Thursday, September 18, 2014

A song for every year of my life #28: 2004

I haven't done one of these for almost a year. I usually unintentionally abandon every series I start on this blog, but here it is, back from the grave. I want to post more frequently here, even though the nonspecific journal-style blogs seem to be dying (I'm a sucker for any medium or piece of the culture that's slowly dying), and this old series came to mind today. I'm almost always thinking about music anyway, and music is the only healthy thing that makes me feel better when I have convinced myself I'm a piece of shit loser. I'm going through a bit of a phase (13 years and counting is still a phase, right?) where I feel like an unsuccessful, perpetually broke, missed-my-calling, unable-to-communicate-verbally-with-humans, sad, angry, bitter, jealous failure, but music stops those thoughts and is better than my other means of coping (alcohol, television, food, repressed rage). Movies and books are also amazing things, but I have to be in an okay place to really engage with them. Music is some kind of voodoo-salve, cosmic gloom squeegee that can turn the room purple if you play it loud enough and give it your full attention. It's the only thing that works unconditionally in a world that is mostly complete and utter bullshit. (Well, my wife and my cats are pretty great, too, but I take the good things in my life for granted because I have problems.)
How cruel that 2004 is my next stop. Looking at the big list of records released in 2004, I don't see much I care about. I'm sure there are tons of local, below-the-radar 2004 records waiting to melt my face off, but the ones I've heard don't have the juice, except for a big pile of records by people I've already written about in this series (I'm trying to do just one song per artist) and a smattering of others. One of those others is the only musical hero of mine who follows me on Instagram, Doug Gillard. Gillard has played guitar for a metric fuckload of quality bands including Guided By Voices (who broke up again today, goddamn it), Cobra Verde, My Dad Is Dead, Death of Samantha, Gem, Bill Fox, Nada Surf, and Lifeguards. The guy is a guitar wizard who is really good at playing hot guitar sounds on the guitar for guitar aficionados, but never at the expense of a song. He's also a damn fine songwriter, with three damn fine solo albums and a damn fine solo EP. Here is the song "(But) I See Something" from his 2004 album Salamander. This song has a lot to recommend it. It's subtle, pretty, and catchy, with a girl group/early Pretenders/indie pop/classic rock swirl of sounds joining together into a nice little whole, and I dig the old-school parenthetical in the title. I'm a man who enjoys parentheticals.

Alternate choice: Melvins/Lustmord - "The Bloated Pope"
I love the Melvins. They're still a vital band putting out great records and trying new things three decades into their career. They're like the metal Yo La Tengo. This song is from their unfairly neglected collaboration with electronic noise terrorist Lustmord, Pigs of the Roman Empire, that is better than most 2004 records, especially the boring ones by Arcade Fire, Eminem, Kanye West, U2, Green Day, Sufjan Stevens, et cetera and so on that were getting all the attention from the critics that year. I like this song because it kicks ass and sounds good, and also because Lustmord got his start by going to high-profile shows and just getting on stage before the opening band and performing until someone figured out he wasn't on the bill and kicked him off the stage, and finally because I was raised Catholic and forced to go to church as a kid even though I never bought into that organized religion malarkey so you can probably guess the song title warms my heart. Ted Nugent sucks.

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