Aug. 14th, 2013

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Why Don't You Take Me
Love Inc.

♥: Ah, Love Inc. Remember these Toronto folks and their annoying dancepop hits? "You're a Superstar" and that purple airplane song -- man, not really something for which you want to be immortalized, huh? The theme song for every high school Student Life group in the late 90s and a thinly-veiled drug anthem. Smooth, guys; you really left a brilliant lasting impression. But: it must be so frustrating to have something like that loom over your head, years after the fact -- even if you were proud of it, and especially when what it isn't the best you could (or DID) come up with. This is true of so many artists in every medium: pigeonholed, typecast, and often run into the ground with presumption. You don't even get a chance, and it ends you. It ended Love Inc.: two albums and they went bust.

But they came up with better. People almost always come up with better, eventually -- it just happens that Love Inc. did it on the same album as their two overplayed earworms. Now, back in 1998, I got the album from my BMG CD mailing list (why? who knows. I think I had a teacher-crush on the woman who ran the Student Life group and adopted the Superstar song as its soundtrack) -- and in typical early-adolescent-Jill fashion, didn't listen to anything else on the album. I liked that one song and that was just fine thankyouverymuch. Thankfully, though, a couple years later, I got into the habit of listening to full albums I'd owned for awhile. From this came a newfound appreciation for groups like Third Eye Blind (for example -- they're so much more than "How's It Going to Be"!), and the jaw-dropping discovery of this song.

"Why Don't You Take Me" is perhaps Love Inc.'s greatest achievement -- what they should be remembered for. It is a swirling, sweeping ballad, with electric guitar riffs and steel drum beats and ethereal synths, and Simone Denny's pulsing, slightly desperate refrain: "In my shattered dreams / I need you now / I need you now." It is '90s pop-ballad perfection, but alas -- not something that ever would've made it to the radio. And that's a full-on shame, because it's beautiful and moving and it deserves to be heard.

I revisit this song every summer, and year after year, it twists my heart into knots. So, Love Inc., even if I mocked your other hits mercilessly -- mercilessly -- "you are large, you contain multitudes." And over a decade later, I can do nothing but thank you for sharing this gorgeous one.
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Amazing Glow
Pernice Brothers
Discover a Lovelier You

Perhaps it is due to the "back to basics" theme (and my ensuing reconnection with Wilco), but I've found myself drawn to straightforward, male-fronted, alt-country/alt rock bands lately.

Wilco made me think of the Pernice Brothers and, incidentally, the only one of their songs I had on file, "Amazing Glow".  I THINK I first heard the song on an early episode of Gilmore Girls...I do know that I bought it just before starting that first observation-based teaching stage.  I listened to it on my way to the bus stop after my first excruciating (excruciating in the sense that I went from feeling quite comfortable in a school, to feeling like I stuck out like a sore thumb) day at my placement.  The song was so beautiful it set off a switch inside me--making it okay to let the breath I had been holding out and to start sobbing uncontrollably (hearing, "I changed my master plan [...] I try to stave off a new day from rising" that, maybe obviously, got me at the time).

This song still surprises me; when I listened to it the other day, I asked myself why I didn't own the Pernice Brothers's entire discography (I have since bought the remainder of this album and another on iTunes).  There is something about the way "The genus names of all the flowers/That were feeding off her amazing glow" tumbles out of Joe Pernice's mouth that is so completely affecting.  The word "glow" glows.  I love the breeziness of this song; the coasting background harmonies; its absolute sincerity.    


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