Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Holy Modal Rounders - The Holy Modal Rounders

The Holy Modal Rounders – The Holy Modal Rounders
Fantasy, 1972
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2013
Price: $5

Sure I could have had original pressings of the first two Holy Modal Rounders albums. Some dude brought their whole discography into work. Alas, I’d rather just have their first two albums in a re-released combo package. Because it keeps me humble. Because I knew dudes who were obsessed with first printings and original pressings and I think that stuff tends to get in the way of the actual listening to music part of owning records. Anyway, though this two-disc set shares the same title as the Holy Modal Rounders eponymous debut, it’s really just the first two albums in a budget package. I’ve never listened to this band before today, but have been familiar with them. Their name pops up here and there when you talk about Americana and psychedelia, which they blend into some real harrowing, fucking weird ass shit. The whole affair is deeply unsettling. In the best way, of course. It’s kind of impossible to imagine a group like the Danielson Famile existing without these two albums serving as forebears. I have nephews now, and I feel like they’re going to grow up to be outdoorsy jock types so sometime when they start to appreciate music I feel like I should play these albums if they ever come to visit Aunt Jenny and Uncle Ian. Is it wrong that I love the idea of confusing children? I’m almost certainly going to expose my own children to weird-ass music at an early age to make sure they spend as much time on the dark path than their old man (see: solid year of high school where the song I woke up to every morning was Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff.” Never forget). Now that I’ve said how WEIRD this band is, let’s talk about how for the period this was probably some cutting edge shit. Like just totally fucking with roots music at a gut level while also churning out some kind of magnificent straight-forward renditions of traditional folk tunes. The music is just so all over the place and psychotic and drug-addled that it keeps things fresh. The harmonies sound insane, the fiddles and banjos sound like they’re going to decapitate you. But sometimes they sound like beautiful back woods Appalachian folk music. And then the realization that these two albums came out a within two years of Kennedy’s assassination and it’s really strange to think that people were this fucking weird fifty years ago when currently bands are trying to be weird like this and failing because they’re actively trying to be weird. Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber don’t even sound like they’re trying. They’re just naturally gifted at being bizarre.

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