I had a Christmas tradition for a while. In the late nineties, I would call up my old college radio station and offer to take the first air shift on the morning of December 25th. As someone who served two years as the Program Director there, I knew how difficult it could be to wrangle up personnel during winter break, especially on the day that even the most devoted student volunteers were spending back home with the fam. This was after I won parole from my time served in commercial radio and before I found myself back in the strange realm of college radio as an adviser and General Manager. It was a good way to scratch that broadcasting itch and it gave me a chance to sample a wider array of new, relatively obscure music.
I always liked being in that station during the breaks, especially winter break. I liked the relative solitude of it. There was no one else around in the station and, during the height of winter in December and January, there wasn’t much bustle outside the station’s windows either. It was just you, the microphone and a whole bunch of music to sort through and shuffle up.
For those Christmas morning shows, I’d get in early, toting a gigantic cup of coffee procured from the local SuperAmerica, the only business opting to ignore the holiday altogether and be open at that hour, and start digging through the music on the shelves. I’d have a piece of paper with multiple albums I was curious about scrawled onto it, a cheat sheet assembled from hours on the CMJ Website and whatever meager online sources were available at the time. Inevitably, there’d be many release that were nowhere to be found, a combination of the relatively conservative approach taken to new music by my sonic alma mater, the dwindling interest smaller labels had in shipping out CDs to broadcast outlets emanating from minuscule markets and that enduring college radio dilemma, theft of music by the volunteer DJs. Still, my underexposure to the music was significant enough at the time, that the majority of CDs on the shelves promised some level of discover.
I’m not sure if I sought out Self’s Breakfast With Girls was an album I sought out or one I discovered. It’s certainly a title I would have gravitated to. Similarly, I’m not sure if I applied my usual methodology of sampling all the songs before playing the one that grabbed me the most in the unfair methodology of judgment rendered after two to five seconds of evidence. I may have just wondered what a song named after the star of You’ve Got Mail might sound like. Regardless, I played the song and was immediately smitten in the way that only happens with a obnoxiously perfect pop song. At my first opportunity, I sought out the album and added it to my collection. After all, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you hear a great song on the radio.
(Disclaimer: I make every effort–okay, some effort–to make certain that the songs posted for this weekly feature are fully out of print, unavailable through the purchase of new CDs or via some other Interweb wizardry. I’m often surprised by what’s still available or been re-released. I mean, who knew there was enough of a Pulsars underground to merit reissuing their sole album. I knew, with confidence, that this release was out of print. There’s some sort of tortured tangle connected to it, but you’ll have to look to a wiser, sager soul than I to unearth the details. If anyone with due authority to do so asks me to remove this from the Web, I will gladly do so.)