Ten years ago I graduated from high school. Things were different then. The most notable difference was the fact that we still had that thing called “rock and roll”. Kids these days might not even realize such a thing still exists. Anyway, I was recently contacted by 1991’s homecoming queen who asked if I was planning on attending our 10-year high school reunion. I could only laugh. Most of my friends were either older or younger than me. The couple of friends I did have in my own graduating class have long since gone AWOL.
So where is this leading, exactly? Well I can’t think of my old high school years without recalling the day I bought Young Fresh Fellows’ This One’s For the Ladies one afternoon in 1990. I had recently just gotten into that whole “alternative” music thing thanks to The Stone Roses, and well, the Fellows just looked like a good thing to me. I mean, it’s hard to argue with such titles as “Taco Wagon”, “Carrothead”, “New Old Song”, and “Miss Lonelyhearts”. Plus, this was back in the days when I was still known to buy an album simply for its cover art. Indeed, This One’s For the Ladies looked as good as a cheap Polaroid. What more could you ask for?
This one is for the ladies. I listen to “Middle Man of Time” and recall the crush I had on a girl named Megan. One note of “Still There’s Hope” sends me reeling in locked away memories of Joy and Julie. Ah yes, those were the days. But did I mention that Young Fresh Fellows may just be Seattle’s best band ever? And yes, this was in the days of knee-deep Seattle grunge, when everyone found solace in plaid and Doc Martens. I never cared for grunge, though. Nirvana, Soundgarden, and the rest of those distraught rebels never caught my ear. However, Scott McCaughey’s brand of jangle pop did and I was soon trying to ape Tad Hutchinson’s drum stylings on my own kit in my bedroom, as well as writing McCaughey-inspired lyrics in all my spiral notebooks.
Some critics have tried to draw a connection between this album and the sound of the Replacements, with whom the Fellows had been touring extensively at around the time of its release. The humor may very well be there, but the sound solidly recalls the Garageland of the Sixties. It’s not just in the sweet pop tunes, either. One listen to “Rotation” and you’re quickly reminded of the insane stylings of the Sonics. Similarly, “When I’m Lonely Again” resurrects the ghost of the Velvet Underground with its jarring and cacophonous guitar solo a-la Lou Reed’s “European Son”. On top of that, you get a cover of the Kinks’ “Picture Book” which I feel actually betters the original found on The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society.
This One’s For the Ladies marks a high point in the Fellows’ career in both quality and substance. For me personally, it contains a whole lot of valuable memories that still make me smile. So I think I’ll definitely be passing on that 10-year high school reunion. I’d rather my recollections of some of those years to remain good through the music which shaped my days at the time. I fear that seeing some of those people who actually made up those days will remind of just how much I actually loathed high school. It’s bad enough that I still have dreams of being back in one of those classrooms, waiting to take some lousy math test. This one’s for the Fellows. Thanks for making a lot of that silliness tolerable.