01/08/07 12:59 AM: Favorite Albums of All-Time (Part III)
Tarkio, I Guess I Was Hoping for Something More (1998, Barcelona)
I’m not going to pretend that I knew of this album before the Decemberists existed. For those not in-the-know, Tarkio was Colin Meloy’s band while he was in college at the University of Montana. I spotted the exit for Tarkio while driving across Montana in November, however I was not able to get my camera out in time to take a photo.
Some have dismissed Tarkio as a simple college-rock band, and that’s partially correct. Tarkio was a fairly simple college rock-band. What this album has going for it, though, is the fact that it’s Colin Meloy’s songwriting before he decided to take things in a different direction. You won’t find 13 minute ballads about mariners, or any other historically-based epics. You have Colin Meloy in the raw, singing about things that are fairly easy to relate to. You still have elements that are undeniably Decemberists-esque, such as the song “Eva Luna.” It doesn’t get much better than hearing Colin growl a bit while singing “darkly lacquered.”
For me, songs such as “Caroline Avenue,” with lyrics such as “and you’re trying so hard / it takes more than flipping off the traffic cops to impress me” carry more meaning than the latest Decemberists fare (“When the War Came,” for example). It’s hearing Colin Meloy tackle what it was like to grow up in Montana, which as best I can tell isn’t that much different than growing up anywhere else in the United States. For a college band out of Missoula, Montana, this is quite a masterpiece.