Auricle: Music Discovery and Discourse

Self-Inflicted Appreciation

I'd been meaning to pick up a Wellwater Conspiracy album for a long time, and last week I finally got one.

They have two albums out: Declaration of Conformity, their first release, from 1997; and Brotherhood of Electric, from 1999. The second album is supposed to be more accomplished than the first.

So I bought "Declaration of Conformity."

I did this on purpose. Bands and their sounds evolve, and their listeners evolve with them. And what I've noticed is that I have a hard time working backward through an artist's catalog.

Some good examples of my own experience:

~ Ben Folds Five. Whatever and Ever Amen is a wonderful record and contains the band's single best song, "Battle of Who Could Care Less." But this polished, professional record is far different from their first album, which contains myriad low-key charms. It took me months and months to give their first, and in many ways better, disc a chance.

~ Live. Dig Throwing Copper (or one of their later missteps) and it's hard to fully appreciate the earthy, polyrhythmic Mental Jewelry, which itself is a sparkling debut.

~ Dave Matthews Band. Their albums have been progressively, marginally worse from one to the next; the most recent release is pretty good, but to hear the greats, one has to go back a ways. And here I fail, too: I started listening to DMB with their second album, Under the Table and Dreaming, and I've never gotten around to acquiring Remember Two Things, which may be even better than my favorites.

So with Wellwater Conspiracy, I started at the beginning. I made a conscious decision to explore the band and not just an album. The difference, when you're aware of it, is striking.

I'm enjoying "Declaration of Conformity," and I'm looking forward to picking up "Brotherhood of Electric," and I can't wait to hear Scroll and Its Combinations, their new album, when it is released next month.

The next time you hear a good song, do the artist a favor and explore them like a book. Start from the beginning. You'll be amazed at how much more there is to enjoy.

April 16, 2001


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Copyright © 2001 David Wertheimer. All rights reserved.