Nostalgia For An Age Yet To Come
:: Kelly N.S.A. ::
:: Catch Me, I'm Falling ::
:: Horizon Cinema ::
Do you believe in delayed nostalgia? Let me explain, or try to. Sometimes I hear something that I've never heard before, or at least don't think I've ever heard before, and it reminds me of a certain time in my life. You know how certain songs have attached memories, with the reason usually being that you liked, or heard constantly, a certain song at that point in your life? This happens to me a lot, and it might be a product of my mind, but I assume it happens to others as well, if for no other reason than to make me not feel like a freak.
I remember the first time it happened to me. The year was 1988, and I had just arrived in San Francisco. I kept a lot of late hours, so I heard a lot of good stuff played off-hours on Live 105. I discovered bands like Swervedriver and Hypnolovewheel. And I also heard some stuff that was already old but new to me. One night I heard a song that instantly took me back to 1983. I wondered if I'd ever heard it, but when the DJ said it was something called "Doot-Doot" by Freur, I was sure I hadn't. I wasn't even sure when it was from, but it turned out 1983 was indeed the year. That song is still one of my favorites (and a lot of it has to do with a certain progression of notes that always gets me, from Men At Work's "Overkill" to The Glands "Lovetown," but that's a discussion for when I go total blog blowhard,) and when I hear it, I'm still mostly reminded of things that happened in 1983, not 1988.
So as soon as the needle dropped onto this album, an old familiar feeling creeped in. Or maybe that's just the Prohibition Ale. Either way, I'd been here before. By here I mean that when I picked up this LP on a lark, I was thinking it was potentially going to be a fine slab of mid-80's American indie music. Now, in the mid-80's, I had a child's budget, music tastes that were veering pretty decidedly away from the mainstream, and very little help from the radio. Combine that with a voracious curiosity for new music, and you know I had some crushing miscalculations. I swear, I will never ever forget the time I picked up a Microdisney cassette at Record Rover on Venice Blvd. It looked like something I would dig. The title was weird (The Clock Comes Down The Stairs,) the artwork simple, and it just felt like I'd discovered a new band. Well, when I put that sucker on, I about fell out. I can't even tell you if it's bad music or not, because the initial disappointment was so great that I am almost afraid to hear it again. I was expecting the Housemartins or something, and it was more Sade to my ears. If you are a Microdisney fan and that sounds unfair, I am sorry. But they broke my teenage heart. For a week or so.
Another time, around that time, I had been wanting to check out this band I'd heard a buzz about, and I walked down to the Fox Hills Mall, Walkman in tow, ready to make a purchase and finally hear them. Well, I found something all right. As I climbed the hill above the parking lot, I excitedly unwrapped the tape and plopped it into my Walkman, ready to be rocked. And that was the first time I ever heard... Natalie Merchant. Somehow I'd gotten Screaming Blue Messiahs confused with 10,000 Maniacs. It was small consolation that I later heard the Screaming Blues (opening for Echo & The Bunnymen,) and it turns out I didn't like them either. I often wondered how many people took a chance and bought a 10,000 Maniacs album expecting something hard-edged and worthy of such a name. That still doesn't explain why I'd think an album called the fucking Wishing Chair could possibly rock.
Well, I guess my first clue about this album was that no really good band, underappreciated or not, is going to have a song called How The West Was Fun. Yet something was telling me that perhaps I'd found the Valley's equivalent of Let's Active. When I set this puppy a spinnin', it all came back; that gush of disappointment you feel when a record isn't what you expect it to be, and even worse, something that kind of makes you cringe. But a few listens later, I decided some of the songs were pretty good, and since I'm not on a $10 a week allowance, I can afford to misjudge an album by its cover now and again.