Band Crush

I love finding a new band; or at least, a band that’s new to me. I love that goofy NRE that comes from finding something I’m so overwhelmingly into that it’s all I want. It’s like a crush – a band crush. You know what I mean. The first time you heard a band that […]

I love finding a new band; or at least, a band that’s new to me. I love that goofy NRE that comes from finding something I’m so overwhelmingly into that it’s all I want.

It’s like a crush – a band crush.

You know what I mean. The first time you heard a band that lit you up like a bong-hit. I don’t care who it is – beatles or spice girls, genesis or david cassidy, verve or louis prima, coltrane or monk or bb king or the bee gees.

What matters is that moment of discovery-rapture when you realize you just found the greatest music ever.

And it doesn’t matter if it lasts; it could be over tomorrow or it could be the band whose t-shirt you want to be buried in. It just matters how exciting it is when you put on that third or fouth song, or play that album for the second time straight through, when you realize you’ve found something that matters.

Now, sometimes that’s a brand new band. I felt that way when I first saw a local band called Dot3, when I knew after ten minutes that I had a new favorite band.

But it can be something really old. When I put on Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue I realized I’d found not just an artist and an album that would change my life, I knew I’d really found a genre that would define my listening for a long time. I went nuts when I bought a Funakdelic collection a few years ago; I’d heard Parliament and lots of other funk artists, but Funkadelic were different, and I wanted nothing else for a month. I’d just missed hearing them, for all the other funk albums I owned.

Lately, inspired by Spiritualized, I’ve been poking around in the wide swath of bands loosely grouped under the sobriquet ‘shoegaze‘. Now, all sorts of bands get lumped in with this (as happens with lables like emo, or a generation ago, punk or new wave) that I wouldn’t even remotely describe as such; but then, I also can’t really define what is really shoegaze, and what of that, I actually like.

But I’ve used it as a jumping point into all sorts of interesting bands; some bands I knew a bit, some I know of by name only, and some wholly new to me. I found gems – true gems – like Swervedriver, and some bands that are generally loved that I struggle with (my bloody valentine – love the music, hate the singing), and a lot of bands that are loosely grouped only by things like “Listeners also bought” lists on iTunes or someone’s “essentials” lists. Bands like BMRC, for example, who are not so much shoegaze but turn up along with said bands now and then.

One band whose name I’ve always heard (both in connection to shoegaze and otherwise) but never paied attention to is the subject of my current ‘band crush’; Dinosaur Jr.

Sure, I’d heard their name; they get some airplay on alternarock stations, and had a cover of the Cure’s ‘just like heaven’ which was a minor hit locally a while back (I didn’t care for it, and still don’t).

But I was looking at an ‘also bought’ list on iTunes earlier this week and said, oh, right, that band, I can’t remember what they sound like. I need to check them out.

This would be what they sound like, for the few of you who didn’t know:

Turnip Farm

Forget It

(play these fucking loud, particularly the first, Turnip Farm)

I sampled three songs, bought an album (You’re Living All Over Me), and played it three times. Halfway through the second play, I realized I needed a second album.

By the next day, I’d bought eight albums – the dangers of one-click purchase. And as those of you who have me on various IM buddy lists will know from my ‘status’, I’ve had them playing pretty much without a break ever since.

The amount I love this band defies my ability to describe. I don’t even like the singer’s voice that much; I sort of have to get past it. But the guitar playing is what gets me, and it gets me so much I never want to stop hearing them.

J. Mascis pretty much could have come to me and said, dude (cause he’s address me as dude, you know he would), what is your absolute favorite guitar tone? And I would have described it in words like fuzz, growl, dirty, crunch, distortion, howl. When I used to play, that’s what I was always trying to get, with my limited equipment (a tiny amp that sounded like a pocket-sized marshall stack), and even more minimal skill. It’s the (musical) sound I love best. But I don’t wanna hear it in heavy metal bands; I wanna hear it in music that’s otherwise more sophisticated, more melodic. The contrast is what makes it work, as when Richard Lloyd howls and screams behind Matthew Sweet’s beautiful, heartfelt songs of misery.

My best description of them is one part Neil Young, one part Foo Fighters, one part Replacements. Though I’m missing some fourth part somehow, I can’t quite put a finger on it. Whatever it is, though, to me, it’s the shit.

This is one of those bands where my friends say, wait, how did you not know this band already. My best defense is not listening to much radio anymore. I’ve commuted on a motorcycle for years, and now, even when I commute in a car, I have only a three mile commute. So it’s been fifteen years or more since I regularly listened to radio, meaning here and there, great bands have whipped by me un-noticed. I’m ok with that; I now get to discover them as if they were really brand spankin’ new, AND I get to find them when they have whole catalogs for me to go buy.

I dunno how long I’ll be in this phase. Might be over my monday. Or I might be driving everyone in the car nuts next week as we drive back from Southern CA. But however long, I sure as hell have me a new Favorite Band for the moment.

0 thoughts on “Band Crush”

  1. Not sure if you were aware, but…I am the Queen of Shoegaze. If you want to hear more seminal bands from the era, let me know and I’ll be happy to make suggestions or hook you up.

    Dinosaur, Jr. is indeed great, although technically, they were never considered Shoegaze. They were around during (and before) the same decade, but Dinosaur, Jr. were generally always filed under the grunge/alternative umbrella during that time.

    It’s a shame that Dinosaur, Jr. didn’t get as much attention as other grunge bands. They were much better than a lot of them, and they came on the scene a little earlier than many of them and influenced many of them. They got a lot of credit in the music scene, sort of a critic’s/musicians band, but they never got lots of airplay.

  2. Yeah, Syl, They’re totally *not* shoegaze but they get lumped in on some lists. Maybe it’s the fender jazzmaster (pretty much the seminal shoegaze guitar, that and the jaguar), maybe it’s just that the same buyers tend to buy ’em; I found ’em on someone’s shoegaze essentials list, and on listening, agree totally. Not shoegaze, but oooh do I like it. SOrta the same with Swervedriver, whom I also wouldn’t call shoegaze. We need a word for bands that are shoegaze-like but harder and more rock oriented (less head, more groin).

    I think Dino had trouble for those two obvious reasons; Mascis’ voice is the kind you have to get used to. rarely an easy sell, and he’s not the prettiest of boys. A band with Curt Cobain for a Chris Cornell sell well in video, but bands with dorky boys (Harvey Danger) may get a big hit but you won’t seem them at the MTV Video Awards.

  3. Know what you mean about a new band. Got two myself. Their music just plays over and over. The sad thing is that sometimes there is so much going in my brain that I’m not sure I ever hear it. Enjoy it all!

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