Sunday, December 5, 2010

Put Me On Speakerphone

TAME IMPALA – “Innerspeaker” CD ’10 (Modular, Australia) – You know, it’s funny. I had been thinking it’s been a little while since I had a good yarn to spin on here. And so, with that in mind the Fates aligned to give Ray some fodder for a story. So here’s how it went…settle in with your favourite adult beverage, get comfortable and prepare yourself for the long haul. Ok, I’ll try not to make it that long but we’ll see how it goes….

It was a few weeks ago that I was piddling around on that Internet thang when I ran across a comment from Corsair’s Marie stating that if there was one band she wished she could be in it was TAME IMPALA. Now here’s the thing: Marie is one of the guitarists in a kick-ass band who’ve authored one of the year’s most surprising records so I take her commentary seriously and the information was duly noted and filed away in my head. Of course it promptly pushed aside things like when my car insurance was due, the dates of my kids’ field trips, etc. but damn if I would forget to check this band out. Hit fast-forward maybe a week and I’m down in The Soundgarden in Fells Point, thumbing through the psych section when I hit the “Misc T-Z” card and I’m staring at TAME IMPALA’s disc, “Innerspeaker.” I have 3 reactions, all in a particular order: 1) Damn, there it is! A CD by the band Marie was talking about! 2) I wonder if this is their newest one? 3) Fuck, the disc is an Australian import and is $ 27.99. With this all in mind, I meandered up to the counter to ask the guy when the album came out. I have this funny thing, when I’m checking into a new band, that I like to hear their current release first then work back. I like to see where they are and then, how they got there. In this case, the super-pricey-sticker was making me hope this was an older album, which would pour a little cool water on the curiosity fire that was rising in me. Of course upon delving into his PC, the dude at the counter replied “May 2010…and no indication of it being released over here.” Shit. I really didn’t have $ 28. Well, I had $ 28, but not to spend on a CD that day. So in a state of stately resolution, I deposited said disc back in the rack and headed out the door into a brisk fall day and ‘round back to the parking lot. I opened the car door and as I sank into the seat to nestle amongst the fast-food debris and empty water bottles that typically litter my vehicle, I thought a little more and the little angel & devil on either of my shoulders began to argue: Devil says, “This shit is going to bother you all day, go back and buy the damn thing.” Angel replies, “Uh…ok.” With all that haggling out of the way, I ambled back into The Soundgarden, pulled out the $ 28 I’d need the next day for gas and minutes later was up headed up Boston Street. I was feeling pretty friggin’ good…got every light green and the first time I had to stop was up at the travel plaza. Sitting there, I took the time to take a peek at my loot. Man, the cover looked cool…sweet digipak with artwork of a killer autumn scene. Light’s still red, so I slit the shrink wrap to check out the booklet and when I opened the cover, my heart sank. You see, there in the plastic part with the little circular thing in the middle where the CD should rest was…nothing. There was no CD. THERE WAS NO FUCKING CD!!! It was empty. My immediate reaction was to do the irrational thing and pull the booklet out of the other side, thinking the disc may be in between it. Of course, I knew it wasn’t going to be there. I was incredulous. I was also going to be late for the next job but instead, swung uncomfortably close in front of an oncoming 18 wheeler and made a mad dash back to Soundgarden. I just knew they’d have another copy. Flying into the store, I explained my plight to the counter guy. “I think we’ve got another one upstairs,” he said promisingly. Of course, you probably already know the drill. A few minutes later, he returned from whence he came, eyes slightly downcast. “Sorry man, that was the last one. We should have it back in again next week.” He returned my cash and I set back toward home again, bitter and defeated.

So here we are again at The Soundgarden the next week and…you guessed it…I find “Innerspeaker” in the Psych Section once more. This time in a bit of mild paranoia, I carry it to the counter. The guy start’s to ring it up and I say, “Sounds kinda dumb man, but could you open that up to make sure the disc is in it?” He obliges, indicating he’d heard the story about the missing one and slit it open to find that IT HAD NO GODDAMN DISC IN IT AGAIN!!!” I was trembling at this point, sort of like David Bowman at the end of “2001: A Space Odyssey” when he’s in the hotel room. “Brother, I’m really sorry,” the dude consoled, “This must be the same digipak that they re-sealed. We’ll definitely be re-ordering it, though.” At this point I figured that at least a few months of therapy would probably get me to the point where I could come out of the house and go back to work again. And so we flash forward again….

Now we’re to last week and I’m helping my good bud and new Raysrealm writer Andre’ pick up a TV he’d bought downtown. We get the sumbitch loaded in the van, stop to grab something to eat and he asks me, “Man, if you aren’t in a rush can we stop by Soundgarden, they have a psych book I ordered?” To be honest, I wasn’t completely interested in a trip to the CD Joint At The Point. I didn’t have a lot of buckage on me and, coincidentally, I’d called the day before asking about the very same TAME IMPALA disc. I’d been told it was re-ordered and should be in within the next week but probably not the next couple days. But I figured ok, the store’s not that far from Andre’s abode and the poor guy has been really wanting that book. It was in that frame of mind that I trundled on down to Fells Point yet again. While Andre was grabbing his reading material, I idly flipped thru the metal section, then the psych section and was about to join him on the way out the front door when something…probably that little devil…made my hand flick thru the “Various T’s” in regular “Rock." First thing, right in front was “Innerspeaker!” This time, I could swear the thing felt heavier, like it definitely had a CD in it…same $ 27.99 price tag, mind you. Long story short, they slit the digipak open again and there it was: THE ACTUAL CD WAS PRESENT! So, rushing back out to the car to will together enough change to equal the $ 28, I left this time with the actual entire package in my hands…and a few extra bux because the guy there was totally cool and sympathetic to my previous ordeal and cut me a break (just another reason I love this Soundgarden store!).

By now, I’m sure that you all are saying, “Ray this has been absolutely ridiculous! You’ve outdone even yourself in wordy intros and stories and haven’t even begun the review yet.” But please, dear reader, don’t fret. Unless of course, you’re a guitarist and then it’s your job to fret. (Drum roll, please! Take my wife…PLEASE, take my wife!) This has all been for a great cosmic purpose, the purpose that sometimes things are worth it. They are worth a great and perilous journey. In this case, the answer comes back to you in spades and I’m not going to waste a whole lot more of your time. The bottom line is that Marie Landragin was right and this CD, this first full-length disc by TAME IMPALA was worth all the bullshit I had to endure to finally obtain it. The reason is that this album, created by Kevin Parker, Dom Simper and Jay Watson is fucking phenomenal. I had heard nothing by this band before inserting this crazily-difficult-to-obtain (for me!) disc in the Realm-o-Matic and now have probably listened to it 10 times over the last weekend. Call it psych, call it rock, I dunno. I just know that the mid-paced, simultaneously dreamy & driving music, overlain with Parker’s cavern/echo voice has put me in a helluva good mood. This music at once relaxes every fiber of my being and yet kicks my ass all at the same time. Examples? Man, the whole damn album but what about “Lucidity,” like the Beatles on “Revolver” being driven along by a Hawkwind power surge? How about the funk-laden back beat of “Solitude Is Bliss,” at once soothing your soul and throwing your back out with it’s rhythm. “Bold Arrow Of Time” surprises and paralyzes with it’s fuzzy, bluesy lead guitar insistence and the 7+ minute “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds” begins like an approaching train, rising from a whisper to a roar before ending in long, ethereal guitar exploration that could be Wishbone Ash on acid. This is one of those records that just takes my breath away…and every time a little more. There’s not a whole heckuva lot more I can say except that you need to get yourself a copy of “Innerspeaker” today. It probably won’t take you as long to actually come up with the damn disc as I did but even if it does, it’s worth every second! Time In A Bottle Ray Dorsey

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