Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Shawn Biggs
Brian Carver and Lucy Wehrly of the San Diego band Christmas Island have a couple of releases that feature photographs of themselves that are a touch dated. Some more than others, but they are all from earlier days, when they weren't as old as they are not. This is necessary to take into account. They are the kinds of pictures that one finds accidentally one day, long after they were taken, while sifting through crap in the old bedroom that you finally get around to cleaning out and making your parents happy. They are the photos that aren't of anything in particular. They are just quickly clicked off shots. The only real bit of importance that they hold is that they're photographs of you as a younger person. They tend to ring up some sort of fondness for that time that's still alive in a faded and frozen way in that square that you're holding in your hands. It's hard to belittle what actually amounts to a lot of Importance in this. There is a sentiment that we can attach to much of the writing and music that Carver, Wehrly and guitarist/keyboardist Craig Oliver make that allows us to get into a theme of thinking about how each and every day lived is just one day closer to the grave and that goes for those more careless days of youth - all still days that, when they came to a close, were just one step closer to lights out. Perhaps because we weren't thinking about such morbid things back then, it's reason enough to like those photographs a little more and decide to look more closely at them - the gap-toothed smiles in class photos and those of two friends sticking their heads out of fake birthday cakes, just like the strippers would. There are devilish things at work here, with these considerations, with these ways, with these thoughts. It doesn't seem right, but the urgent steam of Carver's and Wehrly's playing, along with songs about haunted houses and relationships that are held as the only successes that can be shown for years and years of doing stuff and being someone, make you feel as if time is indeed running out. There may be no scarier feeling than that of the end not sneaking up on you, but being expected to knock and there you are, sitting on your couch in your underwear: not happy, not ready, just taking up room. Carver sings on the song "Twenty-Nine," "Where did the time go?/I'm already twenty-nine/What do I have to show?/I'm already twenty-nine/But if there's one thing I did right, It was me and you/It was always you," and you're swallowed up and leveled by the honest feeling of inadequacy and that of real achievement in that belief that a personal relationship should count for a lot more than heavy pockets and a sleek car - if the ever en vogue modes of measurement are still in practice. But we hear in the scruffy pop melodies and the manic surf sound that there's not going to be a normal story here for there's no one in it who values the typical things that go into an economist's value equation. They are into the preservation of youthful spirits and in the beauties that only get sullied up a little bit, but tend to retain most of their charm. They are into reviving their carelessness and not giving a shit. They are about being scared and excited all at the same time and only hoping that old age can give them the closest thing to a pardon.