Monday, January 23, 2023

Roches/Fire Roast

I've always had a maybe/well-maybe-not relationship with the Roches. They're one of those bands whose sublime/ridiculous ratio seems to have a very high standard deviation. Did I get that right? I did badly in stats class several decades ago. Anyway, I picked up their "Collected Works" AKA best-of album for a buck at the library's used book store last weekend, and it does a pretty good job of making their case. "Hammond Song" is pretty perfect (though the collected-works version maybe turns down the guitar solos a bit?), "Want Not Want Not" is at a largely unplumbed intersection of novelty-music/polka/bad-trip/experimental, "Nurds" is a lot more compelling and horrifying than I had thought, "One Season" hits a totally unexpected and perfect spot at 2:00 in or so. Getting their killer minus the filler helps me go back and appreciate the filler a bit more. My family members remain unconvinced.

Fire Roast is one of a million Nina Ryser things, and I'm not sure what happened with this particular outfit - they put out a tape on the great Single Girl Married Girl smack dab at the beginning of the pandemic, and then silence. It's been next to my tape deck ever since. Ms. Ryser's work in Palberta, Data, and solo is also at an uncomfortable intersection between genres at times, and I don't always click with all of it, but this album is great and consistent from start to finish. ZoĆ« Talkin's shredding bass work takes things to the next level. (Shades of Cris Kirkwood, maybe even Trefor Goronwy's work in Camberwell Now if you squint.) It's one of those albums I always gravitate toward on Monday mornings, when "Back in the Sulfur" feels a little too real. "Desire's Hold" is universal and confounding in all the right ways.