Get Set Go: Ordinary World
Continuing our series of awesome bands that haven't gotten their due (http://tinyurl.com/5tgtaen), and stealing a page from my buddies at shitforfuckheads (http://shitforfuckheads.blogspot.com/) (seriously, remind me never to piss these guys off with a shitty record. Or, rather, don't let them hear anything I did from '91 - '99. Check out the hatchet job they do on the Stones' Dirty Work. Hilarious. And totally true.), I thought we'd kick off this week with Get Set Go and one of the best records you've never heard, Ordinary World.
I am "friends" with Get Set Go on Facebook, and recently, I along with all the band's other friends, received a mass (highly apologetic) e-mail message, looking for help getting their next record off the ground. Which to me is astounding. I have no idea how a band this good, original and irreverent, does not have a major label throwing piles of money at them to do whatever the fuck they want to do next.
You very well may've heard of Get Set Go, especially if you watch Grey's Anatomy. I don't watch the show, but thankfully my friend in Miami, C-Love, does, or did, when he heard this gem:
I don't know if this is the original clip, because like I said, I don't watch the show. But after C-Love turned me onto this song, I had a new favorite band, as this song played on heavy rotation. So rarely has a song so deftly captured my innermost feelings. OK. Not so innermost. Never been much of a people person. But even those of you "every day is a gift; that's why it's called 'the present'" types have surely had at least three and a half fleeting shitty minutes where "I Hate Everyone" speaks to you.
If it were just this one song, I'd chalk it up to catching lightning in a misanthrope's bottle and go listen to the Replacements some more. But after "I Hate Everyone," I went and downloaded the album from which it came, Ordinary World, which proved to be as complete and close to perfect a record as I've ever heard. I've listened to the band's other songs and albums, and they don't disappoint (most notably "Fuck You [I Want To]"), but I don't have time to review their entire musical catalogue. In fact I don't have time to even give OW the shitforfuckheads treatment and go track by track. Because Ordinary World is over 20 songs. Yet, I am doing all a disservice not doing so.
One of the strengths of Ordinary World is just how well-cratfted and fucking good every song is on it. Get Set Go is basically this guy Mike TV. I mean, he writes it all, sings it all, not that the rest of the band doesn't bring a lot to the table (I know my brother, Josh, has a huge crush on their violin player, Emily).
Anyway, like DJ Lance, let's break it down. Here are some of my favorite tracks.
There's that scene in High Fidelity where Rob, Dick and Barry are listing the Top Five Track Ones, Side Ones. And this would be on mine. It captures what the record is all about through an economy of language seldom heard in pop.
'Cause I don't want to get a job / I've stolen all I can rob.
I don't know how I will get by.
Something in me thinks / I've had one too many drinks.
I've spent too much time getting high.
I wrote an entire memoir trying to express this sentiment. It took me 60,000 words; it took Mike TV a couple dozen. There's always the musical inclination, even an unwritten rock rule to want to kick off the record (like a mixed tape) with a killer, but here's it's just an acoustic guitar and vocal, a little harmony, and it yields more despondency and heartache than Gordon Lightfoot on benzos. True ache without wallow. Try pulling that shit off.
Get Thru the Day
Here's the killer. Get Set Go's greatest asset (besides lyrical acumen) are the hooks that bore into your brain and don't leave. I am a melody guy. For me, pop (like commercialism) is not a dirty word. I like big, catchy choruses. And when you can do that with some heavy guitar chugging and driving force behind it, all the better. This song is about every addict's dilemma: trying to find a way to get through the day (tougher than it sounds). And you don't need narcotics to be an addict. Addiction is about yearning, still being unsatisfied long after the dregs and lees have been lapped. Drugs, sex, cigarettes, a goddamn milkshake. Doesn't matter. You want more more more. And the shelf-life for satiation ain't shit.
Like I said, I am highlighting choice tracks, my best of the best. Which means I am leaving off several terrific selections like the one that comes before this, "One Hundred Locks," which could easily be the single on a billion other records. But here it's like batting only .280 with 25 HRs and 87 RBI for the Yankees; you're batting 7th. "Ordinary World" has the feel of "Crying Shame" without sounding anything like it. It tells the story of Peter and Mary, two world-class fuck ups, and I know it makes my brother happy because it has a violin solo. Narratives in rock are not easy. For every "Bobbie Jean," there are a hundred "Take the Money and Run." But through the examination of two unrealized lives, Mike TV shines an unflattering light on the bad, greasy skin of an entire generation.
I Hate Everyone
We covered this one above. But I'll say it again. So rarely has a song so poetically captured how I feel most every minute of most every day.
Lift Me Up
I don't know Mike TV's life story. But I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say we've battled similar demons. I'm basing this simply on paying attention to the lyrics and not being a dumbass. And whether that's drugs or mental illness, which are usually the same thing anyway, I can't say, but one of the defining characteristics of both is the wildly vacillating between extremes. You can feel elated by a really good sandwich one minute, and crushed by a parking ticket the next.
So who's going to save me tonight? It's usually a girl. The Smiths figured out this winning formula a while ago: pair miserable lyrics with uplifting major open chords. Get Set Go exploit this dynamic throughout Ordinary World, and it may be blasphemy, but I'll say it anyway: I'll put what Get Set Go does as on par with the best of Morrissey and Marr (the Gods of Emo forgive me). Although "Lift Me Up" is the rare instance where both music and words strike a similar upbeat chord:
But it's not getting me down 'cause there's a girl /
Spins my world around and it's for sure /
That every time I'm lovin' her / The world collapses under her /
And all that's left is her and me.
Not sure I believe the speaker. Not sure he believes himself. But the degree to which we can attain happiness in this life is often dependent upon the degree to which we can swallow our own self-prescribed bullshit.
Murder by Millions
I saw Daniel Tosh last Thursday. Fucking hilarious. Nothing is off limits with Tosh. Domestic violence. Osama Bin Laden. Kids with cancer. He has this bit where he's like, "If you are one of these people who says 'There's nothing funny about blank,' we can't be friends. Everything can be funny if the joke is written well enough." I live in the Bay Area. There are lots of things we aren't supposed to find funny. Like when I take the food scraps Justine throws in the compost out of the compost and throw it in the trash just for the hell of it. Because there's nothing funny about global warming. What I'm trying to say is we live in a sensitive world. I try to find the joke in everything (albeit with dark, black humor) because if you don't laugh, you'll end up running out your house, screaming down the street, and so, outside of my kid, there isn't much I hold sacred (and Holden is a redhead). This is all a long about way of saying that some people will see the humor in this song. And for those of you who don't, we can't be friends. Oh, and also, BEST CHORUS EVER. Hook, catch, reel you in.
A Little More / Won't Let Her Go
Part of any album's success is contingent upon song order. Even in this world of single digital downloads. Because when you find a truly great (complete) record (admittedly a growing anomaly), it tells a complete story, and here the story is wanting too much, going down hard, and reaching up for those things you love and think can save you but never can. It's about the shared sickness of the wounded. One of Mike TV's lyrical gifts is an ability to straddle both worlds, to be both light and heavy-handed, comical and serious. You never feel like his words are pedantic or didactic, but there is some real fucking weight to them. "A Little More" tackles alcoholism without sounding at all like it's tackling alcoholism. Which is good. Because (sincere) songs about alcoholism are practically impossible to pull off (notable exception, "Here Comes a Regular" by the Replacements). "Won't Let Her Go" is every addict's love song, with the absolutely brutal opening lines:
She doesn't close the door /
As she visits the bathroom /
The sound of flushing water /
Comes a little bit too soon.
Man, I wish I wrote that.
And it gets even better when we hit the end of the song and the lament for days that ain't ever coming back ("When we were young / oh, we were young / and we were everything.")
Die Motherfucker Die
Having studied creative writing in a graduate program, I had the...pleasure...of reading many accomplished poets, Liz Bishop, et al, and I know Billy Collins, Robert Hass, and Sylvia Plath are good poets. But one of my problems with grad school is I didn't give a flying fuck about "bats o'er a win'ers morn" or whatever the fuck poets talk about. I am not saying Ted Roethke isn't a great writer, just that I don't give a shit about his subject matter. And if I don't care what you're writing about, I can't care what you're writing about. When I first heard "Die Motherfucker Die," I felt like Satan at the end of this Kids in the Hall clip:
At last, a song that speaks to me!
This is rock 'n' roll. This is poetry. My favorite track on the record.
And here is the tune. Learn the words and sing along.
Like I mentioned earlier, this record was on my mind because I received a message that Get Set Go, inexplicably, doesn't have a label sufficiently backing their next effort. I normally don't get into social causes. But this disturbs me greatly. I see it happening more and more. Another one of my favorite bands and singers, Brent Best of Slobberbone, recently solicited fans to buy his next record before it's finished. Basically asking fans to send in their $10 just so he can get the damned thing recorded. Which I did. And I also contributed to Get Set Go's Kickstarter project. Gladly. Because while god-awful American Idol retreads and tone-deaf retards like Ke$ha have no expense spared, and the same goddamn Katy Perry song gets shoved down my throat daily (slowed down or sped up, it sill sucks), the fact that bands like Slobberbone/Brent Best and Get Set Go are forced to shill for themselves smacks of grave injustice. One more reason for the motherfuckers to die.
So Candy and Cigarettes would like to do its part. Here is the Kickstarter site where you can buy Get Set Go's next record, Fury of Your Lonely Heart, and do your part to promote the arts and be guaranteed some brilliance in return. And if you bid enough, the band just might come to your house and get drunk with you.