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  • Editorial: Box Full of Records
    Wednesday, January 17, 2007
    A few days ago, I went through some old boxes, and I happened upon a small, compact box filled with a few CD's and other things. Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten about this box, and while I knew of the contents, I had failed to remember its existence when I packed it up four and a half years ago. I took the box into my bedroom and decided to spend some time reacquainting myself with my past. Would the music inside still mean that much to me? Would it have changed?

    First was Crooked Fingers' self-titled debut album. I remember driving to Denver one May to see Eric Bachmann play by himself, and he played nearly all of the songs on this album. I had a tape of the show, and I spent a lot of time listening to it back then, and when the album came out the next year, I listened to it incessantly. Especially when drinking, which I did a lot of those days. When I listened to it after four and a half years, it was like finding cherished letters from a long-ended love affair; you remember the words even if you don't remember the letter. "A Little Bleeding" breaks my heart more now than it ever did back then, and it broke my heart a lot back then.

    The next record I listened to was On Earth to Make the Numbers Up by an obscure English indie-pop band, Fosca. Their music is literate and pleasant, and though I used to adore this album a long time ago, on this new listen, it didn't quite resonate with me like it used to. I think that's less the music's fault than it is mine; I've simply aged, and in so doing, I don't quite react to cheerful, smart, upbeat pop like this. There is one exception, though; the simply fantastic, no matter what age you are "Millionaire of Your Hair." It's a brilliant blast of Europop, filled with clever lyrics. Oh, and a subtle cello line that lifts the melody of "Be My Baby." It's a wonderfully inspired touch.

    I don't even want to discuss James' debut album, Stutter. Not because it's a bad record, but because I accidentally broke it less than an hour after finding it! It was a total freak accident; a small book fell upon it as I reached for something on the shelf, and it split nearly in half! I'm amazed by this frustrating incident, because the book barely touched the CD and it split so thoroughly! Oh well, I guess it wasn't meant for me to hear it.

    The Promise Ring's penultimate release, Electric Pink EP, makes an even stronger case for the band being one of the better bands of the 1990s. This EP found the band at a pivotal point in their career--towards the end. But there are four great songs on this record, especially "American Girl." I hadn't thought of this little record for a while, but finding it again was a pleasant little treat, and now it's on constant rotation on the record player at home.

    What took me most by surprise, though, was discovering the brilliance of Labradford's debut, Prazision LP. album. Now, back in those days, I liked the hazy, stoned-out psych outs of bands like Bowery Electric, Windsor for the Derby, Stars of the Lid, American Analog Set, Paul Newman, and Furry Things. (Yes, I do have a soft spot for Texas experimental bands!) But at the time, this record left me kind of blinky-eyed. I can safely say that I didn't get it. Too experimental? Too mechanical? Too weird? Maybe. I'm not sure, to be honest. But I do know I didn't dig this record. I do realize, however, that said sentiments were not felt at Kranky, for this record was their inaugural release. The label being ahead of its time and me being behind its time, at this point thirteen years later the record finally makes sense.

    So I spent this cold, rainy afternoon listening to records and perusing through my old print 'zines, Lois is my Queen. I find myself astonished by the reviews I wrote, the interviews I did (Ted Leo, pre-fame? The Clientele? Dismemberment Plan? Who's heard of these folks?), and the utter enthusiasm I had for music at the time. That moment in time, I'll never have it again. But I have these memories, these little collections and boxes full of reminisces and reminders of times gone by, people missed, bands loved, and memories made.

    What does this trip down memory lane mean? I guess it goes to show that time changes ones perspective on music. So many times, we fall deeply in love with records, and we think of them as love affairs we will carry with us our entire lives, only to set them aside, move on, and discover, upon returning to them, that the love affair was only temporary. It's a condition that's commonly called "getting older," but that doesn't always mean that one loses the affection of music that once meant something to them. Sometimes, it means you hear something in a different way, and you appreciate something you might not have appreciated at the time. Isn't it funny how things you once hate, they don't seem so bad after time has passed? Is it nostalgia? Maturity?

    I prefer to call it life. And what a great soundtrack!

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 10:28 AM  
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