“Here lies a genius. Keep the fu**Ing noise down”
– Noel Gallagher
“Gimme the mic bit** / I wanna be Sheezus”
– Lily Allen
I have a funny story. It was my junior year in high school and I made the decision to become a Christian. I would have my mom drop me off at church every Sunday and then pick me up. It was early December, 2000.
I went one time. Three days afterward, my cousin was killed in an auto crash in New Jersey that wasn’t her fault. I never went to church again.
I have another funny story. I wasn’t even sure if I was gonna do this review yet (I know you don’t care…bear with me). Somehow last night I got thinking about this girl and then got thinking about “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues,” or maybe it was the other way around…anyway my Sunday activity today involved locating the Mary J. Blige version performed with John at Madison Square Garden in October of 2000 (the same season that the aforementioned incident transpired…ooh…), watching it, noticing that not only does she have the perfect voice in general but especially the perfect voice and disposition for that song in particular, noticing how she stares straight at Elton John while she sings part of it and ultimately, finding my eyes the consistency of french onion soup by the end. Well, little did I know, I was preparing myself for listening to this Sharon Van Etten record.
I was attempting to contact Miss Van Etten because as of right now there is no Wikipedia page on Remind Me Tomorrow and the Bandcamp site is unhelpful toward ascertaining songwriting credits, although on the latter you do get a waft of that, uh, vanguard album cover. Opener “I Told You Everything,” anywho, wields a considerable element of Julia Holter’s chord progression knack, which you could just call Sharon Van Etten’s chord progression knack except that here it’s rendered ambiently on piano and carries copious lyrical references to truths manifested in people’s eyes, which reminded me very much of Julia Holter.
From the slow, dramatic, relationship-handling opener, then, we travel in a commendable direction of different musical styles, namely the industrial-light programmed drums and Fender stabs of “No One’s Easy to Love,” another tune carrying undeniable genuineness and chutzpah in the lyrical department. It’s sort of like if St. Vincent weren’t really creepy…I mean I know that’s like her thing and stuff…anyway, you get the point.
Typically I’m not a huge vinyl guy — I grew up on Hootie & the Blowfish and Cranberries CD’s, all of which were filled with hit singles that made the bands one million bajillion gajillion dollars, to use the phrase from Austin Powers, so not that there wasn’t album integrity at all but it wasn’t such a priority that I’d want to absorb it within such an unorthodoxly pure format, if you will. Remind Me Tomorrow, I would say, definitely warrants the purchase of a vinyl record, and the reason has to do with tension and release. It’s a record of undeniable human emotion, sort of like an intense physical experience except that it’s mental, and as we know all strenuous physical activities spawn the production of lactic acid in the muscles, causing fatigue. A same phenomenon rears its head on Remind Me Tomorrow about three songs in and so we get a nice reprieve with “Jupiter 4,” a very down number which reminded me of the spellbindingly underrated Lower Dens album Nootropics, the whole of which is basically composed of
these languid beach songs. “Jupiter 4,” like the second song “No One’s Easy to Love,” delves into ominous minor chords and does so with visceral tenacity, almost like The National might, and this should not be underestimated in terms of providing an LP that is multifarious and plentiful in its emotional ebbs and flows. Miss Van Etten without question understands music’s connection to the physical things in life — our bodies and the world around us, etc. — and therein exactly lies a significant portion of her genius, especially as, on her first great LP, her m.o. is so adaptive and evolutionary of her prior authoritative work, the Epic EP from 2010.