29: Hoist (Phish)

Album: (Hoist)
Artist: Phish
Year: 1994

1. Julius
2. Down with Disease
3. If I Could (with Alison Krauss)
4. Riker’s Mailbox
5. Axilla, Pt. 2
6. Lifeboy
7. Sample in a Jar
8. Wolfman’s Brother
9. Scent of a Mule
10. Dog Faced Boy
11. Demand

Hoist is Phish’s most pop-friendly album, put them on the map for general audiences, though their follow-up album, Billy Breathes, was even more popular. I like both albums, but this one has more of my favorite songs. I tend to prefer their songs that highlight the guitar and drums rather than Trey Anastasio’s voice. His voice is fine, but on some songs, like Lifeboy, he has this high-pitch monotone thing going that ruins everything.

The album begins with an upbeat jam in Julius that really sets the table. Down with Disease was the most popular single from the album; it’s done well, but lacks the bite I would like. If I Could is my favorite song on the album, thanks in no small part to Alison Krauss, who has now made two albums this week as a guest singer. It’s a simple but beautiful ballad.

Riker’s Mailbox is just thirty seconds of noise, but they got Jonathan Frakes to play trombone for it, which is pretty awesome. Axilla, Pt. 2 is a nice jam. I have no idea what the heck is going in Sample in a Jar, but it has a fantastic melody. Wolfman’s Brother is an extended jam with empty lyrics but I find it very relaxing. Scene of a Mule is a crazy folk song about a cowgirl who makes her mule take a dump to defeat hostile aliens. It’s funny, but not terribly pleasant to listen to very often.

Dog Faced Boy is an honest, acoustic ballad that I enjoy, but your mileage may vary.  I generally stop the album there. Demand is an extended jam following a guy driving recklessly down the freeway for several minutes before a terrible crash, followed by a prayer. The jam is okay, but not great, and too long to deal with.

2 thoughts on “29: Hoist (Phish)”

  1. Huh. I have everything Phish did up to Billy Breathes, and this is far and away my least favorite album of theirs. It abandoned what I really liked about them to that point – extended jams and absurdist lyrics. There’s still a little of both, but not to the level of anything else they released before that.

    I don’t love Phish anywhere near as much as I used to, but I occasionally spin everything I own of theirs in a single off day. Though, admittedly, I sometimes skip Hoist.

    As for M2M, I had never heard them, but my wife does have a CD of theirs. It has never caught my eye enough to listen to, and after ten years of skipping that disc in the big book of our discs, you may have forced me to see what it is.

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