Sunday, November 9, 2014

Track of the Week: Mates of State "Along For The Ride"

There is nothing quite like the random grace of hearing the right song at the right time come on the radio.  I've had the pleasure of living in a few places with great radio stations where DJs are allowed to spin records rather obscure in nature.  Here in Jersey my radio dial is almost permanently on WFMU, the great community radio station.  The college town where I lived in my grad school days was also blessed with a community radio station, along with an alternative bluegrass/country/folk station in a local small town and the college radio station.  When I first started as a grad student I didn't care much for the college station, mostly because it was aping corporate stations, both in style and playlist.  In the early 2000s it was calling itself "alternative," but the playlist was wall to wall Sum 41 and Linkin Park.

Then, in a glorious change, it switched formats and became an old school, bonafide college radio station with lots of underground music and DJs driving the playlist.  It seemed that each trip in my car held the possibility for hearing something I loved already or something new that became an immediate favorite.  One of the latter songs was "Along For The Ride" by Mates of State, which seemed to get played every time I turned on the radio.  Its synthesizer sound cut against the guitar rock grain and male-female vocal leads against the rock cult of the charismatic front man.  I can still listen to it over and over again and not get tired of it.

I first heard it after getting back from Germany after my doctoral research.  That year, when I was able to write my dissertation without the impending anxiety of the job market, was probably my happiest in grad school.  I hear this song and I remember so many great people who now live so far away, and the dream of being a scholar before the harsh realities of academic life nearly broke me.  I managed to find the All Day EP on vinyl a couple of years ago in the bargain bin, and whenever I want to relive memories of of a life that once was, I pop it on the turntable.

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