This is literally bringing tears to my eyes.
Do you remember going to the record store? Not today’s uber-hip emporia, giving the middle finger to digital, but the one in the sixties? Maybe not even an independent, but a chain? Like E.J. Korvette?
One hot summer I drove to Korvettes in Trumbull to buy the Beach Boys’ "Surf’s Up". Because I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Beach Boys fan. The only album I passed on was "Friends", and I kicked myself when it went out of print and was completely unavailable. So, I bought every one thereafter. Which led me to "Sunflower"… This is the best of the post- "Pet Sounds" albums, everybody’s involved, from Carl to Dennis and I just LOVE "It’s About Time" so I was looking forward to "Surf’s Up" not because Brian played the title song on Leonard Bernstein’s TV special years before but because it was the latest opus by my favorite band.
I stopped at the Merritt Canteen for a burger, putting my purchase beneath the seat of the VistaCruiser so it wouldn’t get warped in the summer heat and then drove home, shut the door and dropped the needle on the vinyl. Ecstasy. Just me and the music. Alone.
And now I feel the same way.
The labels loved the nineties. When it was all MTV all the time. The TV channel made stars and the public bought them. There was an indie scene, but it wasn’t always the best acts and so many of them were left field. But then post-Napster the majors tightened the screws even tighter, with the death of MTV they only put out guaranteed hits. Radio became a producer’s medium and most of us who remember the heyday of FM radio and "Rolling Stone" tuned out. Not that we didn’t want great new music, we just didn’t know where to find it.
But now the world has gone totally topsy-turvy. All the GREAT acts are indie. And the word of mouth online is deafening…if you happen to be riding down that highway. If you’re on a different road, you never hear it. Today, the John Grant story reached my freeway.
The album’s been out since April, but I didn’t even know the guy’s name, nor his old band, the Czars, but I’m listening only because Ian testified and I’d say my jaw is dropping, but it’s different from that, I’ve been transported right back to my bedroom on Farist Road in Fairfield, Connecticut, just me and my music, it’s like the seventies all over again.
You remember that era, right? When music was EVERYTHING! It drew the most creative minds, it was the only place you could find truth. Sure, movies were great, but they were fiction, records were real!
I could wait a few days and fully digest this project, give you a review from a distance, but I want to capture the passion, the shock of hearing something so great. Something so honest, so authentic, featuring a guy who’s got a good enough voice who can write hooky changes and knows you don’t have to be in someone’s face to reach them.
I’ve only hit one mediocre cut so far, "Silver Platter Club".
Not that I loved the opener, "TC and Honeybear".
But the second cut, "Marz", BLEW MY MIND!
So intimate, it lives in your head, but makes you feel connected, because of its inherent humanity. It’s so pretty, in an ugly way. You know what I’m talking about. Mainstream media tells us pretty is on the outside, but we know it’s on the inside. It’s not something that’s sold, it’s something that radiates, that draws you in. It’s love… You just want to get closer.
I’m playing "Marz" again right now. It reminds me of going to the IMAX theatre. It reminds me of gray days on the east coast. Wearing my fall jacket, traipsing through the fallen leaves. It’s got what Brian Wilson sells, but distilled in a modern way. Everything is influenced by what comes before, but "Marz" is truly original. In the U.K. John Grant would already be a star! They know artistry! The press and the BBC don’t care first about commerciality, they don’t care if the act is ploughing new ground, they just want to certify GREATNESS!
And I was just about to write then. But my e-mail program had not finished cycling through the last e-mail, so I let the album play. And the next track was good, but the one after that, "Sigourney Weaver", was JAW-DROPPING! Like so many great cuts, future favorites, I wasn’t immediately hooked, and then there was a change…
I’m new to this. But I can’t help but tell you. Because if you remember those days, alone on your bed, maybe wearing headphones, reading the album cover as you marinate in the sound, THIS ALBUM IS FOR YOU!