Beer and Pavement

Cpt. (my) Captain

Posted in Records by SM on March 23, 2011

I remember back in my college days going to see this particular band who happened to have a 7″ for sale, which I bought. In the Xeroxed liner notes, there was an address where one could send a blank cassette tape and a self-addressed, stamped envelope for more music. So, the music was basically free aside from the shipping and cost of the tapes[1].

I misread the offer and sent two tapes. The guy filled them both anyway with some of the most masterfully produced bedroom recordings I’ve ever heard[2]. I wore those tapes out, literally. To this day, I’ve not found an experience that quite meets those days when I played the hell out of two dubbed  cassettes in my beat-up Toyota Corolla.

The new Cpt. Captain release on Yards & Gods comes pretty close, though. When We Were Captains actually cost me less than those mailed cassette tapes. See, Yards & Gods gives their material for merely exchanging your email[3]. So, there’s no excuse for not going directly to their site and downloading everything they have to offer ASAP.

The nostalgia doesn’t end with the free music. The beloved aesthetic of music recorded over shitty tapes in cramped space is here too. And that’s appealing to me in so many ways. I mean, I’m from Ohio. We grow up on football, corn, and lo-fi[4]. That said, don’t confuse a somewhat amateurish aesthetic for amateurish production. Lo-fi is an art, especially when it’s as rewarding as When We Were Captains. Although the format for this release is actually digital, it features a sharpness not found in my tape deck, but the recording process certainly maintains that warm, lo-fi character.

What is also present is an ambition to sound bigger than a bedroom recording can/will allow[5]. Sonically, these songs hover among the lo-fi trees planted so long ago by Lou Barlow, Eric Gaffney, and Jason Lowenstein[6]. The guitars show gumption and the vocals thrive in friendly confines. Had these boys recorded these songs 20 years ago, they would be on a reunion tour right now and not releasing posthumous mp3’s.

This collection spans the group’s short run from 2007-09, also playing under the moniker Nascar Diarrhea. Lazy, hazy ditties about life in a college town are reminiscent of Columbus, Ohio’s Moviola, sans the twang. There’s a lot of mid-tempo material, but the pop nods are all over the place…in a good way. Pleasing grooves are as much a part of a Cpt. Captain song as boozy guitar theatrics. Really, this collection’s ability to attract and maintain your attention through variety is a definite strength.

Sadly, I missed the band’s live shows as I was too busy with my own problems to pay attention to what was happening under my own nose[7], but this collection has allowed me to learn a thing or two about the local scene, helping to fulfill a promise I once made myself. This look into a band’s life allows for my appreciation to be personal. I can get to know these ten tracks closely and either keep them to myself or share with friends. Such is the purpose of the bedroom recording. It’s this personal thing, created in the most intimate of spaces, but its ultimate purpose is to be shared with the world. Whether that sharing be through vinyl, cassette tape, or mp3 doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the music found its way into my collection and I get a chance to hear it.

1Both of which were easy for me to obtain. In those days, I kept a healthy supply of blank tapes around and I worked in my college’s mail room.
2In particular was a cover of Pavement’s “Greenlander” and some random Beatles covers as well. He had two 90 minute tapes to fill.
3Who knows what they actually do with those emails? Do they sell them to spammers or Nigerian kings? I honestly don’t know.
4Ever hear of Guided By Voices?
5I’m not talking arena rock like The Who here. By an ambition to sound bigger, I mean that Cpt. Captain have some depth and heft to their sound not typically heard in a lo-fi recording.
6John Davis could be thrown in there as well.
7It’s a lot harder to get into local bands when you move someplace already in your thirties. When I was in Columbus, I had been following the local scene since college. Starting over at 30 was a difficult task, but I’m getting there.

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3 Responses

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  1. Carrie the Destroyer said, on March 23, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Did you read the accompanying wiki?

    It’s the best part of the album, authored by Bathysphere alum, Kiernan (with some photoshop work by yours truly).

    • builderofcoalitions said, on March 23, 2011 at 10:37 am

      It is good, very Bathysphere-like. However, I feel like I’ve read it before. Still, a nice bonus.

  2. Michael said, on March 24, 2011 at 9:34 am

    We have to make money somehow Zac, and those Nigerian kings promise they’ll pay us boatloads as soon as they can smuggle it out of their country!

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