Built To Spill – Ultimate Alternative Wavers

ARTIST: Built To Spill Ultimate_alternative_wavers

TITLE:  Ultimate Alternative Wavers




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, probably not.

LINEUP: Doug Martsch, Brett Netson, Ralph Youtz

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album by Boise indie guitar-rock mainstays establishes the BTS formula, with guitar workouts and at times long-ish song suites.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Martsch’s Built to Spill lumbers out of the gate with a debut that definitely had a grungy overtone, but was different in that Martsch went for longer songs and a somewhat more classic guitar sound. Sure, there were a lot of effects, distortion and loudness in the guitar, but Martsch could also play a sweet, gentle acoustic or an undistorted almost jazz-like guitar. He really liked to solo, too. I mean, really liked to solo. Early on, BTS was its own thing entirely.

Already, Martsch is building complicated songs that change direction and tempo during the bridges and codas. He also references some of his favorite groups indirectly (or in the case of the Velvet Underground, almost directly in “Nowhere Nothin’ Fuckup”. Most of the songs on the album are worthy as well. Sometimes Martsch can wander off the path at times and extend a song past its sell-by date. He does here on occasion.

The production isn’t as clean and polished as it would be later – no doubt you can thank at times incessant touring and Warner Brothers for Marsch’s ability to improve his studio capabilities -but if you’re familiar with BTS and don’t have their independent stuff, this is a good one to get. And if you’re not familiar with BTS, and you like guitars, why aren’t you?

NOTES & MINUTAE: Early on, Martsch wanted to have a rotating lineup with each album. He later settled on a semi-regular touring band, more or less.


GRADE: B+. The sound and production could have been better and a couple songs either go on too long or veer away too much. Still, a good and solid first effort.


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