Put the Book Back on the Shelf/Songs for Children

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I thought I’d put it out there that Belle & Sebastian have other albums besides Girls in Peacetime. I’ve been a bit obsessed with that record, but I realize that it was actually a stylistic break for them, a conscious attempt to be trendier. Their earlier work has a very different vibe, less on-trend indie pop and more bedsitter/shoegazer/soft-emo. It’s music for clever kids who grew up reading foreign literature and don’t go out much. If I have to stoop to sounds-like territory I would say this has a vibe reminiscent of The Smiths in their quieter moments (with whom Stuart Murdoch shares a love for very verbose song titles) and Donovan (with whom Stuart Murdoch shares a Scottish accent.) In other words, charmingly literate and slightly twee but with a lot of heart.

Purple Haze

Not your father’s Purple Haze. This is your Irish granny’s Purple Haze. If your Irish granny was the legendary Maire Brennan, that is. I suppose she’s referring to some mystical misty dell, not whatever drug references most of us associate the phrase ‘purple haze’ with. It’s all about the atmosphere, anyway, which to me feels very cozy. This is prime teatime music, and I find it very comforting. I guess a lot of people find Irish music ‘comforting’ and it’s kind of a coffeehouse cliche, but still… Cliches have to come from somewhere, after all.

Pump Up the Volume

This is something I quite relate to. You see, I am exactly the kind of nerd who thinks that paying attention to what’s playing is of such supreme importance it outshines even sex. I try to not be weird and awkward about it. Apparently most people don’t want to talk about music when they could be getting naked. Most people don’t want to talk about music instead of getting naked. They don’t want to talk about music while they’re getting naked. They don’t appreciate you getting out of bed because there’s DJ-ing to be done. But sometimes you just have to drop everything and turn up a pop song!

Pull This Blanket Off

This sounds like a ramshackle bar band drunkenly signing off an hour after last call. Complete with a ‘goodnight’ at the end. That’s exactly the point of The Raconteurs, and all part of Jack White’s vision of highly contrived authenticity. That’s not a knock; few people follow their vision as wholeheartedly as Jack White does. But bending the world to your vision is, of course, a contrivance, and Jack White is not an old troubadour crossing county lines in a painted wagon. He’s facing, like many before him, the conundrum of how authentic an artist he can be now that he’s a millionaire entrepreneur. Nine years ago that wasn’t as much of a pressing question, though. Nine years ago it was all “Let’s throw together a band and dress like we deserted the Confederate army and play a bunch of shows until we make our fingers bleed and/or get bored and move on to the next fun project!”

Public Pervert

I imagine that Interpol must be tired of being compared to Joy Division (though it is an honor) and it’s an uncreative thing for a critic to write, but damn, this song reeeaallly reminds me of Joy Division. Not just because everything disaffected and depressing screams Joy Division. Intentionally or not, there’s a lyrical echo of Day of the Lords that’s impossible to miss. That classic song is as bleak as the Holocaust, which is what I think it might actually be about. This one is merely about love. Still, I can’t unhear the common thread. Bodies obtained may remain.

The Projectionist

ThouShaltNot is not more, but for a little while in the early 2000’s they were keeping 80’s-style goth music alive. I don’t even remember why and how I discovered them, because the keeping goth music alive scene is not really my scene. (The interwebs, obviously, though.) I’m glad I did, and I’ve been listening to them pretty regularly for years. It’s nice to discover something that is in the same vein as the classics everyone and their dog loves but hasn’t been hammered to death by every two-bit DJ in every poorly-lit sleazy nightclub you’ve ever been to.

Proceed With Caution

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And here we pause to briefly wax nostalgic about early 2000’s indie rock. I have to do this sometimes because I’m in my 30’s. Wow, I remember really liking the first New Amsterdams album. For, like, a few months in 2006. (Never You Mind was released in 2000, but never you mind.) I didn’t realize that 1) The New Amsterdams aren’t really a real band, they’re a side project of The Get Up Kids, who are ok but not a personal favorite; 2) I would rarely ever listen to The New Amsterdams again, except in isolated moments when I’m remembering the summer of 2006; and 3) I don’t even particularly care for this particular style of indie rock in the first place. I was actually encouraged to buy this record by someone who thought I would like it because I like Built to Spill. They were on point with their suggestion. If you like unpretentious regular-dude indie rock, this is a record you will enjoy. I also really like their album Story Like a Scar, which actually came out in 2005 and was also in heavy rotation in the summer of ’06. It’s good chill driving music, which I know because I took a lot of long road trips during that phase of my life. Let me get a few more birthdays under my belt and I’ll start compiling decades-of-my-life playlists, and this will be on one of them.