Friday, January 15, 2010

Looking back at the 00s, a limited glimpse

My dear friend and former bandmate Sharon "Mama" Spell was back in town this week, cleaning out her old house of stuff that has accumulated over the last 12 years or so. She stayed with us and brought over things that she thought we'd either want or would give us a laugh.

Among the things she found was a handbill for our band the Mofones, in particular one for a show we did at Chatham's coffee house. I remember the show pretty well, but had no recollection that the headlining band was We Are Scientists, a group who two or three years later, seemed poised to be the next Strokes Hopeful, or someone like that. And I don't mean that in a bad way, I thought their debut album contained a good combination of heavy riffage and swagger. Plus they posed with kitties on the front cover.

I reviewed their album a few years later, post-Pulp for an awful entertainment rag that I got into through a friend who was their graphics editor. Every couple of weeks, I'd bang out a 500-word piece on some new album, most of which the readers, whoever they were, would likely never hear and which probably dumbfounded them. ("How do you know about music like that?") The rest of the magazine was pretty fluffy business news and some a&e, topped off by an I-want-to-be-Dave-Berry column by the editor. I liked the $40 I got for my work, but most definitely did not cry when it folded.

In other news, I was thinking at the start of the month how I once had high hopes and some eager anticipation for this year to come, since it was going to be my first chance to do a Best Albums of the Past Decade list, somewhere, somehow. But looking back, only two immediately come to my head. Ben Folds' Rockin' the Suburbs and the New Pornographers' Electric Version.

The former might seem surprising, but when I finally gave it a good listen, maybe a nine months after it came out (he was coming back to town), it made my head explode, sounding to me like a modern Brian Wilson marriage of melancholia and beautiful music. If I had heard it upon its initial release, in the fall of 2001, I don't know if I'd still be alive. That was when InPgh shut down and "Mr. Jones Pt. 2" would've felt too true to life, for one thing. For years, I took "Still Fighting It" to be a really sad song about how freaked out you can get when you're suddenly a parent, but I later heard Folds wrote it more a song of hope, written for his newborn son. It still tears me up though when I see the Scrubs rerun where they use it, when Drs. Cox and Kelso are talking about their kids.

Rockin' the Suburbs made me feel like a Shanley-come-lately, finally discovering this guy who had made a name for himself about 10 years prior. But then the album that came two discs later was kind of a wash, and then I heard he ditched his (second) wife for someone else, and it made think he's just another dude. Oh well.

Carl Newman, on the other hand, was just getting started with The Electric Version, album number two from the New Pornographers. I've professed my love for him and them on this blog numerous times, so there's no need for repeat. Suffice to say, that album came out right when it seemed like Pulp had its feet planted in the ground and would succeed, during the summer months, and it was the perfect soundtrack for it. And when I saw the NPs on that tour, I ran into Aimee DeFoe who came out of musical retirement and joined the Mofones and who is still playing music with me to this day.

No comments: