The Group Will Have 5 Lead Singing Capable Musicians+ Great Original Songs+ Great Obscure Cover Songs= The Worlds Greatest New Rock Band…………I Say Yeah! Yeah Yeah Yeahh……….I Got Fame……..Right Here…………If You Want It. The Beatles Had 4 Singers, I Want 5. Are You Worthy?
Hiiiiiiiii, killers. How are you doing? My brain and heart are careening all over the place lately between the semester what just started, all kinds of nice personal projects (to give you an idea of what’s going on in my mindpiece at current, one of them involves making a map out of sunprints as part of a writing exercise), and deadlines – I just started buzzing the hand that feeds me over at BuzzFeedMusic, so look out for that if you want. All of these activities have been scored by music that pushes forward and sprouts energy; I’m into these very aseasonal, standalone songs that have little/nothing to do with one another, which is unusual for me at this time of year: I usually want cohesive, weather-inspired albums and playlists in autumn. Maybe I’m fiending the musical opposite, conceptually, right now because all of the areas of my work are similarly disparate and compartmentalized? Anyway, I’m going to start this edition of ye olde MUST LIST with my favorite of these tracks at the moment to give you some idea of how I’m feeling:
1) Prefab Sprout, “Faron Young”
How come none of you never told me about Prefab Sprout before?! In discovering them this week, I’ve been totally stunned by their 1985 album, Steve McQueen, which opens with this incredible song. The melody is a little mean and galloping, like a soundtrack of a Western, paired with these alternately sighing and bouncy vocals that name-check country music genius Faron Young and gargle up lines like, “You offer infrared instead of sun/You offer paper spoons and bubble gum.” Again, I’m really mad at everyone who knew that Prefab Sprout was the best band and didn’t let me in on that, which was probably a lot of you seeing as it’s pretty goddamn obvious.
2) Color Club nail polish, via Birchbox
Sorry, Bob Dylan, but I can’t help but think “Bow down to her on Sunday/Salute her when her Biiiiirchbox comes,” to myself when I get one of these in the mail each month. What can I say? I’m addicted to searching out high-end beauty products to add to my already-too-extensive toilette, and Birchbox DELIVERS (get it because they are a mailing service HAR HAR oh god sorry) majorly on this front. Anyway, one thing about me is that when I’m not doing nutso nail art, I only paint my meathooks true gold or gray, my two favorite colors. Well, that used to be the case, until I received this gorgeous rose-gold Color Club polish a few days ago, and I’m branching, like a birch, outward. What’s that you say? It still counts as gold? Gold is even in the name of the color? JUST LET ME HAVE THIS, GUYS, and also lookit how sick (albeit a little smudgy, again, I ask you to please let me live at this time) my nails are.
3) The Comics: The Complete Collection by Brian Walker
I just got this behemoth of a hardcover in the mail yesterday, and I feel like I haven’t stopped hugging it to my chest in excitement since. Brian Walker is probably the foremost scholarly authority on newspaper comic strips and their place in American culture in the 20th and 21st centuries, and I’m so thrilled that I get to read 673 pages of his analyses of obscure strips called, like, “Harold Teen” (1923, as great as it sounds: In one strip, he’s all very and completely excited to go for his first shave after his little sister tells him he has “whiskers,” but it turns out she was playing an April Fool’s prank on him). Gems of this variety abound throughout the decade. I think I’ve finally found true love after all this time, and it feels so good. We’re registered at Midtown Comics, if you want to get this book and me something for our wedding.
I’m sick and I don’t feel like writing anymore so I’m cutting this list short to go get some. Until next time, babies.
O TIME, THY PYRAMIDS – once again, I bring you this MUST LIST:
1) Rookie Yearbook One. Okay, guys, this marks a first in MUST LIST history: I have never before used the immense influence of this hallowed list to shill for something of which I am a (small) part, but I have to put that aside to let you know about this amazing thing that’s happening, like, next week. On September 4, Rookie’s first book is coming out and I’m all over the place with excitement about it. It will include a pop-out Meadham Kirchhoff crown (gonna wear it everywhere, sorry), a Dum Dum Girls flexi-disc, and the kind of QUALITY-ASS writing and artwork you’ve come to expect from ROOKIE MAG DOT COM. Pre-order your copy today!! (Imagine this said in my best infomercial voice, with Billy Mays-style fists brought close to the chest for emphasis [ooh, I just linked to one of my own Rookie articles while big-upping the Rookie book. SELF-REFLEXIVE SELF-PROMOTION! I mean, really now.]).
2) The demo version of “Can’t Hardly Wait” by the Replacements
I’ve been listening to this song a minimum of five times a day (though it mostly just plays near-constantly) for the past three weeks or so, and it means more to me each time I do. I first heard the studio version of “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which appeared on the mostly subpar Replacements album Pleased to Meet Me, in about 2006 (or when I was fifteen, for reference). It stuck with me immediately, although I didn’t yet know any of the band’s other work. I wouldn’t until I found Let it Be and Tim, the latter of which is my favorite album of all time, in 2009. These albums sounded waaay different from the slickly-polished, horn-laden “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which had previously been the only Replacements song I knew. They were everything I wanted – the songs were screaming, drunken, furious, hurt, and questioning, but what made them so special is that they were always unfathomably TENDER. Plus also the guitar lines blew my world apart. Tim slays me every time I hear it, so I choose to hear it a lot.
Earlier this year, I realized that there HAD to be other music out there that was at least somewhat comparable to the album, style-wise. There isn’t, and if you’re about to recommend the Faces to me, don’t you even dare START with me right now. I’ve had it with you people. So I gave up on that search and decided to try a different tack: Since there wasn’t anything else like Tim, I just had to unearth more of it. I YouTubed my fingers to the bone searching for deep cuts: “the replacements live 86,” “the replacements demo,” “the replacements unreleased,” you get the picture. I found this song and fell in rabid love. It suddenly made sense why I adored “Can’t Hardly Wait” so much while hating the most of the other songs on PTMM: It had been written and recorded for Tim originally, which is important for two reasons: A) it was the last album on which the amazing Bob Stinson played guitar for the band and B) Paul Westerberg, the heart and head of the Replacements, was still really into screaming about wanting to die, which changed when the band started making more commercial albums. Both of these elements really agree with me. Although the structure remained the same on the PTMM version, this version is clearly superior because, like all the best Replacements songs, it’s raw and sad and earnest enough to make me want to get in a romantic fistfight, or storm out of a bar without speaking to anyone, knocking over a stool on my way to the door, or climb to the top of a scummy water tower, screaming, “I can’t wait ’til it’s over.” Uh, these are totally good things, I promise.
In closing, you can’t even imagine the lip-curling body-thrash move I do at 2:22 when I’m dancing to this song in my bedroom. It looks really tough, you guys! Especially if I’m doing it in my headphones shaped like fuzzy tiger ears!
I’m very late on this, but Frederick Seidel’s poem in the August issue of Harper’s proves, like all his other poems, that his mind is one of unparalleled beauty. Read it out loud and try not to interrupt yourself with exclamations of joy and disbelief. I love this man so much.
4) Broadway Sizzle
I endlessly loathe Broadway and musicals, which is exactly why I take such delight in parodies of musical theater culture. Tim and Eric are particularly great at this, but my reigning favorite example is Will Ferrell as John Timberly-Crisp in this sketch from the last season of SNL. Look at that funky little hat! I diiiieeeee. I’ve been saying, “Where’s my durned head?” so much recently and cracking myself up in otherwise normal conversations. Please watch this amazing sketch and get in on the joke so I can stop looking like such a goddamned crazy person whenever I open my mouth.
i’m wearing the shirt i got for my seventh birthday and rereading my first edition of in cold blood for the thousandth time and also
A few associates and I have been feeling down recently, so I compiled a very special Fun-Pak to try and lift us up from our respective gutters of existential July despair. Nothing’s really that bad – I just like to whine sometimes because I’m a really big brat and also who doesn’t? I ALSO wanted to have a solid excuse to share some things that are notorious for bringing mad joy into my life, so I reassembled them into a Must List. Maybe you can like them too, even if you’re not somewhat torn up like I am, and if you aren’t, come over and stroke my hair and tell me dad jokes. You know I would totally do the same for you in your time of need, without you even asking me to, probably. I’m just that good of a friend. Anyway, here’s what’s up when you’re feeling down (that sounds like a good tagline for anti-depressants marketed toward teenagers, no?):
1. The Embarrassment – “Wellsville”
This fucking song! The Embarrassment were a great band based in Wichita, Kansas from 1979-1983. They were this very overlooked Midwestern gem of a subtly punk outfit that sounds like ’90s Olympia-style music, but played by four stoic-looking guys in the middle of the country a decade beforehand. I can’t find a recorded version of this song anywhere, but that’s okay because I like watching the lead singer stare into middle distance and drag his cigarette in perfect time with the song breaks. I’m also fully in love with his flat but also just-smart-alecky-enough voice. This song is particularly interesting because its eponymous fictional town was appropriated by the creators of The Adventures of Pete and Pete as the name of their fictional town, Wellsville, where the show takes place. The music associated with that show is all so goddamned good, so it’s no surprise that this song also rules entirely.
Fellow Rookie writer Marie Lodi, aka AGENT LOVER, is something of an avatar of good fashion sense. I’m in awe of her steez. You can always count on her for a good pussy bow, amazing pattern mix-and-matchin’, and the occasional ’90s movie fashion breakdown. Her blog is a gift unto the world. But for those of us too dumb to put together as impeccable a wardrobe as hers, Marie has her own PAPER DOLL. Paper dolls in general have historically been known as one of the most fun things ever, and this one’s even better because it’s impossible to rip and also it’s Marie. You can put a nurse’s uniform on her if you want to, even…and you know I do.
3. My very favorite short story (or at least one of them).
Little Expressionless Animals is not only the name of this blog, but also of probably one of the best short stories ever written. It’s by David Foster Wallace-Spiegel (his estate said it was okay if we got married posthumously, which was pretty lucky for me) and I’ve read it sixteen thousand times – sometimes to study it and pick apart what makes it so special, but mostly just to revel in its perfection, which is absolute. It’s a love story whose setting is the game show Jeopardy! and it amazes me with every word. The perspective changes and jumps and shifts between different characters and years, but it’s all written in the third person, which excites me so much – see, usually, writers who use that disrupted kind of narrative technique will go for a time-stamped and clearly-labeled first-person narrator; like, they’ll often choose to put, “FAYE, 1980″ at the beginning of a segment, like a diary entry, to let you know who’s where when. In this story, though, all of that information is sometimes announced in that kind of way but more often is accessibly and flawlessly threaded into the plot itself. The writing itself is simple and mind-blowing, assembled into clipped-but-packed sentences like this description of clouds: “The sky looks cerebral.” I really love my husband so much, you guys. Just so much.
4. This cover of a science-fiction pulp novel:
Half of me is like, this is so fucking awesome-looking, what the hell are they doing to Sirius’s brain, so fucking cool, EXPERIMENTS, but the other half is like, oh, pupper, let me put YOU together your own Fun-Pak of a chin rub, a squeaky toy shaped like the head of the scientist responsible for this, and someone getting those wires the heck off your dome. Poor Sirius has it worse off than all of us, guys. Just think about that next time you’re feeling low. You’re welcome.