Mirror Talk:
The TVD First Date

“My first vinyl LPs were acquired the evening prior to my departure to the west coast for collage at my aunt’s second floor walk-up in the East Village of Manhattan.”

“Some years ago she disappeared into Europe and returned with an enigmatic English beau. Willowy, formidably learned, a voracious and excellent drinker, he was a charmingly appropriate counterpoint to my aunt’s city-bred free spirit. We three would commonly spend evenings drinking inexpensive Bourbon, smoking rollies, franticly discussing the state of culture in the city, and taunting the roving hordes of invading NYU students from the fire escape above, while the Brit played selector with an assortment of records across a variegated spectrum of genres.

Their shared album collection reflected an approach to lifestyle which I found attractive—manicured, minimal, essential. When the sun came up and evening concluded, they wished me well on my collegiate voyage and gifted me several albums, believing that records, like novels and motorcycle jackets, enjoy a second life in the possession of those for whom such things are new.

They’d both been listening to Sandinista! since the early 80’s, and perhaps took pleasure in knowing that decades later, someone else was to be similarly effected by its disorienting strangeness and ADD genre-hopping. London Calling off the Ritalin. My aunt told me a story about going out drinking in the village one night with Joe Strummer during his time with the Mescaleros. At the evening’s end, he signed her skateboard.

Blood and Chocolate was blistering. My uncle had already given me a CD of Armed Forces years earlier when I was a senior in High School. George Bush Jr. had just been elected into office and I was quickly realizing how little I understood women. Those familiar with the album’s subject matter will appreciate that it came to me at precisely the correct time and understand why Elvis Costello had become my go-to model for angry-young-man posturing and pop songwriting. Uncle had cautioned me that the song “I Want You” was dangerous, equally likely to induce heartbreak as to quell its effects. He was quite correct.

After repeated failures to meaningfully engage with hip hop music, OB4CL was the first rap record I fell truly and fully in love with. Prior to acquiring the vinyl, I’d forged a copy of a copy of the cassette. Adorned it in purple enamel, even. Warped, refracted orchestras set against violent, Sansamp-ed drums, woefully out-of-tune singing, and simultaneously bizarre and formalist raps about desserts made for a narcotic experience.

I was puzzled as to how they came into possession of the “Losing My Edge” 12″; neither seemed concerned with contemporary music and this was perhaps the only recently released vinyl in their collection. I’d ask them to put it on whenever I’d visit. At the time, I assumed the song’s author was some young cat and that its content was intended as a sort of novelty satire. A faux High-Fidelityan wave of supercilious bitterness, boasts of “being there” and digs at “internet seekers” made the tune difficult to engage with, but, god, it sounded phenomenally awesome. It took a year or so for me to realize I had it all wrong.

I think the last LP was Otis Blue, though I could be totally mistaken on that. Otis is perfect and, at the risk of hyperbole, I consider the records and songs he made during his life to be the voice of god made vinyl. Marvin was too slick, Al also. (But fuck, if Willie Mitchell didn’t give him the craziest, low-tuned snare sound on those records he produced.) I was dazzled by Stevie’s virtuosity, but couldn’t manage to fall in love with his music the way other friends and family naturally seemed to. I remember being introduced to Otis. In my early teens, my mother had put on “I Wish It Would Rain.” I loved The Temptations and inquired if they’re were any soul singers as mean as David Ruffin. Oh yes, she replied.

Before departing with the LPs I needed to ask—were they certain they wanted to relinquish such treasured music? They chuckled at the notion of “treasure” and its implied preciousness. We had a good run together they said. Time to make room in the crate for something new.”
Steven Lopez, Synthesizers & Guitar

The vinyl edition of Mirror Talk’s “Infatuation” EP will be available through Urban Outfitters in January, and in advance—it’s out digitally today.

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