Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Charlene - Summertimer

(SharkAttack!, 2001)

As my favorite poet once wrote with his boogie-woogie quill, “I’m back. I’m back in the saddle again.” And in my case, eight days after I boarded a plane for distant lands and left my turntable behind, that saddle is THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! Yes, it was good fun seeing monkeys atop motorcycles, museums of meat, and scores of destitute limbless with begging-cups extended, but nothing beats coming back home to unpaid bills and nightmares of bedbug-infested luggage. And 45s! More 45s! Boxes of 45s waiting just for me! Friends, rest easy knowing that those 45s were never far from my mind: I was actually thinking a bit about these Charlene records while I traveled, and what really struck me is how GREAT they all sound. The group’s self-production – even on fuzzier songs like “Summertimer” that forego the spacey sheen of other releases – is always stunning and expensive-sounding, further cementing my opinion that nothing in the Charlene camp is done half-assed, that they are in scary-full control of their entire musical operation. I said it before: this band seems to know exactly what it wants to do, and then it goes off and does it well. Dang! There’s an epic mid-tempo indie-psych quality to these two particular songs that’s quite rare in my listening experience; the best comparison I can come up with is, musically, Hit to Death In the Future Head, and, emotionally, early Spiritualized. “Talk Me Down,” especially, is both impressively towering and yet appealingly homespun. I don’t know what else to say… I can (and would) fawn over Charlene all day, but the bottom line just remains “you should hear the records.” SO DO IT. Still batting 1.000, it’s another winner outta these guys.

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