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On Fire

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Album Review

Having already made a fine account of themselves on Today, the three members of Galaxie 500 got even better with On Fire, recording another lovely classic of late '80s rock. As with all the band's work, Kramer once again handles the production, the perfect person to bring out Galaxie 500's particular approach. The combination of his continued use of reverb and the sudden, dramatic shifts in the music — never exploding, just delivering enough of a change — makes for fine results. Consider "Snowstorm," with Krukowski's soft-then-strong drums and Wareham's liquid solo and how they're placed in the mix, leading without dominating. Yang's vocals became more prominent and her bass work more quietly narcotic than before, while Krukowski adds more heft to his playing without running roughshod over everything, even at the band's loudest. Wareham in contrast more or less continues along, his glazed, haunting voice simply a joy to hear, while adding subtle touches in the arrangements — acoustic guitar is often prominent — to contrast his beautifully frazzled soloing. Leadoff track "Blue Thunder" is the most well-known song and deservedly so, another instance of the trio's ability to combine subtle uplift with blissed-out melancholia, building to an inspiring ending. There's more overt variety throughout On Fire, from the more direct loner-in-the-crowd sentiments and musical punch of "Strange" to the Yang-sung "Another Day," a chance for her to shine individually before Wareham joins in at the end. Again, a cover makes a nod to past inspirations, with George Harrison being the songwriter of choice; his "Isn't It a Pity" closes out the album wonderfully, Kramer adding vocals and "cheap organ." Inspired guest appearance — Ralph Carney, Tom Waits' horn player of choice, adding some great tenor sax to the increasing volume and drive of "Decomposing Trees." Later CD pressings included the bonus tracks from the Blue Thunder EP.

Customer Reviews

Great

A wonderful overlooked classic. Each song begins with etheral cords being strummed gently. Then that simple melody is lifted by booming hollow drums and screeching guitar; followed by the wailing emotive voice of the lead singer. The songs reach an extremely high level of emotional intensity, with this really the most transcendant music out there. And this album has a very pretty cover of Joy Division's Ceremony which I really enjoy. You should get this album.

An Absolute Classic

An overlooked gem that remains undiscovered on the cusp of the 90's. These guys were before my time, but their sound and feel holds up incredibly well. Eventhough their songs feature relatively simple chord progressions and structures, the group evokes desperation and a celebration that swirl together to produce an emotion just bleeds beautiful nostalgia.

everything i need right now

i somehow stumbled onto this album, and it just has to be the greatest surprise in music i have ever encountered. every song is so emotional, like i sob and cheer myself to insanity at the same time. goodness.

fave songs: strange(obvi), decomposing trees, isnt it a pity, and Snowstorm.
greatest oldie album of all time

Biography

Formed: 1986 in Boston, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Though criminally overlooked in their own lifetime, Galaxie 500 later emerged as one of the pivotal underground groups of the post-punk era; dreamy and enigmatic, their minimalist dirges presaged the rise of both the shoegaze and slowcore movements of the 1990s. The group formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986 and comprised vocalist/guitarist Dean Wareham (a transplanted New Zealand native), and bassist Naomi Yang and drummer Damon Krukowski, longtime friends who first met in high school in New...
Full Bio