Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The only records that were ever lying around the house when I was growing up were those that my quasi audiophile father had stuffed into a cupboard in our occasionally heated, rarely used rec room. It was wood paneled and shut off from the rest of the house, an addition that my grandparents put onto the farm house at some point in the 1970s and remained a remnant from that era, still does. The washer and dryer are out there and somehow it was a room - the only one, since the doors were always closed - where we needed mousetraps. You could tell when one took some poisoned bait and died behind the washing machine, as the stink got bad quickly. This is the room where dad has a monument to his former stereo-loving self. Since he was the only dad I knew growing up who even had a record player, I presumed that the 40-50 albums and his pile of 8-tracks was actually a sizable collection. He had a boxed set of the Beach Boys greatest hits, lots of 5th Dimension, The Association, The Carpenters (which was accrued when he married mom), a copy of Dylan's "John Wesley Harding" and then an assortment of albums that no one would ever admit to having, stuff that you can't even give away. It was interesting enough to me, as a kid, but I wonder why I wasted the time with much of the stuff that I did on those rainy afternoons when there was little else to do that we hadn't already done a million times. There wasn't a ton of stuff in the collection that I could have gravitated to for those times in middle school and high school when I was learning for the first time that the girls that I thought were great or that I wanted for girlfriends (whatever that meant back then) couldn't have felt any less the same way. It would have been nice if I could have had that resource, or if mom and dad could have pointed me out to that cupboard, ordered me turn the furnace on, let it heat up for 10-15 minutes and then listen to some record that had gotten them through these very same, universal, love-growing pains. It would have been such breezy and effective parenting, but that's not what happened. The record collection that my children will have at their disposal will give them ample choices for places and voices to turn to if they're seeking condolence or shelter from the raining and the pouring, or at that point when they're starting to figure out what they want to be, who they want to be. We'll be able to point them to albums like "Boyfriend" and "Girlfriend," both by the incredible, young Virginia Beach, Virginia, band We Are Trees, if they're caught up in these matters. They'll be able to slip into this damp coolness. They'll be able to howl off their sadness, getting right into this new feeling of floating through some amber sunset that makes everything feel a little bit better. You know that nothing's changing the realness of the disappointment or the fumbling, claustrophobic feeling that's getting your goat, but this makes things go down more easily. It's like how there are certain times when you comment to yourself or others around you how this beer - this very typical, unspecial beer - tastes SO good right now. It's the surroundings, the people, the coldness of the can or bottle, whatever the fuck it is, but this beer is BETTER. The way that James Nee spreads out this sense of cool, this calmness about his matters of love and the need to just get out of here, to drive around, to explore and more, all over these melodic pieces is that good beer. It's that beer on a good night, no matter what the reason is.