"Back Home" begins with Dan Snaith's resigned vocals and a synth palette similar to one of Boards of Canada's downer songs. He's speaking to someone he loves, or used to love. He doesn't know where they stand, really. When Dan says, "Does it mean you're leaving me?", the song explodes. "Back Home" is a big, desperate song on an album full of dramatic and emotional songs. If you haven't listened to Our Love, do yourself a favor and give it a spin, it's the kind of record that just runs and runs.
Assuming that a lot of folks already know about this band, or at least the folks (~13) who still read this blog, but I want to write about them anyway. Sheer Mag is from Philly, which already counts very much for them, but they are also super fun to listen to, in the same way that Free Energy (the first album) and especially Exploding Hearts are fun to listen to--that is, the fun that this band is having playing these songs is transmitted directly to you, the listener, and you get to take part vicariously in the casual energy and sweatiness and roughness and celebration of these songs. Whose Side Are You On is particularly wonderful because it does not have the exact blown-out jet-engine quality of the other songs on II; it's a little calmer and more declarative, but no less powerful. It's a catchy summertime song, and god knows there aren't enough of those in the world, so why not embrace it for what it is.
Is it possible to father or mother a child to such an extent that other parents, with their shoddily raised children, defer to your supreme wisdom in instances of public tantrum and/or fussiness? Can you parent perfectly? What happens to a child who is birthed, nursed, caressed, played with, diapered, tutored, gently disciplined, spoken to, danced with, and attended to as mindfully as it is humanly possible to do? Does their infancy then become the high point of their entire lives? What of the folks who cannot take the time or who cannot afford to do the same things with their kids? What if giving your child the best possible start does not, in fact, result in the best possible life for them in the long run? Will you have failed as a parent? Will all that fetishization of your own child's childhood have gone to waste?
Painted Palms return. With an enhanced sound. They rightly believe--as many do--that the early part of the millennium was a wonderful time for music. Their second album, Horizons, celebrates that moment. I like the fact that Painted Palms are not afraid to poke around in not-too-distant trends and examine what might be worthwhile to revisit, revise, and modify. "Disintegrate" is good and bodes well for the rest of their new album.
A letter on cicadas: Dear ---, on the train ride back from D.C., I began to be afraid. The news had spoken of a dangerous brood that was due to emerge from their underground holes that very night. The normal 4-hour train ride became, for some reason, a 7-hour train ride. We circled around Richmond for what felt like several days. The territory of this brood extended all through the Mid-Atlantic, i.e., all the states I love and travel through. All I could picture was roads covered in carpets of cicada bodies, their red eyes blaring--making noise somehow--in the lights of oncoming cars. I imagined them lined up at my door, waiting to pounce on me. I had heard they would be aggressive. Not actively attacking, I guess, but actively being aggressively dumb, flying blindly into whatever, which would include me and my own personal, screaming head. Trees would become coated in cicadas. The noise would be deafening, like a million petulant toddlers detonating at full whininess at once. I did not relish the idea of going for a walk in the park unprotected. But it all turned out to be an exaggeration. The only one I saw that summer was a dead carcass on the trunk of a friend's parents' tree.
This is as summer as it gets. Or at least the peaceful side of summer. The tranquil parts. The Clientele’s first album is like a bottle of beer (or wine), a blanket, a grassy hill, and a beautiful sunset—it is the distillation of the best of those experiences, the highlight reel. This album just about made me swoon when I was 20 and it does the same things to me today, 14 years later. What it did then and still does is make me think of the miraculous nature of life, the freakish and hard otherworldly beauty of nature, rain, bicycles, beer, night, and twilight. This album is a monument.
A dream: you can go back and re-do your own birth. A new draft. No hospitals. This will be a home birth, for sure. A midwife will attend. Everyone knows a baby born in a hospital is basically a corporate baby already, robbed of vitality and humanity. Hospital babies might as well be born with sponsorship decals on their backs from Pfizer, etc. Though there is a new sense, you have heard, that home births even have been compromised. By Big Midwifery. How can your birth be real if other people are involved? If you’re ever going to be real, like, real as shit, it needs to be just you, your mom, and your pop. Scratch that, just you and your mom. Scratch that, just you. Floating out of the ether. An accretion of phlogiston made human. That’s how things should be.
An empire of Lik-M-Aid. The snack bar was the locus of everything: fun, drama, sugar, soda, and gestural flirting. You pay $5 for a small adventure. Rent tennis rackets for the dried-up courts. Rent ping-pong paddles for the broken tables. Inquire about the rules for tetherball. Settle, in the end, for shuffleboard. There is a hill of grass that makes you dream of past picnics. Three pools: standard, lap, and kiddie. High-dive and low-dive right next to each other. Swim underwater in pursuit of rings at the bottom. No pool toys in pool 1, fine in pool 3, kids don't go in pool 2. They sold it because the inheritors couldn't agree what to do with it.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin has been featured here a couple times in the past few years, and I wrote about them even more on the old, lost version of the site. To say that I love this band is an understatement. They're a model of a certain kind of artistry to me, and their music has been in my life for about a decade now. So it's pretty sweet to say that their new album, "The High Country," is probably the best thing they've ever done. I love their debut pretty hard, and that was what got them any attention in the first place, but this album is a total doozy. Just 11 tracks of ruthlessly catchy songs. I'll go so far as to say it reminds me of Weezer's "Blue Album" a whole lot, even though that comparison is both hyperbolic and inadequate and (definitely) overused at this point, it still gives you an idea of how enjoyable these songs are. Trevor Forever represents the album well: pace, distortion, urgency, concision, and beauty.
Dude. Dude. If there’s an album for the mists of a verdurous green jungle, it’s Creature Comforts. This is the music for neon-pink gorillas idly eating polka-dotted fruit. Flamingos, oddly, live in this jungle, and they keep an eye on their heart rates with their Apple watches. It rains from clouds that live four feet off the forest floor. The jungle jungles, the fauna hoots and hollers, the leaves and vines stretch and tingle and suspire.