REVIEW: Tom Dyer’s “Songs From Academia Vol. 2: Instrumental and Spoken Word, 1980-2008”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic At the end of 2009, Green Monkey Records founder Tom Dyer released a retrospective of his own work called Songs From Academia Vol. 1, and from the title along it meant that there was more in store. Here’s that more.

Songs From Academia Vol. 2: Instrumental and Spoken Word, 1980-2008 goes back 30 years at a time when Seattle and its music scene was proud to be isolated from the rest of the world. All of these songs sound like perfect background for unused films, and that’s because Dyer devoted a lot of time and energy to make sure they were good, even if at times they were just good for him. This is a true solo album, with most of the songs featuring Dyer accompanying Dyer. “Van Vliet Street” could easily be something from the Captain Beefheart files but this 1981 track could have easily been performed by Romeo Void as well, complete with psychotic saxophone solo. If you’re more into the kind of country you might hear at a bar after 2am, tune in to “Grub”. “Skank!”, sounds like what N*E*R*D would have sounded like if they were able to jam with Prince in 1983, while “More Colors Available” sounds like what our childhood dreams of Japan were like: nothing but a collage of video games. “Ornette” rocks hard as Dyer jams with The Adults and makes it sound raw and raunchy.

The newer recordings sound like they were done 20 to 30 years ago, and the fact that the older songs still sound fresh shows how well these songs have held up, particularly for those who remember what the Seattle music scene was like pre-… well, everything. If Dyer and Green Monkey Records blew up in the same way Queensryche, Heart, Kenny G., Robert Cray, and Rail did… well, listening to this makes me a bit happy that it didn’t become a worldwide success, because it’s an artist who sounded not so much thirsty, as he was itching to create anything to create sound. I’m thankful that this exists. I’m not sure having a world full of Tom Dyer copycats would be a good one, which is my way of saying he is one of a kind, representing what Seattle music is all about, period.

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