Memory Tapes "Bicycle" / by LD


I feel that it's in your best interest right now to know prior to reading this post that I'm feeling exceptionally braggy this morning. Methinks an exquisite alchemy of weather, parties, and morning after breakfasts are to blame, as well as one of those high-context hadtabethere situations that people like Sofia Coppola bathe in amber light and set to a moving French-hipster-composed soundtrack and market to the Everyone Elses of this great land of ours. So, you know, take the following musing with the obligatory shaker of salt.

Herein we find ourselves sailing ever onward into the open seas of Winter (or something slightly resembling Winter, at the very least in a Disneyland-already-erected-the-huge-xmas-tree-y'all sense), but any of you kids within a 150-mile radius of this blog's epicenter know that the waters are mild at best. Because this is Southern California and everyone worth their weight in Kogi knows that Winter, capital W, doesn't really start until January and even then it's soft, sensitive, and sort of pathetic (kind of like Project Runway's move to the Lifetime Network. Zing). And while those in a colder climate tend to project a wall of you-guys-are-such-wimps superiority around their frigid perimeter, the fact of the matter is that November in Southern California is utterly fantastic.

I'm certainly not moving ahead now to posit that in the musical realm there are certain albums that, based on a spice rack of factors, seem tailor-made for Los Angeles, but...so it goes. There are albums, and certainly songs, that trot out the uneasily hot days of summer for the rest of the U.S. but the hazy, gazey vibe ends abruptly in September, and the kids are given to more baroque material suiting the moody skies and shifting weather. But oh, L.A., with your Santa Ana winds and omnipresent warmth! I find it difficult to unlock the layered subtleties of say, Antlers' "Kettering" on a day when the sun is shining at maximum energy. The effect is jarring; incongruent.

While the nighttime mercury has dropped to the lower echelons of the rest of the country's daily high (48...47...46...and falling), our days are more or less spent in the anemic glow of a wintry sun. Shadows draw a shorter line but their density eddies the cold in ordered pockets as dictated by the sun's daily path across the sky. Ergo, I can't think of a song better suited for November's unpredictable atmospheric provocations (hot! Then mild! Then hot! Then...not?) than Memory Tapes' wholly excellent "Bicycle."

First there's a frenzied elliptical introduction that solidifies the song's place as the aural equivalent of a bright light squint (blinking against the brightness personified, natch). Singer Dayve Hawk's vocals are tinny, tremulous recollections of Yeasayer's Chris Keating, or even Nurses' Aaron Chapman. There are handclaps. The music fills an echoey place of otherness. But if you'll allow me to dive right into specifics: 3:23 is where it all opens up, a buoyant, exultant lift straight into the stratosphere of "Oooah"s and a New Ordered guitar riff that would find its eventual counterpart in the thumping disco-infused bassline. Said bassline rises to the surface, fortifying the structure of the latter half of the song. Waxing nostalgic for funkadelia, it's a shuffle that demands a head bob simply out of reverence.

Every singular element is then whipped into a feathery, airy confection and there's no better place for it, frankly, than in the warmish womb of a car while scenery blurs past and the winter sun still manages to tan the limbs that stretch from car windows to reach for it. And not to be intentionally smug, but there are very few places wherein this atmosphere can be created than in Southern California. So whether you came to this blog today in search of one of my excruciatingly verbose bon mots or simply Googled "Memory Tapes" because you're hip to the jive and now agree with every single thing I've said, amen, the correct answer in either case is: Yes.

P.S. If you'd like the benefit of listening to the OMG TOTES BRILLLZ song I've just discussed, then head on over to iTunes, or here if you're prone to civil disobedience.