Weekend Listening: Paper Television by The Blow
Album: Paper Television by The Blow
Released: October 24, 2006 by K Records
Recommended if you like: poppy shit you can dance to while clapping along
Notable tracks: “Parentheses” “Bonjour Jeune Fille” “True Affection”
It’s always nice to have friends that GET you. A number of years ago, I was a member of this forum where a few of us who were, like, REALLY REALLY REALLY ridiculously into music would take a look at your three favourite bands and suggest things that you SHOULD like based on what you ALREADY liked (I am still super down for this game, so hit me up in the comments, yo). While I was usually one of the few doing the “what the fuck is your problem that you’re not already listening to…?!” bits, I once bit the bullet and posted what I would still consider to be, if not my three FAVOURITE bands, at least my three MOST LISTENED TO bands (there’s a difference).
- Beastie Boys
- Magnetic Fields
And I stand by those choices, even if I feel the need to issue some qualifications with them these days. When I listed those as my favourite bands, I was fairly confident that it would be a stumper. Because, let me tell you guys… as much as I love to recommend shit for other people that I have ZERO DOUBT that they will love, I am legit the fucking worst person to recommend things for.
The chances of me listening to/reading the thing you think I will love? Slim. The chances of me actually liking the thing? Practically nonexistent. The chance of me being able to remain your friend after I hate the thing and start questioning your taste in everything? You don’t want to know.
To my surprise, someone who really GOT my taste in music was able to come up with a recommendation for me: The Blow. I immediately purchased two of their albums and loaded them onto my iPod. I read a little bit about the band and knew that it was primarily Khaela Maricich’s solo project, occasionally bringing other musicians on board when it suited the tone of the album. I’m not always a fan of solo projects (or even duos), but if I was being told that this band would scratch an itch I didn’t even know I had, I was ready to hop aboard that train.
Lemme tell you guys: I was about five seconds into “Pile of Gold” when I noticed my head bopping along of its own accord. And then about two seconds after that? My feet, they were a-tappin’. Before another thirty seconds had gone by, I was dancing around in my living room. I think I listened to that song three or four times before I even moved on to the next one.
The next song was “Parentheses,” and… idek. This song is such a weird mashup of ’60s girl-group sensibilities and the warm synth sound Stephin Merritt perfected on 69 Love Songs that somehow achieves such a sonic near-perfection that I can’t NOT smile when I’m listening (and dancing and singing). “something in the deli aisle/makes you cry/of course I put my arm around you and I walk you outside/through the sliding doors/why would I mind?”
And when the claps kick in? You’re all “JFC, YES, WHY IS THERE NOT MORE SYNCOPATED CLAPPING IN MUSIC?!”
[sidenote: I just sent that last bit to Laura and she knew exactly which song I was talking about because she is one of those friends who JUST GETS ME.]
After I listened to “Parentheses” approximately eleventy times, I finally felt ready to move on. But I wasn’t ready for the fucking intense drumline feel of “Long List of Girls.” Like, I didn’t even know how to react cos it came out of nowhere, and I was suddenly beset by an infinite melancholy that I had never been in band in high school.
By this time I was thinking to myself “There’s just no way. There’s no way every song can be this good.” I WAS WRONG. This whole album is just so incredibly listenable and almost every song gets your booty moving. That’s so rare for me, y’all. I’m that person who sings their way through their days (You know how Linda Belcher sings every godsdamned thing she does? Me.), and occasionally I dance around to the music in my head, but it’s rare that I find a song or even an album that makes me get. out. of. my. seat.
Paper Television does that for me. From the first moments to the last, I want to be on my feet. Dancing wildly. Swaying soulfully. Forcing my kids to dance along with me.
Anyway, I kept listening. And then my ears were treated to “Bonjour Jeune Fille,” which really gets at that weird predilection I have for songs in languages I don’t speak (particularly French; “Ca Plane Pour Moi” anyone?). It also helps that, when the song switches to English after a few repetitions, Khaela’s voice is indescribably hot as she breathes “you’re gonna come, come, come with us, you/you’re gonna come, come, come with us.”
I think I need a fan.
I wanted to talk about “True Affection,” and how it’s something that anyone who has ever been in a relationship they’re just not sure of will identify with (whoops, I guess I just did talk about it), but any words I put down here will pale in comparison to this song that makes me want to cry and hug someone every time. When you hear it, you’ll get what I mean.
Seven years ago, my friend Matt inspired me to put on my favourite sundress (dancing is the best when you have a skirt to swish about your knees or ankles, amirite?) and give The Blow a chance. I hope you’ll do the same.