Sade Sundays
Mike always insists I meet him in the east bay. When I ask why he says, “because I’m here” in a way that is devoid of shame. He picks me up from BART in his grandfather’s silver Subaru and then we’re at his house eating tamales and popping Brother Thelonious Beer. “Marlene’s at Muir Woods, we can put our feet up”. But when I realized the socks I was wearing had holes in them, I kept mine planted on the ground. Warming up with talk about choices and bearclaws, I began to wonder about his deliciously-round, butterball cat – and whether or not it has problems making it up the stairs. But then I realized it’s an indoor cat who probably doesn’t have to face such harsh realities. Not like us, not with records like these.

SPLASH ONE: The Fiery Furnaces, I’m Going Away. Mike calls it “Doing a Don Quixote”; chasing the windmill. He suggests that siblings Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger place themselves within an economic grid where their next album would provide them an opportunity to tie up any loose artistic ends in lieu of creating their inevitable masterpiece. On the contrary, I felt I’m Going Away finds the band at their most interestingly accessible, crafting a pop gem that would be at home on any dusky jukebox. Gone are the schizophrenic arrangements, and in their place, a return to form: drums, bass, guitar and piano with the slightest squiggle of synthesizer or hand-built effect pedal.

[audio:|artists=The Fiery Furnaces|titles=The End Is Near] The Fiery Furnaces – “The End Is Near”

At the core, Eleanor provides pointed wit and vocals we can believe in, with lyrics that are filled with a reckoning that presupposes abstract heartache. My perspective finds these Fiery Furnaces embracing a streamlined direction, recalling a forgotten pop ideology that may have become buried in the avant garde impulses of their more recent works. Mike isn’t sure how they will formulate an escape from the clutches of windmills as imagined giants, but he claims he’ll know it when he hears it.

SPLASH TWO: The Dodos, Time to Die. With a sound that fits well with many current BFD bands (Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver), the Dodos have four fingers on the pulse of überculture; they’re on the cusp of contemporary greatness. However, to try and guess what will next tickle the fashionable fickle is to play a wayward game. Mike appreciated the clean, standard sound of their new producer, Phil Ek; I felt it forced them to abandon the booming bastion that helped keep their instruments personal on their previous record, Visiter. As Mike jawed on about the promotion of a meaningless collective of collaboration, referring to the reoccurring use of the pronoun “we” in the lyrics, I had trouble coming to terms with the slickness of the songs.

[audio:|artists=The Dodos|titles=Fables] The Dodos – “Fables”

I had similar issues with Black Moth Super Rainbow’s latest offering on an earlier Sunday; why all the fireworks when the idea is just to see the stars? This is an opportunity to theorize that sometimes the statement of a record is more important than the music. To further my perceptions of their hyper-awareness, the song “This Is A Business” has the Dodos acting as iconoclasts of their own world. We decided there is life yet to be lived on Time to Die, but are pressed to consider all evolutionary processes.

SPLASH THREE: Jóhann Jóhannsson, And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound of Bees. Things were becoming quite pickled by this point. Mike’s shirt was halfway un-tucked, and as one of his eyes stared me down keenly, the other swam lazily inside its’ socket. Composed and self-released for Marc Craste’s animated film Varmints, this album is a soundtrack fetish that paints and illuminates the moving images it accompanies. We instantly agreed that the sounds of rain and thunder (and seagulls) takes us to a place we want to be. Mike slammed his beer down and said, “all music should strive to be this EPIC!”. I froze in my seat as he began to hazily recant our days at Indiana University’s M.A.C. painting theatre sets. Per our bosses’ orders, we’d slop a sludgy-gray primer paint onto a staircase built for the stage. Up close, we’d wonder who we were fooling; it looked like total shit. But from the seats of the auditorium, the staircase would come alive as a sultry student actress descended it.

This seemed to epitomize my main problem with contemporary classical music; one can no longer discern what is real and what is a high-end computer program. Are the strings and voices from a MIDI keyboard or a live symphony? And more importantly, who cares? Mike summed it up: “THIS IS APOCRYPHALLY BEAUTIFUL!” as he wiped up spilled beer with the knee of his pants. I completely agreed. Towards the end of the record, his mood settled and a sweet calm enveloped him. We agreed that this was no new way to cook eggs, yet the starkly and stately music of Jóhann Jóhannsson is indifferent to whether you can trace it back to the quack who hatched it.

On our way to acquire more libations for our post-Sade Sundays croquet game, Mike thought it would be funny to do the thing where he keeps driving forward when the person trying to get in the car (me) reaches for the car door handle. I was not amused. After taking his delight in my dismay to new heights, some nut in a truck decided to intervene by blocking Mike’s driving path, rolled down his window and yelled something like, “they wouldn’t do that to the Irish!” I used to own a Norte Dame Starter jacket, and wished at that moment I could somehow prove it to him. In some way, I felt this reflected our experience with these records. While continuing to search for the tactile ride that will lift our minds to a place they’ve never been before, we keep missing the latch. One thing’s for certain; we’ll keep running alongside the locomotive until we catch it.

About Sade Sundays: A profundity has never slipped past the lips of a man who lives a life of quiet desperation. He has time for no such subtleties. So basically, Joshua and Michael have time on their hands. They spend it together one Sunday a month, dispensing boozy wisdom and violent, undefended revelries. You may listen, but you may also render their words as a call of the wild, a spear from St. George into the side of the dragon beast, or a meaningless squabble. Contact us: