Friday, June 1, 2012

I Love This Freakin' Band - American Analog Set

It's happened to all of us. We listen constantly to an artist for a while, and then we move on to other artists. New albums, old albums, other things that take our interest from whatever held our attention for a while. Time passes, and one day you stumble over what you had listened to, and its like re-discovering an old friend. You remember when you heard that album, or that song, and your mind replays shadows of that time, usually in softer hues than how those days initially played out.

For me, certain albums are like that. Sure, there are many classic records that will always hit me that way, and always will. But for an album like Forever Changes, there's also In The Valley Of Dying Stars, by Superdrag, or Your Favorite Music, by Clem Snide. As a photographer, there's certain records that I was lucky enough to be a part of that still hold a special place in my heart. (Mignonette, by the Avett Brothers, and Darkling, by Mercury Dime, immediately come to mind.) And some records, and some bands, are just good music, and await my return.

In late 1999, I went to Fat City to see a band that I had not heard before, and had gone to see on the recommendation of a friend. Fat City was a restaurant and music venue in North Davidson, back when that neighborhood was rough and ready. I know too many stories about that place, but I saw a lot of good music there. On this night, the band I'd gone to see was the American Analog Set, a Texas group that was touring on their new album, The Golden Band.

From the beginning, I really liked the band. They looked like the indie kids I had seen here in other cities, but they were different. For one, they were influenced more by the Velvet Underground's third album as they were by whatever indie sounds were hot at the moment. I also liked their lack of airs. They weren't into flash. They just played quiet, moody, yet moving music. I took a couple of rolls of photos, and introduced myself to the band. I also bought a copy of The Golden Band, which I listened to constantly for the next couple of years.

The Golden Band sounds like an evening at home with your friends, if your friends were moody, intelligent musicians that had both a vibraphone, and a Magnus organ handy. The lyrics seem to reflect the band's outlook on life, touring, and the scene they were in. There was a lot about the scene they were in, actually, but it gave the album an intimate charm. World peace? Forget that. What about me, my friends, and so-called friends?

Over the next few years, I stayed in touch with the Analog Set, and their leader, Andrew Kenny. (Andrew sometimes went by Andrew, and sometimes went by Kenny, depending on who you talked to. A shape-shifter? Slightly, perhaps.) He asked to use some of my photos in a best-of compilation, but sadly, it did not happen. I do not have any major regrets with my photography, but there's a few "what ifs" on albums that would've been nice, if they had happened. The band changed over the next few years, and I still listened to them. But I still had a special place in my heart for The Golden Band.

I missed the band's final tour in 2005, and also missed the band's reunion in 2009. At the 2009 reunion in Austin, they played The Golden Band in their entirety. I recently found out that the entire show was videotaped, which you can now see online. Looking at it, however, I realized that I would have felt too crowded at that show. So much of my enjoyment of that album was me, at home, alone in my quiet moments, and listening to music. The way that many of us enjoy music.

Recently, I stumbled over some Youtube postings of The Golden Band, and I found myself back in those long-ago days. I remembered how much I loved that record. How I really wanted to take more photos with the band. How I went and bought a Magnus chord organ at a Value Village, because of that record. It's all still there, in my mind and on that album. Is it not cool in "the scene" that I still like the American Analog Set? Would Kenny be embarrassed by such an admission? Sod it. Time reveals all truths, and this is still the truth, to me. The listener, the fan, the photographer. The person that still owns a copy of The Golden Band.
-Daniel Coston
June 2, 2012

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