Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley and Shawn Biggs
The Botticellis, a group of stout Californians who prefer everything a record and a needle can express in a revolution to digitized plastic talkings, expound upon the more natural expressions and reactions that can be triggered with a tiny piece of golden music. A classic is a classic the first time you hear it and that's a relative thing for everyone, sure, but how many different arrangements of notes and words and tune can make you choke or melt at the knees? It's a big number and it's mystifying how music and its smaller granule - the song - can climb into us and assume all control with such lightning speed that we never even felt the tiny feet and nails clamoring over our skin to get to those tender ears.
When bands of an extraterrestrial caliber - those bands that are widely recognized as genius beyond realistic proportions (you know, The Beatles, Brian Wilson, The Ramones, The Band, The Byrds, The Zombies…) set their minds to making a song, the results were dashing and thrilling to the point that they caused speech impediments. There are plenty of gruff and judgmental baby boomers who don't have any records in their collections pressed after the 70s ended and they hang onto the belief that all of the best music has been done - that it reached its pinnacle when they were growing up through it and then it ended. They would find some way to validate Herman's Hermits as essential and Pavement as laughing stock, nutty as that would be. The Botticellis find so much of those precious early years of rock and roll to serve the same purpose for them, but they've gone about fielding the question of, "What does it take to re-invent what we already love?" on their debut full-length, "Old Home Movies, a reverbed out delight that should only come to your hands in a yellowed out and cracked jacket, on vinyl and smelling like old athletic sneakers and Topps baseball cards/bubble gum sticks.
The question that Botticellis ask and respond to is difficult and vexing because inevitably, the way that it will play out tends to always lean toward the iffy or awful, but the music that Alexi Glickman, Burton Li, Zack Ehrlich, Ian Nansen and Blythe Foster wind up making is blissful and you'd like to indulge in it sinfully, like swan-diving into warm lake of caramel. The toughest thing that's asked when attempting such a daunting thing such as this is confronting such an uncertain fable as "there's nothing left to do but to regurgitate and re-trace the already thick outlines." It's like going up to the bordering wall that surrounds Graceland and trying to fit your signature and a meaningful message onto the rock. It's pointless and yet, if it's poignant and special enough, it could be pointed out and acknowledged, gradually made into a sight worth seeing amongst the broader picture. It's a note unto itself, mostly, is how every song that comes from another should be considered and The Botticellis - with their fanning harmonies and spectacular usage of what sounds to be the packaged air of a million days of sweater weather and sweet embraces - write what come off as long, hand-written notes that one decides to save in a box under a bed forever and forever. They are lasting moments and epitomize the very otherworldly impulses that will make a toe tap, will make a person's vision blur slightly into a hypnotic gauze for three or four minutes at a time, will make a baby - who knows absolutely nothing about music or what he or she likes yet - decide to move a little bit closer to the speakers and start bobbing along to whatever it's hearing, will make you stop suddenly and silently in your tracks just to hear it out. Old Home Movies, with phantom kisses and bygone ghosts of yesteryear jumping out of the binding, is a sung benediction to great songs had and great songs yet to come, a rare and blindly first offering.
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