Soundtrack to a Past Life from Hidden Speaker
I spent a good portion of the glorious nineties tooling around Austin, Texas, in a car named after a Star Wars character. When not speeding off to study at all-night diners, I made repeated weekly visits to Waterloo Records. It’s weird to remember those days before iTunes, pocket libraries, and unlimited streaming. Checking out new music took actual work. It meant researching bands in newspapers and magazines, standing at a listening station waiting for a melody to decimate you, or taking a chance on a band simply because you liked their album cover design.
My favorite days were always the ones involving joy ride listening sessions through the sun blistered Hill Country, bluebonnets and live oaks waving along to whatever soundtrack fit the mood. Though the music always changed—and could be anything from hearty sing-a-longs involving Alanis Morissette to respective silence during a complex Built to Spill opus—the experience of finding, digesting, and communally sharing new tunes was much more time consuming than it is today. I’m not saying I prefer one way over the other (and I can’t imagine not being able to stream whatever I want, whenever I want), but there are pros and cons to both.
Because it was Austin, and because it was the 1990’s, I had friends who were in bands. One of them was Evan Dickson of Hidden Speaker, an enjoyably laconic and lyrical alternative to Pavement (though I hope he doesn’t throttle me for typing that comparison). Evan lives in Los Angeles now and is a writer/editor for Bloody Disgusting—when not penning his own screenplays—and he also still writes music. His former bandmates comprise The Octopus Project, a fantastic instrumental outfit who are also recent Sundance Jury Award recipients for scoring the film Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. When Evan recently completed a new batch of songs born out of self-described “procrastination time,” the band reunited to record Wet Recluse, which is now available on iTunes.
My favorite track, “You Stole My Thunder, I’ll Steal Your Drugs,” features backing vocals by Rachel Staggs of the late ’90s band Experimental Aircraft and current All in the Golden Afternoon, and though I love the song title, I might love the place it catapults me back to even more. It’s a moment of drifting past open fields in search of secret swimming holes, a gaggle of guitars swelling at the precise moment friends in the back seat laugh at some forgotten inside joke. The soundtrack to that time when driving forward into the future felt full of promise and possibility, no matter how slow it all seemed to go.