Discover more from Record Store
From the Archive: 69 can't breathe
OK Go, The Beach Boys, and Spoon
The first music video to make an impression on me was “Here It Goes Again” by OK Go. It’s shot in a single take, the video quality is poor, the band members are wearing ugly work attire. Given only these details, it would be easy to write it off as another indie band doing a poorly dubbed live performance of their own song and calling it a music video.
But the title card tells us this is OK Go, on treadmills. The set looks like a gym employee got dizzy while they were setting up the cardio section. The four members proceed to engage in an acrobatic, perfectly timed, complex, optical illusion-like dance across eight treadmills. None of these men look particularly athletic, and yet they execute a perfect routine. I can only imagine how many times they attempted and slipped, forgot a dance move, or fell off the bars that are obviously not meant to act as pedestals. They don’t even look stressed, or like they’re sweating or struggling at all. It’s riveting.
After I saw this video and a few of their other extremely complicated performances (I’m going to save my speech on their legendary “Needing/Getting” Chevrolet partnership video for its own issue), I was hooked. This playlist opens with a song from their third record, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky (2010). I also really love “This Too Shall Pass”, “All Is Not Lost”, and of course “Needing/Getting” off this album.
“God Only Knows” is a perfect song. Not much else to say here.
“Hot Thoughts” makes me feel like I could run a marathon, like if I heard it live I’d try to crowdsurf or climb a support beam at the venue. It’s a favorite reference in my band Buttermother. The guitar riff and tone, the tinkling bells, and vocal harmonies make this song what my bassist Daniel calls “the perfect amount of spooky.” The drum beat is tight, and when it drops out or changes it leaves a meaningful space; every element has an express purpose and its inclusion is intentional. And the vocal performance is just light and staccato enough to create momentum in its tension, barreling through the end of the song like a touchdown.
The riff from “Hot Thoughts” transitions into another iconic guitar line: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” I’ve covered this song for a long time in my sets, because it’s a crowdpleaser but also because I think despite its heavy-handed war and peace themes, it’s genuinely quite good. I love the variation in the chorus lyrics that come in towards the end, the lush instrumentation, and spacey vocals. The form is unique for the 80s and it capitalizes on the new wave synth craze. The song has a perfect arc; it incorporates many interweaving lines but ultimately settles on the guitar as the song fades out.
I had a significant Passion Pit/MGMT/Foster the People phase, and I made this playlist in its height. “Take a Walk” is one of the songs from that era that I remember best, from Gossamer (2012). At this point, Passion Pit was big enough to headline festivals. They existed at the perfect intersection of electronic music and alternative pop for that moment, around the same time that everyone started removing the vowels from the names of their bands. It was edgy, quirky, the epitomization of “indie.” Passion Pit walked to Twenty One Pilots’ Blurryface (2015) could run, for better and for worse.