Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang were the rhythm section for Galaxie 500 between 1987 and 1991; since then they’ve been on an unpredictable journey, recording orchestrated and subtly psychedelic pop and folk, collaborating with the Japanese band Ghost and guitarist Michio Kurihara, and running the publishing company Exact Change. Their first album, More Sad Hits, from 1992, was reissued late last year; they’ve also just released The Sub Pop Years, a compilation covering the period 1995-2002, and the DVD 1001 Nights comes out on Sept. 29.
Various Positions (Passport, 1985)
This is a record from the ’80s I totally didn’t pay attention to. It’s very funny—it has “Hallelujah,” which is probably his most well-known song, but this album was a bomb. Columbia refused to release it in the U.S., which is the reason he didn’t tour here until recently. It’s a shocking record for fans of his old, old work. It’s all synth, he’s using these cheesy synths from the ’80s, and the arrangements are pretty brutally 1984. But the songwriting is brilliant—“Dance Me to the End of Love,” Night Comes On,” “If It Be Your Will,” which is just beautiful.
Visions of Dawn (Far Out UK, 2009)
Joyce is sort of like a bossa singer now, but when she first started making records she made a great psychedelic record. This is a recording of hers in ’76 in Paris, after the first, psychedelic album and before her better known records in the early ’80s. She recorded it with a percussionist and a guy who plays bass and guitar and sings, so it’s just a trio. It has spare arrangements but it’s lush, harmonically.
Live at the Folklore Center, NYC: March 6, 1967 (Tompkins Square, 2009)
This is amazing. It’s a reel-to-reel mono tape recorded at basically an in-store at the Folklore Center, a record shop and book depository in the Village. He’s there in ’67, all alone. The playing is great—really, really percussive strumming. His approach to the guitar is so propulsive, even when he’s not playing with a band. I don’t think of him as a folk musician, but here he is playing in a folk room, to a folk audience, in a folk style.
Maria Del Mar Bonet
Raixa (Fireyellow, 2004)
A wonderful singer, famous only in Barcelona, but in Barcelona she’s really, really famous. In Madrid you can’t find her records anywhere. She’s Catalonian, so she’s singing in Catalan, using folk forms, but she writes her own songs. Raixa has beautiful orchestrations and breathtaking singing.