Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2007 Year End Survey | Paul Searls

Paul Searls is a professor of history at UVM, author of the book Two Vermonts, the former faculty adviser to WRUV and the possessor of one of the best collections of indie music in the Green Mountains...which he appears to be properly passing along to his kids.

I first knew Paul in the mid-90's when we were both members of the Pavement mailing list. Do you remember the heady days of mailing lists? They were quaint microcosms of the blogosphere except that we burned through cases of Maxell tapes rather than disk space. Years later, after the list largely disbanded, it turned out that Paul and I had both moved to Vermont and he was reading this blog. Small world and now I'm back to peppering him with requests for music suggestions; just like back in the 90's.

Paul was also a guest on VPR's Vermont Edition earlier this week to discuss "The search for a common understanding of the intangibles that make Vermonters Vermonters - values, priorities, attitudes has been a part of our culture since the first settlers arrived here." I was sick and missed it while I was at the doctor's office. However, VPR has archived the show. You can stream and download the broadcast here.

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

I'm from Barcelona, We're from Barcelona

I actually am burned out on this song and wouldn't mind never hearing it again. But it remains for me the song of prospective world peace for 2007. I'm serious: watch the video for it, and then imagine replacing those adorable, nerdy Swedes with American soldiers, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds intermixed on those risers, singing this song. Bang! War's over.

Other contenders:
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Our Love is Fucking Right
California Snow Story, Suddenly Everything Happens
Los Campesinos, Death to Los Campesinos
Moscow Olympics, Still
Panda Riot, She Dares All Things
The Besties, Rod 'N' Reel
Wilco, Impossible Germany

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

Ferns, On Botany

Oh, On Botany, how I love thee. Breathy Asian female backing vocals; soaring, distorted guitars; wistful, haunting lyrics: my vision of musical heaven. There was a period in the early autumn when I had a ton of new things backed up to hear, but all I wanted to play was this album. If I could compare it to another album, it would be Sun Kil Moon's Ghost of a Great Highway, even though they sound nothing alike: both are records one can put on at any time, over and over again, and upon hearing the first notes be delighted by the prospect of listening to it in its entirety. It's that good and better.

A few other contenders:
Tracy Thorn, Out of the Woods
A Smile and a Ribbon, The Boy I Wish I Never Met
Club 8, The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming
The Math and Physics Club, Baby I'm Yours EP
Annemarie, ABC on TV
The Lucksmiths, Spring a Leak
Sunny Summer Day, self-titled EP
Electrelane, No Shouts, No Calls
Amida, Arts & Crafts
Sambassadeur, Migration

And a special mention for Pia Fraus's Nature Heart Software, which was released in late 2006 but which, being from an Estonian band and released on a Japanese label, didn't reach me until 2007, three months after I ordered it. Like everything Pia Fraus has done, it is brilliant.

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

I actually got out to see a few shows this year. The best has to be Saturday night at Popfest New England in November. Seeing The Pains of Being Pure at Heart in 2007 is as close as I'll ever come to seeing Rocketship circa 1996, and it was an exhilarating experience.

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

I smoked my last cigarette. I really mean it this time. It won't be like the last fourteen times I quit. I swear. Really.

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

Five year-old: learns to read and ice skate. Three year-old: is once and for all finally potty-trained (dear God, I'm begging you!). Leyton Orient to contend for a playoff place (and if that happens, Brian, next year I'll wish for promotion). Steve Malkmus's album due in February doesn't suck. The Radio Dept.'s next album is even better. A Democrat elected president. I get substantial work done on my next book. And another great twelve months of reading False 45th.

I'm From Barcelona | We're From Barcelona | Buy

Ferns | Wistful Thinking | Buy


Nick Mavodones said...

searls was by far the best professor i had at UVM

Anonymous said...

He's a bad, bad dangerous man and I can't believe anyone would want his opinion on anything.

His very scared brother Tim

Anonymous said...

hey! the guy who owns the label the besties are on is from vermont. (but now he lives in brooklyn)

love, the guy who owns the label the besties are on.