I’m starting a record collection. And yes, I mean record in the original twelve-inch, waxy, wobbly, scratchy, prone to degrading, vinyl way. The endeavor is not so much consumed with fidelity (though that too is interesting) as much as it is a response to the absence of tangible content in the digital age and a meaningful way of recognizing art and artists. The plan is to collect a few 12" LP’s to display as art that is unique in both the autobiographical sense, and the fact that it doesn’t come from Target.
The first album on my list is a somewhat obscure group known as Poor Old Lu which emerged out of the Seattle indie/grunge scene in the early 90’s. Poor Old Lu’s album Sin has earned a well deserved place in my musical autobiography. Their song “Sickly” includes the first solo that I ever tabbed out and memorized by heart and Jessie Sprinkle’s busy/energetic approach to drumming remains one of the primary influences (along with Sunny Day Real Estate’s William Goldsmith) to how I approach the kit. Most importantly the album saved me from the banality of “Christian” rock.
As a young adolescent of an evangelical family I was encouraged to pursue music that was “good,” in the sense that its lyrical content would not lead me to getting long hair, tattoos, or worse. Yet despite the goodness of my modest music collection at that time, there was something that didn’t feel right, but which my 9th grade whits couldn’t quite articulate. Poor Old Lu’s album Sin revealed unequivocally what was wrong, namely, that the rest of my music collection was skubala. Indeed everything I had listened to up to that point paled in comparison to the power, creativity, and nuance that breathed from my speakers that day I came home from the store with this odd curiosity.
At first glance Sin might seem like an odd way to begin an art/record collection. The cover is nothing more than a photograph of a hot pink marshmallow bunny set against a similarly textured neon yellow background. At the same time the crude suggestion that something as generic as a marshmallow bunny might be considered art provides a certain abrasiveness and hints that there may be more to discover beneath the surface. On deeper inspection the feeling of discomfort which the cover evokes is in keeping with the cynicism intrinsic to the Grunge genre of the early 90’s, as is the presentation of the ordinary as cultural criticism (similar to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”). More personally, the cover also suggests a critique of the crass superficiality of generic pop-culture of the kind I had previously listened to. Lastly, the juxtaposition of a pink marshmallow bunny as a visual representation of sin uncovers the perversion by which easter has been co-opted by consumerism.