Monday, March 7, 2011

American Candy

You know how it is. Listen to an album you haven't heard since sophomore year in high school and it's like remembering a fuzzy dream. This weekend I was able to go a step further, though. I pulled out the 7" collection that I amassed a couple years ago, so in this case, instead of just re-living certain dreams, I got to touch and feel the characters. It was surreal.

I guess I listened to these records for two hours straight. I'd just sit or stand patiently for two minute intervals while the songs were playing, then hastily jump to to the turntable and pull the needle off when the songs were done, and either flip it to the B-side or throw on a new one. This action--a totally active listening experience--reminded me why I liked listening to records in the first place. I know we've all heard this argument from sometimes self-righteous vinyl listeners before, but it is just a totally different listening experience. You have to work. And also, because of the simple and somewhat crude nature of the technology, you find yourself on the edge of your seat, staring at the needle, hoping that at any contorted blast of feedback or scream doesn't send the needle flying off the slick black surface onto the fuzzy mat. That's the cool thing. It's like a little rock concert. It's always fun because it call could fall apart at any second.

That gets me to the records. I can't upload them all here, but I'll share a few with you that were specifically hot.

The first I put on was the Thermals' 2007 A Pillar of Salt. If you know the Thermals, or this song specifically, then you know their songs are pure rock n' roll. Pure yoooth. Excited lyrics about "our dirty bodies," and "escaping" (from where?) get you every time. Cause you forget sometimes. There're a lot of squares out there I've heard. It's war. And there's hope. And to whatever the A-side challenges, the B-side affirms. "Product Placement" may be my favorite B-side of all time. The song only has one message. There's a lot of cool shit out there that we haven't seen, and we gotta. There's strange people and hip music out there that we haven't heard. It's a hopeful message, man, not a sad one. Dig- you'll never hear it all. There's enough for us all. We gotta have it. Don't you wanna?

Another group of EPs that I listened to was a handful of Butterglory 7"s from the mid-90s. I've always been fond of Butterglory because they remind me that there must have been thousands of bands like them in the 90s. They're all cool, but they all kinda sound like putting your finger on a post-punk record while it slows down and making it a bit more melodic. Jangly. Maybe a bit more like Dream Syndicate. My favorite are Cursive, Our Heads, and Wait for Me. They showcase a band that found their niche and fit perfectly into a pop storyline of the time. I mean it makes sense that all were released on Merge--they've always had a fairly sucessful roster of inde-pop-rock artists that have jsut enough edge, yet remain lovable and somewhat safe. Matt Suggs and Debby Vander Wall trade off vocal duties, and its effect is magic. If I absolutely had to make a comparison, I'd say Beat Happening, but a little less scatterbrain and a lot catchier.

These songs are perfect evidence for my previous vinyl claims. I would never have heard their music if not for a strangely large collection of their 7"s at Vintage Vinyl. And even if I would have, I definitely wouldn't have gotten into them like this. There's something special about getting into an artist two songs at a time, instead of all-you-can-eat portions from the internet. It's a blessing and a curse.


  1. Thermals:


  2. i love that product placement track, nice