Speed is Everything
No Idea Records
If you are like me, and I am going out on a limb here and going to assume, that at least in this small way you are, because if you weren’t you wouldn’t be reading this, sometimes you just find yourself really surprised by music and how an album sort of comes to you from the cosmos and really moves you. The music geek in me tonight has caught a bit of a buzz. I decided to hole up in my room, headphones snug around my ears and listen to some music. I grabbed a couple of the LP’s I have bought so I could snuggle with them. My cat however, decided that she would occupy the space of the vinyl instead so I grabbed my computer because I just really wanted to talk about this album.
Speed is Everything is not a BRAND SPAKING NEW JUST STOLEN OFF THE INTERNET BLOG HYPE OVERKILL bullshit album that anyone is talking about. And I find this shameful. Not that my blog, here in the sea of blogs that’s all self referential and thus hardly “criticism” helps my argument (have I said this enough here yet?) but frankly, the fact that The Bomb isn’t more on the radar of the kids is kind of really fucked up. Especially considering that some of post punk and punk rocks best cheerleaders make appearances on the record itself.
First, I need to admit that I know nothing of Jeff Pezzati’s classic band Naked Raygun, and unfortunately this is one of those instances where I am gonna be scared to check them out, because this album is so fucking good. I kind of can’t stop listening to it. Right now as “A Song for the Helana’s” pours so crisp into my ears, the slinky bass popping all along, I have fucking chills. I can’t really take it. This music makes me so happy I want to cry. I haven’t felt like this since I heard Blood Sugar Sex Magic when I was 14 or the first time I heard London Calling. So I have no historical context for this album, it just swept me away. I can’t even say what inspired me to purchase it from No Idea. I think I heard one song on the internets and was like, oh that sounds cool and I just bought it. But my god, I am so glad that I did, because it’s beautiful.
The other thing that is really important to me in talking about this album (one other thing that is) is that Speed is Everything exemplifies what a producer can do for a band. J Robbins firmly had a hand in this album and The Bomb benefited greatly from this relationship. Before I even checked the liner notes I felt like this was really inspired by Jawbox and seeing Sir Robbins name as engineer did not come as a surprise. This is the kind of album Atlantic was probably looking for (not that I am complaining because For Your Own Special Sweetheart is a masterpiece) back in the nineties. My goodness though, the production is so crisp and clean and cutting. The vocal harmonies are so signature J Robbins and I have never heard him record drums that sound this good. They lay perfectly in the mix, cutting when they need to be, serving as a foundation to let the other parts breath. Also, I don’t know whose idea it was to get Dan Yemin and Bob Nanna to add their talents, but it was a beautiful idea. Punk rock rarely does the “guest vocals” stuff on albums, and their performances just make me wish people would do it more often, but you know, just as good.
The conflicting emotions on this album are also so great. Some songs are seriously serious, others are wanting for space travel, super heros and those greater then the defined human experience. I love songs that long for space travel, space fantasies and the like. They are hopeful and sad at the same time. It just cuts to the core. Nana makes his appearance on “Space Age Love Song” which is a fucking FLOCK OF SEAGULS cover, and yet it’s so beautiful. It sounds like it’s from fucking outerspace. It reminds me of that scene in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where Arthur Dent is drunk on love when first seeing Trillian again, but realizes he kind of fucked up. So it’s not about space, but it sure invokes the universe. When music makes me think about my favorite book (and thus one of my favorite works of art) you know I am gonna fall really hard for that song and band.
I don’t really know what to do with myself after having heard this album. Speed is Everything is the kind of album that leaves everything else in the dust. It makes me forget about the history of music completely, feeling like this is the only album that is important. It’s smartly recorded, furiously executed, burning with passion, Pezzati’s voice just soaring and cool as fuck. The record has everything, hard and fast songs, carefree jams, quirky and witty ditties, touching melodic tearjerkers and it’s all held together in one cohesive piece. If you’re in a punk band, you should probably just give up, because you are not going to make a record as good as Speed is Everything.