[Note: No Random Weekend post today… I wanted to get this one out there.]
One of the great benefits of popular music’s streaming revolution is how it has shortened the time and distance between artist and audience.
Rather than jumping through all the hoops (and cost) that come with a physical release, musicians can simply upload a song to social media 20 minutes after completion.
Here’s a track from the 2008 She & Him debut album Volume One. She & Him is a collaboration between actress/musical artist Zooey Deschanel and singer-songwriter M. Ward.
This song is a fine example of the album’s overall sound, indie folk with an old-fashioned sheen courtesy of Deschanel’s distinctive vocals. I liked the album a lot though I certainly don’t revisit it very often.
In 2005, two years after their self-titled album, Hootie & the Blowfish released their fifth — and to date, final — album of original material, Looking For Lucky.
The band returned to producer Don Gehman for this effort, and for the first time brought on additional songwriters for some tracks. Some of these songs hint at Darius Rucker’s move into country music, with a strong bluegrass influence and a number of religious references.
Ever since The Beatles released the white album, it seems every band feels the need to put out a mid-career self-titled record.
For Hootie & the Blowfish, that time came in 2003. Hootie & the Blowfish was the first album of original material by the band in five years, and the first without producer Don Gehman. Instead, Grammy-winning producer Don Was took the reins and brought more of a pop sheen to the music.
Hootie and the Blowfish followed up their third album with a collection of covers titled Scattered, Smothered and Covered, a name they borrowed from a Waffle House advertisement.
The band rolls through 15 tracks of enjoyable bar rock, mostly covering artists I don’t know, though they do include tracks from R.E.M., The Smiths, Roy Orbison and Led Zeppelin (today’s SOTD, one of the album’s standout tracks).
While I did buy Hootie and the Blowfish’s 1996 sophomore effort, Fairweather Johnson, when it was released, that marked the end of my fandom. Like most of the world, I tuned out after that.
So their third album, 1998’s Musical Chairs, is completely new to me. And that’s a shame, because after a couple of listens, and despite the major hits on their debut, I think this album is better than either of the first two.
Back in 2012, I posted a track from Hootie and the Blowfish’s 1994 smash Cracked Rear View, marvelled at the meteoric rise and just-as-quick fall of the band, and suggested that “it’s about time it became cool to like Hootie again.”
I guess I was on to something. The band is currently packing arenas on a reunion tour, and recently the New York Times’ pop music critic Jon Caramanica published a piece titled ‘Hootie & the Blowfish, Great American Rock Band (Yes, Really).’