Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fiver - Episode IX: The Muppets Make Manhattans

     Lately I've been feeling nostalgic for those things of yore that brought me the most joy. I suppose we all do as we get older (which reminds me: if you're one of those people who bemoans their age, please, just stop! You're bumming us all out.) Recently, my nostalgia has turned to those times when I used to wile away the day skateboarding, hanging out with my friends and listening to Operation Ivy tapes until they wore out. Good times.



     Of course I doubt I could do even a fraction of the tricks I was able to barely do back when I was younger, skinnier and less responsibility-having. Not that this is an excuse not to simply roam around the neighborhood on the ol' stuntwood, but a competent ollie or no-comply here or there would be fun. Carving the shit out of an embankment just isn't enough, ya know?

     It helps (or hurts, depending on how you look at it) that we seem to be living in a time of constant nostalgia. Everything old is literally new again. This, of course, applies double to skateboarding. Once dominate skateboard brands such as Powell Peralta, Santa Cruz and Vision "reissue" more throwback decks that a man-child can throw a mid-life crisis at. We're talking old board shapes with old graphics with old pro's names on 'em coming out of the mill as if they'll never go out of style (and at this rate, it doesn't appear they will, like, ever).

      One retro trend in skateboard that I am enjoying, however, is the return of what I call the "popsicle precursor" shape. Around 1989 thereabouts, this board shape made specifically for street skating emerged. I'm not sure exactly who originated this shape, but I want to say it was Mark Gonzales (why not?) and his so-called "Gonz and Roses" deck from Vision Skateboards. This shape then evolved more-so over at the fledgling World Industries camp with Jesse Martinez's "Jailed Rock-Em Sock-Em Robot" board, which Jeremy Klein and Chris "Dune" Pastras seemingly used as the template for their signature boards.

     Today there are a slew of these pre-pop resurgence decks. Matt Hensley currently has one for Black Label, though I prefer the "Icon" board from 2011 instead (if for no other reason, the John Lucero-drawn re-pro graphics are fuckin' brilliant). Antihero has the "Skate Ski," while Mike Vallely's Elephant Brand has "The Rogue." Toy Machine, however, has a deck I'm considering getting: the "Monster XL Cruiser."

     Hmm... One of those two decks below with some Indys and Spitfire "Classics" slapped on 'em. Slip my Hobbit feet into a pair of scissored-down and duct-tape-and-stickered Airwalk "Enigmas," and shit: it's the late 80's/early '90's all over again! See? Old is new again!

     So, at this point: Oy vey! Is there anything worse that someone talking about skateboards (as opposed to actually riding them)? Oh, look: here's some pontifications about some new songs...

1. Twin Peaks "Stand In the Sand" (mp3)
From the album Sunken (2013, Autumn Tone)
     Honestly, it was about time someone named their band Twin Peaks. Why did it take this long? And if these young turks (the average age range for the members of this band is 19) get any flack for naming their band after David Lynch's seminal boob-tube cult classic, this Chicago band can say they're named after the neighborhood in San Francisco. Boo-ya!

2. White Fence "Pink Gorilla" (via Soundcloud)
From the album Cyclops Reap (2013, Castle Face)
     Of course White Fence is on John Dwyer's Castle Face record label. From the opening jangling buzz saw guitar riffs to Tim Presley's Gene Clark-esque vocal coo, White Fence sounds tailor made to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with The Oh Sees, Bare Wires and Fresh & Onlys. Cyclops Reap collects the odds-n-sods that didn't make any of the four records White Fence put out last year. If the song above is any indication, Presley's table scraps could easily make a lesser band's career.

3. Julia Brown "Library" (via Soundcloud)
From the album To Be Close To You (2013, Birdtapes)
     This band hails from somewhere in Maryland. When I think of Maryland, naturally I think of Baltimore, which is a fantastically gnarly town best known for John Waters, The Wire and Edgar Allen Poe. That the band Julia Brown was, until recently, called Teen Suicide kinda fits that pigeon-holed metric, but then you listen to their gentle and warm lo-fi twee-pop orchestrations and all preconceived notions of what a band from Maryland should sound like go right out the window.

4. Guided By Voices "Flunky Minnows" (mp3)
From the album English Little League (2013, GBV, Inc.)
     C'mon! It's Guided By Voices. Of course they're gonna be on here. Not only do they release a shit ton of songs (which is nothing new for this band, and all the better since the original line up reunited), but GBV are also one of my absolute, all-time favorite bands. So, of course I'm going to shove 'em down your throat. Open wide!

5. No Joy "Hare Tarot Lies" (via Soundcloud)
From the album Wait To Pleasure (2013, Mexican Summer)
     Of all the alt-rock genres out there, I think shoegaze has aged the best. At the point when this dreamy chill-pop genre was about to explode in the early 1990's, grunge came along and stole shoegaze's thunder. British bands rebelled against grunge the best way they could, by going stuffy with Britpop (Oasis, Blur, Pulp, etc.) Even those old shoegaze bands like Lush, Ride and Boo Radleys went the bespoke route. Meanwhile, here in the States, a slew of underground bands started reviving the shoegaze brand, and the genre's been floating along ever since. No Joy is one such band, and they do "the scene that celebrates itself" proud with this gauzy and spacial bit of dreampop. How does it feel to feel? Um, like this song, actually.

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