The Ordinaires’ One should have been an album I held dear.
It was a discovery I made reading Pulse magazine, and the band’s press name-dropped a bunch of rock bands and classical composers — two things that would shape my development as a wannabe musician.
But it faced stiff competition. Naked City and Kronos Quartet monopolized my attention, and I wanted the dopamine hits I got from Winter Was Hard and the self-titled Naked City debut to repeat with every subsequent discovery.
The Ordinaires came close. The first few times I listened to this album, I liked it. It had its skronky moments and its pretty moments. Oddly enough, a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” would capture my affection, despite a growing distaste for Led Zeppelin.
But it didn’t survive a purge for cash. I decided I couldn’t really keep the tape — yes, I bought it on cassette — if I liked only one song. One was weird, but not weird enough. So I let it go.
In the 30 years that would follow, I would find myself missing that cover of “Kashmir”, but the moment would pass too quickly for me to act on it.
Then at the Northwest Record Show in November 2019, I found it on vinyl selling for $2.
Reacquainting myself with this album allows me to rag on my younger self for letting something valuable slip away. Well, valuable to me, otherwise I would have been charged far more than $2 to reacquire it.
The Ordinaires positioned themselves as less weird downtown New Yorkers. They may have hung out with the noisers and no wavers, but they were a bit more tuneful than that.
One smoothes over the jump-cut eclecticism of Naked City and tones down the noise. It’s a gateway album to a far stranger realm of music.