Petunia failed me again. Petering out on the road, I was forced to pull over. She has a penchant for embarrassing me as soon as I see anyone I know. She knows what she’s doing. So, I had to roll my busted bike up to Bar None to the welcoming committee of wise-cracking cigarette smokers lining the entrance.
“Hey fellas,” fell sheepishly out of my mouth as I stumbled around trying to tie her up to the parking meter.
A short greeting turned into a long reminiscing about the BeyHeyDay of Bey’s with the crowd outside, as they used to all gather in almost the exact same formation outside of Bey’s, which set the tone for the night. Nostalgia was in the air.
- “What we need is a newer venue! There’s a lot of talent in Columbia, we just need more places to showcase it!”
- “Yeah man, you know that [insert unfeasible location in 5 pts or the Vista here] is for rent, all we’d need to do is save up a little dough and we could really get some big acts coming through!”
- “We just need people to commit, man, money’s no issue.”
- “Yeah, somebody should totally do that.”
Ahh. The boilerplate “Columbia’s Music Scene Needs [Blank]” conversation. I could hear it over the din of the bar as I strolled in much like a favorite song of yesteryear you hear on a charming old jukebox, reminding you how it excited you long ago, when, now, a gradual disillusionment mars its effect. We’ve all heard it before, and no matter how feverish the rhetoric or frenzied the delivery, the conclusion usually comes to “Somebody should totally do that,” followed by a beat and then an order for another round of drinks.
Bracing myself for round one, I found myself at the bar next to a young man with a straw hat, slouching over a glass of booze, quite reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting. After a very subtle and gradual triple-take, I realized I actually knew this fella.
“Josh McCormack! Doomslang, man, it’s been a second.”
I first knew him from rare appearances at Bey’s, back when I hosted an open mic, and always appreciated his hat choice, the straw hat replacing a fluffy Russian cap that donned his dome in winter. Back in the day.
Of course, nostalgia. As Don Draper said, it’s the pain from an old wound, a pain best complimented with a sweet Mint Julep. Reminiscing as we sat at the bar, we discussed the majesty of Tim and Eric, Louis CK, Neil Hamburger, Lost, The Wire, and, of course, the local music scene. Artfully dancing around the stock conversation, we shared stories of success and failure in our music scene, and, from someone who has only been in Columbia for a few years, I learned quite a bit about the previous generations of music to come through.
Of course, other than a slick hat collection, Joshua McCormack also has a slick song selection he’s been recently polishing for us. Having played with his group Cassangles, he turned towards his solo project, doomslang which also serves as his moniker. Just recently, he released three songs of varying style, Problem Child (Slight Return), Dawgie Lullaby, and Nerf Hospital. Playing alongside a perfectly mixed-in Logan Goldstein (of local homies extraordinaire Pandercakes) on the latter, the tracks contain a range of instrumentation, but still douse you with a syrupy gravy boat of Absinthe in its sparkling haze, through which you can barely make out the ghost of Elliott Smith’s silhouette softly singing a lullaby as he rocks a sleepy baby Danny Elfman (Scissorhands era) to a deep slumber.
I don’t know if I made it clear enough, but these songs sound like the deepest sleep. Finding a suitable instrumentation and level of effects to fit his voice, doomslang puts forth a solid foray into the dream world, particularly with the first track’s twinkling Omnichord, an instrument featured in my favorite episode of Adventure Time (I Remember You), also played by the love of my life whom I met in Dunedin. My favorite track has to be Dawgie Lullaby, for its humble beginnings that evolve into a lofty vocal orchestration reminiscent of a stripped down version of Bright Eye’s symphonic break in Digital Ash’s “I Believe in Symmetry.”
If you like dreams, (not like our actual, absurd, subtly sexual, mostly silly dreams, more like the soundtrack to Hollywood dream sequences), then give doomslang a listen. You’ll find yourself staring wistfully out of a raindrop-studded window in no time. Sometimes it’s just what you need.
Kicking the pedal, holding the clutch, releasing it as soon as I hear the engine rumble slightly, simultaneously giving it just a little throttle, hearing some rumbling, switching on the fuel injection lever, giving it more throttle, I finally saw my baby girl come back to life. The 1980 Pepi Sport has the engine of a fuggin lawnmower, but I love her.
As she roared to life, and I go and pat Josh on the shoulder, promising to give his songs a listen. I reflect, ever so briefly, on the pitfalls of nostalgia. Perhaps we should be more concerned with the now, as opposed to a time we can never reclaim? After all, those in constant reverie never get shit done. But as Petunia zipped down Saluda St, I thought of her as a relic of the past, a product of nostalgia, that still had some kick in her. Pondering this, I cross the intersection to get to the base of the hill, where she promptly farts out on me again.