Thursday, January 30, 2014

SOTW - January 31, 2014 - "Tan Lines"

It's been so damn cold all week. Let's turn our minds to someplace warmer ... the Beach. Yes. While enjoying the Beach, people bathe in the sun. Skin exposed to the sun turns brown, or red. Skin covered by clothes stays some shade of white, depending on the individual. The borderline between exposed and unexposed skin in the sun is a strange, but compelling, topic for a song.

The way one views a Tan Line is a function of age. For the parent, it's "did I get sunscreen there ... I sure hope she doesn't get burned ... we'll reapply when we go up for lunch ...") For the grandparent, it's a sign that the normal sun blocking protocols broke down ("Too much wind for the umbrella yesterday!"), resulting in actual exposure to UV rays and a modern Real Simple no no. For the young - those to whom a sunburn is little more than the badge of shotgunned beers and a killer day at the beach - the Tan Line is an object of .... Desire, for it marks the boundary between the un-forbidden and (possibly) forbidden.  

So it is to local Athens, GA heroes, The Futurebirds. To anyone who's ever seen the 'Birds live, their view of the Tan Line, as portrayed in your Song of the Week for January 31, 2014, will come as no surprise. Any doubt as to lyricist Carter King's sentiments is removed in the first line:
 "Sifting through pictures from the naked beach when all I want is you here naked here      with me." 
So, the focus is on the Flesh, the tone loud and longing. But for anybody with an image of a Southern indie "Sexual Healing" in mind, think again. This is the musical equivalent of breezy beach volleyball after a six pack on a late June afternoon; 18 a side, nobody cares who wins. The juvenile lust is built on a sunny day pedal steel riff that would fit in a mid-tempo Gram Parsons road trip song. After dancing around the main riff for two verses and the repetitive, "I know it's all for these tan lines" chorus, the party builds to a house-wrecking, reverb drenched, Velvet Underground meets Wilco crescendo. It's my favorite tune on 2013's excellent Baba Yaga and a perfect segue to the afternoon Beach session for young parents ... or a funnel of beer for those whose Biological Clocks are quiet. Like a frisbee, it's fun for all ages. "Tan Lines" belongs on your summer vacay playlist.  

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