In honor of the show this Friday night, I figured it would be more than appropriate to post this album up here today. Not only that, but it’s beyond worthy of having a spot on this blog and every music blog that’s ever covered any other type of shoegaze or dream pop band. I say this because Galaxie 500 is certainly a pivotal band when it comes to the genre and sound of shoegaze/ dream pop.
Ever since their formation and the release of their albums, shoegaze bands have always attempted to capture that unique Galaxie 500 sound, but they usually end up coming a bit short of their goals. This would be why these albums are so important to the genre, and if this wasn’t true, then why do people always come back to Galaxie 500? Did I mention yet that they just re-issued the entire G500 discography, live albums and all? See, that’s what I mean. If it wasn’t for a band like Galaxie 500, who knows what shoegaze and slowcore bands would sound like today. I’m sure it wouldn’t be some, huge, gigantic, groundbreaking difference, but who knows. Sometimes you just have to give credit when credit is due.
Whether it’s the snow or rain you’re stuck in, “On Fire” is one of those lousy day records you can put on to help you cope with the lameness of any dreary day. The warm, fuzzy, fiery breeze that is Galaxie 500 is sure to warm your soul and bring you to a much more solid state of mind, possibly helping you forget about any problems you may be experiencing (at least while the album’s still playing). Lead singer Dean Wareham is always there to greet us with his mundane lyrics about everyday activities, such as the weather, work, going to the corner store, fights, and whatever else qualifies as an everyday activity. It’s almost like his lyrics are a stream of consciousness going through his head that he just happened to get down on paper before it was too late and he forgot. Sometimes he’s shrieking, sometimes he sounds exceptionally lazy, but there’s one thing that is definitely constant: his guitar work. This guy knew how lay down some sick, face melting guitar licks back in 1989 when this album came out, and I can guarantee he still can do so if he’s about to come play these songs in Philadelphia one day from now.
Kicking off the album is the song “Blue Thunder”, which at first doesn’t sound like much, but as time goes on it begins to grow into something more. Wareham sings as if he’s sitting in the backseat of a car driving down the highway (Route 128 is a highway in Massachusetts) looking at all the passing scenery. Perhaps while messed up on some kind of drug, Wareham is referring to the blue haze he sees as everything passes him by, as depicted in this great music video. Skipping ahead to the song “Strange”, where Wareham once again sings to us about his day. This time it’s about his trip down to a lousy drug store, and he seems to be paranoid about his surroundings and the people around him. This definitely gives me the thought that poor Dean was bugging out, thinking that all these people were looking so strange and unreal. Can’t say what drug he was on (or if he was on one at all, wtf do I know?), but it definitely got to his head for this song.
Following this track comes the longest song from the original record, “When Will You Come Home”. It’s a slowcore jam out at it’s absolute finest, with Wareham desperately waiting for his girl to come home. About halfway through this one Wareham starts to tear shit up with an immense guitar solo that helps bring the song to it’s near-perfect end. Some serious shredding in this track – no joke. Again skipping ahead further in the album, this time to the song “Another Day”. This is the only song on the album sung by bassist Naomi Yang, and her gorgeous, healing voice makes this an extremely enjoyable listen. About halfway through the song breaks down with more intense, face melting guitar action, played by none other than Mr. Wareham himself. I honestly had more to say about this record, but I’m starting to run out of time. This post is also going to be huge.
I’m just going to skip ahead to one of the bonus tracks, specifically the song “Ceremony”. Now I know this might really urk some people out there, but how many times do you come across a cover song that actually exceeds the quality of it’s original recording? If you’re asking me, almost never. Galaxie 500 are the only band I have seen successfully complete this feat, and they have done so with this cover of Joy Divisions (and New Order’s) song “Ceremony”. Damon Krukowski’s relentless, crashing cymbals and the twang of Warehams trusty guitar make this song simply irresistible. Right before the four minute mark the song hits it’s peak, and Wareham begins to howl away about watching love grow forever while Krukowski continues to crash those cymbals. Keep listening and Wareham’s guitar playing starts to get more and more intricate as the song progresses. This is also one of those songs that seems to be forgotten about almost all of the time, probably because it’s original release was on this now-scarce “Blue Thunder EP” that came out back in 1990. Don’t worry though, I’m pretty sure this track made it onto the new reissue of this fantastic album. If you haven’t heard it, you probably shouldn’t go anywhere too soon. Would it help you listen if I said I thought this was thee perfect song?
This is an album I’ve spun countless times in several different situations (including in a car accident in a snowstorm), and I’d be lying if I didn’t say these songs and this band as a whole mean more to me than just music. Sometimes if you hear certain music at a crucial point in life, they always tend to stick with you and never let go – making the music mean that much more to a listener. With that being said, I am beyond ready to finally hear these songs come to life this Friday night at the Trocadero. Now I just hope he plays “Ceremony”. Bring it on!!! Thanks for reading!!!
Blue Thunder –
When Will You Come Home –
Another Day –
My Rating: 10/10
Genre/ Tags: Shoegaze, Dream Pop, Slowcore
On Fire: Tracklist:
1.) Blue Thunder
2.) Tell Me
5.) When Will You Come Home
6.) Decomposing Trees
7.) Another Day
8.) Leave the Planet
9.) Plastic Bird
10.) Isn’t It a Pity
11.) Victory Garden (Bonus Track)
12.) Ceremony (Bonus Track)
13.) Cold Night (Bonus Track)