurd eight-album contract; they laid an egg with a subpar album that didn’t sell and were promptly dropped.  They broke up, but (apparently) reunited recently and put out a new album last year.  They sound kind of like R.E.M., but with more of a post-punk twitch (instrumentally only, they sound similar to the Pixies on Doolittle); now imagine that combined with the whimsy of Devo or Camper Van Beethoven.  Well, I bought their flop of a major-label album, sound-unheard, after finding it in the bargain bin at the Princeton Record Exchange last August.  At the time, I thought it was pretty good.  Then, this January, I bought an anthology compiling all of their indie-label stuff, and it is indeed way better.  I’ve been listening to it studiously over the last few weeks (more intensively than in the previous month-and-a-half, certainly), and I’m eager to share some of the cool tunes I’ve found.

Take for example “All Going Out Together,” from the band’s first full album, Heavens.  Big Dipper’s bassist, Steve Michener, had a dream in which Bruce Springsteen was singing this chorus.  But Bruce had no such song in his repertoire; therefore, with help from his bandmates, Michener expanded upon it and the result was an amusing doomsday anthem, capturing the bittersweet feelings of knowing a cataclysmic earthquake is about to hit.  And it rocks!  Sadly, Michener’s dream of the Boss singing (in reality covering) “All Going Out Together” has yet to come true.  …Or at least it had yet to come true in 2007 when the liner notes for the Big Dipper anthology, Supercluster, were written.

For the week of February 25, 2013…

“That’s Not Me” by the Beach Boys

For the week of March 4, 2013…

“All Going Out Together” by Big Dipper