Relish in your energy

Last year, I saw precisely one live gig. In the entire year. This is the fewest since I was eleven years old, and frankly I'm ashamed at how infrequently I made it out. 2010 will be different. To that end, last night I went to see the hotly-tipped new band Surfer Blood play at Park Ave CDs, which conveniently enough is a seven minute drive from my home. And yes, a four-song set counts as an entire gig, such is the lack of live music in my recent past. Though I had heard their name a few times recently, I hadn't really paid Surfer Blood any attention until their recent hot review on Pitchfork. It's amazing what wonders an 8.2 from that site can do for a new band.

So anyway, Surfer Blood are from West Palm Beach, and their being really quite good counteracts at least one terrible Florida band. They're all in their early 20s, but don't look a day over 18. My girlfriend taught English to 17 year olds two years ago, and they look older than the guys in the band. But if we learned anything from Aaliyah, it was that age ain't nothing but a numerical depiction of how many years a given individual or entity has been alive/around for.

Live, SB were a lot of fun. Though I've never been much of a Weezer fan, there's a nice nod to the Blue Album in most of Surfer Blood's songs, and that's okay with me. Of their four songs, the single 'Swim (To Reach The End)' got the most love from the crowd, with a nice - and not the first of the night - drums versus cowbell showdown. They also dedicated a song to the late Jay Reatard, which was sweet, and played another that shouted out David Lynch.

The band is playing a few shows in the UK next week, before returning for a big tour, including several shows at SXSW. Catch them if you can, but just make sure they get home before bedtime.

I had a strange dream

I never remember dreams, so it's remarkable that this one, from last night, has stuck with me for an entire day. Psychoanalyists, start your psychoanalysin'!

So I'm at a bookstore, with my good friend Jon Hamm, the star of a very popular TV show that I've never got around to seeing. Not regular handsome Jon Hamm, you understand, but current, bearded Jon Hamm. Is it weird that I can tell you exactly which bookstore it was, too? It was Waterstones, Piccadilly. Jon Hamm and I were classmates in some college class, and were at the bookstore to pick up a textbook, which as fortune would have it was written by Jon Hamm. After much scouring the shop and its eight stories for the book, we finally found its one remaining copy, on a display. Just as we were going to grab it, some woman took it from the display. What a jerk! Jon Hamm was mad about it (no pun intended, although I suppose that isn't actually a pun so much as half a reference to his popular television drama) and a war of words developed between he and the woman. "I'm Jon Hamm and I wrote this damn book!" he said, as he snatched the book away from her, and then we ran away, triumphant in the knowledge that we had outmuscled a lady, and that security would doubtless be on their way.

From the dusty crates #7: Younger Younger 28s

Holy Moses, it's been a while since I wrote in here, hasn't it? Why, the last time there was new content on Are You Gene Hackman, it was a different decade, Conan was comfortably settling into The Tonight Show, and Gordon Brown was the Prime Minister. How times change!

Over the holidays, my old schoolfriend John came to visit from Newcastle, which was lovely. Always nice to see an old face, from my pre-moving-to-America life. Predictably, we spent a large chunk of our day together discussing forgotten bands of yesteryear, whom we used to cover for my webzine. (I still maintain that the 'zine was way ahead of its time, incidentally.)

Today's inductee into the Dusty Crates Hall of Fame, which is something that definitely exists, is Younger Younger 28s, a band that showed up in 1999, played some gigs and festivals, released an album, and then disappeared. How you feel about them will depend very strongly upon how you feel about The Human League. YY28s employed the same dynamic: two guys, two girls, synths, stories about working-class teenagers, and such. The dude that sang went by the handle Joe Northern, and is now an artist/comedian whose bio is interesting and well worth a read. The press didn't know what to make of them - they pretty much got lost in the shuffle.

I happened to see the band play at the Improv Theatre in London, a gig I attended with aforementioned John, along with Stephen Eastwood, who wrote for Teletext Music at the time and was my most famous friend. (Teletext recently closed its music site, Planet Sound, which was a great resource but was rendered sort of superfluous by the internet). At the gig, I happened to bump into a guy named Duck, who played keyboards in a band named Straw, who might show up in this column at some point in the future. It was at this gig, my friends, that I had my first (social) alcoholic beverage. Duck offered to buy me a drink and I had to say "Uh... whatever you're having" since I was sixteen, and had only ever had a beer with family and therefore had no frame of reference as to what to drink to look cool. I think he bought me a Jack and Coke. That's my primary recollection of the gig, which is probably a bad thing, but my review at the time suggests that I liked it a lot. I saw them again on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury that year, too, and remember people in Bush and Marilyn Manson shirts looking unimpressed.

It's hard to listen to their album 'Soap' now and not dismiss it as overtly cheesy, but 'Sugar Sweet Dreams', particularly, could still hold up as a dark, brooding, 80s sounding disco smash.

[download Younger Younger 28s - Sugar Sweet Dreams]
[download Younger Younger 28s - We're Going Out]

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