Oh Athens. I love that town. I miss it so much.
Which is part of why The Whigs video for “Right Hand On My Heart” is so damn fun to watch - a giant Athens BBQ and party at The Whigs house on Boulevard.
My friend Mike is dancing in the front row in a chicken suit. The video’s “keg run” goes to my old liquor store that we used to call “Welcome to Liquor” due to some poor sign positioning. The video is filmed in the backyard and made to look like an Athens fall. People are freely sharing cigarettes and celebrating beer arrival. Even party stragglers hanging around the living room after hours make me happy.
Thanks Whigs, for keeping the nostalgia alive!
Well for those of you who know me personally, you know that two of my all time favorite things are: 1- MUSIC! 2- ART
So of course I love the opportunity to indulge the music/art nerd within and combine the two. And even though this isn’t exactly new info, I figured I’d give a little love to Dan McPharlin and his Analog Miniatures.
I really never tire of looking at these impossibly detailed tiny synthesizer models. (My personal fave, “Analog Miniature 15”). And in addition to this really cool and well-executed idea, the rest of McPharlin’s portfolio is pretty damn good. Check it out!
In an interview with www.wiretotheear.com, McPharlin’s explanation of how he came to create these miniatures particularly spoke to me - as someone who “lacks the skills and resources” to make music with real size equipment, let alone design/build it!
“I’ve always been interested in human/machine interfaces and I think analogue synths and equipment are quite exciting visually because of all the knobs and sliders (usually one control for every function). I always wanted to design a synth but lacked the skills and resources, and making small models was something I could do. As far as I was aware nobody had built miniature synths before. I was already building small sculptures out of framing mattboards so this seemed like a logical step.”
Dan, I must say, your art rocks.
Having just returned from SXSW, I realize that this may be my last year in New York. If I did leave in a year, it would make for a nice 4-year run and I’m comfortable with that. Simply put, I miss the places where people are not completetly agenda-driven, places with genuine caring, where the job-market is not so viciously cut-throat and cool is not a commodity rivaled only by coke.
Sure, New York has been fun (and also very unfun!) over the years. It has seen the demise of my longest/most intense relationship, a few job shifts, some apartment changes, many 6 a.m. cab rides home, way too many crushes, a handful of ill-advised decisions, lots of bands and lots of articles.
But now I am ready for a change of pace. I am ready to enjoy journalism again. I am ready for a real music community. I am ready for livable rent and alt weeklies. I am ready to have my car back and a dog and a bike and some actual quality of life.
So before I get any more self-indulgent on this the worst of all my blogs, let me share something comforting with you…..
My ipod is fucked.
—this is not the comforting part—
It automatically resynched itself RIGHT before SXSW wiping out most of my old music (the listening STAPLES!) and added a bunch of newer music I only had in itunes for record reviews/features. So I decided to check out some KEXP archives for songs I was in the mood to hear and stumbled upon THIS.
What is so great about this Travis Morrison in-studio can be summed up with three items:
1. This happened in 2002, which makes the interview particularly ominous knowing that the demise of the band would come only a year later.
2. Travis admits that it is his second time ever playing alone.
3. The acoustic version of “Following Through” is fucking amazing and even Travis’s fuck-up on “The City” is downright endearing. Actually, even mention of the “Death and Dismemberment Tour” makes me embarassingly nostalgic. I could take or leave the LL Cool J, but then again, 2002 was a year that a lot of indie bands ironically covered hip hop songs - so Travis gets a free pass. Actually, Travis always gets a free pass. On anything.
My fellow DC-er lives in Brooklyn now, so really, my departure will be like passing the baton. Yes, exactly like that.
Pavement might just be my favorite band.
Yep, it’s true. And it took me a long time to admit that openly because for so many years I was told it was too easy, too predictable. Instead, I kept my love secret—reserved only for solo-roadtrips blaring my car stereo or via the discreet enjoyment of an ipod.
And yet, this secrecy was nothing compared the grievous offense that preceeded it: before giving Pavement any real attention, I spent years intentionally ignoring their music - for no particular reason other than that I thought I was supposed to. The music forces that surrounded me [the wannabe Rob Flemings of high school/freshman year of college] made me believe I was supposed to be over them without ever having been into them.
Yes, I greatly regret this period of blind Pavement rejection. In an effort to prove my cool, I really only proved my idiocy - because, though I didn’t know it at the time, those particular years were starving for a “Shady Lane,” a “Here,” a “Grounded,” a “Spit on a Stranger.” Pavement could have invariably altered the course of my life…or at least helped me avoid shelling out cash for some of my more embarassing CD purchases.
But the point is this: I no longer care - I love Pavement - and everyone else can suck it.
In fact, just last night I was on a writing binge with Pavement on rotation, and about an hour after my roommate came home, he bounded into the living room and blurted, “you have GOT to stop playing ‘Spit on a Stranger’! It’s played like fucking 10 times!”
I hadn’t even noticed.
Half the time it feels like Pavement is on rotation in my head anyway, and that’s the beauty of it - I can press repeat with abandon and never tire. I love it all—I love the slacker swagger, I love the ambling melodies and I love the mental tangle that is the Malkmus lyric.
There are too many Pavement memories to recount here so I will spare you, but trust that even fragments of a lyric have been known to define key moments of my life and a certain 3-chord progression heard out of context can spin me into a full-blown mental Pavement concert.
I have been a crappy blogger this week. Way too busy for any form of web-based eloquence. But a belated crush of the week is better than no crush at all…in fact, let’s make it a Canadian crush!
This past week I found myself thinking about Canadian bands I wished were still together. In the last four years, many Canadian bands met an untimely demise, but one in particular went away far too soon:
I wish I could say that I was with Despistado the whole way. In truth, I didn’t discover them when they formed back in 2001 - which would have had been an utterly perfect moment to fill the void left by At The Drive In’s break up that same year. Instead, I discovered Despistado by accident driving a Uhaul from DC to New York while at the mercy of a shitty FM transmitter and radio-ridden Eastern Seaboard. My ex’s coworker had added the 2005 gem, “The People And Their Verses,” to his ipod earlier that month, neither of us had ever listened to it until the Uhaul, but within seconds it became the soundtrack of multiple state crossings and the better part of a year spent poor, depressed and angry during one of the coldest New York winters on record.
If Fugazi and Minor Threat helped manage my middle school anger, Rites of Spring and Sunny Day Real Estate filled the emptiness that followed and Pavement floated on guiltless college years - then Despistado played to the malaise-stricken new grad too old for hardcore, too jaded for emo and too disillusioned for anything passive. Despistado was the retreat and the rebellion.
So in light of this mourning, we arrive at the inevitable Hornby question:
Is it better to burn out or fade away? Well, as we all know, the answer is: burn out.
No sub-question necessary.
Be awesome, then be silent.
You’ll forever remain a playlist staple.