Frankie - Microwave - Much Love (2016)
I love the way everyone has a story for their vinyl collections. I know when, where, and why I got every single one, and it’s part of the charm. Think of John Cusack in High Fidelity, manically reorganizing his record collection “autobiographically.” I especially appreciate the way I received my Microwave album. I had never heard of Microwave before, which seems so silly now considering all the bands they’ve toured with that I was and am obsessed with, including Tiny Moving Parts, The Wonder Years, and Have Mercy. After I began collecting vinyl, an online shopping-addicted friend of mine turned me on to a subscription service called VNYL. VNYL has you fill out a music profile, and for around $40 a month they hand curate you a three vinyl collection and mail it to you in a bright pink box. I was leery at first. Although $40 for three albums is kind of a steal, I also didn’t want to spend $40 for albums I didn’t want and would never listen to. After watching dozens of unboxing videos on Youtube of people pulling some pretty impressive albums from their boxes, I decided to give it a shot. If anything, I could always sell the ones I didn’t want, right? I placed my order and waited in agony for it to arrive. Late one night, after I got home from a long day rolling burritos in a college town, I finally got to rip the tab off that pink box, and it did NOT disappoint.
When I pulled “Much Love” from that box, I became an instant fan. I needed to know everything about this band, and what an interesting story they have. It turns out front man Nathan Hardy was previously apart of the Mormon Church. After breaking away from the church, he wrote and released their first album “Stovall” in 2014 with songs about experiencing the vices he had been taught were absolutely forbidden, like sex, drinking, and drugs, with an innocent, child-like wonder. A couple years later, in 2016, “Much Love” was released with a decidedly different tone. In their sophomore album, it seems Hardy has become disillusioned with this lifestyle of vice.
I related heavily with the subjects in “Much Love” as I was entering that period in my life where I felt too old to be living in a college town. I was becoming a homebody, and I didn’t care to go out with my friends, or really do anything other than lay on my couch and listen to music. When I hear the first track “Roaches” I have a flashback to every scuzzy apartment I lived in during that time. The next song “Lighterless” is an ode to every crummy day I had, and just wanting to curl up with a box of wine and my cats, “Throwing down my jacket as I walk inside/ I send a cloudy CD case flying off the side/ of the dresser from Ikea that I cant get right/ (God I swear it’s missing pieces; I could choke someone)/ I guess you can come over if you’re really dry/ but I’m not really trying to go out tonight/ it’s been a really shitty day, I’d rather take some time/ to just pound zinfandel my myself and unwind.”
I love Hardy’s voice, at times so melodic, and the way you can hear his disenchantment with his life, matching my own. The band pulls influence from the southern rock they grew up listening to in their hometown of Woodstock, Georgia, with a post-hardcore, emo twist. The songs continue with subjects including the guilt of casual relationships, the shame of being with someone who might not be good for you, and Hardy’s hatred for the party and binge drinking lifestyle. “Homebody” is absolutely my favorite song on the album, the song I relate to the most. As someone who will come up with any reason to not make plans, I especially love the lyrics “I’m running out of reasons to stay home/ I don’t need a reason to stay home/ I’ve got a clean bed and an empty wallet.”
I had the opportunity to see Microwave earlier this year in Columbus. I loved that they invited a local band to open for them, and the venue was the back room of a little bar I had never heard of, so naturally I loved it. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for good merch, and the Microwave merch is some of the best I’ve ever bought. I was hoping for an opportunity to get their first album on vinyl, but it wasn’t available. Instead, I bought a long sleeve tee with imagery of a disassembled microwave oven on it, as well as one of the greatest pieces of merch I’ve ever seen, a Microwave branded lighter. Their set was amazing, especially when they closed with their self-deprecating song “Neighbors” and had the audience join in on a round of the bridge “I cannot walk all the way back to where we parked/ I will not walk all the way back to where we parked.” Microwave just released two new singles, one being their own rendition of “Georgia On My Mind,” you can listen to them everywhere you listen to music. My copy of “Much Love” is pressed on marbled green vinyl, and can probably be found in a record store near you. They will set out on tour at the end of October with Seaway and Trophy Eyes. Check them out!
Michael - Nada Surf - Let Go (2002)
Hold onto your butts, this is going to get a little emotional. There is not a single album on this planet that means more to me than Nada Surf's Let Go, and for very good reason. In December 2012, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had been going to the doctors for about a month, and only my step-dad and I knew (I have a ton of brothers and sisters). Right before the holiday break at the University where I worked my mother called me and broke the news but left me very clear instructions, I was to tell none of my family.
My supervisor was gracious enough to let me leave early that day but I was in shock I had a hard time even walking. I remember there was a bad snowstorm that morning and the weather was freezing and snowy. As I attempted to put one foot in front of the other to make the long trek to my car, I had tears streaming down my face (that were half frozen). I didn't know what to do in that moment. Just then "Blizzard of '77" by Nada Surf came on my headphones, I felt a calming wave come over me and that song literally carried me to my car as I put it on repeat, even on my drive home in the car. I got home to my then girlfriend and collapsed. I don't know how I would have made that walk without Nada Surf's "Blizzard of '77".
After that day and through my mother's cancer struggle, I wasn't able to listen to the song for a while, because it reminded me of how vulnerable and helpless I felt in that moment. However, after she recovered and has thrived, I have come to love and appreciate the song by a band that has always been one of my favorites of all time.
I got this copy of Let Go which features "Blizzard of '77" from my girlfriend at that time (we now call each other husband and wife) and my stepdaughter for Christmas. This was shortly before all three of us went to see Nada Surf live in Austin in the front row and I got to meet Matthew Caws (lead singer and guitar) as you can see in the pictures above.