So Grandaddy's new, as-yet unreleased, and sadly final album, Just Like the Fambly Cat, has leaked to uncouth, nefarious file-sharing entities -- unscrupulous Internet thieves are violating the sanctity of Down in Front's Official Favorite Band as we speak. It is a sad, loathsome day indeed. But the time has come to move on, to adjust, to make do.
I will now begin the painful but necessary process of choosing a new Official Favorite Band.
Let's spare this column's faithful readers (Hi, Mom) more Grandaddy-related whining. Suffice to say I dearly love those unkempt Modesto dudes, and reacted to news of their imminent breakup with myriad unpleasantries. But replace them I must. Everyone needs an Official Favorite Band to trumpet boisterously at dinner parties, to retreat with in times of extreme duress, to blast at insane volumes in brand-new MP3 players and car stereos to "break them in." Nature abhors a vacuum. I abhor having to find another band that sings about nature scenes hijacked by vacuum cleaners.
This is not an open call. The Express already receives a considerable amount of We're Your New Favorite Band effluvia, often via increasingly menacing e-mails inviting us out to shows. (Sample subject line: "THIS SATURDAY HARVILLA.") But just thinking out loud, here is a partial list of criteria my ideal new Official Favorite Band would possess. An 80 percent match on your part makes you an ideal candidate. Anything higher and you, like Santino on Project Runway, are trying way too hard.
Nonnegotiable. The beard exudes a furry, inviting warmth, with just a touch of renegade badassery. Don't go overboard and get all Iron & Wine about it, though. Think lumberjacks. (Note: All douchewhistles sporting ironic mustaches will be immediately banished to San Quentin.)
Consider the keyboard a sort of sonic beard -- retro, extraneous, and often difficult to maintain. But in the right hands the synth's inherent Warm Yet Frigid paradox makes for stunning, intense catharsis, a wellspring of artificial emotion so overpowering it becomes actual emotion. Take, for example, Europe's "The Final Countdown."
3. Lyrics that, periodically, rhyme pants with dance.
If I were smart enough to navigate the EastBayExpress.com redesign, I could tell you how many times I've deified this rhyme scheme and those who've employed it, a diverse group that includes Tom Petty, Beck, Young MC, and MC Hammer. (Okay, not that diverse a group.) A wise man (and/or Drew Barrymore in Donnie Darko) once opined that "cellar door" was the most soothing and beautiful two-word combination in the English language. She is mistaken. Rap/sing it with me: Fresh new kicks/And pants/You gotta like that so you know you wanna dance.
4. That intangible Midwestern rainy-day sound.
Some bands (mostly "rockist" indie bands, alas) just sound like lousy weather: pervasively gray and soggy and melancholy, yet tinged with glimmering hope. Downcast resignation that somehow promises redemption. This often translates to muddy, mournful electric guitars howling at the cumulus-obscured moon in unison. As California (alright, Northern California) doesn't have actual lousy weather, we most import it via bitchin' tunes. The National's Alligator is a splendid recent example -- the saddest single line of 2005: I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders.
5. A sonic debt to the Cars.
No band that has ever half-capably ripped off the Cars has failed overall. I know you don't like "Stacy's Mom," and I don't care.
6. Influences that include bands/eras I don't really care about.
Fact: Every Murmur/Reckoning-era REM song sounds pretty much exactly the same. Fact: People who violently disagree with that tend to make better music.
7. Songs with alcohol-fueled content and/or imagery.
Not in the extreme "Fight for Your Right to Party" (or, conversely, Leaving Las Vegas) sense, but general themes of inebriation are oddly appealing to me, considering I hardly drink. If you wrote a song about feeling bloated after consuming too much root beer, though, I'd probably buy fifty copies and hand them out to random people on the street.
8. Videos that prominently feature jumping animals.
Perhaps you will find the video for Vitalic's "Birds" instructive in this regard. Pleix.net/films.html
9. Female bass players.
10. Female bass players with beards.
I don't think so.
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