Thursday, May 29, 2008

I make this list for no one's benefit other than my own. My go-to tracks from each disc in Series Two Records' recently issued four-disc compilation.

Series Two Records, Vol. 5

All Our Relatives - "Numbers"
Ellen Beach - "Roaring Fields"
Slowmotion Club - "Parliament Square"
Sweden Japan Foundation - "Atari Gunfighters"
The Mustonens - "A Festival is Here"

Series Two Compilation, Vol. 2
The Harvest Ministers - "Just a Boy"
Electric Needle Room - "Nobody Cares About Me Anymore"
The Endless Bummer - "Itacan of Lakota"
The Secret Ink - "Neverafter"
The Ruling Class - "Flowers"

Series Two Compilation, Vol. 3
Allt ar Musik - "Jag Har Det Bra"
Elenette - "Att Gora En Hit
The Faintest Ideas - "Mountain of Tics"
The Honeydrips - "Wait for the Grief to Come"
Vit Pals - "Wu Tang Clan"

Series Two Compilation, Vol. 4
Afternoon Naps - "Postcard"
The Airfields - "Quiet Nights in June"
The Atom Miksa Reservation - "We're Sorry"
The Gladeyes - "Damien and Monika Party at Yours"
The Jealous Sea - "All Over Town"
In The Plague, Camus told us the citizens of Oran spent their Saturdays "love-making, sea-bathing, going to the pictures." In Nausea, Satre's Saturdays were composed of children playing ducks and drakes, and tossing stones into the seas. But I like Proust's Saturdays the most. It consisted of characters frequently blurting out, "Have you forgotten that it's Saturday?" It wasn't a condescending question, but a reminder to one's self and others of what Saturdays promised and relieved one of (labor and well, any thoughts of labor), as the whole concept of leisure was a fairly new one in late 19th century Europe.

M83's "Skin of the Night" is like a Saturday anthem from adolescence. The vocals remind one of Liz Frasier, though back then I had no idea who Liz Fraser was. She could have been the Roll-On America employee who never wiped her hands in between serving Greek-style pizza and ice cream. "Skin of the Night"'s cheesy, post-chorus guitar stabs are like something from the ballads they played loudly while we skated. I wore Vuarnet; she feathered her hair. And the songs were so synth-heavy and impenetrable, the colors from the disco lights flashing overhead bounced right off them.

But you always found a way to wring the emotion from such works and afterwards,
as you stood outside waiting for a ride, your feet still tingling from cramped, beige skates, you quoted a verse and got a kiss in return.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The other day I washed my eight-year-old's hands. He typically does such a task on his own, but I was in a hurry (always) so I grabbed a face cloth and did it myself. In a moment only parents catalog, I noticed how coarse his hands were. He plays baseball and messes around with drum sticks and dabbles in dirt, so naturally the disappearance of any sort of baby-softness is expected. But it still surprised me; it's almost like he totes the hands of an adult now. It got me rolling on some sort of internal rumination about the transition from childhood to adulthood. When I reached the end point, I put on the new Spiritualized album. I wonder if Jason Pierce's mother ever wished to put her son in some sort of stasis, to preserve him from all the bad things he injected/inhaled. To preserve his track-less, fleshy, pink hands. If she ever lectured him, maybe the words are finally coursing through his veins as this new disc seems to stress what the low points can be from indulging a little too freely. Or maybe all the time he spent with Kate Radley's father, the behavioral psychologist, and Kate Radley's father's books are freeing his mind, allowing him to discontinue his demystification of narcotics and reconnect with humanity. Or maybe I'm just getting old and want my heroes to exhibit their age as well.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I'm gobbling up Shallow Grave. I'm especially digging the way Swede Kristian Matsson (The Tallest Man on Earth) deftly conflates images of purple mornings and heathery meadows and anything else that would make Thoreau's dick hard with simple, big-boy themes. On the album's title track, we find him poised before a body of water, pockets filled with stones. Maybe the tossed stones will discover the water's dark secret; they also hint at the stones used to weigh the buoyant secret down. Or maybe it's just a standard nostalgia exercise, an adult reflecting on the passing of his childhood -- the referenced "shallow grave" reserved for his days of peach-fuzzy cheeks, rock-throwing idle (idyll), and cheese macaroni. You know, those cheese macaroni suppers enjoyed on paper plates, when you were camping and sitting under the trees and the pine needles fell onto your plate, forcing you to pick through the molten cheese to dig out the needles.

During this song's opening, we hear pretty birds chirping. Other tracks like "The Sparrow and the Medicine" rise and fall to bass-drum accents provided by a tapping foot. Such DAT-machine touches give the album even more of an organic flair. Matsson's earthy mountain folk is quite a departure from the recent product to come off the ever-churning Swede pop assembly line. Among his songwriting countrymen and cheese macaroni eaters, Matsson casts a long shadow.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I have money again, so I can eat and drink, and buy albums. Like Series Two Records' recently issued four-disc compilation. Ninety songs from 90 artists with names like Eggnog and Doggy and Fairytalors and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. My teeth are rotting out of my skull just thinking of it. There's just something so right about an obscure, bedroom Swedish pop band having its stuff released on an obscure, bedroom pop label from Columbus, Nebraska. The four discs are hand-numbered and limited to just 100 releases. There's an accompanying written missive from Christoper B., the individual who sweated his way through this project. It's on notebook paper, too, with scrawl that inches along like my cousin's, which I suppose adds to the comfortable feeling this purchase is lending me. I'm a sucker for such DIY packaging.