Each Tuesday, FADER editor Matthew Schnipper highlights an underappreciated recent release he thinks we need to know about. This week it's Grouper's Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill. Listen to "Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping" below, buy the album and read Schnipper's thoughts on the record after the jump.
Grouper, "Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping"
The first thing I did in 2008 was go up to a roof in Chinatown, poke a key through a can of Bud and chug. I didn’t finish the whole thing. My friend Lindsay and I left the party and went to look for a cab. We were scared they would be scarce on New Year’s Eve, but we found a guy on the block, just below Canal, sitting in his car eating Thai food waiting for a passenger. He drove us to a bar in Brooklyn where we waited to meet up with our friend who never showed up. I stole a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom because Lindsay was crashing on the couch and I was out. We went to another bar, someone I know made out with a stranger with a nose ring and then we went home. I don’t remember what I did the rest of January first.
This was a weird year. I had a falling out with a friend, just like last year. No one’s fault, but nothing that makes me feel good. I could have done better with that. I talked incessantly about my jeans, which I have still not changed but do regularly get repaired at the shitty tailor. I got my glasses broken, got new glasses. I look better now and my jeans have this nice shade of dirt and dull blue-white. I went to Texas, almost died on the plane (no joke). After we survived, I saw a beautiful dog. Sam said my version of heaven would be an endless loop of seeing a nice dog, petting it, forgetting everything and then immediately seeing the dog again. This would be like the life of blissful goldfish and I would trade everything for it, but I know it’s not possible.
In April I went to LA. I had never been there and was scared about the driving. The line at the Hertz on a Friday night was brutal. Thank god they had cars with GPS still or I would have crashed, driving with a map on my lap. I still got lost driving around in what I will call the Hollywood Hills but was probably not the Hollywood Hills. I was close to Dodger Stadium they told me, but I never saw it. I got up early and went for a swim in the hotel pool and someone recognized the director from Iron Giant. That’s an animated film. Even if it wasn’t, the director isn’t usually on screen. A little girl staying at the hotel wasn’t swimming in the pool but running around beside it. She kept yelling at me about bugs. I went into the hot tub and then back to my room.
I was in LA to interview Abe Vigoda. I interviewed them in Koreatown, I interviewed them in a backyard. In New York I interviewed Telepathe. I interviewed Sahra Motalebi, Antony Hegarty, Studio, Jon Galkin, Gavin Russom, Teyana Taylor, Andrew Butler twice. I interviewed Dinaw Mengestu but the only thing on the tape was my voice. I interviewed Diddy’s stylist and was surprised he had stubble. He liked my outfit. I wrote about The Lines, shoes, ascots, French fries, Obama, Clinton, Francis Ford Coppola, Vampire Weekend, my feelings over and over and over. I wrote about my roommate, my mom, my dad, my sister. I went to the movies alone, went to Mexico with my friend, went to Cape Cod in a rental car. We saw Wall-e in a drive-in there. I always say drive-through though, but that’s not right. I read on the beach, I read in my bed, I read on the couch, I read on the train. I didn’t finish Slow Man, I didn’t finish Atmospheric Disturbances. I bought Netherland for a birthday present, didn’t read it myself. I read about it in the newspaper online, in a magazine in print.
2008 was less a big year than a lot of others. I have had the same job, I traveled briefly and sensibly, no one I care for died or became drastically ill. I treated my body fine, I spent time with nice girls and women, I stayed vegetarian. I grew a beard, got my monthly haircuts, started flossing regularly. When I needed winter socks, I bought winter socks. When I needed a new sweater, I bought a new sweater. I bought olive oil and eggs, bread and cheese. I bought drinks for friends, drinks for myself. I’ve had more tea this year than the rest of my life combined. Next week I will go to Vermont (drive there, fly back) to spend time with my twin sister and her boyfriend and his daughter. She owns an apartment, is finishing graduate school. I’m sleeping in the spare bedroom. Billboards are illegal in Vermont, so you can see for infinity. I’m looking forward to taking it in.
On Friday I made a list of my favorite songs for 2008, played them on the radio. On Saturday I heard Grouper. I had heard of Grouper. People told me about Grouper, I read about Grouper in magazine and on blogs. I never listened to Grouper. On Saturday I did. If I had listened before Friday my list would have been different. There is always so much to discover in the year’s nooks. It’s mid-December and there’s still something new. I slept on this for so long. “Your love is enormous, it’s lifting me up.” This is what SSRIs sound like inside your body when they don't work but they are trying so hard to inhibit. Grouper played on Sunday, I went. It was far away. It wasn’t good. That wasn’t her fault, at least not entirely. It could have been better, though, that’s true. You know when you get somewhere and things are late and you wait and something happens but it’s not what you were waiting for and then you wait and then something then wait and then something happens and maybe it’s good but you are done? It was like that. Grouper pulled cassette players from her backpack, a notebook, a water bottle. It sounded weird, I had my jacket on and my feet were cold. I took a taxi home and the driver got lost. When I got into bed I listened to Grouper. Right now I’m listening to Grouper. This morning I listened to Grouper. Tonight I’ll listen to Grouper, tomorrow, the next day. At some point I’ll stop. Then I’ll remember again and I hope it will be as good as now.
What will happen in 2009? Will all my grandparents survive? Will my sister get married? Will I go back to Texas, back to California? Will I leave the country? Will I leave my apartment? Will I meet a nice Jewish girl? Will I shave? Will our country change before Barack Obama is president? Will it change after? Will people change? Will I change? What if I was mauled by a runaway tiger on December 31st, 2008, would this year be good enough? Will I miss out on some sick shit in 2009? Will the Giants play the Jets in the Superbowl? It would suck to miss that because I got mauled by a tiger, or for any other reason.
Last week Robin Toner died. She was a political reporter for the New York Times. Ted Kennedy released a statement about her that said: "Robin was a reporter’s reporter who deeply cared about the people and the issues she covered. There was rarely a day during our health care debates that I didn’t open the paper to read Robin’s story and learn how what we were doing impacted people.” She died of cancer. She was fifty-four. That’s younger than both of my parents. Is fifty-four enough years? I read her obituary once and then again. All I ever want to do is a good job like her. My standards for everyone else to do well are so low, for me they are so high. I wonder if that’s true. It’s so hard to make up your mind and get settled. She knew what she wanted and had focus and I admire that and there is nothing I care about more than doling my admiration because it is the only infinite pool from which I draw.