Hit the Bright Lights, Hit the Road

I moved to a relatively tiny little town in Utah in 1995. I quickly discovered the local music swap shop–Gray Whale. Lining its walls were what seemed like endless numbers of used CDs … a venerable sea of unchartered musical waters. At least in my little sea of sounds.

I have 2 criteria that have yet to fail my whole-sale when it comes to buying a used CD without the opportunity of listening to it first:

  1. Cover art has to be asthetically decent. Something like Tokio Hotel’s Scream CD (which sounds infinitely better in English, but maybe that’s just because I actually understand it) would have never made the cut, whereas anything by Amethystium would have immediately garnered attention.
  2. Song titles can’t suck. “Baybee UR Mine” and the like will automatically get you shoved back unceremoniously on the shelf or tossed back in the bin without so much as a glimmer of regret.

Those two points of interest have never once let me down with the possible exception of the Honeydogs’ Amygdala CD, but even that wasn’t an intestinal-breakdown-of-porcelain-shattering-proportions letdown.

During one of my meanderings through their catalog, I stumbled across The Cranes’ Loved CD. Interesting cover art, and relatively decent song titles. “Why not?”  Since most CD shops in 1995 hadn’t caught on to the idea of “listening before buying,” I made a habit of bringing along my portable CD player, but really only just so I could listen to some of my purchases on the bus ride home.

I don’t remember where I was when I first heard them. I don’t remember what I was wearing, or what I had just eaten or was about to eat … I don’t remember the day, date, or month … but I remember the voice. It was as if she had swallowed some wispy cloud and then started to sing, “She’s been making plans to go hit the bright lights, hit the road. To the city lights this time. Just don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” The only voice comparable to hers is Hope Sandoval’s, though Alison’s is just so … accessible. I guess. The Cranes are considered “shoe gazer” by some, though I rather doubt they’d pigeon-hole themselves squarely in the genre. Mazzy Star, in my opinion, truly define the term.

I spent the rest of (insert applicable time period here) listening to that CD over and over. It still ranks in my top 10 list.

It depends on the mood I’m in as to whether I’ll listen to their earlier stuff. There’s a reason they were classified as “shoe gazer,” but that era came and went before shoe-gazer music was even semi-in vogue.

Their career borders on almost 25 years. They’ve gone from experimental, to “shoe gazer,” to ambient. Alison and her brother Jim have been core throughout, switching out guitarists, bassists and drummers.  I wish I could provide a decent link, but everything is outdated. Their fan site, starblood.org, hasn’t been updated since March 1994 or so. Their message board on cranes-fan.com is semi-up to date, but it’s so scarcely frequented that there’s really not much relevant material. Sad, cuz the band just rules.

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