Love songs - the lifeblood of music. Love, the reason we all get out of (or stay in) bed - as it is such an essential part of our existence. Whether speaking of it in the present, the pursuit, or absence of, it has provided a fertile ground for the examination of the human experience.
Enter Alex Minoff: guitarist in bands such as Golden, Extra Golden, The Make-Up, Weird War, etc., basketball enthusiast, person of 6 feet or more. Minoff has been responsible for many of my favorite recorded moments, and he continues this tradition with his self-titled Bandcamp release. A mix of pop, rhythm and blues, rock, and other nods to musical tradition, the album could be taken as a tale of a man who has fallen in love, fallen in the love, lost the love, fell out of love, examined life and love whilst laying on the ground, rose from the ground and walked away scarred but resilient.
“One of the things that I learned in trying to write the lyrics for the album was that there’s a reason that the history of pop music is basically a history of songs that seem to tell the story of the relationship between a boy and a girl,” commented Minoff from a phone in DC on election night. “And what I mean is that this album is full of lyrical content that seems to be posed in that scenario - a relationship situation. It’s just such an easy way to write, using the metaphor of a relationship is an easy way to write about a lot of different things, and you can’t neccesarily take everything to be literally about a boy and a girl. The songs have so many different meanings for me. It’s just not as simple as that. It’s an easy way, or it’s a useful way, to write using that sort of metaphor, but not necessarily to be taken literally…”
So yeah, they’re not all love songs, but they do jam… hard! “Two Things,” “Secrets,” and “I’m So Bored With You” evoke the old style of ’50s-era pop soul with better mixed percussion and slightly slicker guitar lines. “We Did It All” and “Sang Froid,” are reminiscent of the afro soul roots of Golden, while “Bitola,” “Might As Well” have a talky song style over a more traditional rock style. It is a bouillabaisse, a gumbo pot, a varied booty of treasures if you will.
“I think that during the last few years of playing with Extra Golden, I was so locked in, for like 15 years I was locked in on African music and other kinds of stuff like that, and then I started revisiting music that I liked when I was younger, and then discovering music that I didn’t know that was more sort of pop, and so I kind of decided that I wanted to make music that was coming more from that angle. I just wanted to do something different. I was finding new interest musically and I wanted to challenge myself to move in a different direction.”
However new the terrain had been, there was a familiar face on the journey, as the drumkit was manned by none other than the incomparable Jon Theodore, who also played with Minoff in Golden. But, as this was a new day and time, there was a conscious effort, on both parts, not to make this a rehash or revisit.
“First of all, it wasn’t difficult to not fall into old things. I give Jon a lot of credit for that. I knew what I wanted, and I knew to do something like we had done in the past would be inappropriate in servicing these songs and I hadn’t played with Jon in a long time. And since the last time I played with him, he’s been living the life of a professional rock drummer, meeting up with him and showing him the songs, it was a joy. You know, we’re not 23 anymore - our understanding of how music works is a lot more… we just have a better understanding of music.”
You will hear a lot of albums, you may not hear any albums, you may just hear random pit stops of sound gathered on your multitasking devices, regardless,wherever these songs fall, they will entertain and move you in that moment. And they are songs with beginning and ends. They are not vague poetry, nor are they mumblings and background noise. But let me not digress in diatribes about nots and used to be. Let’s just enjoy the beauty and go now, here…