I’m going to start this post by saying I’m sorry I haven’t posted in so long! I’ve been putting it off mainly because of Alex’s filing system. You see, he has all of his Christmas albums filed under “C” for “Christmas.” And guess what’s next? About 5 Christmas albums. You might be reading this and thinking, “Oh yeah, Christmas music. Who needs it? Am I right?” But that is not why I have been putting off the Christmas album reviews. The truth is that I am SO into Christmas. I am into Christmas so very much that I force myself to not even think about celebrating it in any way until the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, I have a lot of rules. For example, you can’t get your Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, that’s too early. But December 1 and after is ok. I love Christmas so much that I know if I allowed myself to even think about celebrating it too early in the year, it might ruin the magic of the Christmas season for me. It’s kind of like how I OD’d on watching the Rushmore dvd in college. And the last time I watched it I didn’t really like the movie anymore. And I know that that was no one’s fault but my own, because I had no self control with that movie. If that happened to me with Christmas, I don’t know what I would do.
So after much procrastination, I decided to change the rules a tiny bit, because hey, I made them up, I can change them as I please, and the way Alex files his records is just stupid. It was either that, or not write another post until the day after Thanksgiving, and that’s just dumb. So, new rule! I am saving the Christmas albums until December, where I will review them throughout the month in the true spreading-out-Christmas time joy- spirit that I love so much.
So, that means today I’m reviewing Chrome, which based on the cover, I’m guessing is going to be the complete opposite of a Christmas album. I hope I made the right choice! Let’s put it on.
The liner notes are in poster form. I’m into that. I’m shocked that this album is from 1979, I guess I’ve always thought Chrome was from the 90s. I know Alex really likes them, but I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to them, but if he ever mentions them my brain is like, oh that’s some 90s band. Time to change your ways, brain!
Theres a sticker on the form that says “Original Soundtrack from Read Only Memory,” but Alex said, he thinks that’s a joke. So far, this much is kind of scary, totally appropriate for a chilly October night. But it feels scary in an intriguing way, like I could also listen to it while soaking in the tub or doing something where I was trying to relax. Is relaxing and feeling scared something you can do at the same time? I feel like it is. I bet there’s a German word for it.
I just asked Alex if “Damon Edge” and “Helios Creed” are made up names and he laughed at me while saying yes. I’m into both of those names. It makes me feel like this band has somewhat of a literary vibe about them if those are the names that they picked up. They sound like names writers would create. Even though, so far there have been no lyrics at all. Also, I have no idea what song I’m listening to at this point, because this album is obviously an art project and not the kind of music that’s preoccupied with making sure one song is distinct from the next another. I feel like I should be listening to this music while walking through a museum, or a haunted house. I’d take either.
I just asked Alex if he would make me some tea, and then made a kind of scary chipmunk face at him. He said, “Are you making a scary face because of this music?” And I said, “Yes, that’s how someone who listens to this music asks for tea.”
I’m liking this though. My house feels really cozy right now, I just ate a delicious dinner that I made myself, (coconut beet soup, rack of lamb, and roasted brussels sprouts) and we have a fire going because it’s a true fall night, and this strange music is really adding to the cozy environment in some very unexpected/unexplained way. It’s the relaxed/scared feeling I’m talking about. It’s a real thing!
I also think it would be kind of funny if someone walked into the living room right now. We’re just sitting here in silence, listening to this crazy ass music, and we’re both completely sober. What a bunch of delightful weirdos.
OH MY GOD IT’S HAPPENED AGAIN YOU GUYS. WE’VE BEEN LISTENING TO THIS AT THE WRONG SPEED!! I love this speed! Oh no, what the hell is the real speed going to be like??
We’re just going to listen to the first side again. I’m finding that it actually doesn’t sound that much different, just a little more urgent and jarring. It’s still good. Is that the mark of an amazing album? If you have this album, listen to it at 33RPM, it’s so worth it, even though it sounds a little more like real music at the right speed.
I just went to the Chrome Wikipedia page. That’s totally what I thought they would look like. Oh man, Damon Edge is dead. That’s sad.
On to side B. So, “I am the Jaw,” is standing out. That would be a cool username for something. Like metafilter or thebump.com. Alex just said, “my favorite line on this entire thing is ’they call me a cannibal, they call me a pygmy.’” And I was like, “on this entire thing? there’s no talking up until now!” And he said fair point. Alex just told me that all of Chrome’s other stuff doesn’t sound like this. I’m okay with that. Because even though I’m really enjoying this, I don’t know if I could handle several albums worth of Chrome, and I know there’s more to come.
And that’s it! Well, I really enjoyed that. I’m going to remember to listen to it again especially around Halloween. Maybe if you’re feeling crazy, you could file it under “H” for Halloween.
Alex says: Ok, so just to get this out of the way - the two best Chrome albums, “Half Machine Lip Moves” and “Alien Soundtracks” are two I don’t have on record. I’m not happy about it, it’s just the way that things have shaken out.
Like just about anyone who got into Chrome after the early 80’s, it was through those two albums. Touch & Go reissued them as a single CD in the 90’s and since I studied the Touch & Go catalog like the Talmud, it was only a matter of time until I heard them. But my entree into the band was actually pretty roundabout.
After I graduated from High School, I moved in with my bandmates Allan and Michael and we had a raucous, debauched, sometimes fun, sometimes miserable summer. Michael, who was one of those nodes that teach you so much more about music than you could possibly repay them for, made me a bunch of cassettes that I used to play as a I drove around, and for whatever reason I did a terrible job actually labeling them. One of them was Chrome, and it sat in my car, unlistened to and unlabeled, for months. And then one day, I was in the parking lot at Washtenaw Community College, tired of listening to Devo and Polvo, and I grabbed this unmarked tape and popped it in.
It was unreal. It was like listening to Mick Jagger make prank phone calls from outer space. It was silly, and terrifying, and angry and fun. And for the life of me, I had no idea where I got the tape or who the band was. So I just left it in the tape deck for months. And then one day Michael got into the car and was like “Oh, yr groovin’ on this Chrome record, huh?” and it was like a great burden of not knowing was lifted off my shoulders.