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March 9, 2007

The Hits Keep Coming

Upon starting QS, there was no particular plan for me to become a part-time video jockey.And yet the impulse seems to be there. I stopped keeping up with new music sometime in the early 1990s (long story) so my instinct when looking around (whether for something to listen to while working, or for performance clips) is to find things from earlier decades. One of the few exceptions to this normally arriere garde mode was discovering the Toronto-based musical collective Broken Social Scene a few years ago.

That was well after everybody else had heard of them, so perhaps my record of un-cutting-edginess remains consistent after all.

An article from last year by one Nick Southall -- who otherwise sounds way more plugged into the contemporary than me -- contains some reflections that square quite well with my own experience:

Back in 2003 I ignored Broken Social Scene because I didn't think I "needed" (yeah, I know) a Canadian multi-piece postrock oligarchy in my life, but earlier this year I finally bought You Forgot It In People, and was thoroughly impressed with it. The thing is that people had spent a sizeable chunk of 2003 telling me explicitly to get YFIIP, and I ignored them. Why? I dunno. Well, I kind of do. Getting YFIIP two years after the hype had died down and my friends had stopped saying "you need this" meant that I was able to listen to it with fresh ears, so to speak. I'd been told by all and sundry that it was packed with transcendent moments, flashes of punctum, etcetera. But when you get told that so often and find yourself listening to something about which that has been said, you can find yourself straining too hard to hear those moments of transcendence and punctum, so hard that you miss them. Why do you miss them? Because they belong to other people, firstly, because you need to find your own moments for yourself. Hearing "Anthems For A 17-Year-Old Girl" four months ago was incredibly evocative and moving because I'd forgotten what I'd been told to expect, and the tune floored me on its own merits, sans hyperbole. I often find it easier to appreciate records after the initial rush has died down.

I'll second that. You Forgot It In People is on the short list of my all-time favorite records -- one that I listen to with a sense of mystery and fascination that is hard to put into words, not quite sure sometimes how to name the emotion that a particular song on it evokes. Southall refers to "Athems" and that's certainly at the top of the list for evocative inexplicability:

It's followed on the album by a very different, but also quite cryptic song called "Cause=Time," the mood of which defies paraphrase, at least by me:

Some of the lyrics make me guess that this is a satirical comment on lefty activism as lifestyle niche. But the feel couldn't be more different from, say, "California Uber Alles."

See, now I'm back to wanting to listen to the Dead Kennedys. Didn't think I'd stay in the '00s for long....

Posted by smclemee at March 9, 2007 10:45 AM


Blah, blah, blah. What the heck are you trying to compete with thirteen bazillion catblogging music lovers for when there's only one Scott McLemee?

Posted by: Anonymous at March 9, 2007 4:45 PM

Thanks. But is it possible that I'm not trying to compete with anyone and simply enjoy putting up music videos that I like on occasion? Yes, it is possible.

Posted by: Scott McLemee at March 10, 2007 7:41 AM