Saturday, March 28, 2015
Track of the Week: Velocity Girl "Sorry Again"
I've had the 90s a lot on my brain this week, mostly due to Louis Menand's review article in the New Yorker about W. Joseph Campbell's new book 1995: The Year the Future Began. I wrote something awhile back about the salience of 1994, I guess I was off by a year, or too slow to turn my idea into a book.
Musically the 90s were a strange decade because the underground music of the previous decade, hip-hop and independent rock music, hit the big time. I remember being flabbergasted (in a good way) when I went to college in Omaha in 1994, and there were not one but two radio stations that played music that I liked. One morning my alarm clock radio woke me with the sounds of Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding" and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Growing up in the pre-internet 80s and earl 90s there was no way to hear good new music on the radio where I lived, and now I was surrounded by it. MTV started putting rap in heavy rotation, and even had Alternative Nation on in prime time, rather than just 120 Minutes in the Sunday graveyard shift. It aired from 1992 to 1997, roughly the period when underground rock was allowed to have a mainstream presence before the Creed-Nickelback-Blink 182 garbagefest of imitators fully took over.
But even in 1994 it was obvious that the lead-footed imitators pushed by a record industry desperate to cash in were crowding out the legitimate indie bands. I remember much of my early college days hearing Weezer, but I also heard Bush's godawful "Everything Zen" blasting from dorm rooms across campus. That same autumn I avoided all that with a healthy dose of Pavement and other bands still left of the dial, too esoteric to be gobbled up by the mainstream. One of those groups was Velocity Girl, and my roommate (also a music lover with similar tastes) and I would play them a lot in the late afternoon as the day was winding down and I was too tired to keep studying. "Sorry Again" was probably their catchiest song, one that in alternative universe would have been a number one hit. The male-female vocals interweave nicely, the tonally interesting guitars drive things forwards at a brisk pace, and everything has a certain feeling of wistfulness about it. The "woo hoo hoos" contrast that with some pure pop sugar. I guess that feeling of wistfulness balanced with euphoria was perfect for a college freshman glad to escape his past but still searching for a niche, and this song will always take me back there.