Stereogum on “Give Up” turning 10

February 22nd, 2013


Check it out, Tom Breihan does a nice job. Nice enough to inspire some nostalgia, after the jump.

While not my favorite album of the last 10 years, I can’t think of a record more tied to a time, place and transition. It’s not my favorite album—probably not even my favorite of Gibbard’s; nor is it something I’d consider terribly influential (outside of “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn” and Owl City I can’t think of any major act or artist to be inspired or influenced by “Give Up”). But it’s still a lot of fun and Tom Breihan does a much better job than I would discussing its qualities.

As for me, most of you who know me know that I’ve been perpetually stuck in 1997. I think it was cartoonist Reuben Bolling who pointed out that pop culture will never be as good as it was when you were 16—so for me it was Ben Folds, Soul Coughing, The Pietasters,“The Colour and the Shape,” “Hang Ups” and more. I went to my first concert (They Might Be Giants at Bohagers- awesome); I camped out for HFStival tickets (more fun than the actual HFStival). 1997 was a very good year. I listened to this music through college—aware of but ignoring the changing trends in popular music. I didn’t care about The Strokes (still don’t) and certainly didn’t care about that boy band craze that pretty much killed anything Nirvana had started.

Cut to a couple years later and I’m living in Columbia, Mo., deciding whether or not I want to be a journalist. I geeked out when I got to interview the newly-solo Mike Doughty; dragged my infinitely cooler-than-me friends to a free Cowboy Mouth concert at the Blue Note (No one came. It was embarrassingly bad).

A few months later my brother came to visit. I met up with him in Lawrence, Ks. for a New Amsterdams concert. I was aware of The Get Up Kids (they’d played a few concerts at UMaryland when I was a student there) and liked a couple of their songs. It was Matt Pryor, first, to make me aware of music after 1997- his best number was a cover song I had yet to hear (but would soon hear ad nauseam) called “Hey Ya!” Then, on the drive back to Columbia, if Matt Pryor sparked an interest, The Postal Service blew it wide open. I was dead tired; my brother drove (always a disconcerting sensation, being a passenger in one’s own car). He said he had a CD I’d like. By the third song- some nonsensical gooey lyrics about the Kennedy assassination. I can’t remember if I fell asleep- we probably got to Columbia at 3 a.m., but I was hooked. Hello, 2003. Hello, “Give Up” on repeat. Hello shows of bands I’d never heard of at clubs like Mojos- bands like Arcade Fire ($8- thanks, Cristian!), The Walkmen ($10) or Straylight Run ($10).

Yes, I still drove up to St. Louis for the 1990s (Guster, Marilyn Manson to name a few. K’s Choice rocked out to a few lesbians, my friend Sara and I as the Cardinals made it to the World Series just a couple blocks away). But it was this album that really got me into music post college. Bright Eyes. The Decemberists. The Format. Death Cab, of course. The New Pornographers. Back in time for Neutral Milk Hotel, which was ahead of its time anyway. Yeah, Cristian gets a good deal of credit for that, but the truth is for most people music stops the moment they graduate college. Because of my experiences in Missouri- and “Give Up” in particular, I’m happy to report I made it to 2008, when I resigned my position as features and entertainment reporter at the News and Messenger in Prince William County, Va. Goodbye free albums from bands I’d never heard of. Goodbye free concerts; goodbye backstage passes.

The Postal Service are playing some reunion dates. I’m thinking about making the drive to San Luis Obispo to check them out if they’re not sold out. But how would I know? I’m stuck in 2008.

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