Wednesday, January 26, 2011

American Grungefiti: The Shuffle Game

I'm going to spend thirty or forty minutes free-associating my life with whatever band comes up on shuffle:
Young Marble Giants - Their record, Colossal Youth, was out of print forever. 1998: This girl I briefly liked and pursued in college after we both played terrible pool against each other at a friend's party and seemed to hit it off had a copy of this record. I wanted it and kept bugging her to dub it for me. She lost interest in me after a few weeks and went from friendly to bored to hostile in record time. A friend who knew her since grade school told me, "Don't worry about it. She only likes dumb guys she can boss around." I was flattered I wasn't dumb but also dismayed that she thought I was dumb for a few weeks. In my defense, I was drunk when we met, and I play pool like a kid born with only the parts of his brain that understand Lucky Charms and spitting. She never dubbed this record for me, but I bought an import seven or eight years ago for a chunk of change. Then it was officially reissued and I felt like a sucker.
Lemonheads - There was a period where it was really uncool to like this band. Maybe that period is still happening, but they've sure aged better than a lot of their '90s peers who were supposed to be much cooler. Bettie Serveert, anyone? I think I first got into this band/"band" in my sophomore year of high school.
The Fiery Furnaces - One of my favorite recent bands that everyone seems to hate. I like to think it's because people are too lazy to invest time into complex, difficult music but I can also see how they would annoy you if you didn't share their sensibility. I like slippery bands that evolve and change and try crazy shit and aren't afraid to fail ambitiously and whose live show is not just a copy of the album. I've liked this band a lot since I first heard "Two Fat Feet" in whatever year it was. 2003? Who gives a shit? This decade was just one long year anyway.
Roxy Music - College again. I got Siren first, then got almost everything else over the course of the next 13 years. Ferry, Eno, Manzanera. This band is so ridiculous and overstuffed and bizarre and perfect. This band shouldn't work at all. They sound like a glam rock score to a wealthy European businessman's elegant attempt to describe what would happen if Caligula were in charge of Studio 54. I recommend the cover of Country Life to horny teens everywhere.
Turner Bros. - Unfairly obscure sibling soul group I first heard on WFMU seven or eight or nine years ago while working a shift as a proofreader for the Texas legislature. I quit that job so I could pursue bigger and better things, and I've had nothing but disaster and bad luck since. The message here is give up your hopes and dreams. Settle. Settle for less. You will be able to buy a house and pets and nice things and go on trips and not worry about money all the time if you just settle.
"You Belong To Me," The Honeys, from the compilation Pet Projects: The Brian Wilson Productions - Every version of this song reminds me of Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters doing it up ukulele-style in The Jerk. That sweet little scene always makes me feel okay, if only for those few minutes. Let's conclude with a moment from that film:
Father: Son, now that you're going out into the world, there's
something you should know. You see that?

Navin: Yeah.

Father: That's shit. And this is shinola.

Navin: Shit, shinola.

Father: Son, you're going to be all right.

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