Mansun – Six


Part 47 of a series that will run throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

In 1997 at some point – the exact details are hazy – a friend and I set out to see a show at the TLA on South Street in Philadelphia. The headliners were a band called The Seahorses, featuring John Squire, formerly of The Stone Roses. Although I had their record, I really wasn’t there to see them (and as it would turn out, I wouldn’t even stay for their set that night). The opening band was a band called Mansun who had recently released their debut record, Attack of the Grey Lantern.

The mid 90’s was a strange time period for a wannabe hipster latching onto the Britpop scene. Oasis, Blur, Pulp, and Suede (that’s The London Suede for us Yanks) were all clearly within the genre, but there were dozens – if not hundreds – of bands that didn’t quite fit so neatly into the tag. I bought anything I could that was lumped into the scene, sometimes based on an article I’d read in an import music magazine whilst killing time at Barnes & Noble. I’d read about Mansun, and their glam inspired look combined with decidedly non britpop musical leanings pulled me in. Their 1st record quickly became a favorite of mine, culminating with the show I caught at the TLA. They ended their set with an incredible version of their 1st single “Take it Easy, Chicken” and my friend and I felt like there was no way The Seahorses – John Squire and all – could ever top Mansun. And so we left the venue. Upon reflection, this may have signaled the end of my personal Britpop phase.

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The Dead Milkmen – Big Lizard in My Backyard


Part 46 of a series that will run throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

I received my driver’s license in the great state of Pennsylvania just shy of my 17th birthday (spring of 1994). This opened up a world of possibilities for me, from a geek’s perspective. Suddenly I could let my parents know that I was doing all sorts of activities locally (not true) while driving to Allentown, PA with a like-minded cohort. Our goal (as always) was to meet up with some girls we had met at some gathering or party (the same, I guess). In the world of a 17-year-old, all of this made total sense (the girl we both liked didn’t end up with either of us anyway) – but it was the trips to Play It Again Records in Allentown that stick with me almost 20 years later. On one such fateful journey my buddy picked up what he had heard was a punk rock classic from our home city of Philly. Over and over we played the ridiculously catchy pop-punk during our 45 minute drive home. Of course, I still wasn’t wearing my prescription glasses because they revealed me to be a geek, so our soundtrack as I drove into a median on the way home was Big Lizard In My Backyard by The Dead Milkmen. I’ve worn my contacts or glasses ever since by the way.

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Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives

I’ll probably repeat myself many, many times over the course of my reviews when it comes to one topic that puzzles me – the term “hipster”. What does it mean? What does it denote? I’m still not certain, even after reading about how I live in the hipster capital of the United States (Yes, Seattle beats out a few other cities I thought would be ahead of us). Death Cab for Cutie were considered an up and coming indie band up through 2003’s Transatlanticism. This, along with The Postal Service‘s Give Up (Benjamin Gibbard’s side project with Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello, also released in 2003) appears to have been the peak of anything about Death Cab for Cutie appearing hip. From there, the band adopted mass acceptance which in turn turned the hipsters against them. I’ve liked or loved everything they’ve done though, and I approached the news of a solo Benjamin Gibbard album with curiosity – how would it differ from the band’s albums?

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