Strange Boat: Kraftwerk/Lucero

I don’t often play my iPod on shuffle, nor have I ever posted any sort of “mix” of random songs like some other music bloggers do. But last week I was on the subway heading to Joe’s Pub to catch Eef Barzalay’s performance (more on that next week) when I was struck by a strange pairing of songs I heard back to back, and thought it would be interesting to share.

First came “Europe Endless”, the lead song from Kraftwerk’s classic 1977 record Trans-Europe Express. I mean, I only own this album because it turned up at #6 on Pitchfork’s Top 100 Albums of the 70s a few years back, and I tend to get somewhat obsessive/compulsive from such lists. But I certainly can’t write about this song, album, band, or genre with any new or unique insight, maybe other than to say that the idea of longing for the survival of traditional European values that I think the song is suggesting is reminiscent of The Kink’s The Village Green Preservation Society from about a decade earlier. Maybe I’m not the first to say that actually, who knows? Every time I listen to this song I find myself getting lost in its icy, robotic groove, and then surprised by the warmth of the melodic repetition. I guess it was a perfectly fitting subway song - for the seemingly endless mechanical movement, surrounded by people and completely isolated at the same time.
After the long fade out of that Krautrock masterpiece came the opening chords to something more familiar and immediate. Somehow existing in the same universe, if starkly different times and cultures, was Lucero’s “That Much Further West”, the title track to their 2003 album that I feel is their career high point. I was immediately taken aback by the severity in the change from the last song ( I mean seriously, the only stranger pairing my iPod may be capable of is a Ghostface/Nick Drake pairing), and also immediately swept up into Lucero’s gritty, dusty, and decidedly American sound. Soon though I was struck by the image of the West, and how its mention harkens a more authentic past time. And I thought that maybe I’d found a link between 2 bands that no one would ever associate. That whether it’s the Autobahn or some lonesome American interstate heading out west, each song evokes the artist’s strong connection to places that may be losing mystique as the world modernizes. Now, I wonder if Lucero were spinning some Kraftwerk in the studio during their recording? Nah….

MP3 :: Europe Endless
(from Trans-Europe Express)

MP3 :: That Much Further West
(from That Much Further West)

Lucero - website, myspace

Buy Trans-Europe Express from Amazon
Buy That Much Further West from eMusic

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