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Napalm Beach | Curiosities

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Rock: American Underground Rock: Album Rock Moods: Mood: Intellectual
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Curiosities

by Napalm Beach

A freak-show of a concept album that dives deep and soars high
Genre: Rock: American Underground
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. As I Am
5:38 $0.99
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2. Naked Preacher
3:15 $0.99
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3. Enemy of the State
2:42 $0.99
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4. For the Rest of My Years
5:12 $0.99
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5. My Master Calls
3:57 $0.99
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6. Curiosities
3:53 $0.99
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7. Drivin' By Night
5:32 $0.99
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8. Come Out of the Dark
3:36 $0.99
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9. Nobody Home
3:40 $0.99
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10. Bad Dreamer
3:21 $0.99
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11. Longtime Johnny
5:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
"Dedicated to Katherine Dunn, whose 'Geek Love' served as inspiration, 'Curiosities' tells a curious tale with compelling words and soaring music. From the moment the music began to spill into the air, I was caught within Chris Newman's web. His clear earthy voice, full of passion, brings these emotional songs to vibrant life. Jan Celt's gorgeous violin playing especially adds to the opening track, 'As I Am.' The rich combination of musical styles, from haunting ballads to thrashing punk, perfectly reflects Newman's stunning lyrics. I sensed the sawdust, drank the sorrow. My freakish heart throbbed with nameless fever. 'Curiosities' is rich human experience raised to degrees of fucking art!"
-- Wilum Pugmire, The Rocket, June 1993. Seattle.

The idea for "Curiosities" came about in December of 1990, when Napalm Beach were on their third tour of Europe. Reading the novel "Geek Love" on the road, songwriter Chris Newman began to see parallels with the "freak show" element of life for a touring band. Inspired, Newman dedicated the band's next album "Curiosites" to the book's author, Portland writer Katherine Dunn. Dunn and Jim Rose (of Jim Rose Circus) attended the CD release party in June of 1993.

"Curiosities" was recorded at Dogfish Studios in Newburg, Oregon, Summer of 1992. It was released the following January on Tim Kerr records in the US, and on Satyricon records in Germany.

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Reviews


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Erika Meyer

complexity, darkness, death, love, beauty
1993's Curiosities is one of several great grunge-era underground albums put out by Portland's Tim Kerr Records. As one of the first Pacific Northwest bands to play and record original music almost exclusively, and distributing their early works via cassette, Napalm Beach helped usher in the "grunge" era, though they themselves do not sound like a typical "grunge" band.

Reading Katherine Dunn's "Geek Love" while on tour in German, songwriter Chris Newman noticed similarities between the circus freak life described in the book, and the life of a touring rock band. This inspired some of the songs on the album. The song "Longtime Johnny" was inspired by the band meeting and having breakfast with Johnny Thunders in Berlin, just three days before Thunders overdosed and died in a New Orleans hotel room. Napalm Beach had opened for Thunders bands a couple times in the 80s.

As usual, Chris Newman writes, sings, and plays guitar and piano on this album. He also made the cover art. This album features Napalm's final (and longest-running) bassist, Dave Dillinger, and of course, the Wipers Sam Henry on drums and keyboards.

I am writing this review from the standpoint of someone who is familiar with the band, but not the book "Geek Love." For me, the idea that this is, and is not, a "concept album" is a bit confusing. For me it works better not to think of the album as a concept album, but rather a collection of songs inspired by Newman's experience with the rock n'roll freakshow and associated struggles and changes in his personal life. My favorite tracks are the opening track (As I Am) and My Master Calls, with it's weird intro, gnarly guitar riffs, and righteous chorus.

Recording quality is high. There is a lot of experimenting with different sounds (even weird toys and such), time signature changes, and relatively complex sentiments for rock music. Enemy Of The State is a favorite track of some folks. Drivin' By Night is a Napalm Beach classic. Come Out Of The Dark is a melding of rock and bluesy jazz. Longtime Johnny is also a very good, and heartfelt song.

There is an underlying struggle to this album. In many ways "Curosities" represents the creative and professional peak for the band. When I think of this album, I think of light and dark... like when storm clouds move quickly across the sky, with the sunlight shining through the empty spaces.
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Wilum Pugmire

"Curiosities" review from The Rocket (Seattle), June 1993
Dedicated to Katherine Dunn, whose ‘Geek Love’ served as inspiration, ‘Curiosities’ tells a curious tale with compelling words and soaring music. From the moment the music began to spill into the air, I was caught within Chris Newman’s web. His clear earthy voice, full of passion, brings these emotional songs to vibrant life. Jan Celt’s gorgeous violin playing especially adds to the opening track, ‘As I Am.’ The rich combination of musical styles, from haunting ballads to thrashing punk, perfectly reflects Newman’s stunning lyrics. I sensed the sawdust, drank the sorrow. My freakish heart throbbed with nameless fever. ‘Curiosities’ is rich human experience raised to degrees of fucking art!
Read more...