Now Playing: Novacane – Shearwater

Posted on January 10th, by Jack in Blog. No Comments

Now Playing is a series that features songs and words that have a particular significance to me,  for some reason.

This afternoon I locked in plans to go to the second weekend of Coachella, and I’ve been giddy about it all day. I’ve been to some great festivals over the past few summers, but I haven’t been to anything this size since Bonnaroo 2009, when I had just graduated high school. My live has changed immeasurably since then, so It’ll be interesting to see if it feels different from the last time I isolated myself from outside society with so many ridiculous people.

Beyond just the general excitement that surrounds the concept of a camping festival, Coachella promises to be an awesome experience on a few different levels.

Obviously, there’s Outkast. For music fans my age, Outkast represents the very last wave of legendary groups that we can legitimately consider “before our time” (The White Stripes fit in this category too, although they’re even closer to the edge of where I draw this distinction). While I was certainly aware of Outkast during their active period (I remember getting hooked on the Ms. Jackson video back in elementary school when I used to wake up early and watch MTV—the “forever ever” owl still kills me), I was only 13 when Speakerboxx/The Love Below came out, and 16 during the uncaptivating Idlewind project. I was old enough to absorb my cultural surroundings, but still too young to really understand and contextualize it.
So, as weird as it might seem, I’ve approached Outkast in the same retrospective, vaguely false-nostalgic way that I first approached The Beatles, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Dead and Neutral Milk Hotel (to whom all of the sentiments in this paragraph also apply, being on the Coachella ’14 lineup as well). So, even if my elders’ version of history doesn’t see it the same way I do, an Outkast reunion really will be a special moment in my narrative as a music fan. They may not be The Beatles, but in some (obviously smaller) way they’re my Beatles, and I’m getting a gift that Beatles fans sadly never did.

Outkast isn’t the only think that makes this year’s Coachella appealing though. For one, I’m going to be reunited with some of my all-time favorite partners-in-crime, one of whom I haven’t seen since he moved out to the West Coast after graduation. Also, even if it’s unseasonably cold like 2012, the weather in Cali promises to beat whatever April brings me here in Vermont.

Musically, the other acts I’m excited for include (in some kind of relevant order): Neutral Milk Hotel, Lorde, The (legendary/underrated) Replacements, Frank Turner, Haim (one of my new favorite bands), Chance the Rapper, Arcade Fire, Fatboy Slim,  The Knife, Superchunk, J. Roddy Walston, Girl Talk (who lives for venues like this), Bombino, Pharrell, Cudi (another mainstream festival champion) and Big Gigantic. 

As for the song that this post is allegedly all about, it’s just what I’ve had stuck in my head all day. Specifically I’ve had Frank Ocean’s original stuck in my head, but lately I’ve been tired of that recording and really interested in this one. “Novacane” already has some of the most interesting lyrics in recent pop history—it’s full of interesting-sounding words (like, for example, “Coachella”) and clever phrasing—and Shearwater’s cover does fascinating things with them. While I’m usually staunchly against bands changing lyrics when they do covers, this interpretation actually develops the narrative in a way that better fits its context. Shearwater adds some mystery to the female protagonist, giving the whole scene a jittery, sketchy atmosphere that fits their band’s identity better. They don’t carry the confidence that Frank Ocean does, so it makes sense that they would have a different perspective on the whole situation. For an unexpected cover, it certainly exceeds expectations.

Anyways, I’m off now to see The Lost play the first rock show at Oldcastle’s new theater here in Bennington, keep an eye out for a review in the Banner (and ultimately on this site) next week.



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