When I first started writing music reviews for FOWR, I had basically no idea what I was doing. I was only listening to quality stuff every now and then so I saw it as my opportunity to broaden my sensibilities as both a writer and a music enthusiast. Through the first couple months, I was quick to judge and made verdicts based on immediate impressions. My perspective of The Suburbs was misguided, looking back, and my sentences were short, poorly vocalized, and overly concise, but around August of 2010, that began to change. The way I received this wind was an average “here you go” recommendation from John. These recommendations have gone back and forth ever since, but this one was special.
For the first time, I found an off-kilter album that intrigued me and begged for me to listen more and more. It was oddly built, creative, and most of all, brilliantly written. This album was Public Strain. Neither of us could make sense of the vocals since they were buried deep enough into the instrumentation for them to be, for the most part, indiscernible. For months, this album stuck with me. It was always in the back of my mind. Come December 2010, we were getting ready to choose the winners of our Fowries. There was no doubt in anyone else’s mind that this was going to win Best Rock Album, but when it came time for our album of the year podcast, I was ready to fight for Before Today by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. As the recording progressed, however, my perspective was beginning to shift. I had more to say about Public Strain than anything else. It was the first album I was willing to throw down money to have on my record player. So, John and I filed our votes for that and the rest was history, or whatever you want to call it.
Before all that noise happened I was scheduled to see Women live in Santa Cruz with a couple buddies of mine. At this point, I did not have a drivers’ license and I was relying on one friend to get me to this show for about a week. My friend Danny was in the bay area for the night and was prepared to meet me and the friend that was supposed to drive us to the show. At the last minute possible, the driver bailed on me and I was unable to see the show. About a month later, the band’s efforts were put on an indefinite hiatus. That is the show I think about missing all the time.
It’s been over a year and a half since I first heard Public Strain and I consider it one of my favorite albums, probably ever. In that year and a half, I went through both my junior and senior years, graduated high school, and underwent one of the worst situations I’ve ever had to deal with. I still adore everything about Public Strain. It didn’t receive a bunch of press, a standing ovation from the community, or Best New Music. It was 2010′s dark horse; an outlier.
The night Christopher Reimer passed, I was spreading to a bandmate my oft-spoken hope about the potentiality of the band getting back together. He said something that now strikes me: “They should get their guitars out again and make some more music. They’re probably still tuned exactly the same way.”