Rising to the challenge of Anthony Miccio
, in part because I respect him (not at least for rolling around with us mutts when he could've probably been sniffing more nuanced crit-ass at CMJ), but also because I'm into doing the New Thing Thing. For example, I went to visit my father and we ordered Chinese food from the place we've ordered from for about the last 15 years. Instead of ordering orange chicken with brown rice again
, I inquired about the Chinatown-direct seasonal vegetables. The woman listed three vegetables and I asked her to repeat the third, whose name I didn't get. Turns out I not only didn't get the name, I really didn't get the name
, it was a culinary-lingual chameleon. I ordered it. That's me getting into the new & out of my fears.
Anyway, Miccio designed a Sugar Ray mix. Having only heard two of their songs in my life, I figured I was utterly ripe for this exercise. Here's me bursting with juice in real time, no backsies:
“Answer The Phone”
heard this song before, and I really kind of like it. In 8th grade, I was jumping on a trampoline listening to Blink 182’s Cheshire Cat
and my Dad’s vinyl of Singles Going Steady
, and this is basically that mixed with some awesomely shameless lyrics about fucking you wayyy before that was “cute” for pop-punk to do (prob. not until the late 90’s, at least). I LIKE IT WHEN HE SHOUTS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SONG BECAUSE IT IS TOTALLY UNNECESSARY.
[NOTE: No idea that this song came out in the 00's. So I guess the shameless lyrics about fucking you were timely.]
So this is one of the songs I knew
I heard, and it’s great. When Todd Burns and I met Rich Juzwiak, he said something that really got me about the idea of dated-ness, something like “I think it’s a really tall order expect something to be timeless,” basically praising a song for being completely of its era. “Fly” is top-down 90’s, almost unbearably so. I only realize now that it’s also what Sublime cashed in on with “What I Got” (which was heresy to me, having seen the first-ever Warped Tour after 7th grade and buying 40 Oz. To Freedom
[NOTE: My esteemed colleague A. Unterberger has since informed me that "Fly" actually came after "What I Got." Still, same vein, and in that case "Fly" just flips from the inspiration to a much better revision of "What I Got."]
Whoa, this song is kicking the lazy thing around more, didn’t realize this was the MO for Sugar Ray. I kinda get it now. It’s a get drunk to kill the hangover thing. I once heard a story about a girl from high school that was going down on a guy in the dark and someone started screwing her and she couldn’t see who it was but she just kinda went with it; this song is
what she was feeling, I suspect. I am getting high on frosted tips and alienation.
“Under the Sun”
It’s kind of appropriate that the “nostalgia” song hits when I’ve been flooded with murky early-mid 90’s memories listening the past few tracks. This song is great, if for no other reason than that Mark McGrath basically admits that he couldn’t care less in that “I wish we could rewind & get back to when the words had meaning” bit (i.e. now that we finally have voices
, words are nothing, revelry in clever self-negation). This band gets seedier by the minute, or maybe I’m feeling saucy.
The other song I knew I know, this song is just coasting through infidelity on rollerskates. I kind of get the frat-pop/shell necklace/casual sex vibe. The “she always rights my wrongs” bit is kind of sweet, but he’s already pretty much wiggled himself into a million beds by now.
So this is kind of their “Little Deuce Coupe,” except that it’s faux-metal. Good for variety, stupid in pretty much all other cases.
So this is the we’re actually serious ballad song & it’s really pretty, actually. Still, McGrath’s proved to be such an utterly squirmy & careless cad in the last 6 songs that I don’t know why anyone would take his word at this point. Still, going on the unstated but obvious world is stupid/experience is its own amnesiac/pedal to the fun aura, they’re totally winning me over by making a mockery of earnestness (as I read deeper).
Two ballads in a row. Again, knowing that when McGrath says “I should fix my hair” he means frosting & spiking the tips, his utter dip-shitedness is absolutely confirmed. I just realized that they’re a kind of well-scrubbed more marketable musical version of Charles Bukowski, I think.
“When It’s Over”
I know this song too. The production & arrangement is much cooler than I remember though, definitely the most interesting on this list yet. This is the one song I can really take to heart, actually, even though he’s more of an asshole than ever, see “when it’s over, can I still come over? / when it’s over, is it really over?” This guy kills me!
He’s sort of rapping. He says “hella banging.” I like how he spares the French trois
for “three” to fit the rhyme. This is the weird ominous fallout of all the careless romance, I guess. If I were with him I’d say “dude, you got played” or something like that, then chortle loudly & order him a shot of 151 and a Miller Lite on me.
This is better than the original. They’ve added “experimental textures” and “rich sonic tapestries” or they just started fucking around and wanted to show you how little they care.
“Chasin’ You Around”
I have stepped into this world and now this world has horns.
“Party For Two”
Like it would take more than three monosyllabic words to get this guy to screw Shania Twain, especially over a honky-tonkin’ dance-pop beat! Still, his feigned restraint in the spoken intro is awesome. Picture me, 30 years from now, overweight & sweating, dancing up on some woman with dyed blonde hair and a gaudy crucifix in a dingy bar with a Tequiza in my hand belching sweet nothings into the shoulder of her white cotton blouse. Right on
Obviously, the title has about a lifetime to live up to. It’s kind of messing with me, actually, switching back and forth between cuddly indie pop, an 80’s power ballad, and the sperm-doused hypoglycemia of the chorus. Ultimately meh.
Call it a closer. I’m powerless. Sugar Ray & Weezer?
Now, this is interesting, actually. Sugar Ray seem like the kind of guys who wouldn’t necessarily beat up Weezer in high school, but they wouldn’t even recognize that they’re actually into exactly the same shit: 70’s & 80’s pop-rock & metal, and a sense of irony that peels back to only reveal reverence. At the graduation party, these guys got drunk together and sang “Mr. Blue Skies” or something.
Sugar Ray understands things that not enough bands do: the glory of anonymity (the song titles, holy shit), the fluidity and pointlessness of our personal lives (however privileged that viewpoint is to even begin to have), and the cute hilarity of insincere, youthful bullshit.