Quasar in the Mist

I don’t know if people use the term ‘mail order’ anymore. I suppose it implies a dirt-road-log-cabin-telephone-pole time when the mail possessed a kind of vacuuming power, able to conjure goods out of the ether at the command of a letter or request or form clipped and completed (and, later, enveloped and stamped) from the back of a catalogue. But even though it’s now all about online shopping– click, cart, Paypal– I still feel as if I’ve been mail-ordering whenever a taped-shut cardboard box holding a 45 tumbles through the mail slot. This happened early today– still cold outside, still February– not two weeks after I’d sent for it: a plain, white-labelled Pavement 7 inch (part of a Matador ‘For Jukeboxes Only’ series) with ‘Stereo’ on the A Side and ‘Embassy Row’ on the flip. After having suffered a fit of dinosaurism upon noticing that a lot of the records that fill my jukebox– a purple and mauve chassis’ed 1971 AIM rescued from a hardware store in Montreal– are of a certain vintage, I tried looking for music that was made after Hall left Oates (but did he ever really leave?). This led to daily store searching as well as obsessive laptop surfing on vintage record sites and services, but I knew, as all vinyl (and non-vinyl) junkies know, that justifying a single 30 dollar purchase wouldn’t be too hard, and so it wasn’t, not after the record started playing. ‘Stereo’ has so many amazing things about it, not the least being its Geddy Lee cameo. I love the PacMan synth and the finger warm-up bass/guitar runs at the start; the whammy bar intro as the bands falls in; ‘pigs they tend to wiggle when they walk’; gramma’s Tempomatic organ blurbling away at the back of the mix; the atonality that informs every surprised guitar break; the fact-checking cousin’s ‘aw-shucks’; ‘the kaiser has a cyst’; and how you almost can see the tendons of Steve Malkmus’s neck when he sings. This is also a song about listening to music, which we should be doing all the time anyway because isn’t life better when the drummer toms where he shouldn’t and the bass player puts his foot reluctantly on the stage monitor (wearing a brown platform shoe) and the guitarist plays like he’s dreaming of a childhood swing that his father spooled over a branch of a tree in his backyard? And the bandleader lets them? That’s Pavement here, and this me in the dead of winter, smiling and watching the record spin.

2 thoughts on “Quasar in the Mist

  1. Love it. I know I’ve tommed when I shouldn’t’ve many times! That’s a drummer’s prerogative. Until the drummer is kicked out of the band for ruining all the tunes, that is….

    Great review of a very cool tune. Alright, only 363 to go…


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