Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Abondanza!


abunai
Originally uploaded by bsglaser.
Artist: Abunai!
Album: The Mystic River Sound
Source: Promo

When people talk about music's relationship to memory, it's almost always in the context of remembering love (lost, gained, abused or abusive) or pining for lost youth (read: young love). I'll be getting to plenty of the former, for sure, but this one seems to more immediately strum the chords of the latter.

I'm probably a little too young to be reflecting on the days of my "youth," though what's youth but just yourself in the past? There was a moment in my not-too-distant past (Philadelphia, the late 1990s) that was a sort of perfect storm of music loving: I had steady work as a writer of record reviews and band interviews, which meant seemingly unlimited access to free CDs and concerts, and the side benefit of effortless access to information about bands and albums. It seemed like I barely had to put my mind to it; the press releases and promo copies and jibber-jabber with fellow rockcritters simply poured musical knowledge into my receptive brain.

That last element might be where the real yearing/pining thing comes in. During these years I had a little tribe of fellow music enthusiasts who were good friends and easy companions - anytime someone had an inkling to check out a band, it was simple enough to rustle up interest from at least one or two others. We didn't even need a reason, and there were points when I was probably out seeing bands two or three nights a week (Which didn't seem like much at the time, but now would feel crushing). We were young, mostly single and generally employed, which meant we had time, money and the enthusiast's drive to rock out at the drop of a hat.

One of my most frequent rock-club companions was Chris. He was a writer, a music geek with unusually open-minded ears, and a guy with one of the strangest senses of humor I've ever come across (and I say that after several years of hanging out with part- and full-time comedians...). He liked noisy music and loved giving nicknames to seemingly anyone and anything (I was "Barton," which came from an elaborate roundabout of jokes that started with guitarist Alan Licht and ended with Barton Fink). By the time we went to the Khyber to check out Abunai!, he'd already dubbed them "Abondanza!" From that moment on, there was really no point in referring to them as Abunai! with him, so why bother?

This band was its own kind of perfect storm. Part of the wave of new, noisy psychedelic music (ie, druggy, jammy music made by people more under the influence of Sonic Youth than Jerry Garcia), Abondanza! wrote folky-melodic tunes and rocked them with florid distortion and entirely reasonable harmonies. I'll admit that they were not nearly as good live that night as they are on this record (where each track is attributed to a different Boston-area "band," like The Tea Tokens or The Seven Seals - a move designed to delight rockist wordsmiths), but they projected a kind of youth-fueled joy from the stage that it was hard not to dig just being in the room with them. I rarely get to have a new band this good just drop into my lap, nor do I go out to hear bands like this as much anymore, and if that ain't something to pine for, at least a little, I don't know what is.

SISOSIG? (I think it's time to start abbreviating the titular phrase, if only to stave off the repetitive stress for a few extra days.) Finally, something to keep! This record is fun to hear, read and remember - what more can you ask for from less than an hour's worth of music? Abondanza!, indeed.

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