Friday, May 31, 2013

Get Up Kids Four Minute Mile Blue Vinyl Repress Doghouse 1997

Get Up Kids Four Minute Mile
Blue Vinyl
Doghouse America Records
CAT #DOG047 1997 Repress

The singer is from KC and the rest of the Get Up Kids are from Olathe, Kansas.  If you've been to Olathe, KS, this doesn't make any sense.  I grew up in Olathe, KS.  In junior high and high school I attended school with members of this band and despite that, this album makes no sense to me.

Olathe, KS is fucking blackhole.  People get lost in it and forget the rest of the world exists.  Sure, it's a great place raise your family and most parts of the city are safe, but why does it need so many strip malls?  Why is there nowhere cool to hang out?  Why is everyone so into Nascar?  And, why does everybody park their car on the street and not in their garage?  What are Olathians hiding thier garages?

In high school, I was in the backseat of Jimmy Suptic's VW Bug on the way to a parking lot.  (Because, that's what you did in Olathe on the weekends as a teenager, you hung out in 711 parking lots until the police moved you along to the next place you weren't allowed to hang out).  I had been feeding the drummer of this band stuff by the Dead Milkmen and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (pre- Blood Sex Sugar Magic, mind you) thinking I was hot indie rock shit.  This obviously got back to Jimmy who turned to me and asked, "Have you ever heard Fugazi?"  "Yes," I replied which was a total lie to sound cool.  He puts in the tape and on comes the song 'Repeater.'  My mind is racing, I can't keep up with the song, my mouth is wide open while the rest of the car is chanting, "1, 2, 3.  Repeater!"  The song ends and I ask Jimmy, "Where did you get that?"  "Recycled Sounds" he replies.  Recycled Sounds was a record store in downtown Kansas City.  That's how bad Olathe is.  You had to drive 45 minutes to get a fucking Fugazi tape.

Yet, Olathe, Kansas is where most of this band is from.  The album cover, that's the Olathe South track, those runners, Olathe South Grads.  And from that, comes this album.  The late 90's scene .emo darlings (along with Promise Ring) are from a boring suburb.  The band that the now Mighty Pitchfork e-zine MADE THEIR NAME TRASHING, is from Olathe, Kansas.  That's equivalent to Lester Bangs making his name bashing James Taylor and the whole California soft rock scene.  (Kicker being, no one remembers a bad review, but they'll still pay money for the albums that were scorned).

It would make sense then that this album is about girls, right?  Teenage kids from suburbia, what else do they have to write about?  Well, it's about being a teenager, but it's not all about girls.  The theme of this album is about moving on.  The Four Minute Mile is about achieving something that no one thought possible.  The Get Up Kids were literally just kids at the time, the drummer was still in high school when their first release came out.  All four members were at an age prime for parental expectations and other pressures.  They are from the suburbs, they lived in fairly affluent neighborhoods and had good parents.  Rather than continue in college, they took a chance and dropped out to be in a rock n' roll band.  Don't believe me?  Let's talk about some of these tunes.

Track 1. Coming Clean - 18 year old kids don't feel this way about girls, yet.  They do feel the disappoint though when they tell their parents, "I hope you'll forgive me but what you want from me is killing me."
Track 2. Don't Hate Me - Amy is not a girl, she's a metaphor for college, parents, religion.  Try it, it's the fear of failure, running back to Amy is giving up on a dream.
Track 3. Fall Semster - Oh fuck, this is obvious.  "If I tried, would you still call me a son?"
Track 4. Stay Gold, Ponyboy? - The Outsiders reference is priceless.  I will cut you if you disagree.  But, yeah, pretty emo.
Track 6. Washington Square Park - "Though that ring again, through that sick machine doesn't that make you any stronger than you or anything choose."  I feel this is the teenage role-reversal--this the coming of age child dismissing the life their parent's want to choose for them.  The 9-5 Monday through Friday doesn't seem all that great.
Track 7. Last Place You Look - This one is kind of heartbreaker.  I like to think it is a son hoping, despite the arguments, his parents will still support the choices he makes and trust him.  But, more likely about a girl.
Track 8. Better Half - A little of a mish-mosh, mostly about a girl.  But there is the line, "I saw my baby boy digging his own hole, keeping alive family traditions."

I've listened to this album countless times, multiple formats, over the last 15 years now, and every time it's the same: Brilliant.  It's recorded like shit, the band sounds like teenagers (they were), it's a bit pitch-y and the tempos are too fast, but it's bursting at the seams with nerves and energy.  It's exciting and loud, there are pick slides and yelps, it never tries to be "underground" and was never trying to be "emo."  The band just wanted you to hear what they created.  I put this album right next to other debuts like the Police's 'Outlandos d'Amour', the Talking Heads '77' album and R.E.M.'s 'Chronic Town' E.P., because it's that type of debut, raw and nervous, all energy.  It's a band dying to get the fuck out of Olathe and discover the rest of America.

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