Best Worst Year: Episode 44 (Or, The Halloween Parade)
With the exception of the mournful tone poem which is Magic and Loss, Lou Reed’s late 80s guitar punk resurrection, New York, is probably my favorite post-Velvet Underground LP. Right from the quick, the stutter-start guitar intro to “Romeo Had Juliette” is everything you’d ever wanted in wrap-around RayBan cool–streetlight poetry, switchblade swaggering riff, the whole song can turn a Southern Wisconsin interstate into the Lower East Side of teenage imaginations–seductive, dangerous, happening.
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Best Worst Year: Episode 43 (Or, Either, Or)
Ten years ago this week, we lost Elliott Smith. Like any good cult of rocky mythology, the shadow he casts grows taller and darker the farther he gets away from us. Somewhere in that lost identity, we come to create a narrative which makes sense to us–privately…
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Best Worst Year: Episode 42 (Or, Two Headed Boy, pt. 2)
Neutral.Milk.Hotel. In the fading days of alt. rock’s decade-wide summer of love there were a handful of secrets left to us. On the edge of the internet, Napster, and iTunes, we were polishing the umlaut of Nu Metal while frosting the tips of boy band and bubble pop teen consumerism. In the receding high tide, a couple of bands were being revealed in the silt and undertow. From the dying din of one hitters like Semisonic and Marvelous 3 were some true full length wonders. With the exception of Elliott Smith’s XO, there was no finer myth in the making than In The Aeroplane Over the Sea.Sweeping up the best parts of Twentieth Century into a low fi hiss-heavy cacophony of horns, acoustic guitars and southern gothic psychedelia, Jeff Mangum and company tossed the dying blooms of a dead decade’s bouquet into the open grave of college radio, ready to do the undertaker’s dirty work while Fred Durst was on his way to multi-platinum Bro-dom.
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Best Worst Year: Episode 41 (Or, Looking for a Divine Hammer)
You pour your best two hours of sleep into a mug-shaped awake, climb back into the car (assistant editor/tag team partner in tow), drive the ninety minutes back to Champaign-Urbana, and set up for an all day book fair at The Pygmalion Festival. One part music fest, one part lit fest, one part handmade/vintage boutique fair, and four parts killer, you think about the opportunity to finally “meet the neighbors,” the fellow writers, presses, and journals populating your adopted corner of the midwest.
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A very 90’s soundtrack to this week’s #BestWorstYear. Check out the episode @SundogLit’s blog. Thank you.
Best Worst Year: Episode 40 (Or, Serve the Servants)
On Friday night, I’m going to see The Breeders celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their album Last Splash as a part of Pygmalion Fest in Champaign-Urbana. They’re playing the whole album in its entirety and it should be a good time for Gen X types to consider their own mortality while being enthralled in the nostalgia trip that we had all promised ourselves we wouldn’t get caught dead doing while flying the flannel all those years ago in somebody’s basement bedroom.
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Best Worst Year: Episode 39 (Or, A Little Mascara)
The Replacements were always just mythology to me. It was the worst kind of story–the one where you’re just ten minutes late to the party and by the time you get there, you’re finding out what happened second hand. I’ve been living in the ache and wake of The Replacements’ high tide for over half my life. Singles soundtrack. Paul Westerberg. Waitin’ On Somebody. Dyslexic Heart. I was too late. I remember coming home from a school function just in time for Saturday Night Live where Paul was playing for the first time since The Mats were banned from ever performing on SNL again after a “spirited” pair of performances from Tim. By now, I fully recognized St. Paul as my patron saint and had already conned my high school girlfriend out her copy of Please to Meet Me (which I bought her and then convinced her wasn’t as cool as Alice in Chains Jar of Flies which I ended up swapping for said ‘Mats CD). The pure unadulterated energy of “Can’t Hardly Wait” with the SNL band’s horn section is still my Webster’s definition of joy.
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For your Friday listening pleasure the soundtrack to BWY #39. All ‘Mats. Get to knowing or get to going. Spin and be well.
Best Worst Year: Episode 38 (Or, Car Wheels and a Double)
The breath of summer has reduced one last draw of heat into a dying cherried cinder, and you wake up to the sound of September thunder rattle against a loose piece of siding above the bedroom window. A jump cut, quick change, transitionless entry into fall. You wake up in a different season and it makes you wonder what else you’ve missed while you were sleeping. You walked out of your apartment this morning and were overwhelmed by absence. It made you think of the Larry Levis poem, “The Double,” and the image of the man who realizes he’s waiting for no one and goes to the movies alone on Saturdays. It’s like walking into an empty room and finding a cold spot with bare feet on hardwoods.
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Best Worst Year: Episode 37 (Or, Radio, Radio)
Maybe LL Cool J said it best, “I can’t live without my radio.” The true touchstone of a rewind generation and all teens prior, a solid radio station was the analog soundtrack of growing up, getting on, and figuring out. Before SiriusXM, before Pandora, before our earbud fascination iPod nation, a strong signal, a dj with omniscient timing, and cheap speakers spoke the news of teenage hearts. When we confused lust for love or ennui for inspiration, the right song made a good night great and a great night legendary. Coming of age in the premature burial of vinyl, radio static replaced the LP hiss and pop. There was a kinetic energy to radio–the random selection, the waiting all night to hear your request. It was a live wire to a street pulse you held onto and completed the circuit.
Continue reading at SunDog Lit…