Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
One of the greatest things that happened this year was that all 100+ episodes of the Wonder Years were added to the streaming offerings on Netflix. Poring over the first two seasons over the last week and a half, the narrations of Daniel Stern, especially at the conclusions of shows seem more poignant and more romantic than ever before. They seem like the wonderful pieces of prose that sum up complicated thoughts, the parts in novels that you underline for safe-keeping, just in case you rifle through the pages sometime hence looking for that bit that you once cherished so much. The other part of the show that sticks out even more is the picturesque way that we're able to size up the past, to reshape and repackage it to suit the proper sensibilities that we've come to know. It's a little like how we are in love with the camera filters and apps that make our photos look aged and blown out, the way old Polaroid film did. We like our memories to have the edges burned down at the corners some, to have them softened so that they fit better with how we think we saw things and how we think we felt things. We would choose to believe that the trip we took through Yosemite in the early 80s or late 70s, with our young parents, actually contained the colors that we see in the fading and disintegrating photographs that are affixed to those sticky album pages stuffed into the ancient hutch in mom and dad's living room. The golds and the reds are the colors that strike us most in those photos and they're like sugar water. Austin, Texas' Gold Beach make music that reinvents memories in ways that we're able to reconsider what was out there. It's not the same anymore. It's been altered, where the presumed familiarities are made vague and wispy. Named for a town in Oregon, where the Rogue River meets the Pacific Ocean, where the mountains are rugged and gold was found in them there hills, the band - an outfit led by old friends Michael Winningham and Tony Daugherty - swings in like a stiff breeze full of salt and mist busting in from a coast and an old, top-down automobile driving a curvy, scenic road proceeding in wavy slow-motion. "I'm Not Yours," from the group's debut, "Habibti," is a rush of senses. You feel like you're got your eyes and ears full. The skin is tingling and it's easy - without thinking too deeply about what's being said in the Department of Eagles-ish song - to feel as if you're getting airborne or high. It's like being caught up in a life that was yours once, but comes to you more as noir and something just experienced out-of-body. Your nerves have been unplugged and you're just letting the dark ravines of the pavement move you along. You're not here. You're hearing chatter and you're tuning it out. Winningham sings, "We'll build the past and make it what we want," and it's the general feeling we're absorbing, this belief that we can concoct something friendlier, something that will look better in photos when we're old men and old women. The happier times like they never were, when there was gold to be discovered, life to be lived.