Jesus, I can’t believe this song is almost thirty years old, and somehow it got stuck in my head all week:
Ah, the days of frosted hair and puka shells.
Also: tangentially related: the time the guy from Creed got in a fight with the band at a bar in Baltimore. Good times!
I read this morning that Pitchfork, the music review site that basically set the tone for criticism and indie approval in the early days of weblogs, is being folded into GQ Magazine after mass layoffs. Apparently they were bought by Condé Nast a couple of years ago and weren’t getting the kind of eyeballs some algorithm required. They lost their hold on the critical pulse of modern music years ago but they were still good to check in on every couple of days to see what was new. Stereogum is still going (and is an independently owned site again) and there are a couple of others out there, but this is sad news.
Strange, I wouldn’t have guessed this: kids using TikTok have exploded the popularity of shoegaze. Old-school bands like Slowdive are making a comeback (they started long before TikTok, actually) but new ones are sprouting up based on snippets included in video shorts.
Most compelling of all, is that the bulk of shoegaze’s fastest-growing acts are a cadre of super-young artists who most shoegaze fans over the age of 25 have likely never even heard of. All of 2023’s breakout stars are teenage solo artists making music in their bedrooms, bucking the conventional identity of shoegaze as “band”-centric music with a barrier to entry amounting to the cost of a pedalboard and a Jazzmaster guitar.
Cabel Sasser runs a studio called Panic, which makes excellent software for the Mac, has dabbled in video game production, and recently designed and shipped their own handheld video game console. Yesterday on his weblog he posted a number of scans of a series of catalogs produced in the 1980’s which featured gadgets of all kinds. The DAK catalogs had everything from breadmakers to radar detectors to audio equipment, and they used to come to our house addressed to the previous owners. As a young impressionable middle-school student I read the description for one of their products, a graphic equalizer, and obsessed over it for months. I recall asking for it for Christmas, my Dad turning me down, and me being a dick about it, which still haunts me.
Eventually I earned enough money to buy it, and I hooked it up to the huge Fisher audio system I’d bought the previous summer with money from painting the house. As I recall it didn’t amplify anything (the ad copy claimed my stereo would “literally explode with life”) but made the mix a lot muddier, no matter how much I fooled with the channels. I messed with it for months but eventually disconnected it, having learned an expensive lesson about believing ad copy without reading any reviews.
Thanks Cabel, that totally took me back. Read his post—it’s a fun look into the wild and crazy days of direct mail in the 80’s.
Finn has been without her iPhone for a month or so now, on account of 9th grade being a degree of difficulty harder than 8th grade was. We’ve got an agreement that she needs to keep her grades above a certain level to have access to her phone, and currently that threshold has not been met. (It’s also much harder to get grades back up quickly in 9th grade than it was last year). Without entertainment, her life has been dull. She was given money for her birthday present this year and wisely picked out an inexpensive knockoff iPod Fun Time! Music MP3 All Day Player Box from Amazon. When it arrived I intercepted it and loaded a bunch of music on a sidecar MiniSD card, as it wouldn’t mount to any of our Macs. I’m giving it some grief because clearly it’s a very basic knockoff of an iPod, but for $40, it’s a color touchscreen music player/radio/video player with 64GB of space; this same thing would have been worth ten times this amount five years ago. Anyway, I stuffed it with music and gave it to her over breakfast the next morning.
I tried to find the sweet spot between loading music I know she likes and stuff I think she might like based on previous conversations. The biggest problem is that I haven’t bought new music in years. We used to get CD’s from the library down the street but they’ve been closed for renovations since January (opening Spring 2024!) so everything I have on the server is at least a year old or more. That being said, she’s now got the classics she enjoys with Mom: Erasure, Duran Duran, the Cure, George Michael, Prince, etc. From my side I put some assorted stuff on there: Silversun Pickups, M83, Beck, and The White Stripes, as well as classic albums from Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Clash, and others.
We drove out to the Lowe’s to pick up some wood this evening and I asked her what she listened to. She said she made a playlist with a couple of Silversun Pickups songs, a few Beach House tunes, and one from Cut Copy that she really liked. I did my best not to be Ken from the scene in Barbie where he starts lecturing about what made Pavement so important and stuck to asking her what she liked and didn’t like so I can find her more music. We had a good conversation about it, and she seems real happy. We were able to hook it up to the deck in the Scout and rock out, and it put a smile on her face, which is all I’m asking for these days.
An old favorite, but for some reason the beat from Inertia Creeps is stuck in my head:
This album will never not be good; it’s high on my top 10 desert island list.
This week’s earworm: My People, by The Beaches. They’re actually getting more play right now from a song called Blame Brett, which is also very good, but this one got stuck in my head. They sound like an incredibly tight live band; I’d go see them if buying tickets wasn’t such a fucking nightmare. This live mix is great other than the snare drum, which is tuned like a 5-gallon bucket.