I’m home this “weekend” (what I call Monday and also Tuesday) to see the parents. It’s always nice to get out of the city for a day or two, a little bit like coming up for air and a good stroll is an underrated thing. The countryside is also a nice place to run, if exercise is your thing. If it really isn’t, then I have just the prescription.
‘San Francisco Works Out’ by Corbin Young (Timbre Books / Arbor House, 1985) is easily the best piece of literature to ever tickle my emporium. It may also be the single most important publication in the history of man. Joyce True’s portraits and vignettes are the perfect complement to Young’s witty, naughty advice for ‘the man who knows he’ll never have biceps’ like Arnie. As dissapointed as that would have once made a much younger, more gym-faring me, I’ve now come to terms with it and that must be a healthy thing.
Having recently returned back to the fold of the Iron Church, I can both attest to and appreciate the fact that modern life makes exercise near impossible on even [especially] the most sedentary of days. That this book tries, even with tongue firmly lodged in cheek, to integrate physical maintenance into a bustling schedule is a boon for us all. I feel like updated contemporary guidelines would involve at least walking, if not running up the escalators on the underground but something tells me Corbin would say that’s taking the whole thing a step too far.
Speaking of The Thermals (apologies if you didn’t catch my pertinent missive, dear reader), purchase may have occurred. It was almost certainly an old uni flame of mine who first introduced me to the Portlanders, back in 2005 or thereabouts. Some people have gone on record to say that they dislike or even loathe the distorted vocal thing, that it’s trying too hard but personally, I’ve always kind of dug it. One could say that they have one sound but it’s a damned good sound and it’s as much theirs as The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s sonic signature is the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s sonic signature. On later records, we could even joke that they have just the one song and what laughs we would have. Not the case here though.
‘The Body, the Blood, the Machine’ was the band’s third studio album, put out in 2006 by Sub Pop (again, because who else) and produced by none other than Fugazi’s Brendan Canty. It sounds like it too and it’s an album that appears regularly on Top Hundred lists which is nice because I feel validated and that’s all that matters. There are enough subtle colour changes between tracks, subject variation and different arrangements to keep things fresh throughout and I find it difficult to pin down a favourite. ‘I Might Need You To Kill’ is up there. I think they were probably a decade or so ahead of our infinitely undefined negative curve, with a record that not only feels deeply conflicted when it comes to religion but one that is wholly, adamantly anti-facist as well.
It was then, a bit of a blow to discover that they had decided to disband earlier this year. I’ve always felt that a society spiralling the gutter produces - and needs must produce - some of the most essential, politically aware music. We need that. We need someone to be angry and to communicate how upset we are with exhibits A, B and C: The World. And now they’ve called it a day. Perhaps sixteen years on the road and in the studio is long enough for such an active band. Frank Black [hello again] once said that if you put four people in a room together for long enough that they will eventually find things to hate about one another. It’s also true that things kept too much the same can tend to stagnate over time and those last couple of albums do, admittedly have an audible element of that. Oh, well.
JD - TACOCAT