Most Valuable Play: Pressed And
The third installment of a new feature called MVP (aka Most Valuable Play), crafted as to “better personalize the tastes of our PORTALS contributors and fellow music lovers.” This time, Andrew Hamlet of PORTALS favorites Pressed And tells us about his most beloved record of all time.
Whenever I encounter THE QUESTION—that sometimes genuine, sometimes hackneyed QUESTION every music lover encounters, I respond with the all too clichéd “that’s a difficult one.” The classics pass through my mind; I see the covers, to name a few, of ‘Rubber Soul’, ‘The Freewheelin’’, ‘Band of Gypsies’, ‘Speaking In Tongues’, and ‘The Man Machine’, but deep down, I am not sure the classics have had as profound an impact on me. Yes, they are beautiful records made by great talent. And yes, they have major cultural significance, but they have not meant as much to me, Andrew, as another record. With the acceleration and ephemerality of culture brought upon by our digital age, I increasingly value albums that stick with me. Snowden’s ‘Anti Anti’ has certainly stuck with me since its 2006 release. The record appears when I least suspect and perhaps need it most. Like the unmistakable intonation of an old friend’s voice, the opening drum and bass groove of “Like Bullets” brings a smile to my face.
There’s something profoundly resonant in that propulsive, angular groove. I hear a well-oiled machine, an incessant churning, and when Jordan Jeffares enters with his distinctive, passionate monotone, there’s instant understanding. It’s a defiance that comes from lack of control, from knowing the world will turn with or without you. Snowden formed in Atlanta, GA. While now known for the wave of indie mainstays like Black Lips and Deerhunter that percolated around 2008, the Atlanta scene had received relatively little national attention before then. This is not to say there was not attention-worthy indie music in Atlanta (and of course there was trunk-rattling hip-hop), but many listeners did not realize Snowden had Atlanta roots—to them, the band sounded Lower East Side. When a Southern band plays “non-Southern” music, more often than not, the music comes off as sounding unique or not of the current milieu. I believe the isolation inherent in the Southern experience allows for this; the relative lack of interest from the home environment provides room for the band to craft and develop a sound of its own. For Snowden this meant to the ears of a national listener falling sonically somewhere in between The Strokes and Interpol, and while Snowden did not achieve as much commercial success as either of those bands, it, in my opinion, made more timeless music. Southern bands playing “non-Southern” music parallel the opening sounds on “Like Bullets”—defiance, like a flower budding up between the cracks in a sidewalk. Snowden addresses this “standing alone” on album standouts “Anti-Anti” and “Counterfeit Rules.”
With the title track refrain, “gettin down in the town that makes no sound, you say there’s nothing wrong but I don’t hear it,” Snowden very clearly acknowledges its geographic iconoclasticism, and there’s no question where Jeffares’ ideological affiliations lie with a song title like “Counterfeit Rules”. Furthermore, “Counterfeit Rules” evokes the healing scars of a Southern past with lyrics “you play the game, you wear the noose” and “they tell you the only thing to fear is that devil and his gay plague.” Although Snowden explicitly rejects and works against the norms of its home culture, the band ultimately would not sound as it does if for not developing in the American South. Snowden was the first Atlanta-based group I tuned into as a teenager, and as such, it has become my archetype for the “outsider” Southern band. As I continue with music, ‘Anti Anti’ reminds me of the unique synergy that occurs when fringe ideas develop in relative cultural isolation.
Just as I write this, a longtime friend brings to my attention the forthcoming release of Snowden’s follow up to ‘Anti Anti’. The record, entitled ‘No One In Control’, is set for a Fall release on the Kings of Leon-founded label Serpents & Snakes. The first track “The Beat Comes” sounds like where ‘Anti Anti’ left off. We’ll see…
What’s your most valuable play?
Curated by verb/re/verb.