Putting a face to a name is always nice, and I’m thrilled to finally have a set of images to associate with the words “Tiny Telephone.”
I can’t remember how I first heard about John Vanderslice’s Mission District-situated studio, nor have I ever been there, but in the last few years, it’s been built up in my mind to the point where it’s become a place of real significance to me — a pulsing, glowing thing on the other side of the country, where special stuff is made with analog equipment and integrity.
Much of that building-up came from a pair of conversations I had with the gents from Pretty & Nice. All the way back in April of 2011, I was talking to the Boston-based group about this awesome place in San Francisco where they were going to mix their next album, and they sang the studio’s praises again when I interviewed them last month, a short time after that (spectacular) album finally saw the light of day. On both occasions, when they spoke about Tiny Telephone, there was something elevated about their speech, like they enjoyed the taste its name made each time they said it. If I were to extrapolate a bit, I’d guess that enjoyment came not from delight in name-dropping but from a genuine sense of pride at being associated with a place that shares their values. Attention to detail. Respect for good equipment. Love of analog.
As for me, I’d guess that the enjoyment I get from saying/typing “Tiny Telephone” comes from a different place, though I think it reflects just as well on the studio.
I want to talk to you about value.
(No, this is not a first time home buyers’ seminar, and I’m sorry to say that there’s no free timeshare waiting for you at the end of this post.)
I want to talk to you about value because Golden Rules for Golden People, the fantastic new album from Boston-based mad pop scientists Pretty & Nice, strikes me as one of the most valuable albums I’ve ever heard.
So what makes a band’s work valuable? It is, of course, an intentionally broad question, and you could answer it in a zillion different ways. A song that reminds you of the day your son or daughter was born would have emotional value. (I’m told Aaron Copland’s Billy The Kid was playing on the radio when I popped out, which is a tad bit creepy when you consider that my father’s name was Bill.) That first pressing of Meet The Beatles your parents never let you touch has some serious historical/monetary value, while the EDM you blast to keep yourself awake while driving long stretches at night has a very specific, practical value. We could keep going, but you get the point. Circumstances, time, our needs… all these things turn a piece of music into something more than just notes and words.
That said, Golden Rules has me thinking about a totally different kind of value. Something more objective and less ascribed. Something inherent in the recording itself.
Good lord, does John Vanderslice know how to Kickstart.
There’s just a day left in the Kickstarter campaign Vanderslice launched in mid-February to finance his new album, Dagger Beach, and even though he’s already received roughly 410% of the funds he was hoping to raise, I can’t resist telling you about the “very sweet, special, awesome” rewards you can get your hands on if you contribute in the next 24 hours.
So The Mountain Goats visited The National on Wednesday evening. Sadly, I couldn’t make it out, though I did see some fantastic photos on PJ Sykes’ blog, and it looks to have been a great time. But before the show on Wednesday, as excited, anticipation-fueled tweets started showing up in my Twitter feed, I was having less than a great time. Actually, I was miserable. But not because I couldn’t go.