Timeless. Graceful. Powerful. These words have all been used to describe Galaxie 500‘s debut album Today. Made in a “shed” in Massachussets in 1988, Today followed up on the promise of Galaxie 500‘s first release, a 45 version of “Tugboat”. The group formed in Boston, MA, in 1986 and comprised vocalist/guitarist Dean Wareham, bassist Naomi Yang and drummer Damon Krukowsk, three friends from Harvard University. They got their name from their friend’s car, a Ford Galaxie 500.
Like a glacier moving through the ocean, Galaxie 500 eased into indie music legendom. Also like a glacier, the sound of the band was made up of layers of history. Early influences like the Velvet Underground, Joy Division and early New Order are evident in their sound. Like these bands,Galaxie 500‘s restraint was its strength. While other bands have to put everything on the table to engage/interest the listener, Galaxie 500‘s music left a great deal to the listener’s imagination. It’s like the difference between movies and books. The quiet whimsy and sometimes frostiness of Dean Wareham’s (later of Luna) vocals play nicely off the huge reverb of the music suggesting a massive world is being tapped. The Krukowski/Yang rhythm section doesn’t pound but creates an interesting and exciting tempo when needed. It’s endearing.
The standout tracks on Today include “Oblivious”, “Temperature Rising”, and their first release “Tugboat”. They also cover another New England music icon, Jonathan Richman, on the track “Don’t Let Our Youth Go to Waste”.
This is a classic album not only because it is good, but because of its impact. It is a forgotten link that any music lover should check out.